By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Gouverneur Morris
Author: Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Gouverneur Morris" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Transcriber's Note: *** represents inverse asterism. Inconsistencies
in spelling and hyphenation have been retained. Corrected obvious
printer errors:

page 51, "comparision" changed to "comparison." ("A comparison of the
men" ...)

page 270, "Tuilleries" changed to "Tuileries." ( ... "the poor king was
driven from the Tuileries.")

page 315, missing " added. ("... à casser les oeufs.""")

page 365, missing "." added. ("Dalrymple, General, 125.")

page 366, "De Lancys" changed to "De Lanceys." ("De Lanceys, 16, 21,

page 368, "salôn" changed to "salon." ("literary life of the salon")]

American Statesmen



American Statesmen





  The Riverside Press, Cambridge

  Copyright, 1888,

_All rights reserved_.

  _The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A._
  Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Company.


Two generations ago the average American biographer was certainly a
marvel of turgid and aimless verbosity; and the reputations of our early
statesmen have in no way proved their vitality more clearly than by
surviving their entombment in the pages of the authors who immediately
succeeded them. No one of the founders of the Constitution has suffered
more in this respect than has he who was perhaps the most brilliant,
although by no means the greatest, of the whole number,--Gouverneur

Jared Sparks, hitherto Morris's sole biographer, wrote innumerable
volumes on American history, many of which are still very valuable, and
some of them almost indispensable, to the student. The value, however,
comes wholly from the matter; Mr. Sparks is not only a very voluminous
writer, but he is also a quite abnormally dull one. His "Life of
Gouverneur Morris" is typical of most of his work. He collected with
great industry facts about Mr. Morris, and edited a large number of his
letters and state papers, with numerous selections, not always well
chosen, from his Diary. Other merits the book has none, and it has one
or two marked faults. He failed to understand that a biographer's duties
are not necessarily identical with those of a professional eulogist; but
for this he is hardly to blame, as all our writers then seemed to think
it necessary to shower indiscriminate praise on every dead
American--whether author, soldier, politician, or what not--save only
Benedict Arnold. He was funnily unconscious of his own prolix dullness;
and actually makes profuse apologies for introducing extracts from
Morris's bright, interesting writings into his own drearily
platitudinous pages, hoping that "candor and justice" will make his
readers pardon the "negligence" and "defects of style," which the
extracts contain. He could not resist the temptation now and then to
improve Morris's English, and to soften down, or omit anything that he
deemed either improper or beneath the stilted "dignity" of history. For
example, Morris states that Marie Antoinette, when pursued by the
Parisian fishwives, fled from her bed "in her shift and petticoat, with
her stockings in her hand;" such particularity struck Mr. Sparks as
shockingly coarse, and with much refinement he replaced the whole phrase
by "in her undress." An oath he would not permit to sully his pages on
any terms; thus when Morris wrote that Pennsylvania would find Sir Henry
Clinton "a most damnable physician," Mr. Sparks simply left out the
offending sentence altogether. This kind of thing he did again and

Still he gives almost all of Morris's writings that are of political
interest. It is, however, greatly to be desired that we should have a
much more complete edition of his letters and Diary, on account of the
extremely interesting descriptions they contain of the social life of
the period, both in America and in Europe. As regards his public career,
and his views and writings on public subjects, we already have ample
material, much of which has appeared since Sparks's biography was
written, and some of which is here presented for the first time.

Morris's speeches in the Constitutional Convention have been preserved,
in summarized form, by Madison in his "Debates:" of these, of course,
Sparks was necessarily ignorant. Miss Annie Carey Morris has written two
articles in "Scribner's Magazine" for January and February, 1887, on her
grandfather's life in Paris during the French Revolution, giving some
new and interesting details. A good article appeared in "Macmillan's
Magazine" for November, 1885, the writer evidently having been attracted
to the subject by the way in which Taine made Morris's writings a basis
for so much of his own great work on the Revolution. Decidedly the best
piece upon Morris that has yet been written, however, is the admirable
sketch by Mr. Henry Cabot Lodge in the "Atlantic Monthly" for April,

My thanks are especially due the Hon. John Jay for furnishing me many
valuable letters, hitherto unpublished, of both Jay and Morris; and for
giving me additional information about Morris's private life, and other
matters. All the letters here quoted that are not given by Sparks are to
be found either in the Jay MSS. or the Pickering MSS. Mr. Jay also
furnished me with the account of the way in which Louis Philippe was
finally persuaded to pay the debt he owed Morris.


  INTRODUCTION                                                v


  HIS YOUTH: COLONIAL NEW YORK                                1


  THE PROVINCIAL CONGRESS                                    28




  IN THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS                                76


  FINANCES: THE TREATY OF PEACE                              99




  FIRST STAY IN FRANCE                                      169


  LIFE IN PARIS                                             197


  MISSION TO ENGLAND: RETURN TO PARIS                       227


  MINISTER TO FRANCE                                        252


  STAY IN EUROPE                                            300


  SERVICE IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE                       320


  FEDERALISTS                                               347




When, on January 31, 1752, Gouverneur Morris was born in the family
manor-house at Morrisania, on the lands where his forefathers had dwelt
for three generations, New York colony contained only some eighty
thousand inhabitants, of whom twelve thousand were blacks. New York city
was a thriving little trading town, whose people in summer suffered much
from the mosquitoes that came back with the cows when they were driven
home at nightfall for milking; while from among the locusts and
water-beeches that lined the pleasant, quiet streets, the tree frogs
sang so shrilly through the long, hot evenings that a man in speaking
could hardly make himself heard.

Gouverneur Morris belonged by birth to that powerful landed aristocracy
whose rule was known by New York alone among all the northern colonies.
His great-grandfather, who had served in the Cromwellian armies, came to
the seaport at the mouth of the Hudson, while it was still beneath the
sway of Holland, and settled outside of Haerlem, the estate being
invested with manorial privileges by the original grant of the governor.
In the next two generations the Morrises had played a prominent part in
colonial affairs, both the father and grandfather of Gouverneur having
been on the bench, and having also been members of the provincial
legislature, where they took the popular side, and stood up stoutly for
the rights of the Assembly in the wearisome and interminable conflicts
waged by the latter against the prerogatives of the crown and the powers
of the royal governors. The Morrises were restless, adventurous men, of
erratic temper and strong intellect; and, with far more than his share
of the family talent and brilliancy, young Gouverneur also inherited a
certain whimsical streak that ran through his character. His mother was
one of the Huguenot Gouverneurs, who had been settled in New York since
the revocation of the Edict of Nantes; and it was perhaps the French
blood in his veins that gave him the alert vivacity and keen sense of
humor that distinguished him from most of the great Revolutionary
statesmen who were his contemporaries.

He was a bright, active boy, fond of shooting and out-door sports, and
was early put to school at the old Huguenot settlement of New Rochelle,
where the church service was still sometimes held in French; and he
there learned to speak and write this language almost as well as he
could English. Thence, after the usual preparatory instruction, he went
to King's College--now, with altered name and spirit, Columbia--in New

The years of his childhood were stirring ones for the colonies; for
England was then waging the greatest and most successful of her colonial
contests with France and Spain for the possession of eastern North
America. Such contests, with their usual savage accompaniments in the
way of Indian warfare, always fell with especial weight on New York,
whose border lands were not only claimed, but even held by the French,
and within whose boundaries lay the great confederacy of the Six
Nations, the most crafty, warlike, and formidable of all the native
races, infinitely more to be dreaded than the Algonquin tribes with whom
the other colonies had to deal. Nor was this war any exception to the
rule; for battle after battle was fought on our soil, from the day when,
unassisted, the purely colonial troops of New York and New England at
Lake George destroyed Baron Dieskau's mixed host of French regulars,
Canadian militia, and Indian allies, to that still more bloody day when,
on the shores of Lake Champlain, Abercrombie's great army of British and
Americans recoiled before the fiery genius of Montcalm.

When once the war was ended by the complete and final overthrow of the
French power, and the definite establishment of English supremacy along
the whole Atlantic seaboard, the bickering which was always going on
between Great Britain and her American subjects, and which was but
partially suppressed even when they were forced to join in common
efforts to destroy a common foe, broke out far more fiercely than ever.
While the colonists were still reaping the aftermath of the contest in
the shape of desolating border warfare against those Indian tribes who
had joined in the famous conspiracy of Pontiac, the Royal Parliament
passed the Stamp Act, and thereby began the struggle that ended in the

England's treatment of her American subjects was thoroughly selfish; but
that her conduct towards them was a wonder of tyranny, will not now be
seriously asserted; on the contrary, she stood decidedly above the
general European standard in such matters, and certainly treated her
colonies far better than France and Spain did theirs; and she herself
had undoubted grounds for complaint in, for example, the readiness of
the Americans to claim military help in time of danger, together with
their frank reluctance to pay for it. It was impossible that she should
be so far in advance of the age as to treat her colonists as equals;
they themselves were sometimes quite as intolerant in their behavior
towards men of a different race, creed, or color. The New England
Puritans lacked only the power, but not the will, to behave almost as
badly towards the Pennsylvania Quakers as did the Episcopalian English
towards themselves. Yet granting all this, the fact remains, that in the
Revolutionary War the Americans stood towards the British as the
Protestant peoples stood towards the Catholic powers in the sixteenth
century, as the Parliamentarians stood towards the Stewarts in the
seventeenth, or as the upholders of the American Union stood towards the
confederate slave-holders in the nineteenth; that is, they warred
victoriously for the right in a struggle whose outcome vitally affected
the welfare of the whole human race. They settled, once for all, that
thereafter the people of English stock should spread at will over the
world's waste spaces, keeping all their old liberties and winning new
ones; and they took the first and longest step in establishing the great
principle that thenceforth those Europeans, who by their strength and
daring founded new states abroad, should be deemed to have done so for
their own profit as freemen, and not for the benefit of their more
timid, lazy, or contented brethren who stayed behind.

The rulers of Great Britain, and to a large extent its people, looked
upon the American colonies as existing primarily for the good of the
mother country: they put the harshest restrictions on American trade in
the interests of British merchants; they discouraged the spread of the
Americans westward; and they claimed the right to decide for both
parties the proportions in which they should pay their shares of the
common burdens. The English and Americans were not the subjects of a
common sovereign; for the English were themselves the sovereigns, the
Americans were the subjects. Whether their yoke bore heavily or bore
lightly, whether it galled or not, mattered little; it was enough that
it was a yoke to warrant a proud, free people in throwing it off. We
could not thankfully take as a boon part only of what we felt to be our
lawful due. "We do not claim liberty as a privilege, but challenge it as
a right," said the men of New York, through their legislature, in 1764;
and all Americans felt with them.

Yet, for all this, the feeling of loyalty was strong and hard to
overcome throughout the provinces, and especially in New York. The
Assembly wrangled with the royal governor; the merchants and shipmasters
combined to evade the intolerable harshness of the laws of trade that
tried to make them customers of England only; the householders bitterly
resented the attempts to quarter troops upon them; while the soldiers of
the garrison were from time to time involved in brawls with the lower
ranks of the people, especially the sailors, as the seafaring population
was large, and much given to forcibly releasing men taken by the
press-gang for the British war-ships; but in spite of everything there
was a genuine sentiment of affection and respect for the British crown
and kingdom. It is perfectly possible that if British statesmen had
shown less crass and brutal stupidity, if they had shown even the wise
negligence of Walpole, this feeling of loyalty would have been strong
enough to keep England and America united until they had learned how to
accommodate themselves to the rapidly changing conditions; but the
chance was lost when once a prince like George the Third came to the
throne. It has been the fashion to represent this king as a well
meaning, though dull person, whose good morals and excellent intentions
partially atoned for his mistakes of judgment; but such a view is
curiously false. His private life, it is true, showed the very admirable
but common-place virtues, as well as the appalling intellectual
littleness, barrenness, and stagnation, of the average British
green-grocer; but in his public career, instead of rising to the level
of harmless and unimportant mediocrity usually reached by the sovereigns
of the House of Hanover, he fairly rivaled the Stuarts in his perfidy,
wrongheadedness, political debauchery, and attempts to destroy free
government, and to replace it by a system of personal despotism. It
needed all the successive blunders both of himself and of his Tory
ministers to reduce the loyal party in New York to a minority, by
driving the moderate men into the patriotic or American camp; and even
then the loyalist minority remained large enough to be a formidable
power, and to plunge the embryonic state into a ferocious civil war,
carried on, as in the Carolinas and Georgia, with even more bitterness
than the contest against the British.

The nature of this loyalist party and the strength of the conflicting
elements can only be understood after a glance at the many
nationalities that in New York were being blended into one. The
descendants of the old Dutch inhabitants were still more numerous than
those of any other one race, while the French Huguenots, who, being of
the same Calvinistic faith, were closely mixed with them, and had been
in the land nearly as long, were also plentiful; the Scotch and Scotch-
or Anglo-Irish, mostly Presbyterians, came next in point of numbers; the
English, both of Old and New England, next; there were large bodies of
Germans; and there were also settlements of Gaelic Highlanders, and some
Welsh, Scandinavians, etc. Just prior to the Revolution there were in
New York city two Episcopalian churches, three Dutch Reformed, three
Presbyterian (Scotch and Irish), one French, two German (one Lutheran
and one Calvinistic, allied to the Dutch Reformed); as well as places of
worship for the then insignificant religious bodies of the Methodists,
Baptists (largely Welsh), Moravians (German), Quakers and Jews. There
was no Roman Catholic church until after the Revolution; in fact before
that date there were hardly any Roman Catholics in the colonies, except
in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and in New York they did not acquire any
strength until after the War of 1812.

This mixture of races is very clearly shown by the ancestry of the
half-dozen great men brought forth by New York during the Revolution. Of
these, one, Alexander Hamilton, stands in the very first class of
American statesmen; two more, John Jay and Gouverneur Morris, come close
behind him; the others, Philip Schuyler, Robert Livingston, and George
Clinton, were of lesser, but still of more than merely local, note. They
were all born and bred on this side of the Atlantic. Hamilton's father
was of Scotch, and his mother of French Huguenot, descent; Morris came
on one side of English, and on the other of French Huguenot, stock; Jay,
of French Huguenot blood, had a mother who was Dutch; Schuyler was
purely Dutch; Livingston was Scotch on his father's, and Dutch on his
mother's, side; the Clintons were of Anglo-Irish origin, but married
into the old Dutch families. In the same way, it was Herkomer, of German
parentage, who led the New York levies, and fell at their head in the
bloody fight against the Tories and Indians at Oriskany; it was the
Irishman Montgomery who died leading the New York troops against Quebec;
while yet another of the few generals allotted to New York by the
Continental Congress was MacDougall, of Gaelic Scotch descent. The
colony was already developing an ethnic type of its own, quite distinct
from that of England. No American state of the present day, not even
Wisconsin or Minnesota, shows so many and important "foreign," or
non-English elements, as New York, and for that matter Pennsylvania and
Delaware, did a century or so ago. In fact, in New York the English
element in the blood has grown greatly during the past century, owing to
the enormous New England immigration that took place during its first
half; and the only important addition to the race conglomerate has been
made by the Celtic Irish. The New England element in New York in 1775
was small and unimportant; on Long Island, where it was largest, it was
mainly tory or neutral; in the city itself, however, it was aggressively

Recent English writers, and some of our own as well, have foretold woe
to our nation, because the blood of the Cavalier and the Roundhead is
being diluted with that of "German boors and Irish cotters." The alarm
is needless. As a matter of fact the majority of the people of the
middle colonies at the time of the Revolution _were_ the descendants of
Dutch and German boors and Scotch and Irish cotters; and in a less
degree the same was true of Georgia and the Carolinas. Even in New
England, where the English stock was purest, there was plenty of other
admixture, and two of her most distinguished Revolutionary families
bore, one the Huguenot name of Bowdoin, and the other the Irish name of
Sullivan. Indeed, from the very outset, from the days of Cromwell, there
has been a large Irish admixture in New England. When our people began
their existence as a nation, they already differed in blood from their
ancestral relatives across the Atlantic much as the latter did from
their forebears beyond the German Ocean; and on the whole, the
immigration since has not materially changed the race strains in our
nationality; a century back we were even less homogeneous than we are
now. It is no doubt true that we are in the main an offshoot of the
English stem; and cousins to our kinsfolk of Britain we perhaps may be;
but brothers we certainly are not.

But the process of assimilating, or as we should now say, of
Americanizing, all foreign and non-English elements was going on almost
as rapidly a hundred years ago as it is at present. A young Dutchman or
Huguenot felt it necessary, then, to learn English, precisely as a young
Scandinavian or German does now; and the churches of the former at the
end of the last century were obliged to adopt English as the language
for their ritual exactly as the churches of the latter do at the end of
this. The most stirring, energetic, and progressive life of the colony
was English; and all the young fellows of push and ambition gradually
adopted this as their native language, and then refused to belong to
congregations where the service was carried on in a less familiar
speech. Accordingly the Dutch Reformed churches dwindled steadily, while
the Episcopalian and Presbyterian swelled in the same ratio, until in
1764 the former gained a new and lasting lease of life by reluctantly
adopting the prevailing tongue; though Dutch was also occasionally used
until forty years later.

In fact, during the century that elapsed between the final British
conquest of the colony and the Revolution, the New Yorkers--Dutch,
French, German, Irish, and English--had become in the main welded into
one people; they felt alike towards outsiders, having chronic quarrels
with the New England States as well as with Great Britain, and showing,
indeed, but little more jealous hostility towards the latter than they
did towards Connecticut and New Hampshire.

The religious differences no longer corresponded to the differences of
language. Half of the adherents of the Episcopalian Church were of Dutch
or Huguenot blood; the leading ministers of the Dutch Church were of
Scotch parentage; and the Presbyterians included some of every race. The
colonists were all growing to call themselves Englishmen; when Mayor
Cruger, and a board of aldermen with names equally Dutch, signed the
non-importation agreement, they prefaced it by stating that they claimed
"their rights as Englishmen." But though there were no rivalries of
race, there were many and bitter of class and religion, the different
Protestant sects hating one another with a virulence much surpassing
that with which they now regard even Catholics.

The colony was in government an aristocratic republic, its constitution
modeled on that of England and similar to it; the power lay in the hands
of certain old and wealthy families, Dutch and English, and there was a
limited freehold suffrage. The great landed families, the Livingstons,
Van Rennselaers, Schuylers, Van Cortlandts, Phillipses, Morrises, with
their huge manorial estates, their riches, their absolute social
preëminence and their unquestioned political headship, formed a proud,
polished, and powerful aristocracy, deep rooted in the soil; for over a
century their sway was unbroken, save by contests between themselves or
with the royal governor, and they furnished the colony with military,
political, and social leaders for generation after generation. They
owned numerous black slaves, and lived in state and comfort on their
broad acres, tenant-farmed, in the great, roomy manor-houses, with
wainscoted walls and huge fireplaces, and round about the quaint old
gardens, prim and formal with their box hedges and precise flower beds.
They answered closely to the whig lords of England, and indeed were
often connected with the ruling orders abroad by blood or marriage; as
an example, Staats Long Morris, Gouverneur's elder brother, who remained
a royalist, and rose to be a major-general in the British army, married
the Duchess of Gordon. Some of the manors were so large that they sent
representatives to the Albany legislature, to sit alongside of those
from the towns and counties.

Next in importance to the great manorial lords came the rich merchants
of New York; many families, like the Livingstons, the most prominent of
all, had representatives in both classes. The merchants were somewhat of
the type of Frobisher, Hawkins, Klaesoon, and other old English and
Dutch sea-worthies, who were equally keen as fighters and traders. They
were shrewd, daring, and prosperous; they were often their own
ship-masters, and during the incessant wars against the French and
Spaniards went into privateering ventures with even more zest and
spirit than into peaceful trading. Next came the smaller landed
proprietors, who also possessed considerable local influence; such was
the family of the Clintons. The law, too, was beginning to take high
rank as an honorable and influential profession.

Most of the gentry were Episcopalians, theirs being practically the
state church, and very influential and wealthy; some belonged to the
Calvinistic bodies,--notably the Livingstons, who were in large part
Presbyterians, while certain of their number were prominent members of
the Dutch congregations. It was from among the gentry that the little
group of New York revolutionary leaders came; men of singular purity,
courage, and ability, who, if they could not quite rank with the
brilliant Virginians of that date, nevertheless stood close behind,
alongside of the Massachusetts men and ahead of those from any other
colony; that, too, it must be kept in mind, at a time when New York was
inferior in wealth and population to Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, or
Virginia, and little, if at all, in advance of Maryland or Connecticut.
The great families also furnished the leaders of the loyalists during
the war; such were the De Lanceys, whose influence around the mouth of
the Hudson was second to that of none others; and the Johnsons, who, in
mansions that were also castles, held half-feudal, half-barbaric sway
over the valley of the upper Mohawk, where they were absolute rulers,
ready and willing to wage war on their own account, relying on their
numerous kinsmen, their armed negro slaves, their trained bands of
Gaelic retainers, and their hosts of savage allies, drawn from among the
dreaded Iroquois.

The bulk of the people were small farmers in the country, tradesmen and
mechanics in the towns. They were for the most part members of some of
the Calvinistic churches, the great majority of the whole population
belonging to the Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed congregations. The
farmers were thrifty, set in their ways, and obstinate; the townsmen
thrifty also, but restless and turbulent. Both farmers and townsmen were
thoroughly independent and self-respecting, and were gradually getting
more and more political power. They had always stood tenaciously by
their rights, from the days of the early Stuart governors, who had
complained loudly of the "Dutch Republicans." But they were narrow,
jealous of each other, as well as of outsiders, and slow to act

The political struggles were very bitter. The great families, under
whose banners they were carried on, though all intermarried, were
divided by keen rivalries into opposing camps. Yet they joined in
dreading too great an extension of democracy; and in return were
suspected by the masses, who grumblingly followed their lead, of
hostility to the popular cause. The Episcopalians, though greatly in the
minority, possessed most power, and harassed in every way they dared the
dissenting sects, especially the Presbyterians--for the Dutch Reformed
and Huguenot churches had certain rights guaranteed them by treaty. The
Episcopalian clergy were royalists to a man, and it was in their
congregations that the main strength of the Tories lay, although these
also contained many who became the stanchest of patriots. King's College
was controlled by trustees of this faith. They were busy trying to turn
it into a diminutive imitation of Oxford, and did their best to make it,
in its own small way, almost as much a perverse miracle of backward and
invariable wrong-headedness as was its great model. Its president, when
the Revolution broke out, was a real old wine-bibbing Tory parson,
devoted to every worn-out theory that inculcated humble obedience to
church and crown; and he was most summarily expelled by the mob.

Some important political consequences arose from the fact that the mass
of the people belonged to some one or other of the branches of the
Calvinistic faith--of all faiths the most republican in its tendencies.
They were strongly inclined to put their republican principles into
practice as well in state as in church; they tended towards hostility to
the crown, and were strenuous in their opposition to the extension of
the Episcopal power, always threatened by some English statesmen; their
cry was against "the King and the Bishops." It is worth noting that the
Episcopalian churches were shut up when the Revolution broke out, and
were reopened when the British troops occupied the city. The Calvinistic
churches, on the contrary, which sided with the revolutionists, were
shut when the British came into New York, were plundered by the troops,
and were not reopened until after the evacuation.

Thus three parties developed, although the third, destined to overwhelm
the others, had not yet come to the front. The first consisted of the
royalists, or monarchists, the men who believed that power came from
above, from the king and the bishops, and who were aristocratic in their
sympathies; who were Americans only secondarily, and who stood by their
order against their country. This party contained many of the great
manorial families and also of the merchants; and in certain places, as
in Staten Island, the east end of Long Island, the upper valley of the
Mohawk, and part of Westchester County, the influence of the upper
classes combined with the jealousy and ignorance of large sections of
the lower, to give it a clear majority of the whole population. The
second party was headed by the great families of Whig or liberal
sympathies, who, when the split came, stood by their country, although
only very moderate republicans; and it held also in its ranks the mass
of moderate men, who wished freedom, were resolute in defense of their
rights, and had republican leanings, but who also appreciated the good
in the system under which they were living. Finally came the extremists,
the men of strong republican tendencies, whose delight it was to toast
Pym, Hampden, and the regicides. These were led by the agitators in the
towns, and were energetic and active, but were unable to effect anything
until the blunders of the British ministers threw the moderate men over
to their side. They furnished none of the greater revolutionary leaders
in New York, though the Clintons came near the line that divided them
from the second party.

The last political contest carried on under the crown occurred in 1768,
the year in which Morris graduated from college, when the last colonial
legislature was elected. It reminds us of our own days when we read of
the fears entertained of the solid German vote, and of the hostility to
the Irish, who were hated and sneered at as "beggars" by the English
party and the rich Episcopalians. The Irish of those days, however, were
Presbyterians, and in blood more English than Gaelic. St. Patrick's Day
was celebrated then as now, by public processions, as well as otherwise;
but when, for instance, on March 17, 1766, the Irish residents of New
York celebrated the day by a dinner, they gave certain toasts that would
sound strangely in the ears of Milesian patriots of the present time,
for they included "The Protestant Interest," and "King William, of
glorious, pious, and immortal memory."

The royalist or conservative side in this contest in 1768 was led by the
De Lanceys, their main support being drawn from among the Episcopalians,
and most of the larger merchants helping them. The Whigs, including
those with republican leanings, followed the Livingstons, and were drawn
mainly from the Presbyterian and other Calvinistic congregations. The
moderate men on this occasion went with the De Lanceys, and gave them
the victory. In consequence the colonial legislature was conservative
and loyal in tone, and anti-republican, although not ultra-tory, as a
whole; and thus when the revolutionary outbreak began it went much
slower than was satisfactory to the patriot party, and its actions were
finally set aside by the people.

When Morris graduated from college, as mentioned above, he was not yet
seventeen years old. His college career was like that of any other
bright, quick boy, without over much industry or a passion for learning.
For mathematics he possessed a genuine taste; he was particularly fond
of Shakespeare; and even thus early he showed great skill in discussion
and much power of argument. He made the oration, or graduating address,
of his class, choosing for the subject "Wit and Beauty;" it was by no
means a noteworthy effort, and was couched in the dreadful Johnsonian
English of the period. A little later, when he took his master's degree,
he again delivered an oration,--this time on "Love." In point of style
this second speech was as bad as the first, disfigured by cumbrous
Latinisms and a hopeless use of the superlative; but there were one or
two good ideas in it.

As soon as he graduated, he set to work to study law, deciding on this
profession at once as being best suited for an active, hopeful,
ambitious young man of his social standing and small fortune, who was
perfectly self-confident and conscious of his own powers. He soon
became interested in his studies, and followed them with great patience,
working hard and mastering both principles and details with ease. He was
licensed to practice as an attorney in 1771, just three years after
another young man, destined to stand as his equal in the list of New
York's four or five noted statesmen, John Jay, had likewise been
admitted to the bar; and among the very few cases in which Morris was
engaged of which the record has been kept is one concerning a contested
election, in which he was pitted against Jay, and bore himself well.

Before this, and while not yet of age, he had already begun to play a
part in public affairs. The colony had been run in debt during the
French and Indian wars, and a bill was brought forward in the New York
Assembly to provide for this by raising money through the issue of
interest-bearing bills of credit. The people, individually, were largely
in debt, and hailed the proposal with much satisfaction, on the theory
that it would "make money more plenty;" our revolutionary forefathers
being unfortunately not much wiser or more honest in their ways of
looking at the public finances than we ourselves, in spite of our state
repudiators, national greenbackers, and dishonest silver men.

Morris attacked the bill very forcibly, and with good effect, opposing
any issue of paper money, which could bring no absolute relief, but
merely a worse catastrophe of bankruptcy in the end; he pointed out that
it was nothing but a mischievous pretense for putting off the date of a
payment that would have to be met anyhow, and that ought rather to be
met at once with honest money gathered from the resources of the
province. He showed the bad effects such a system of artificial credit
would have on private individuals, the farmers and tradesmen, by
encouraging them to speculate and go deeper into debt; and he criticised
unsparingly the attitude of the majority of his fellow-citizens in
wishing such a measure of relief, not only for their short-sighted
folly, but also for their criminal and selfish dishonesty in trying to
procure a temporary benefit for themselves at the lasting expense of the
community; finally he strongly advised them to bear with patience small
evils in the present rather than to remedy them by inflicting infinitely
greater ones on themselves and their descendants in the future.

At the law he did very well, having the advantages of his family name,
and of his own fine personal appearance. He was utterly devoid of
embarrassment, and his perfect self-assurance and freedom from any
timidity or sense of inferiority left his manner without the least
tinge of awkwardness, and gave clear ground for his talents and ambition
to make their mark.

However, hardworking and devoted to his profession though he was, he had
the true family restlessness and craving for excitement, and soon after
he was admitted to the bar, he began to long for foreign travel, as was
natural enough in a young provincial gentleman of his breeding and
education. In a letter to an old friend (William Smith, a man of
learning, the historian of the colony, and afterwards its chief
justice), in whose office he had studied law, he asks advice in the
matter, and gives as his reasons for wishing to make the trip the desire
"to form my manners and address by the example of the truly polite, to
rub off in the gay circle a few of the many barbarisms which
characterize a provincial education, and to curb the vain
self-sufficiency which arises from comparing ourselves with companions
who are inferior to us." He then anticipates the objections that may be
made on the score of the temptations to which he will be exposed by
saying: "If it be allowed that I have a _taste_ for pleasure, it may
naturally follow that I shall avoid those low pleasures which abound on
this as well as on the other side of the Atlantic. As for these
poignant joys which are the lot of the affluent, like Tantalus I may
grasp at them, but they will certainly be out of my reach." In this last
sentence he touches on his narrow means; and it was on this point that
his old preceptor harped in making his reply, cunningly instilling into
his mind the danger of neglecting his business, and bringing up the
appalling example of an "Uncle Robin," who, having made three pleasure
trips to England, "began to figure with thirty thousand pounds, and did
not leave five thousand;" going on "What! '_Virtus post nummos_? Curse
on inglorious wealth?' Spare your indignation. I, too, detest the
ignorant miser; but both virtue and ambition abhor poverty, or they are
mad. Rather imitate your grandfather [who had stayed in America and
prospered] than your uncle."

The advice may have had its effect; at any rate Morris stayed at home,
and, with an occasional trip to Philadelphia, got all he could out of
the society of New York, which, little provincial seaport though it was,
was yet a gay place, gayer then than any other American city save
Charleston, the society consisting of the higher crown officials, the
rich merchants, and the great landed proprietors. Into this society
Morris, a handsome, high-bred young fellow, of easy manners and far
from puritanical morals, plunged with a will, his caustic wit and rather
brusque self-assertion making him both admired and feared. He enjoyed it
all to the full, and in his bright, chatty letters to his friends
pictures himself as working hard, but gay enough also: "up all
night--balls, concerts, assemblies--all of us mad in the pursuit of

But the Revolution was at hand; and both pleasure and office-work had to
give way to something more important.



During the years immediately preceding the outbreak of the Revolution,
almost all people were utterly in the dark as to what their future
conduct should be. No responsible leader thought seriously of separation
from the mother country, and the bulk of the population were still
farther from supposing such an event to be possible. Indeed it must be
remembered that all through the Revolutionary War not only was there a
minority actively favorable to the royal cause, but there was also a
minority--so large that, added to the preceding, it has been doubted
whether it was not a majority--that was but lukewarm in its devotion to
the American side, and was kept even moderately patriotic almost as much
by the excesses of the British troops and blunders of the British
generals and ministers, as by the valor of our own soldiers, or the
skill of our own statesmen. We can now see clearly that the right of
the matter was with the patriotic party; and it was a great thing for
the whole English-speaking race that that section of it which was
destined to be the most numerous and powerful should not be cramped and
fettered by the peculiarly galling shackles of provincial dependency;
but all this was not by any means so clear then as now, and some of our
best citizens thought themselves in honor bound to take the opposite
side,--though of necessity those among our most high-minded men, who
were also far-sighted enough to see the true nature of the struggle,
went with the patriots.

That the loyalists of 1776 were wrong is beyond question; but it is
equally beyond question that they had greater grounds for believing
themselves right than had the men who tried to break up the Union three
quarters of a century later. That these latter had the most hearty faith
in the justice of their cause need not be doubted; and he is but a poor
American whose veins do not thrill with pride as he reads of the deeds
of desperate prowess done by the confederate armies; but it is most
unfair to brand the "tory" of 1776 with a shame no longer felt to
pertain to the "rebel" of 1860. Still, there is no doubt, not only that
the patriots were right, but also that they were as a whole superior to
the tories; they were the men with a high ideal of freedom, too fond of
liberty, and too self-respecting, to submit to foreign rule; they
included the mass of hard-working, orderly, and yet high-spirited yeomen
and freeholders. The tories included those of the gentry who were
devoted to aristocratic principles; the large class of timid and
prosperous people (like the Pennsylvania Quakers); the many who feared
above all things disorder; also the very lowest sections of the
community, the lazy, thriftless, and vicious, who hated their
progressive neighbors, as in the Carolinas; and finally the men who were
really principled in favor of a kingly government.

Morris was at first no more sure of his soundings than were the rest of
his companions. He was a gentleman of old family, and belonged to the
ruling Episcopalian Church. He was no friend to tyranny, and he was a
thorough American, but he had little faith in extreme democracy. The
Revolution had two sides; in the northern Atlantic States at least it
was almost as much an uprising of democracy against aristocracy as it
was a contest between America and England; and the patriotic Americans,
who nevertheless distrusted ultra-democratic ideas, suffered many
misgivings when they let their love for their country overcome their
pride of caste. The "Sons of Liberty," a semi-secret society originating
among the merchants, and very powerful in bringing discontent to a head,
now showed signs of degenerating into a mob; and for mobs Morris, like
other clear-headed men, felt the most profound dislike and contempt.

Throughout 1774 he took little part in the various commotions, which
kept getting more and more violent. He was angered by the English
encroachments, and yet was by no means pleased with the measures taken
to repel them. The gentry, and the moderate men generally, were at their
wits' ends in trying to lead the rest of the people, and were being
pushed on farther and farther all the time; the leadership, even of the
revolutionary party, still rested in their hands; but it grew
continually less absolute. Said Morris: "The spirit of the English
constitution has yet a little influence left, and but a little. The
remains of it, however, will give the wealthy people a superiority this
time; but, would they secure it, they must banish all schoolmasters and
confine all knowledge to themselves.... The gentry begin to fear this.
Their committee will be appointed; they will deceive the people, and
again forfeit a share of their confidence. And if these instances of
what with one side is policy, with the other perfidy, shall continue to
increase and become more frequent, farewell, aristocracy. I see, and see
it with fear and trembling, that if the dispute with Britain continues,
we shall be under the worst of all possible dominions; we shall be under
the dominion of a riotous mob. It is the interest of all men, therefore,
to seek for reunion with the parent state." He then goes on to discuss
the terms which will make this reunion possible, and evidently draws
ideas from sources as diverse as Rousseau and Pitt, stating, as
preliminaries, that when men come together in society, there must be an
implied contract that "a part of their freedom shall be given up for the
security of the remainder. But what part? The answer is plain. The least
possible, considering the circumstances of the society, which constitute
what may be called its political necessity;" and again: "In every
society the members have a right to the utmost liberty that can be
enjoyed consistent with the general safety;" while he proposes the
rather wild remedy of divorcing the taxing and the governing powers,
giving America the right to lay her own imposts, and regulate her
internal police, and reserving to Great Britain that to regulate the
trade for the entire empire.

Naturally there was no hope of any compromise of this sort. The British
ministry grew more imperious, and the Colonies more defiant. At last
the clash came, and then Morris's thorough Americanism and inborn love
of freedom and impatience of tyranny overcame any lingering class
jealousy, and he cast in his lot with his countrymen. Once in, he was
not of the stuff to waver or look back; but like most other Americans,
and like almost all New Yorkers, he could not for some little time
realize how hopeless it was to try to close the breach with Great
Britain. Hostilities had gone on for quite a while before even
Washington could bring himself to believe that a lasting separation was

The Assembly, elected as shown in the previous chapter, at a moment of
reaction, was royalist in tone. It contained several stanch patriots,
but the majority, although unwilling to back up the British ministers in
all their doings, were still more hostile to the growing body of
republican revolutionists. They gradually grew wholly out of sympathy
with the people; until the latter at last gave up all attempts to act
through their ordinary representatives, and set about electing delegates
who should prove more faithful. Thereupon, in April, 1775, the last
colonial legislature adjourned for all time, and was replaced by
successive bodies more in touch with the general sentiment of New York;
that is, by various committees, by a convention to elect delegates to
the Continental Congress, and then by the Provincial Congress. The lists
of names in these bodies show not only how many leading men certain
families contributed, but also how mixed the lineage of such families
was; for among the numerous Jays, Livingstons, Ludlows, Van Cortlandts,
Roosevelts, Beekmans, and others of Dutch, English, and Huguenot
ancestry appear names as distinctly German, Gaelic-Scotch, and Irish,
like Hoffman, Mulligan, MacDougall, Connor.[1]

[1] The habit of constantly importing indentured Irish servants, as well
as German laborers, under contract, prevailed throughout the colonies;
and the number of men thus imported was quite sufficient to form a
considerable element in the population, and to add a new, although
perhaps not very valuable, strain to our already mixed blood. In taking
up at random the file of the _New York Gazette_ for 1766, we find among
the advertisements many offering rewards for runaway servants; such as
"three pounds for the runaway servant Conner O'Rourke," "ten pounds for
the runaway Irish servant, Philip Maginnis," "five pounds apiece for
certain runaway German miners--Bruderlein, Baum, Ostmann, etc.--imported
under contract;" all this mixed in with advertisements of rewards of
about the same money value for "the mulatto man named Tom," or the
"negroes Nero and Pompey." Still, in speaking of the revolutionary
armies, the word "Irish" must almost always be understood as meaning
Presbyterian Irish; the Catholic Irish had but little hand in the war,
and that little was limited to furnishing soldiers to some of the
British regiments. The Presbyterian Irish, however, in the revolutionary
armies, played a part as manful and valiant as, and even more important
than, that taken by the Catholic Irish soldiers who served so bravely
during the great contest between the North and South. The few free
Catholic Irish already in America in 1776 were for the most part
heartily loyal; but they were not numerous enough to be of the least

To the Provincial Congress, from thenceforth on the regular governmental
body of the colony, eighty-one delegates were elected, including
Gouverneur Morris from the county of Westchester, and seventy were
present at the first meeting, which took place on May 22 at New York.
The voting in the Congress was done by counties, each being alloted a
certain number of votes roughly approximating to its population.

Lexington had been fought, and the war had already begun in
Massachusetts; but in New York, though it was ablaze with sympathy for
the insurgent New Englanders, the royal authority was still nominally
unquestioned, and there had been no collision with the British troops.
Few, if any, of the people of the colony as yet aimed at more than a
redress of their grievances and the restoration of their rights and
liberties; they had still no idea of cutting loose from Great Britain.
Even such an avowedly popular and revolutionary body as the Provincial
Congress contained some few out and out tories and very many
representatives of that timid, wavering class, which always halts midway
in any course of action, and is ever prone to adopt half-measures,--a
class which in any crisis works quite as much harm as the actively
vicious, and is almost as much hated and even more despised by the
energetic men of strong convictions. The timid good are never an element
of strength in a community; but they have always been well represented
in New York. During the Revolutionary War it is not probable that much
more than half of her people were ever in really hearty and active
sympathy with the patriots.

Morris at once took a prominent place in the Congress, and he showed the
national bent of his mind when he seconded a resolution to the effect
that implicit obedience ought to be rendered to the Continental Congress
in all matters pertaining to the general regulation of the associated
colonies. The Assembly, however, was by no means certain how far it
would be well to go; and the majority declined either to approve or
disapprove of the proceedings of the late Continental Congress. They
agreed to subscribe to the association, and recommended the same course
to their constituents; but added that they did not believe the latter
should be forced to do so.

Still, with all their doubting and faint-heartedness, they did set about
preparing for resistance, and for at least the possibility of concerted
action with the other colonies. The first step, of course, was to
provide for raising funds; this was considered by a committee of which
Morris was a member, and he prepared and drew up their report. In the
state of public feeling, which was nearly a unit against "taxation
without representation" abroad, but was the reverse of unanimous as to
submitting even to taxation with representation at home, it was
impossible to raise money by the ordinary method; indeed, though the
mass of active patriots were willing to sacrifice much, perhaps all, for
the cause, yet there were quite as many citizens whose patriotism was
lukewarm enough already, and could not stand any additional chilling.
Such people are always willing to face what may be called a staved-off
sacrifice, however; and promises to pay in the future what they can, but
will not pay in the present, come under this head. Besides, there would
have been other difficulties in the way, and in fact it was impossible
to raise the amount needed by direct taxation. Accordingly Morris, in
his report on behalf of the committee, recommended an issue of paper
money, and advised that this should not be done by the colony itself,
but that the Continental Congress should strike the whole sum needed,
and apportion the several shares to the different colonies, each of them
being bound to discharge its own particular part, and all together to be
liable for whatever any particular colony was unable to pay. This plan
secured a wide credit and circulation to the currency, and, what was
equally desirable, created throughout the colonies a common interest and
common responsibility on a most important point, and greatly
strengthened the bonds of their union. Morris even thus early showed the
breadth of his far-seeing patriotism; he was emphatically an American
first, a New Yorker next; the whole tone of his mind was thoroughly
national. He took the chief part in urging the adoption of the report,
and made a most telling speech in its favor before the Assembly, a mixed
audience of the prominent men of the colony being also present. The
report was adopted and forwarded to the Continental Congress; Morris was
felt on all sides to have already taken his place among the leaders, and
from thenceforth he was placed on almost every important committee of
the Provincial Congress.

This body kept on its course, corresponding with the other colonies,
exchanging thinly veiled threats with the Johnsons, the powerful Tory
over-lords of the upper Mohawk, and preparing rather feebly for defense,
being hampered by a total lack of funds or credit until the continental
currency was coined. But they especially busied themselves with a plan
of reconciliation with England; and in fact were so very cautions and
moderate as to be reproached by their chosen agent in England, Edmund
Burke, for their "scrupulous timidity." The Congress, by the way, showed
some symptoms of an advance in toleration, at least so far as the
Protestant sects went; for it was opened and closed by ministers of the
Episcopalian, Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian, Baptist, and other sects,
each in turn; but, as will shortly be seen, the feeling against
Catholics was quite as narrow-minded and intense as ever. This was
natural enough in colonial days, when Protestantism and national
patriotism were almost interchangeable terms; for the hereditary and
embittered foes of the Americans, the French and Spaniards, were all
Catholics, and even many of the Indians were of the same faith; and
undoubtedly the wonderful increase in the spirit of tolerance shown
after the Revolution was due in part to the change of the Catholic
French into our allies, and of the Protestant English into our most
active foes. It must be remembered, however, that the Catholic gentry
of Maryland played the same part in the Revolution that their Protestant
neighbors did. One of the famous Carroll family was among the signers of
the Declaration of Independence; and on the other hand, one of the
Cliftons was a noted loyalist leader.

Morris took a prominent part, both in and out of committee, in trying to
shape the plan of reconciliation, although utterly disapproving of many
of the ways in which the subject was handled; for he had all the
contempt natural to most young men of brains, decision, and fiery
temper, for his timid, short-sighted, and prolix colleagues. The report
was not all to his taste in the final shape in which it was adopted. It
consisted of a series of articles recommending the repeal of the
obnoxious statutes of the Imperial Parliament, the regulation of trade
for the benefit of the whole empire, the establishment of triennial
colonial legislatures, and also asserting the right of the colonies to
manage their internal polity to suit themselves, and their willingness
to do their part, according to their capacities, for the general defense
of the empire. The eighth article contained a denial of the right of
"Great Britain, or any other earthly legislature or tribunal, to
interfere in the ecclesiastical or religious concerns of the colonies,"
together with a "protest against the indulgence and establishment of
popery all along their interior confines;" this being called forth by
what was known as the "Quebec Bill," whereby the British Parliament had
recently granted extraordinary powers and privileges to the Canadian
clergy, with the obvious purpose of conciliating that powerful
priesthood, and thereby converting--as was actually done--the recently
conquered French of the St. Lawrence valley into efficient allies of the
British government against the old Protestant colonies.

This eighth article was ridiculous, and was especially objected to by
Morris. In one of his vigorous, deliciously fresh, and humorous letters,
dated June 30, 1775, and addressed to John Jay, then in the Continental
Congress, he writes:--

     The foolish religious business I opposed until I was weary; it was
     carried by a very small majority, and my dissent entered.... The
     article about religion is most arrant nonsense, and would do as
     well in a high Dutch Bible as the place it now stands in.

     I drew a long report for our committee, to which they could make no
     objections excepting that none of them could understand it.... I
     was pleased at the rejection, because, as I observed to you before,
     I think the question ought to be simplified.

     I address this letter to you, but I shall be glad [if] you will
     read it to Livingstone, for I intend it for both of you; make my
     compliments to him, and tell him that I shall write to him when I
     have time to write a good letter--this is a damned bad one, and
     would not exist, if I did not think it a duty to myself to show my
     friends that I had no hand in that foolish religious business, I
     am, as you well know, your friend, etc.

Morris did not believe in a colonial assembly making overtures for a
reconciliation, as he thought this was the province of the Continental
Congress. The majority was against him, but he was a clever politician
and parliamentary tactician, as well as a great statesman, and he fairly
outwitted and hoodwinked his opponents, persuading them finally to adopt
the report in the form of a mere expression of opinions to be sent to
their congressional delegates, with a prayer that the latter would "use
every effort for the compromising of this unnatural quarrel between the
parent and child." In this shape it was forwarded to the delegates, who
answered that they would do all in their power to compromise the
quarrel, and added a postscript, written by Jay himself, to the effect
that they deemed it better not to make any mention of the religious
article before the Congress, as they thought it wise to bury "all
disputes on ecclesiastical points, which have for ages had no other
tendency than that of banishing peace and charity from the world."

While all this was pending, and though Bunker Hill had been fought, and
the war was in full progress round Boston, New York yet maintained what
might almost be described as an attitude of armed neutrality. The city
was so exposed to the British war-ships in the bay, and the surrounding
population was so doubtful, that the patriot party dared not take the
deciding steps, especially as so many of its members still clung to the
hope of a peaceful settlement. Morris announced frankly that he did not
believe in breaking the peace until they were prepared to take the
consequences. Indeed, when the few British troops left the city to join
the garrison in Boston, he strongly opposed the action of the Sons of
Liberty, who gathered hastily together, and took away the cartloads of
arms and ammunition that the soldiers were taking with them. The
Congress, to their honor, discouraged, to the best of their power, the
rioting and mobbing of Tories in the city.

In fact, New York's position was somewhat like that of Kentucky at the
outbreak of the Civil War. Her backwardness in definitely throwing in
her lot with the revolutionists was clearly brought out by a rather
ludicrous incident. General Washington, on his way to take command of
the continental army round Boston, passed through New York the same day
the royal governor, Tryon, arrived by sea, and the authorities were cast
into a great quandary as to how they should treat two such kings of
Brentford when the one rose was so small. Finally they compromised by
sending a guard of honor to attend each; Montgomery and Morris, as
delegates from the Assembly, received Washington and brought him before
that body, which addressed him in terms of cordial congratulation, but
ended with a noteworthy phrase,--that "when the contest should be
decided by an accommodation with the mother country, he should deliver
up the important deposit that had been confided to his hands."

These words give us the key to the situation. Even the patriots of the
colony could not realize that there was no hope of an "accommodation";
and they were hampered at every step by the fear of the British
frigates, and of the numerous Tories. The latter were very bold and
defiant; when Congress tried to disarm them, they banded themselves
together, bade the authorities defiance, and plainly held the upper land
on Staten Island and in Queens County. New York furnished many excellent
soldiers to the royal armies during the war, and from among her gentry
came the most famous of the Tory leaders,--such as Johnson and De
Lancey, whose prowess was felt by the hapless people of their own native
province; De Peyster, who was Ferguson's second in command at King's
Mountain; and Cruger, who, in the Carolinas, inflicted a check upon
Greene himself. The Tories were helped also by the jealousy felt towards
some of the other colonies, especially Connecticut, whose people took
the worst possible course for the patriot side by threatening to "crush
down" New York, and by finally furnishing an armed and mounted mob which
rode suddenly into the city, and wrecked the office of an obnoxious
loyalist printer named Rivington. This last proceeding caused great
indignation, and nearly made a split in the revolutionary camp.

New York had thus some cause for her inaction; nevertheless, her lack of
boldness and decision were not creditable to her, and she laid herself
open to just reproaches. Nor can Morris himself be altogether freed from
the charge of having clung too long to the hope of a reconciliation and
to a policy of half measures. He was at that time chairman of a
legislative committee which denounced any projected invasion of Canada
(therein, however, only following the example of the Continental
Congress), and refused to allow Ethan Allen to undertake one, as that
adventurous partisan chieftain requested. But Morris was too
clear-sighted to occupy a doubtful position long; and he now began to
see things clearly as they were, and to push his slower or more timid
associates forward along the path which they had set out to tread. He
was instrumental in getting the militia into somewhat better shape; and,
as it was found impossible to get enough continental money, a colonial
paper currency was issued. In spite of the quarrel with Connecticut, a
force from that province moved in to take part in the defense of New

Yet, in the main, the policy of the New York Congress still continued
both weak and changeable, and no improvement was effected when it was
dissolved and a second elected. To this body the loyalist counties of
Richmond and Queens refused to return delegates, and throughout the
colony affairs grew more disorderly, and the administration of justice
came nearly to a standstill. Finding that the local congress seemed
likely to remain unable to make up its mind how to act, the continental
leaders at last took matters into their own hands, and marched a force
into New York city early in February, 1776. This had a most bracing
effect upon the provincial authorities; yet they still continued to
allow the British war-ships in the bay to be supplied with provisions,
nor was this attitude altered until in April Washington arrived with the
main continental army. He at once insisted that a final break should be
made; and about the same time the third Provincial Congress was elected.
Morris, again returned for Westchester, headed the bolder spirits, who
had now decided that the time had come to force their associates out of
their wavering course, and to make them definitely cast in their lot
with their fellow Americans. Things had come to a point which made a
decision necessary; the gathering of the continental forces on Manhattan
Island and the threatening attitude of the British fleet and army made
it impossible for even the most timid to keep on lingering in a state of
uncertainty. So the Declaration of Independence was ratified, and a
state constitution organized; then the die was cast, and thereafter New
York manfully stood by the result of the throw.

The two Provincial Congresses that decided on this course held their
sessions in a time of the greatest tumult, when New York was threatened
hourly by the British; and long before their work was ended they had
hastily to leave the city. Before describing what they did, a glance
should be taken at the circumstances under which it was done.

The peaceable citizens, especially those with any property, gradually
left New York; and it remained in possession of the raw levies of the
continentals, while Staten Island received Howe with open arms, and he
was enabled without difficulty to disembark his great force of British
and German mercenaries on Long Island. The much smaller, motley force
opposed to him, unorganized, ill armed, and led by utterly inexperienced
men, was beaten, with hardly an effort, in the battle that followed, and
only escaped annihilation through the skill of Washington and the supine
blundering of Howe. Then it was whipped up the Hudson and beyond the
borders of the State, the broken remnant fleeing across New Jersey; and
though the brilliant feats of arms at Trenton and Princeton enabled the
Americans to reconquer the latter province, southern New York lay under
the heel of the British till the close of the war.

Thus Morris, Jay, and the other New York leaders were obliged for six
years to hold up their cause in a half-conquered State, a very large
proportion of whose population was lukewarm or hostile. The odds were
heavy against the patriots, because their worst foes were those of
their own household. English writers are fond of insisting upon the
alleged fact that America only won her freedom by the help of foreign
nations. Such help was certainly most important, but, on the other hand,
it must be remembered that during the first and vital years of the
contest the revolutionary colonists had to struggle unaided against the
British, their mercenary German and Indian allies, Tories, and even
French Canadians. When the French court declared in our favor the worst
was already over; Trenton had been won, Burgoyne had been captured, and
Valley Forge was a memory of the past.

We did not owe our main disasters to the might of our foes, nor our
final triumph to the help of our friends. It was on our own strength
that we had to rely, and it was with our own folly and weakness that we
had to contend. The revolutionary leaders can never be too highly
praised; but taken in bulk the Americans of the last quarter of the
eighteenth century do not compare to advantage with the Americans of the
third quarter of the nineteenth. In our Civil War it was the people who
pressed on the leaders, and won almost as much in spite of as because of
them; but the leaders of the Revolution had to goad the rank and file
into line. They were forced to contend not only with the active
hostility of the Tories, but with the passive neutrality of the
indifferent, and the selfishness, jealousy, and short-sightedness of the
patriotic. Had the Americans of 1776 been united, and had they possessed
the stubborn, unyielding tenacity and high devotion to an ideal shown by
the North, or the heroic constancy and matchless valor shown by the
South, in the Civil War, the British would have been driven off the
continent before three years were over.

It is probable that nearly as great a proportion of our own people were
actively or passively opposed to the formation of our union originally
as were in favor of its dissolution in 1860. This was one of the main
reasons why the war dragged on so long. It may be seen by the fact,
among others, that when in the Carolinas and Georgia a system of
relentless and undying partisan warfare not only crushed the Tories, but
literally destroyed them from off the face of the earth, then the
British, though still victorious in almost every pitched battle, were at
once forced to abandon the field.

Another reason was the inferior military capacity of the revolutionary
armies. The continental troops, when trained, were excellent; but in
almost every battle they were mixed with more or less worthless militia;
and of the soldiers thus obtained all that can be said is that their
officers could never be sure that they would fight, nor their enemies
that they would run away. The revolutionary troops certainly fell short
of the standard reached by the volunteers who fought Shiloh and
Gettysburg. The British rarely found them to be such foes as they
afterwards met at New Orleans and Lundy's Lane. Throughout the
Revolution the militia were invariably leaving their posts at critical
times; they would grow either homesick or dejected, and would then go
home at the very crisis of the campaign; they did not begin to show the
stubbornness and resolution to "see the war through" so common among
their descendants in the contending Federal and Confederate armies.

The truth is that in 1776 our main task was to shape new political
conditions, and then to reconcile our people to them; whereas in 1860 we
had merely to fight fiercely for the preservation of what was already
ours. In the first emergency we needed statesmen, and in the second
warriors; and the statesmen and warriors were forthcoming. A comparison
of the men who came to the front during these, the two heroic periods of
the Republic, brings out this point clearly.

Washington, alike statesman, soldier, and patriot, stands alone. He was
not only the greatest American; he was also one of the greatest men the
world has ever known. Few centuries and few countries have ever seen his
like. Among the people of English stock there is none to compare with
him, unless perhaps Cromwell, utterly different though the latter was.
Of Americans, Lincoln alone is worthy to stand even second.

As for our other statesmen: Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Adams, and
their fellows, most surely stand far above Seward, Sumner, Chase,
Stanton, and Stevens, great as were the services which these, and those
like them, rendered.

But when we come to the fighting men, all this is reversed. As a mere
military man Washington himself cannot rank with the wonderful war-chief
who for four years led the Army of Northern Virginia; and the names of
Washington and Greene fill up the short list of really good
Revolutionary Generals. Against these the Civil War shows a roll that
contains not only Lee, but also Grant and Sherman, Jackson and Johnson,
Thomas, Sheridan, and Farragut,--leaders whose volunteer soldiers and
sailors, at the end of their four years' service, were ready and more
than able to match themselves against the best regular forces of



The third Provincial Congress, which came together in May, and before
the close of its sessions was obliged to adjourn to White Plains, had to
act on the Declaration of Independence, and provide for the foundation
of a new state government.

Morris now put himself at the head of the patriotic party, and opened
the proceedings by a long and very able speech in favor of adopting the
recommendation of the Continental Congress that the colonies should form
new governments. In his argument he went at length into the history and
growth of the dispute with Great Britain, spoke of the efforts made in
the past for reconciliation, and then showed clearly how such efforts
were now not only hopeless, but also no longer compatible with the
dignity and manhood of Americans. He sneered at those who argued that we
ought to submit to Great Britain for the sake of the protection we got
from her. "Great Britain will not fail to bring us into a war with some
of her neighbors, and then protect us as a lawyer defends a suit: the
client paying for it. This is quite in form, but a wise man would, I
think, get rid of the suit and the lawyer together. Again, how are we to
be protected? If a descent is made upon our coasts and the British navy
and army are three thousand miles off, we cannot receive very great
benefit from them on that occasion. If, to obviate this inconvenience,
we have an army and navy constantly among us, who can say that we shall
not need a little protection against _them_?" He went on to point out
the hopelessness of expecting Great Britain to keep to any terms which
would deprive Parliament of its supremacy over America: for no
succeeding Parliament could be held bound by the legislation of its
predecessor, and the very acknowledgment of British supremacy on the
part of the Americans would bind them as subjects, and make the
supremacy of Parliament legitimate. He bade his hearers remember the
maxim "that no faith is to be kept with rebels;" and said: "In this
case, or in any other case, if we fancy ourselves hardly dealt with, I
maintain there is no redress but by arms. For it never yet was known
that, when men assume power, they will part with it again, unless by

He then took up the subject of independence, showed, for the benefit of
the good but timid men who were frightened at the mere title, that, in
all but name, it already existed in New York, and proved that its
maintenance was essential to our well-being. "My argument, therefore,
stands thus: As a connection with Great Britain cannot again exist
without enslaving America, an independence is absolutely necessary. I
cannot balance between the two. We run a hazard in one path, I confess;
but then we are infallibly ruined if we pursue the other.... We find the
characteristic marks and insignia of independence in this society,
considered in itself and compared with other societies. The enumeration
is conviction. Coining moneys, raising armies, regulating commerce,
peace, war: all these things you are not only adepts in, but masters of.
Treaties alone remain, and even those you have dabbled at. Georgia you
put under the ban of empire, and received her upon repentance as a
member of the flock. Canada you are now treating with. France and Spain
you ought to treat with, and the rest is but a name. I believe, sir, the
Romans were as much governed, or rather oppressed, by their emperors, as
ever any people were by their king. But emperor was more agreeable to
their ears than king. [So] some, nay, many, persons in America dislike
the word independence."

He then went on to show how independence would work well alike for our
peace, liberty, and security. Considering the first, he laughed at the
apprehensions expressed by some that the moment America was independent
all the powers of Europe would pounce down on her, to parcel out the
country among themselves; and showed clearly that to a European power
any war of conquest in America would be "tedious, expensive, uncertain,
and ruinous," and that none of the country could be kept even if it
should come to pass that some little portion of it were conquered. "But
I cannot think it will ever come to this. For when I turn my eyes to the
means of defense, I find them amply sufficient. We have all heard that
in the last war America was conquered in Germany. I hold the converse of
this to be true, namely, that in and by America his Majesty's German
dominions were secured.... I expect a full and lasting defense against
any and every part of the earth." After thus treating of the advantages
to be hoped for on the score of peace, he turns attention "to a question
of infinitely greater importance, namely, the liberty of this country;"
and afterwards passes to the matter of security, which, "so long as the
system of laws by which we are now governed shall prevail, is amply
provided for in every separate colony. There may indeed arise an
objection because some gentlemen suppose that the different colonies
will carry on a sort of land piracy against one another. But how this
can possibly happen when the idea of separate colonies no longer exists
I cannot for my soul comprehend. That something very like this has
already been done I shall not deny, but the reason is as evident as the
fact. We never yet had a government in this country of sufficient energy
to restrain the lawless and indigent. Whenever a form of government is
established which deserves the name, these insurrections must cease. But
who is the man so hardy as to affirm that they will not grow with our
growth, while on every occasion we must resort to an English judicature
to terminate differences which the maxims of policy will teach them to
leave undetermined? By degrees we are getting beyond the utmost pale of
English government. Settlements are forming to the westward of us, whose
inhabitants acknowledge no authority but their own." In one sentence he
showed rather a change of heart, as regarded his former aristocratic
leanings; for he reproached those who were "apprehensive of losing a
little consequence and importance by living in a country where all are
on an equal footing," and predicted that we should "cause all nations to
resort hither as an asylum from oppression."

The speech was remarkable for its incisive directness and boldness, for
the exact clearness with which it portrayed things as they were, for the
broad sense of American nationality that it displayed, and for the
accurate forecasts that it contained as to our future course in certain
particulars,--such as freedom from European wars and entanglements, a
strong but purely defensive foreign policy, the encouragement of the
growth of the West, while keeping it united to us, and the throwing open
our doors to the oppressed from abroad.

Soon after the delivery of this speech news came that the Declaration of
Independence had been adopted by the Continental Congress; and Jay, one
of the New York delegates to this body, and also a member of the
Provincial Congress, drew up for the latter a resolution emphatically
indorsing the declaration, which was at once adopted without a
dissenting voice. At the same time the Provincial Congress changed its
name to that of "The Convention of the Representatives of the State of
New York."

These last acts were done by a body that had been elected, with
increased power, to succeed the third Provincial Congress and provide
for a new constitution. Just before this, Morris had been sent to the
Continental Congress in Philadelphia to complain that the troops from
New England were paid more largely than those from the other colonies; a
wrong which was at once redressed, the wages of the latter being raised,
and Morris returned to New York in triumph after only a week's absence.

The Constitutional Convention of New York led a most checkered life; for
the victorious British chevied it up and down the State, hunting it in
turn from every small town in which it thought to have found a peaceful
haven of refuge. At last it rested in Fiskhill, such an out-of-the-way
place as to be free from danger. The members were obliged to go armed,
so as to protect themselves from stray marauding parties; and the number
of delegates in attendance alternately dwindled and swelled in a
wonderful manner, now resolving themselves into a committee of safety,
and again resuming their functions as members of the convention.

The most important duties of the convention were intrusted to two
committees. Of the first, which was to draft a plan for the
Constitution, Morris, Jay, and Livingston were the three leading
members, upon whom all the work fell; of the second, which was to devise
means for the establishment of a state fund, Morris was the chairman and
moving spirit.

He was also chairman of a committee which was appointed to look after
the Tories, and prevent them from joining together and rising; and so
numerous were they that the jails were soon choked with those of their
number who, on account of their prominence or bitterness, were most
obnoxious to the patriots. Also a partial system of confiscation of Tory
estates was begun. So greatly were the Tories feared and hated, and so
determined were the attempts to deprive them of even the shadow of a
chance to do harm, by so much as a word, that the convention sent a
memorial, drafted by Morris, to the Continental Congress, in which they
made the very futile suggestion that it should take "some measures for
expunging from the Book of Common Prayer such parts, and discontinuing
in the congregations of all other denominations all such prayers, as
interfere with the interests of the American cause." The resolution was
not acted on; but another part of the memorial shows how the Church of
England men were standing by the mother country, for it goes on to
recite that "the enemies of America have taken great pains to insinuate
into the minds of the Episcopalians that the church is in danger. We
could wish the Congress would pass some resolve to quiet their fears,
and we are confident that it would do essential service to the cause of
America, at least in this State."

Morris's position in regard to the Tories was a peculiarly hard one,
because among their number were many of his own relatives, including his
elder brother. The family house, where his mother resided, was within
the British lines; and not only did he feel the disapproval of such of
his people as were loyalists, on the one side, but, on the other, his
letters to his family caused him to be regarded with suspicion by the
baser spirits in the American party. About this time one of his sisters
died; the letter he then wrote to his mother is in the usual formal
style of the time, yet it shows marks of deep feeling, and he takes
occasion, while admitting that the result of the war was uncertain, to
avow, with a sternness unusual to him, his intention to face all things
rather than abandon the patriot cause. "The worst that can happen is to
fall on the last bleak mountain of America; and he who dies there in
defense of the injured rights of mankind is happier than his conqueror,
more beloved by mankind, more applauded by his own heart." The letter
closes by a characteristic touch, when he sends his love to "such as
deserve it. The number is not great."

The committee on the constitution was not ready to report until March,
1777. Then the convention devoted itself solely to the consideration of
the report, which, after several weeks' discussion, was adopted with
very little change. Jay and Morris led the debate before the convention,
as they had done previously in committee. There was perfect agreement
upon the general principles. Freehold suffrage was adopted, and a
majority of the freeholders of the State were thus the ultimate
governing power. The executive, judicial, and legislative powers were
separated sharply, as was done in the other States, and later on in the
Federal Constitution as well. The legislative body was divided into two

It was over the executive branch that the main contest arose. It was
conceded that this should be nominally single headed; that is, that
there should be a governor. But the members generally could not realize
how different was a governor elected by the people and responsible to
them, from one appointed by an alien and higher power to rule over them,
as in the colonial days. The remembrance of the contests with the royal
governors was still fresh; and the mere name of governor frightened
them. They had the same illogical fear of the executive that the
demagogues of to-day (and some honest but stupid people, as well)
profess to feel for a standing army. Men often let the dread of the
shadow of a dead wrong frighten them into courting a living evil.

Morris himself was wonderfully clear-sighted and cool-headed. He did not
let the memory of the wrong-doing of the royal governors blind him; he
saw that the trouble with them lay, not in the power that they held, but
in the source from which that power came. Once the source was changed,
the power was an advantage, not a harm, to the State. Yet few or none of
his companions could see this; and they nervously strove to save their
new State from the danger of executive usurpation by trying to make the
executive practically a board of men instead of one man, and by
crippling it so as to make it ineffective for good, while at the same
time dividing the responsibility, so that no one need be afraid to do
evil. Above all, they were anxious to take away from the governor the
appointment of the military and civil servants of the State.

Morris had persuaded the committee to leave the appointment of these
officials to the governor, the legislature retaining the power of
confirmation or rejection; but the convention, under the lead of Jay,
rejected this proposition, and after some discussion adopted in its
place the cumbrous and foolish plan of a "council of appointment," to
consist of the governor and several senators. As might have been
expected, this artificial body worked nothing but harm, and became
simply a peculiarly odious political machine.

Again, Morris advocated giving the governor a qualified veto over the
acts passed by the legislature; but instead of such a simple and
straightforward method of legislative revision, the convention saw fit
to adopt a companion piece of foolishness to the council of appointment,
in the shape of the equally complicated and anomalous council of
revision, consisting of the governor, chancellor, and judges of the
supreme court, by whom all the acts of the legislature had to be revised
before they could become laws. It is marvelous that these two bodies
should have lived on so long as they did--over forty years.

The convention did one most praiseworthy thing in deciding in favor of
complete religious toleration. This seems natural enough now; but at
that time there was hardly a European state that practiced it. Great
Britain harassed her Catholic subjects in a hundred different ways,
while in France Protestants were treated far worse, and, in fact, could
scarcely be regarded as having any legal standing whatever. On no other
one point do the statesmen of the Revolution show to more marked
advantage when compared with their European compeers than in this of
complete religious toleration. Their position was taken, too, simply
because they deemed it to be the right and proper one; they had nothing
to fear or hope from Catholics, and their own interests were in no wise
advanced by what they did in the matter.

But in the New York convention toleration was not obtained without a
fight. There always rankled in Jay's mind the memory of the terrible
cruelty wrought by Catholics on his Huguenot forefathers; and he
introduced into the article on toleration an appendix, which
discriminated against the adherents of the Church of Rome, denying them
the rights of citizenship until they should solemnly swear before the
supreme court, first, "that they verily believe in their conscience,
that no pope, priest, or foreign authority on earth has power to absolve
the subjects of this State from their allegiance to the same;" and,
second, "that they renounce ... the dangerous and damnable doctrine that
the Pope or any other earthly authority has power to absolve men from
sins described in and prohibited by the Holy Gospel." This second point,
however important, was of purely theological interest, and had
absolutely nothing to do with the state constitution; as to the first
proposition, it might have been proper enough had there been the least
chance of a conflict between the Pope, either in his temporal or his
ecclesiastical capacity, and the United States; but as there was no
possibility of such a conflict arising, and as, if it did arise, there
would not be the slightest danger of the United States receiving any
damage, to put the sentence in would have been not only useless, but
exceedingly foolish and harmful, on account of the intense irritation it
would have excited.

The whole clause was rejected by a two to one vote, and then all the
good that it aimed at was accomplished by the adoption, on the motion of
Morris, of a proviso that the toleration granted should not be held to
"justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of this
State." This proviso of Morris remains in the Constitution to this day;
and thus, while absolute religious liberty is guaranteed, the State
reserves to itself full right of protection, if necessary, against the
adherents of any religious body, foreign or domestic, if they menace the
public safety.

On a question even more important than religious toleration, namely, the
abolition of domestic slavery, Jay and Morris fought side by side; but
though the more enlightened of their fellow-members went with them,
they were a little too much in advance of the age, and failed. They
made every effort to have a clause introduced into the constitution
recommending to the future legislature of New York to abolish slavery as
soon as it could be done consistently with the public safety and the
rights of property; "so that in future ages every human being who
breathes the air of this State shall enjoy the privileges of a free
man." Although they failed in their immediate purpose, yet they had much
hearty support, and by the bold stand they took and the high ground they
occupied they undoubtedly brought nearer the period when the abolition
of slavery in New York became practicable.

The Constitution was finally adopted by the convention almost
unanimously, and went into effect forthwith, as there was no
ratification by the people at large.

As soon as it was adopted a committee, which included Morris, Jay, and
Livingston, was appointed to start and organize the new government. The
courts of justice were speedily put in running order, and thus one of
the most crying evils that affected the State was remedied. A council of
safety of fifteen members--again including Morris--was established to
act as the provincial government, until the regular legislature should
convene. An election for governor was also held almost immediately, and
Clinton was chosen. He was then serving in the field, where he had done
good work, and, together with his brother James, had fought with the
stubborn valor that seems to go with Anglo-Irish blood. He did not give
up his command until several months after he was elected, although
meanwhile keeping up constant communication with the council of safety,
through whom he acted in matters of state.

Meanwhile Burgoyne, with his eight or nine thousand troops, excellently
drilled British and Hessians, assisted by Tories, Canadians, and
Indians, had crossed the northern frontier, and was moving down towards
the heart of the already disorganized State, exciting the wildest panic
and confusion. The council of safety hardly knew how to act, and finally
sent a committee of two, Morris being one, to the headquarters of
General Schuyler, who had the supreme command over all the troops in the
northern part of New York.

On Morris's arrival he found affairs at a very low ebb, and at once
wrote to describe this condition to the president of the council of
safety. Burgoyne's army had come steadily on. He first destroyed
Arnold's flotilla on Lake Champlain. Then he captured the forts along
the Lakes, and utterly wrecked the division of the American army that
had been told off to defend them, under the very unfortunate General St.
Clair. He was now advancing through the great reaches of wooded
wilderness towards the head of the Hudson. Schuyler, a general of fair
capacity, was doing what he could to hold the enemy back; but his one
efficient supporter was the wilderness itself, through which the British
army stumbled painfully along. Schuyler had in all less than five
thousand men, half of them short service continental troops, the other
half militia. The farmers would not turn out until after harvest home;
all the bodies of militia, especially those from New England, were very
insubordinate and of most fickle temper, and could not be depended on
for any sustained contest; as an example, Stark, under whose nominal
command the northern New Engenders won the battle of Bennington,
actually marched off his whole force the day before the battle of
Stillwater, alleging the expiration of the term of service of his
soldiers as an excuse for what looked like gross treachery or cowardice,
but was probably merely sheer selfish wrong-headedness and mean
jealousy. Along the Mohawk valley the dismay was extreme, and the
militia could not be got out at all. Jay was so angered by the abject
terror in this quarter that he advised leaving the inhabitants to shift
for themselves; sound advice, too, for when the pinch came and they
were absolutely forced to take arms, they did very fairly at Oriskany.
It was even feared that the settlers of the region which afterwards
became Vermont would go over to the enemy; still, time and space were in
our favor, and Morris was quite right when he said in his first letter
(dated July 16, 1777): "Upon the whole I think we shall do very well,
but this opinion is founded merely upon the barriers which nature has
raised against all access from the northward." As he said of himself, he
was "a good guesser."

He outlined the plan which he thought the Americans should follow. This
was to harass the British in every way, without risking a stand-up
fight, while laying waste the country through which they were to pass so
as to render it impossible for an army to subsist on it. For the militia
he had the most hearty contempt, writing: "Three hundred of the militia
of Massachusetts Bay went off this morning, in spite of the
opposition--we should have said, entreaties--of their officers. All the
militia on the ground are so heartily tired, and so extremely desirous
of getting home, that it is more than probable that none of them will
remain here ten days longer. One half was discharged two days ago, to
silence, if possible, their clamor; and the remainder, officers
excepted, will soon discharge themselves."

The council of safety grew so nervous over the outlook that their
letters became fairly querulous; and they not unnaturally asked Morris
to include in his letters some paragraphs that could be given to the
public. To this that rather quick-tempered gentleman took exceptions,
and replied caustically in his next letter, the opening paragraph being:
"We have received yours of the 19th, which has afforded us great
pleasure, since we are enabled in some measure to collect from it our
errand to the northward, one of the most important objects of our
journey being, in the opinion of your honorable body, to write the
news," and he closes by stating that he shall come back to wait upon
them, and learn their pleasure, at once.

Meanwhile the repeated disasters in the north had occasioned much clamor
against Schuyler, who, if not a brilliant general, had still done what
he could in very trying circumstances, and was in no wise responsible
for the various mishaps that had occurred. The New England members of
Congress, always jealous of New York, took advantage of this to begin
intriguing against him, under the lead of Roger Sherman and others, and
finally brought about his replacement by Gates, a much inferior man,
with no capacity whatever for command. Morris and Jay both took up
Schuyler's cause very warmly, seeing clearly, in the first place, that
the disasters were far from ruinous, and that a favorable outcome was
probable; and, in the second place, that it was the people themselves
who were to blame and not Schuyler. They went on to Philadelphia to
speak for him, but they arrived just a day too late, Gates having been
appointed twenty-four hours previous to their coming.

When Gates reached his army the luck had already begun to turn.
Burgoyne's outlying parties had been destroyed, his Indians and
Canadians had left him, he had been disappointed in his hopes of a Tory
uprising in his favor, and, hampered by his baggage-train, he had been
brought almost to a stand-still in the tangled wilds through which he
had slowly ploughed his way. Schuyler had done what he could to hinder
the foe's progress, and had kept his own army together as a rallying
point for the militia, who, having gathered in their harvests, and being
inspirited by the outcome of the fights at Oriskany and Bennington,
flocked in by hundreds to the American standard. Gates himself did
literally nothing; he rather hindered his men than otherwise; and the
latter were turbulent and prone to disobey orders. But they were now in
fine feather for fighting, and there were plenty of them. So Gates
merely sat still, and the levy of backwoods farmers, all good individual
fighters, and with some excellent brigade and regimental commanders,
such as Arnold and Morgan, fairly mobbed to death the smaller number of
dispirited and poorly led regulars against whom they were pitted. When
the latter were at last fought out and forced to give in, Gates allowed
them much better terms than he should have done; and the Continental
Congress, to its shame, snatched at a technicality, under cover of which
to break the faith plighted through its general, and to avoid fulfilling
the conditions to which he had so foolishly agreed.

Morris and Jay, though unable to secure the retention of Schuyler, had,
nevertheless, by their representations while at Philadelphia, prevailed
on the authorities largely to reinforce the army which was about to be
put under Gates. Morris was very angry at the intrigue by which the
latter had been given the command; but what he was especially aiming at
was the success of the cause, not the advancement of his friends. Once
Gates was appointed he did all in his power to strengthen him, and, with
his usual clear-sightedness, he predicted his ultimate success.

Schuyler was a man of high character and public spirit, and he behaved
really nobly in the midst of his disappointment; his conduct throughout
affording a very striking contrast to that of McClellan, under somewhat
similar circumstances in the Civil War. Morris wrote him, sympathizing
with him, and asking him to sink all personal feeling and devote his
energies to the common weal of the country while out of power just as
strenuously as he had done when in command. Schuyler responded that he
should continue to serve his country as zealously as before, and he made
his words good; but Gates was jealous of the better man whose downfall
he had been the instrument of accomplishing, and declined to profit by
his help.

In a later letter to Schuyler, written September 18, 1777, Morris
praised the latter very warmly for the way he had behaved, and commented
roughly on Gates' littleness of spirit. He considered that with such a
commander there was nothing to be hoped for from skillful management,
and that Burgoyne would have to be simply tired out. Alluding to a rumor
that the Indians were about to take up the hatchet for us, he wrote, in
the humorous vein he adopted so often in dealing even with the most
pressing matters: "If this be true, it would be infinitely better to
wear away the enemy's army by a scrupulous and polite attention, than
to violate the rules of decorum and the laws of hospitality by making an
attack upon strangers in our own country!" He gave Schuyler the news of
Washington's defeat at the battle of Brandywine, and foretold the
probable loss of Philadelphia and a consequent winter campaign.

In ending he gave a thoroughly characteristic sketch of the occupations
of himself and his colleagues. "The chief justice (Jay) is gone to fetch
his wife. The chancellor (Livingston) is solacing himself with his wife,
his farm, and his imagination. Our senate is doing, I know not what. In
assembly we wrangle long to little purpose.... We have some principles
of fermentation which must, if it be possible, evaporate before business
is entered upon."



At the end of 1777, while still but twenty-five years old, Morris was
elected to the Continental Congress, and took his seat in that body at
Yorktown in the following January.

He was immediately appointed as one of a committee of five members to go
to Washington's headquarters at Valley Forge and examine into the
condition of the continental troops.

The dreadful suffering of the American army in this winter camp was such
that its memory has literally eaten its way into the hearts of our
people, and it comes before our minds with a vividness that dims the
remembrance of any other disaster. Washington's gaunt, half-starved
continentals, shoeless and ragged, shivered in their crazy huts, worn
out by want and illness, and by the bitter cold; while the members of
the Continental Congress not only failed to support them in the present,
but even grudged them the poor gift of a promise of half-pay in the
future. Some of the delegates, headed by Samuel Adams, were actually
caballing against the great chief himself, the one hope of America.
Meanwhile the States looked askance at each other, and each sunk into
supine indifference when its own borders were for the moment left
unthreatened by the foe. Throughout the Revolutionary War our people
hardly once pulled with a will together; although almost every locality
in turn, on some one occasion, varied its lethargy by a spasm of
terrible energy. Yet, again, it must be remembered that we were never
more to be dreaded than when our last hope seemed gone; and if the
people were unwilling to show the wisdom and self-sacrifice that would
have insured success, they were equally determined under no
circumstances whatever to acknowledge final defeat.

To Jay, with whom he was always intimate, Morris wrote in strong terms
from Valley Forge, painting things as they were, but without a shadow of
doubt or distrust; for he by this time saw clearly enough that in
American warfare the darkest hour was often followed close indeed by
dawn. "The skeleton of an army presents itself to our eyes in a naked,
starving condition, out of health, out of spirits. But I have seen Fort
George in 1777." The last sentence refers to what he saw of Schuyler's
forces, when affairs in New York State were at the blackest, just before
the tide began to turn against Burgoyne. He then went on to beseech Jay
to exert himself to the utmost on the great question of taxation, the
most vital of all. Morris himself was so good a financier that
revolutionary financial economics drove him almost wild. The Continental
Congress, of which he had just become a member, he did not esteem very
highly, and dismissed it, as well as the currency, as having "both
depreciated." The State of Pennsylvania, he remarked, was "sick unto
death;" and added that "Sir William [the British general] would prove a
most damnable physician."

Most wisely, in examining and reporting, he paid heed almost exclusively
to Washington's recommendations, and the plan he and his colleagues
produced was little more than an enlargement of the general's
suggestions as to filling out the regiments, regulating rank, modeling
the various departments, etc. In fact, Morris now devoted himself to
securing the approval of Congress for Washington's various plans.

In urging one of the most important of these he encountered very
determined opposition. Washington was particularly desirous of securing
a permanent provision for the officers by the establishment of a system
of half-pay, stating that without some such arrangement he saw no hope
whatever for the salvation of the cause; for as things then were the
officers were leaving day by day; and of those who went home on furlough
to the Eastern and Southern States, many, instead of returning, went
into some lucrative employment. This fact, by the way, while showing the
difficulties with which Washington had to deal, and therefore his
greatness, since he successfully dealt with them, at the same time puts
the officers of the Revolution in no very favorable light as compared
with their descendants at the time of the great rebellion; and the
Continental Congress makes a still worse showing.

When Morris tried to push through a measure providing for half-pay for
life he was fought, tooth and nail, by many of his colleagues,
including, to their lasting discredit be it said, every delegate from
New England. The folly of these ultra-democratic delegates almost passes
belief. They seemed incapable of learning how the fight for liberty
should be made. Their leaders, like Samuel Adams and John Hancock, did
admirable service in exciting the Americans to make the struggle; but
once it was begun, their function ended, and from thence onward they
hampered almost as much as they helped the patriot cause. New England,
too, had passed through the period when its patriotic fervor was at
white heat. It still remained as resolute as ever; and if the danger had
been once more brought home to its very door-sill, then it would have
risen again as it had risen before; but without the spur of an immediate
necessity it moved but sluggishly.

The New Englanders were joined by the South Carolina delegates. Morris
was backed by the members from New York, Virginia, and the other States,
and he won the victory, but not without being obliged to accept
amendments that took away some of the good of the measure. Half-pay was
granted, but it was only to last for seven years after the close of the
war; and the paltry bounty of eighty dollars was to be given to every
soldier who served out his time to the end.

At the same period Morris was engaged on numerous other committees,
dealing chiefly with the finances, or with the remedy of abuses that had
crept into the administration of the army. In one of his reports he
exposed thoroughly the frightful waste in the purchase and distribution
of supplies, and, what was much worse, the accompanying frauds. These
frauds had become a most serious evil; Jay, in one of his letters to
Morris, had already urgently requested him to turn his attention
especially to stopping the officers, in particular those of the staff,
from themselves engaging in trade, on account of the jobbing and
swindling that it produced. The shoddy contractors of the Civil War had
plenty of predecessors in the Revolution.

When these events occurred, in the spring of 1778, it was already three
years after the fight at Lexington; certainly, the continental armies of
that time do not compare favorably, even taking all difficulties into
account, with the Confederate forces which, in 1864, three years after
the fall of Sumter, fronted Grant and Sherman. The men of the Revolution
failed to show the capacity to organize for fighting purposes, and the
ability to bend all energies towards the attainment of a given end,
which their great-grandsons of the Civil War, both at the North and the
South, possessed. Yet, after all, their very follies sprang from their
virtues, from their inborn love of freedom, and their impatience of the
control of outsiders. So fierce had they been in their opposition to the
rule of foreigners that they were now hardly willing to submit to being
ruled by themselves; they had seen power so abused that they feared its
very use; they were anxious to assert their independence of all mankind,
even of each other. Stubborn, honest, and fearless, they were taught
with difficulty, and only by the grinding logic of an imperious
necessity, that it was no surrender of their freedom to submit to rulers
chosen by themselves, through whom alone that freedom could be won. They
had not yet learned that right could be enforced only by might, that
union was to the full as important as liberty, because it was the
prerequisite condition for the establishment and preservation of

But if the Americans of the Revolution were not perfect, how their
faults dwindle when we stand them side by side with their European
compeers! What European nation then brought forth rulers as wise and
pure as our statesmen, or masses as free and self-respecting as our
people? There was far more swindling, jobbing, cheating, and stealing in
the English army than in ours; the British king and his ministers need
no criticism; and the outcome of the war proves that their nation as a
whole was less resolute than our own. As for the other European powers,
the faults of our leaders sink out of sight when matched against the
ferocious frivolity of the French noblesse, or the ignoble, sordid,
bloody baseness of those swinish German kinglets who let out their
subjects to do hired murder, and battened on the blood and sweat of the
wretched beings under them, until the whirlwind of the French Revolution
swept their carcasses from off the world they cumbered.

We must needs give all honor to the men who founded our Commonwealth;
only in so doing let us remember that they brought into being a
government under which their children were to grow better and not worse.

       *       *       *       *       *

Washington at once recognized in Morris a man whom he could trust in
every way, and on whose help he could rely in other matters besides
getting his officers half-pay. The young New Yorker was one of the great
Virginian's warmest supporters in Congress, and took the lead in
championing his cause at every turn. He was the leader in putting down
intrigues like that of the French-Irish adventurer Conway, his ready
tongue and knowledge of parliamentary tactics, no less than his ability,
rendering him the especial dread and dislike of the anti-Washington

Washington wrote to Morris very freely, and in one of his letters
complained of the conduct of some of the officers who wished to resign
when affairs looked dark and to be reinstated as soon as they
brightened a little. Morris replied with one of his bright caustic
letters, sparing his associates very little, their pompous tediousness
and hesitation being peculiarly galling to a man so far-seeing and so
prompt to make up his mind. He wrote: "We are going on with the
regimental arrangements as fast as possible, and I think the day begins
to appear with respect to that business. Had our Saviour addressed a
chapter to the rulers of mankind, as he did many to the subjects, I am
persuaded his good sense would have dictated this text: _Be not wise
overmuch_. Had the several members who compose our multifarious body
been only wise _enough_, our business would long since have been
completed. But our superior abilities, or the desire of appearing to
possess them, lead us to such exquisite tediousness of debate that the
most precious moments pass unheeded away.... As to what you mention of
the extraordinary demeanor of some gentlemen, I cannot but agree with
you that such conduct is not the most _honorable_. But, on the other
hand, you must allow that it is the most _safe_ and certainly you are
not to learn that, however ignorant of that happy art in your own
person, the bulk of us bipeds know well how to balance solid pudding
against empty praise. There are other things, my dear sir, beside
virtue, which are their own _reward_."

Washington chose Morris as his confidential friend and agent to bring
privately before Congress a matter in reference to which he did not
consider it politic to write publicly. He was at that time annoyed
beyond measure by the shoals of foreign officers who were seeking
employment in the army, and he wished Congress to stop giving them
admission to the service. These foreign officers were sometimes
honorable men, but more often adventurers; with two or three striking
exceptions they failed to do as well as officers of native birth; and,
as later in the Civil War, so in the Revolution, it appeared that
Americans could be best commanded by Americans. Washington had the
greatest dislike for these adventurers, stigmatizing them as "men who in
the first instance tell you that they wish for nothing more than the
honor of serving in so glorious a cause as volunteers, the next day
solicit rank without pay, the day following want money advanced to them,
and in the course of a week want further promotion, and are not
satisfied with anything you can do for them." He ended by writing: "I do
most devoutly wish that we had not a single foreigner among us, except
the Marquis de Lafayette, who acts upon very different principles from
those which govern the rest." To Lafayette, indeed, America owes as much
as to any of her own children, for his devotion to us was as
disinterested and sincere as it was effective; and it is a pleasant
thing to remember that we, in our turn, not only repaid him materially,
but, what he valued far more, that our whole people yielded him all his
life long the most loving homage a man could receive. No man ever kept
pleasanter relations with a people he had helped than Lafayette did with

Morris replied to Washington that he would do all in his power to aid
him. Meanwhile he had also contracted a very warm friendship for Greene,
then newly appointed quartermaster general of the army, and proved a
most useful ally, both in and out of Congress, in helping the general to
get his department in good running order, and in extricating it from the
frightful confusion in which it had previously been plunged.

He also specially devoted himself at this time to an investigation of
the finances, which were in a dreadful condition; and by the ability
with which he performed his very varied duties he acquired such
prominence that he was given the chairmanship of the most important of
all the congressional committees. This was the committee to which was
confided the task of conferring with the British commissioners, who had
been sent over, in the spring of 1778, to treat with the Americans, in
accordance with the terms of what were known as Lord North's
conciliatory bills. These bills were two in number, the first giving up
the right of taxation, about which the quarrel had originally arisen,
and the second authorizing the commissioners to treat with the revolted
colonies on all questions in dispute. They were introduced in Parliament
on account of the little headway made by the British in subduing their
former subjects, and were pressed hastily through because of the fear of
an American alliance with France, which was then, indeed, almost

Three years before, these bills would have achieved their end; but now
they came by just that much time too late. The embittered warfare had
lasted long enough entirely to destroy the old friendly feelings; and
the Americans having once tasted the "perilous pleasure" of freedom,
having once stretched out their arms and stood before the world's eyes
as their own masters, it was certain that they would never forego their
liberty, no matter with what danger it was fraught, no matter how light
the yoke, or how kindly the bondage, by which it was to be replaced.

Two days after the bills were received, Morris drew up and presented
his report, which was unanimously adopted by Congress. Its tenor can be
gathered from its summing up, which declared that the indispensable
preliminaries to any treaty would have to be the withdrawal of all the
British fleets and armies, and the acknowledgment of the independence of
the United States; and it closed by calling on the several States to
furnish without delay their quotas of troops for the coming campaign.

This decisive stand was taken when America was still without allies in
the contest; but ten days afterwards messengers came to Congress,
bearing copies of the treaty with France. It was ratified forthwith, and
again Morris was appointed chairman of a committee, this time to issue
an address on the subject to the American people at large. He penned
this address himself, explaining fully the character of the crisis, and
going briefly over the events that had led to it; and shortly afterwards
he drew up, on behalf of Congress, a sketch of all the proceedings in
reference to the British commissioners, under the title of "Observations
on the American Revolution," giving therein a masterly outline not only
of the doings of Congress in the particular matter under consideration,
but also an account of the causes of the war, of the efforts of the
Americans to maintain peace, and of the chief events that had taken
place, as well as a comparison between the contrasting motives and aims
of the contestants.

Morris was one of the committee appointed to receive the French
minister, M. Gerard. Immediately afterwards he was also selected by
Congress to draft the instructions which were to be sent to Franklin,
the American minister at the court of Versailles. As a token of the
closeness of our relations with France, he was requested to show these
instructions to M. Gerard, which he accordingly did; and some
interesting features of the conversation between the two men have been
preserved for us in the despatches of Gerard to the French court. The
Americans were always anxious to undertake the conquest of Canada,
although Washington did not believe the scheme feasible; and the French
strongly, although secretly, opposed it, as it was their policy from the
beginning that Canada should remain English. Naturally the French did
not wish to see America transformed into a conquering power, a menace to
themselves and to the Spaniards as well as to the English; nor can they
be criticised for feeling in this way, or taunted with acting only from
motives of self-interest. It is doubtless true that their purposes in
going into the war were mixed; they unquestionably wished to benefit
themselves, and to hurt their old and successful rival; but it is
equally unquestionable that they were also moved by a generous spirit of
sympathy and admiration for the struggling colonists. It would, however,
have been folly to let this sympathy blind them to the consequences that
might ensue to all Europeans having possessions in America, if the
Americans should become not only independent, but also aggressive; and
it was too much to expect them to be so far-sighted as to see that, once
independent, it was against the very nature of things that the Americans
should _not_ be aggressive, and impossible that they should be aught but
powerful and positive instruments, both in their own persons and by
their example, in freeing the whole western continent from European

Accordingly M. Gerard endeavored, though without success, to prevail on
Morris not to mention the question of an invasion of Canada in the
instructions to Franklin. He also warned the American of the danger of
alarming Spain by manifesting a wish to encroach on its territory in the
Mississippi valley, mentioning and condemning the attitude taken by
several members of Congress to the effect that the navigation of the
Mississippi should belong equally to the English and Americans.

Morris's reply showed how little even the most intelligent American of
that time--especially if he came from the Northern or Eastern
States--could appreciate the destiny of his country. He stated that his
colleagues favored restricting the growth of our country to the south
and west, and believed that the navigation of the Mississippi, from the
Ohio down, should belong exclusively to the Spaniards, as otherwise the
western settlements springing up in the valley of the Ohio, and on the
shores of the Great Lakes, would not only domineer over Spain, but also
over the United States, and would certainly render themselves
independent in the end. He further said that some at least of those who
were anxious to secure the navigation of the Mississippi, were so from
interested motives, having money ventures in the establishments along
the river. However, if he at this time failed fully to grasp his
country's future, he was later on one of the first in the Northern
States to recognize it; and once he did see it he promptly changed, and
became the strongest advocate of our territorial expansion.

Accompanying his instructions to Franklin, Morris sent a pamphlet
entitled "Observations on the Finances of America," to be laid before
the French ministry. Practically, all that the pamphlet amounted to was
a most urgent begging letter, showing that our own people could not, or
would not, either pay taxes, or take up a domestic loan, so that we
stood in dire need of a subsidy from abroad. The drawing up of such a
document could hardly have been satisfactory employment for a high
spirited man who wished to be proud of his country.

All through our negotiations with France and England Morris's views
coincided with those of Washington, Hamilton, Jay, and the others who
afterwards became leaders of the Federalist party. Their opinions were
well expressed by Jay in a letter to Morris written about this time,
which ran: "I view a return to the domination of Britain with horror,
and would risk all for independence; but that point ceded, ... the
destruction of Old England would hurt me; I wish it well; it afforded my
ancestors an asylum from persecution." The rabid American adherents of
France could not understand such sentiments, and the more mean spirited
among them always tried to injure Morris on account of his loyalist
relatives, although so many families were divided in this same way,
Franklin's only son being himself a prominent Tory. So bitter was this
feeling that when, later on, Morris's mother, who was within the
British lines, became very ill, he actually had to give up his intended
visit to her, because of the furious clamor that was raised against it.
He refers bitterly, in one of his letters to Jay, to the "malevolence of
individuals," as something he had to expect, but which he announced that
he would conquer by so living as to command the respect of those whose
respect was worth having.

When, however, his foes were of sufficient importance to warrant his
paying attention to them individually, Morris proved abundantly able to
take care of himself, and to deal heavier blows than he received. This
was shown in the controversy which convulsed Congress over the conduct
of Silas Deane, the original American envoy to France. Deane did not
behave very well, but at first he was certainly much more sinned against
than sinning, and Morris took up his cause warmly. Thomas Paine, the
famous author of "Common Sense," who was secretary of the Committee of
Foreign Affairs, attacked Deane and his defenders, as well as the court
of France, with peculiar venom, using as weapons the secrets he became
acquainted with through his official position, and which he was in honor
bound not to divulge. For this Morris had him removed from his
secretaryship, and in the debate handled him extremely roughly,
characterizing him with contemptuous severity as "a mere adventurer from
England ... ignorant even of grammar," and ridiculing his pretensions to
importance. Paine was an adept in the art of invective; but he came out
second best in this encounter, and never forgot or forgave his

As a rule, however, Morris was kept too busily at work to spare time for
altercations. He was chairman of three important standing committees,
those on the commissary, quartermaster's, and medical departments, and
did the whole business for each. He also had more than his share of
special committee work, besides playing his full part in the debates and
consultations of the Congress itself. Moreover, his salary was so small
that he had to eke it out by the occasional practice of his profession.
He devoted himself especially to the consideration of our finances and
of our foreign relations; and, as he grew constantly to possess more and
more weight and influence in Congress, he was appointed, early in 1779,
as chairman of a very important committee, which was to receive
communications from our ministers abroad, as well as from the French
envoy. He drew out its report, together with the draft of instructions
to our foreign ministers, which it recommended. Congress accepted the
first, and adopted the last, without change, whereby it became the
basis of the treaty by which we finally won peace. In his draft he had
been careful not to bind down our representatives on minor points, and
to leave them as large liberty of action as was possible; but the main
issues, such as the boundaries, the navigation of the Mississippi, and
the fisheries, were discussed at length and in order.

At the time this draft of instructions for a treaty was sent out there
was much demand among certain members in Congress that we should do all
in our power to make foreign alliances, and to procure recognitions of
our independence in every possible quarter. To this Morris was heartily
opposed, deeming that this "rage for treaties," as he called it, was not
very dignified on our part. He held rightly that our true course was to
go our own gait, without seeking outside favor, until we had shown
ourselves able to keep our own place among nations, when the
recognitions would come without asking. Whether European nations
recognized us as a free people, or not, was of little moment so long as
we ourselves knew that we had become one in law and in fact, through the
right of battle and the final arbitrament of the sword.

Besides these questions of national policy, Morris also had to deal with
an irritating matter affecting mainly New York. This was the dispute of
that state with the people of Vermont, who wished to form a separate
commonwealth of their own, while New York claimed that their lands came
within its borders. Even the fear of their common foe, the British,
against whom they needed to employ their utmost strength, was barely
sufficient to prevent the two communities from indulging in a small
civil war of their own; and they persisted in pressing their rival
claims upon the attention of Congress, and clamoring for a decision from
that harassed and overburdened body. Clinton, who was much more of a
politician than a statesman, led the popular party in this foolish
business, the majority of the New Yorkers being apparently nearly as
enthusiastic in asserting their sovereignty over Vermont as they were in
declaring their independence of Britain. Morris, however, was very
half-hearted in pushing the affair before Congress. He doubted if
Congress had the power, and he knew it lacked the will, to move in the
matter at all; and besides he did not sympathize with the position taken
by his State. He was wise enough to see that the Vermonters had much of
the right on their side in addition to the great fact of possession; and
that New York would be probably unable to employ force enough to conquer
them. Clinton was a true type of the separatist or states-rights
politician of that day: he cared little how the national weal was
affected by the quarrel; and he was far more anxious to bluster than to
fight over the matter, to which end he kept besieging the delegates in
Congress with useless petitions. In a letter to him Morris put the case
with his usual plainness, telling him that it was perfectly idle to keep
worrying Congress to take action, for it would certainly not do so, and
if it did render a decision, the Vermonters would no more respect it
than they would the Pope's Bull. He went on to show his characteristic
contempt for half-measures, and capacity for striking straight at the
root of things: "Either let these people alone, or conquer them. I
prefer the latter; but I doubt the means. If we have the means let them
be used, and let Congress deliberate and decide, or deliberate without
deciding,--it is of no consequence. Success will sanctify every
operation.... If we have not the means of conquering these people we
must let them alone. We must continue our impotent threats, or we must
make a treaty.... If we continue our threats they will either hate or
despise us, and perhaps both.... On the whole, then, my conclusion is
here, as on most other human affairs, act decisively, fight or
submit--conquer or treat." Morris was right; the treaty was finally
made, and Vermont became an independent State.

But the small politicians of New York would not forgive him for the
wisdom and the broad feeling of nationality he showed on this and so
many other questions; and they defeated him when he was a candidate for
reëlection to Congress at the end of 1779. The charge they urged against
him was that he devoted his time wholly to the service of the nation at
large, and not to that of New York in particular; his very devotion to
the public business, which had kept him from returning to the State,
being brought forward to harm him. Arguments of this kind are common
enough even at the present day, and effective too, among that numerous
class of men with narrow minds and selfish hearts. Many an able and
upright Congressman since Morris has been sacrificed because his
constituents found he was fitted to do the exact work needed; because he
showed himself capable of serving the whole nation, and did not devote
his time to advancing the interests of only a portion thereof.



At the end of 1779 Morris was thus retired to private life; and, having
by this time made many friends in Philadelphia, he took up his abode in
that city. His leaving Congress was small loss to himself, as that body
was rapidly sinking into a condition of windy decrepitude.

He at once began working at his profession, and also threw himself with
eager zest into every attainable form of gayety and amusement, for he
was of a most pleasure-loving temperament, very fond of society, and a
great favorite in the little American world of wit and fashion. But
although in private life, he nevertheless kept his grip on public
affairs, and devoted himself to the finances, which were in a most
wretched state. He could not keep out of public life; he probably agreed
with Jay, who, on hearing that he was again a private citizen, wrote him
to "remember that Achilles made no figure at the spinning-wheel." At any
rate, as early as February, 1780, he came to the front once more as the
author of a series of essays on the finances. They were published in
Philadelphia, and attracted the attention of all thinking men by their
soundness. In fact it was in our monetary affairs that the key to the
situation was to be found; for, had we been willing to pay honestly and
promptly the necessary war expenses, we should have ended the struggle
in short order. But the niggardliness as well as the real poverty, of
the people, the jealousies of the states, kept aflame by the
states-rights leaders for their own selfish purposes, and the foolish
ideas of most of the congressional delegates on all money matters,
combined to keep our treasury in a pitiable condition.

Morris tried to show the people at large the advantage of submitting to
reasonable taxation, while at the same time combating some of the
theories entertained as well by themselves as by their congressional
representatives. He began by discussing with great clearness what money
really is, how far coin can be replaced by paper, the interdependence of
money and credit, and other elementary points in reference to which most
of his fellow-citizens seemed to possess wonderfully mixed ideas. He
attacked the efforts of Congress to make their currency legal tender;
and then showed the utter futility of one of the pet schemes of
revolutionary financial wisdom, the regulation of prices by law. Hard
times, then as now, always produced not only a large debtor class, but
also a corresponding number of political demagogues who truckled to it;
and both demagogue and debtor, when they clamored for laws which should
"relieve" the latter, meant thereby laws which would enable him to
swindle his creditor. The people, moreover, liked to lay the blame for
their misfortunes neither on fate nor on themselves, but on some
unfortunate outsider; and they were especially apt to attack as
"monopolists" the men who had purchased necessary supplies in large
quantities to profit by their rise in price. Accordingly they passed
laws against them; and Morris showed in his essays the unwisdom of such
legislation, while not defending for a moment the men who looked on the
misfortunes of their country solely as offering a field for their own

He ended by drawing out an excellent scheme of taxation; but,
unfortunately, the people were too short-sighted to submit to any
measure of the sort, no matter how wise and necessary. One of the pleas
he made for his scheme was, that something of the sort would be
absolutely necessary for the preservation of the Federal Union, "which,"
he wrote, "in my poor opinion, will greatly depend upon the management
of the revenue." He showed with his usual clearness the need of
obtaining, for financial as well as for all other reasons, a firmer
union, as the existing confederation bade fair to become, as its enemies
had prophesied, a rope of sand. He also foretold graphically the misery
that would ensue--and that actually did ensue--when the pressure from a
foreign foe should cease, and the states should be resolved into a
disorderly league of petty, squabbling communities. In ending he
remarked bitterly: "The articles of confederation were formed when the
attachment to Congress was warm and great. The framers of them,
therefore, seem to have been only solicitous how to provide against the
power of that body, which, by means of their foresight and care, now
exists by mere courtesy and sufferance."

Although Morris was not able to convert Congress to the ways of sound
thinking, his ability and clearness impressed themselves on all the best
men; notably on Robert Morris,--who was no relation of his, by the
way,--the first in the line of American statesmen who have been great in
finance; a man whose services to our treasury stand on a par, if not
with those of Hamilton, at least with those of Gallatin and John
Sherman. Congress had just established four departments, with
secretaries at the head of each. The two most important were the
Departments of Foreign Affairs and of Finance. Livingstone was given the
former, while Robert Morris received the latter; and immediately
afterwards appointed Gouverneur Morris as Assistant Financier, at a
salary of eighteen hundred and fifty dollars a year.

Morris accepted this appointment, and remained in office for three years
and a half, until the beginning of 1785. He threw himself heart and soul
into the work, helping his chief in every way; and in particular giving
him invaluable assistance in the establishment of the "Bank of North
America," which Congress was persuaded to incorporate,--an institution
which was the first of its kind in the country. It was of wonderful
effect in restoring the public credit, and was absolutely invaluable in
the financial operations undertaken by the secretary.

When, early in 1782, the secretary was directed by Congress, to present
to that body a report on the foreign coins circulating in the country,
it was prepared and sent in by Gouverneur Morris, and he accompanied it
with a plan for an American coinage. The postscript was the really
important part of the document, and the plan therein set forth was made
the basis of our present coinage system, although not until several
years later, and then only with important modifications, suggested, for
the most part, by Jefferson.

Although his plan was modified, it still remains true that Gouverneur
Morris was the founder of our national coinage. He introduced the system
of decimal notation, invented the word "cent" to express one of the
smaller coins, and nationalized the already familiar word "dollar." His
plan, however, was a little too abstruse for the common mind, the unit
being made so small that a large sum would have had to be expressed in a
very great number of figures, and there being five or six different
kinds of new coins, some of them not simple multiples of each other.
Afterwards he proposed as a modification a system of pounds, or dollars,
and doits, the doit answering to our present mill, while providing also
an ingenious arrangement by which the money of account was to differ
from the money of coinage. Jefferson changed the system by grafting on
it the dollar as a unit, and simplifying it; and Hamilton perfected it

To understand the advantage, as well as the boldness, of Morris's
scheme, we must keep in mind the horrible condition of our currency at
that time. We had no proper coins of our own; nothing but hopelessly
depreciated paper bills, a mass of copper, and some clipped and
counterfeited gold and silver coin from the mints of England, France,
Spain, and even Germany. Dollars, pounds, shillings, doubloons, ducats,
moidores, joes, crowns, pistareens, coppers, and sous, circulated
indifferently, and with various values in each colony. A dollar was
worth six shillings in Massachusetts, eight in New York, seven and
sixpence in Pennsylvania, six again in Virginia, eight again in North
Carolina, thirty-two and a half in South Carolina, and five in Georgia.
The government itself had to resort to clipping in one of its most
desperate straits; and at last people would only take payment by weight
of gold or silver.

Morris, in his report, dwelt especially on three points: first, that the
new money should be easily intelligible to the multitude, and should,
therefore, bear a close relation to the coins already existing, as
otherwise its sudden introduction would bring business to a stand-still;
and would excite distrust and suspicion everywhere, particularly among
the poorest and most ignorant, the day-laborers, the farm servants, and
the hired help. Second, that its lowest divisible sum, or unit, should
be very small, so that the price and the value of little things could be
made proportionate; and third, that as far as possible the money should
increase in decimal ratio. The Spanish dollar was the coin most widely
circulated, while retaining everywhere about the same value. Accordingly
he took this, and then sought for a unit that would go evenly into it,
as well as into the various shillings, disregarding the hopelessly
aberrant shilling of South Carolina. Such a unit was a quarter of a
grain of pure silver, equal to the one fourteen hundred and fortieth
part of a dollar; it was not, of course, necessary to have it exactly
represented in coin. On the contrary, he proposed to strike two copper
pieces, respectively of five and eight units, to be known as _fives_ and
_eights_. Two _eights_ would then make a penny in Pennsylvania, and
three _eights_ one in Georgia, while three _fives_ would make one in New
York, and four would make one in Massachusetts. Morris's great aim was,
while establishing uniform coins for the entire Union, to get rid of the
fractional remainders in translating the old currencies into the new;
and in addition his reckoning adapted itself to the different systems in
the different states, as well as to the different coins in use. But he
introduced an entirely new system of coinage, and moreover used therein
the names of several old coins while giving them new values. His
originally proposed table of currency was as follows:--

  One crown = ten dollars, or   10,000 units.
  One dollar = ten bills, or     1,000  "
  One bill = ten pence, or         100  "
  One penny = ten quarters, or      10  "
  One quarter =                      1  "

But he proposed that for convenience other coins should be struck, like
the copper _five_ and _eight_ above spoken of, and he afterwards altered
his names. He then called the bill of one hundred units a _cent_, making
it consist of twenty-five grains of silver and two of copper, being thus
the lowest silver coin. Five _cents_ were to make a _quint_, and ten a

Congress, according to its custom, received the report, applauded it,
and did nothing in the matter. Shortly afterwards, however, Jefferson
took it up, when the whole subject was referred to a committee of which
he was a member. He highly approved of Morris's plan, and took from it
the idea of a decimal system, and the use of the words "dollar" and
"cent." But he considered Morris's unit too small, and preferred to take
as his own the Spanish dollar, which was already known to all the
people, its value being uniform and well understood. Then, by keeping
strictly to the decimal system, and dividing the dollar into one hundred
parts, he got cents for our fractional currency. He thus introduced a
simpler system than that of Morris, with an existing and
well-understood unit, instead of an imaginary one that would have to be,
for the first time, brought to the knowledge of the people, and which
might be adopted only with reluctance. On the other hand, Jefferson's
system failed entirely to provide for the extension of the old
currencies in the terms of the new without the use of fractions. On this
account Morris vehemently opposed it, but it was nevertheless adopted.
He foretold, what actually came to pass, that the people would be very
reluctant to throw away their local moneys in order to take up a general
money which bore no special relation to them. For half a century
afterwards the people clung to their absurd shillings and sixpences, the
government itself, in its post-office transactions, being obliged to
recognize the obsolete terms in vogue in certain localities. Some
curious pieces circulated freely up to the time of the Civil War. Still,
Jefferson's plan worked admirably in the end.

All the time he was working so hard at the finances, Morris nevertheless
continued to enjoy himself to the full in the society of Philadelphia.
Imperious, light-hearted, good-looking, well-dressed, he ranked as a wit
among men, as a beau among women. He was equally sought for dances and
dinners. He was a fine scholar and a polished gentleman; a capital
story-teller; and had just a touch of erratic levity that served to
render him still more charming. Occasionally he showed whimsical
peculiarities, usually about very small things, that brought him into
trouble; and one such freak cost him a serious injury. In his capacity
of young man of fashion, he used to drive about town in a phaeton with a
pair of small, spirited horses; and because of some whim, he would not
allow the groom to stand at their heads. So one day they took fright,
ran, threw him out, and broke his leg. The leg had to be amputated, and
he was ever afterwards forced to wear a wooden one. However, he took his
loss with most philosophic cheerfulness, and even bore with equanimity
the condolences of those exasperating individuals, of a species by no
means peculiar to revolutionary times, who endeavored to prove to him
the manifest falsehood that such an accident was "all for the best." To
one of these dreary gentlemen he responded, with disconcerting vivacity,
that his visitor had so handsomely argued the advantage of being
entirely legless as to make him almost tempted to part with his
remaining limb; and to another he announced that at least there was the
compensation that he would be a _steadier_ man with one leg than with
two. Wild accounts of the accident got about, which rather irritated
him, and in answer to a letter from Jay he wrote: "I suppose it was
Deane who wrote to you from France about the loss of my leg. His account
is facetious. Let it pass. The leg is gone, and there is an end of the
matter." His being crippled did not prevent him from going about in
society very nearly as much as ever; and society in Philadelphia was at
the moment gayer than in any other American city. Indeed Jay, a man of
Puritanic morality, wrote to Morris somewhat gloomily to inquire about
"the rapid progress of luxury at Philadelphia;" to which his younger
friend, who highly appreciated the good things of life, replied
light-heartedly: "With respect to our taste for luxury, do not grieve
about it. Luxury is not so bad a thing as it is often supposed to be;
and if it were, still we must follow the course of things, and turn to
advantage what exists, since we have not the power to annihilate or
create. The very definition of 'luxury' is as difficult as the
suppression of it." In another letter he remarked that he thought there
were quite as many knaves among the men who went on foot as there were
among those who drove in carriages.

Jay at this time, having been successively a member of the Continental
Congress, the New York Legislature, and the State Constitutional
Convention, having also been the first chief justice of his native
state, and then president of the Continental Congress, had been sent as
our minister to Spain. Morris always kept up an intimate correspondence
with him. It is noticeable that the three great revolutionary statesmen
from New York, Hamilton, Jay, and Morris, always kept on good terms, and
always worked together; while the friendship between two, Jay and
Morris, was very close.

The two men, in their correspondence, now and then touched on other than
state matters. One of Jay's letters which deals with the education of
his children would be most healthful reading for those Americans of the
present day who send their children to be brought up abroad in Swiss
schools, or English and German universities. He writes: "I think the
youth of every free, civilized country should be educated in it, and not
permitted to travel out of it until age has made them so cool and firm
as to retain their national and moral impressions. American youth may
possibly form proper and perhaps useful friendships in European
seminaries, but I think not so _probably_ as among their
fellow-citizens, with whom they are to grow up, whom it will be useful
for them to know and be early known to, and with whom they are to be
engaged in the business of active life.... I do not hesitate to prefer
an American education." The longer Jay stayed away, the more devoted he
became to America. He had a good, hearty, honest contempt for the
miserable "cosmopolitanism" so much affected by the feebler folk of
fashion. As he said he "could never become so far a citizen of the world
as to view every part of it with equal regard," for "his affections were
deep-rooted in America," and he always asserted that he had never seen
anything in Europe to cause him to abate his prejudices in favor of his
own land.

Jay had a very hard time at the Spanish court, which, he wrote Morris,
had "little money, less wisdom, and no credit." Spain, although fighting
England, was bitterly jealous of the United States, fearing most justly
our aggressive spirit, and desiring to keep the lower Mississippi valley
entirely under its own control. Jay, a statesman of intensely national
spirit, was determined to push our boundaries as far westward as
possible; he insisted on their reaching to the Mississippi, and on our
having the right to navigate that stream. Morris did not agree with him,
and on this subject, as has been already said, he for once showed less
than his usual power of insight into the future. He wrote Jay that it
was absurd to quarrel about a country inhabited only by red men, and to
claim "a territory we cannot occupy, a navigation we cannot enjoy." He
also ventured the curiously false prediction that, if the territory
beyond the Alleghanies should ever be filled up, it would be by a
population drawn from the whole world, not one hundredth part of it
American, which would immediately become an independent and rival
nation. However, he could not make Jay swerve a handsbreadth from his
position about our western boundaries; though on every other point the
two were in hearty accord.

In relating and forecasting the military situation, Morris was more
happy. He was peculiarly interested in Greene, and from the outset
foretold the final success of his Southern campaign. In a letter written
March 31, 1781, after the receipt of the news of the battle of Guilford
Court-house, he describes to Jay Greene's forces and prospects. His
troops included, he writes, "from 1,500 to 2,000 continentals, many of
them raw, and somewhat more of militia than regular troops,--the whole
of these almost in a state of nature, and of whom it ought to be said,
as by Hamlet to Horatio, 'Thou hast no other revenue but thy good
spirits to feed and clothe thee.'" The militia he styled the "_fruges
consumere nati_ of an army." He then showed the necessity of the battle
being fought, on account of the fluctuating state of the militia, the
incapacity of the state governments to help themselves, the poverty of
the country ("so that the very teeth of the enemy defend them,
especially in retreat,"), and above all, because a defeat was of little
consequence to us, while it would ruin the enemy. He wrote: "There is no
loss in fighting away two or three hundred men who would go home if they
were not put in the way of being knocked on the head.... These are
unfeeling reflections. I would apologize for them to any one who did not
know that I have at least enough of sensibility. The gush of sentiment
will not alter the nature of things, and the business of the statesman
is more to reason than to feel." Morris was always confident that we
should win in the end, and sometimes thought a little punishment really
did our people good. When Cornwallis was in Virginia he wrote: "The
enemy are scourging the Virginians, at least those of Lower Virginia.
This is distressing, but will have some good consequences. In the mean
time the delegates of Virginia make as many lamentations as ever
Jeremiah did, and to as good purpose perhaps."

The war was drawing to an end. Great Britain had begun the struggle with
everything--allies, numbers, wealth--in her favor; but now, towards the
close, the odds were all the other way. The French were struggling with
her on equal terms for the mastery of the seas; the Spaniards were
helping the French, and were bending every energy to carry through
successfully the great siege of Gibraltar; the Dutch had joined their
ancient enemies, and their fleet fought a battle with the English,
which, for bloody indecisiveness, rivaled the actions when Van Tromp and
De Ruyter held the Channel against Blake and Monk. In India the name of
Hyder Ali had become a very nightmare of horror to the British. In
America, the centre of the war, the day had gone conclusively against
the Island folk. Greene had doggedly fought and marched his way through
the Southern States with his ragged, under-fed, badly armed troops; he
had been beaten in three obstinate battles, had each time inflicted a
greater relative loss than he received, and, after retiring in good
order a short distance, had always ended by pursuing his lately
victorious foes; at the close of the campaign he had completely
reconquered the Southern States by sheer capacity for standing
punishment, and had cooped up the remaining British force in
Charleston. In the Northern States the British held Newport and New
York, but could not penetrate elsewhere; while at Yorktown their ablest
general was obliged to surrender his whole army to the overwhelming
force brought against him by Washington's masterly strategy.

Yet England, hemmed in by the ring of her foes, fronted them all with a
grand courage. In her veins the Berserker blood was up, and she hailed
each new enemy with grim delight, exerting to the full her warlike
strength. Single-handed she kept them all at bay, and repaid with
crippling blows the injuries they had done her. In America alone the
tide ran too strongly to be turned. But Holland was stripped of all her
colonies; in the East, Sir Eyre Coote beat down Hyder Ali, and taught
Moslem and Hindoo alike that they could not shake off the grasp of the
iron hands that held India. Rodney won back for his country the
supremacy of the ocean in that great sea-fight where he shattered the
splendid French navy; and the long siege of Gibraltar closed with the
crushing overthrow of the assailants. So, with bloody honor, England
ended the most disastrous war she had ever waged.

The war had brought forth many hard fighters, but only one great
commander,--Washington. For the rest, on land, Cornwallis, Greene,
Rawdon, and possibly Lafayette and Rochambeau, might all rank as fairly
good generals, probably in the order named, although many excellent
critics place Greene first. At sea Rodney and the Bailli de Suffren won
the honors; the latter stands beside Duquesne and Tourville in the roll
of French admirals; while Rodney was a true latter-day buccaneer, as
fond of fighting as of plundering, and a first-rate hand at both.
Neither ranks with such mighty sea-chiefs as Nelson, nor yet with Blake,
Farragut, or Tegethof.

All parties were tired of the war; peace was essential to all. But of
all, America was most resolute to win what she had fought for; and
America had been the most successful so far. English historians--even so
generally impartial a writer as Mr. Lecky--are apt greatly to exaggerate
our relative exhaustion, and try to prove it by quoting from the
American leaders every statement that shows despondency and suffering.
If they applied the same rule to their own side, they would come to the
conclusion that the British empire was at that time on the brink of
dissolution. Of course we had suffered very heavily, and had blundered
badly; but in both respects we were better off than our antagonists. Mr.
Lecky is right in bestowing unstinted praise on our diplomatists for
the hardihood and success with which they insisted on all our demands
being granted; but he is wrong when he says or implies that the military
situation did not warrant their attitude. Of all the contestants,
America was the most willing to continue the fight rather than yield her
rights. Morris expressed the general feeling when he wrote to Jay, on
August 6, 1782: "Nobody will be thankful for any peace but a very good
one. This _they_ should have thought on who made war with the Republic.
I am among the number who would be extremely ungrateful for the grant of
a bad peace. My public and private character will both concert to render
the sentiment coming from me unsuspected. Judge, then, of others, judge
of the many-headed fool who can feel no more than his own sorrowing....
I wish that while the war lasts it may be real war, and that when peace
comes it may be real peace." As to our military efficiency, we may take
Washington's word (in a letter to Jay of October 18, 1782): "I am
certain it will afford you pleasure to know that our army is better
organized, disciplined, and clothed than it has been at any period since
the commencement of the war. This you may be assured is the fact."

Another mistake of English historians--again likewise committed by Mr.
Lecky--comes in their laying so much stress on the help rendered to the
Americans by their allies, while at the same time speaking as if England
had none. As a matter of fact, England would have stood no chance at all
had the contest been strictly confined to British troops on the one
hand, and to the rebellious colonists on the other. There were more
German auxiliaries in the British ranks than there were French allies in
the American; the loyalists, including the regularly enlisted loyalists
as well as the militia who took part in the various Tory uprisings, were
probably more numerous still. The withdrawal of all Hessians, Tories,
and Indians from the British army would have been cheaply purchased by
the loss of our own foreign allies.

The European powers were even a shade more anxious for peace than we
were; and to conduct the negotiations for our side, we chose three of
our greatest statesmen,--Franklin, Adams, and Jay.

Congress, in appointing our commissioners, had, with little regard for
the national dignity, given them instructions which, if obeyed, would
have rendered them completely subservient to France; for they were
directed to undertake nothing in the negotiations without the knowledge
and concurrence of the French cabinet, and in all decisions to be
ultimately governed by the advice of that body. Morris fiercely
resented such servile subservience, and in a letter to Jay denounced
Congress with well-justified warmth, writing: "That the proud should
prostitute the very little dignity this poor country is possessed of
would be indeed astounding, if we did not know the near alliance between
pride and meanness. Men who have too little spirit to demand of their
constituents that they do their duty, who have sufficient humility to
beg a paltry pittance at the hands of any and every sovereign,--such men
will always be ready to pay the price which vanity shall demand from the
vain." Jay promptly persuaded his colleagues to unite with him in
disregarding the instructions of Congress on this point; had he not done
so, the dignity of our government would, as he wrote Morris, "have been
in the dust." Franklin was at first desirous of yielding obedience to
the command; but Adams immediately joined Jay in repudiating it.

We had waged war against Britain, with France and Spain as allies; but
in making peace we had to strive for our rights against our friends
almost as much as against our enemies. There was much generous and
disinterested enthusiasm for America among Frenchmen individually; but
the French government, with which alone we were to deal in making
peace, had acted throughout from purely selfish motives, and in reality
did not care an atom for American rights. We owed France no more
gratitude for taking our part than she owed us for giving her an
opportunity of advancing her own interests, and striking a severe blow
at an old-time enemy and rival. As for Spain, she disliked us quite as
much as she did England.

The peace negotiations brought all this out very clearly. The great
French minister Vergennes, who dictated the policy of his court all
through the contest, cared nothing for the revolutionary colonists
themselves; but he was bent upon securing them their independence, so as
to weaken England, and he was also bent upon keeping them from gaining
too much strength, so that they might always remain dependent allies of
France. He wished to establish the "balance of power" system in America.
The American commissioners he at first despised for their blunt,
truthful straightforwardness, which he, trained in the school of deceit,
and a thorough believer in every kind of finesse and double-dealing,
mistook for boorishness; later on, he learned to his chagrin that they
were able as well as honest, and that their resolution, skill, and
far-sightedness made them, where their own deepest interests were
concerned, over-matches for the subtle diplomats of Europe.

America, then, was determined to secure not only independence, but also
a chance to grow into a great continental nation; she wished her
boundaries fixed at the great lakes and the Mississippi; she also asked
for the free navigation of the latter to the Gulf, and for a share in
the fisheries. Spain did not even wish that we should be made
independent; she hoped to be compensated at our expense, for her failure
to take Gibraltar; and she desired that we should be kept so weak as to
hinder us from being aggressive. Her fear of us, by the way, was
perfectly justifiable, for the greatest part of our present territory
lies within what were nominally Spanish limits a hundred years ago.
France, as the head of a great coalition, wanted to keep on good terms
with both her allies; but, as Gerard, the French minister at Washington,
said: if France had to choose between the two, "the decision would not
be in favor of the United States." She wished to secure for America
independence, but she wished also to keep the new nation so weak that it
would "feel the need of sureties, allies, and protectors." France
desired to exclude our people from the fisheries, to deprive us of half
our territories by making the Alleghanies our western boundaries, and
to secure to Spain the undisputed control of the navigation of the
Mississippi. It was not to the interest of France and Spain that we
should be a great and formidable people, and very naturally they would
not help us to become one. There is no need of blaming them for their
conduct; but it would have been rank folly to have been guided by their
wishes. Our true policy was admirably summed up by Jay in his letters to
Livingston, where he says: "Let us be honest and grateful to France, but
let us think for ourselves.... Since we have assumed a place in the
political firmament, let us move like a primary and not a secondary
planet." Fortunately, England's own self-interest made her play into our
hands; as Fox put it, it was necessary for her to "insist in the
strongest manner that, if America is independent, she must be so of the
whole world. No secret, tacit, or ostensible connection with France."

Our statesmen won; we got all we asked, as much to the astonishment of
France as of England; we proved even more successful in diplomacy than
in arms. As Fox had hoped, we became independent not only of England,
but of all the world; we were not entangled as a dependent subordinate
in the policy of France, nor did we sacrifice our western boundary to
Spain. It was a great triumph; greater than any that had been won by our
soldiers. Franklin had a comparatively small share in gaining it; the
glory of carrying through successfully the most important treaty we ever
negotiated belongs to Jay and Adams, and especially to Jay.



Before peace was established, Morris had been appointed a commissioner
to treat for the exchange of prisoners. Nothing came of his efforts,
however, the British and Americans being utterly unable to come to any
agreement. Both sides had been greatly exasperated,--the British by the
Americans' breach of faith about Burgoyne's troops, and the Americans by
the inhuman brutality with which their captive countrymen had been
treated. An amusing feature of the affair was a conversation between
Morris and the British general, Dalrymple, wherein the former assured
the latter rather patronizingly that the British "still remained a great
people, a very great people," and that "they would undoubtedly still
hold their rank in Europe." He would have been surprised, had he known
not only that the stubborn Island folk were destined soon to hold a
higher rank in Europe than ever before, but that from their loins other
nations, broad as continents, were to spring, so that the South Seas
should become an English ocean, and that over a fourth of the world's
surface there should be spoken the tongue of Pitt and Washington.

No sooner was peace declared, and the immediate and pressing danger
removed, than the confederation relapsed into a loose knot of
communities as quarrelsome as they were contemptible. The states-rights
men for the moment had things all their own way, and speedily reduced us
to the level afterwards reached by the South-American republics. Each
commonwealth set up for itself, and tried to oppress its neighbors; not
one had a creditable history for the next four years; while the career
of Rhode Island in particular can only be properly described as
infamous. We refused to pay our debts, we would not even pay our army;
and mob violence flourished rankly. As a natural result the European
powers began to take advantage of our weakness and division.

All our great men saw the absolute need of establishing a National
Union--not a league or a confederation--if the country was to be saved.
None felt this more strongly than Morris; and no one was more hopeful of
the final result. Jay had written to him as to the need of "raising and
maintaining a national spirit in America;" and he wrote in reply, at
different times:[2] "Much of convulsion will ensue, yet it must
terminate in giving to government that power without which government is
but a name.... This country has never yet been known to Europe, and God
knows whether it ever will be. To England it is less known than to any
other part of Europe, because they constantly view it through a medium
of either prejudice or faction. True it is that the general government
wants energy, and equally true it is that the want will eventually be
supplied. A national spirit is the natural result of national existence;
_and although some of the present generation may feel the result of
colonial oppositions of opinion, that generation will die away, and give
place to a race of Americans_. On this occasion, as on others, Great
Britain is our best friend; and, by seizing the critical moment when we
were about to divide, she has shown us the dreadful consequences of
division.... Indeed, my friend, nothing can do us so much good as to
convince the Eastern and Southern States how necessary it is to give
proper force to the federal government, and nothing will so soon operate
that conviction as foreign efforts to restrain the navigation of the
one and the commerce of the other." The last sentence referred to the
laws aimed at our trade by Great Britain, and by other powers as
well,--symptoms of outside hostility which made us at once begin to draw
together again.

[2] The italics are mine.

Money troubles grew apace, and produced the usual crop of crude theories
and of vicious and dishonest legislation in accordance therewith.
Lawless outbreaks became common, and in Massachusetts culminated in
actual rebellion. The mass of the people were rendered hostile to any
closer union by their ignorance, their jealousy, and the general
particularistic bent of their minds,--this last being merely a vicious
graft on, or rather outgrowth of, the love of freedom inborn in the
race. Their leaders were enthusiasts of pure purpose and unsteady mental
vision; they were followed by the mass of designing politicians, who
feared that their importance would be lost if their sphere of action
should be enlarged. Among these leaders the three most important were,
in New York George Clinton, and in Massachusetts and Virginia two much
greater men--Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry. All three had done
excellent service at the beginning of the revolutionary troubles.
Patrick Henry lived to redeem himself, almost in his last hour, by the
noble stand he took in aid of Washington against the democratic
nullification agitation of Jefferson and Madison; but the usefulness of
each of the other two was limited to the early portion of his career.

Like every other true patriot and statesman, Morris did all in his power
to bring into one combination the varied interests favorable to the
formation of a government that should be strong and responsible as well
as free. The public creditors and the soldiers of the army--whose
favorite toasts were: "A hoop to the barrel," and "Cement to the
Union"--were the two classes most sensible of the advantages of such a
government; and to each of these Morris addressed himself when he
proposed to consolidate the public debt, both to private citizens and to
the soldiers, and to make it a charge on the United States, and not on
the several separate states.

In consequence of the activity and ability with which he advocated a
firmer Union, the extreme states-rights men were especially hostile to
him; and certain of their number assailed him with bitter malignity,
both then and afterwards. One accusation was, that he had improper
connections with the public creditors. This was a pure slander,
absolutely without foundation, and not supported by even the pretence of
proof. Another accusation was that he favored the establishment of a
monarchy. This was likewise entirely untrue. Morris was not a
sentimental political theorist; he was an eminently practical--that is,
useful--statesman, who saw with unusual clearness that each people must
have a government suited to its own individual character, and to the
stage of political and social development it had reached. He realized
that a nation must be governed according to the actual needs and
capacities of its citizens, not according to any abstract theory or set
of ideal principles. He would have dismissed with contemptuous laughter
the ideas of those Americans who at the present day believe that
Anglo-Saxon democracy can be applied successfully to a half-savage
negroid people in Hayti, or of those Englishmen who consider seriously
the proposition to renovate Turkey by giving her representative
institutions and a parliamentary government. He understood and stated
that a monarchy "did not consist with the taste and temper of the
people" in America, and he believed in establishing a form of government
that did. Like almost every other statesman of the day, the perverse
obstinacy of the extreme particularist section at times made him
downhearted, and caused him almost to despair of a good government being
established; and like every sensible man he would have preferred almost
any strong, orderly government to the futile anarchy towards which the
ultra states-rights men or separatists tended. Had these last ever
finally obtained the upper hand, either in revolutionary or
post-revolutionary times, either in 1787 or 1861, the fact would have
shown conclusively that Americans were unfitted for republicanism and
self-government. An orderly monarchy would certainly be preferable to a
republic of the epileptic Spanish-American type. The extreme
doctrinaires, who are fiercest in declaiming in favor of freedom are in
reality its worst foes, far more dangerous than any absolute monarchy
ever can be. When liberty becomes license, some form of one-man power is
not far distant.

The one great reason for our having succeeded as no other people ever
has, is to be found in that common sense which has enabled us to
preserve the largest possible individual freedom on the one hand, while
showing an equally remarkable capacity for combination on the other. We
have committed plenty of faults, but we have seen and remedied them. Our
very doctrinaires have usually acted much more practically than they
have talked. Jefferson, when in power, adopted most of the Federalist
theories, and became markedly hostile to the nullification movements at
whose birth he had himself officiated. We have often blundered badly in
the beginning, but we have always come out well in the end. The Dutch,
when they warred for freedom from Spanish rule, showed as much
short-sighted selfishness and bickering jealousy as even our own
revolutionary ancestors, and only a part remained faithful to the end:
as a result, but one section won independence, while the Netherlands
were divided, and never grasped the power that should have been theirs.
As for the Spanish-Americans, they split up hopelessly almost before
they were free, and, though they bettered their condition a little, yet
lost nine tenths of what they had gained. Scotland and Ireland, when
independent, were nests of savages. All the follies our forefathers
committed can be paralleled elsewhere, but their successes are unique.

So it was in the few years immediately succeeding the peace by which we
won our independence. The mass of the people wished for no closer union
than was to be found in a lax confederation; but they had the good sense
to learn the lesson taught by the weakness and lawlessness they saw
around them; they reluctantly made up their minds to the need of a
stronger government, and when they had once come to their decision,
neither demagogue nor doctrinaire could swerve them from it.

The national convention to form a Constitution met in May, 1787; and
rarely in the world's history has there been a deliberative body which
contained so many remarkable men, or produced results so lasting and
far-reaching. The Congress whose members signed the Declaration of
Independence had but cleared the ground on which the framers of the
Constitution were to build. Among the delegates in attendance, easily
first stood Washington and Franklin,--two of that great American trio in
which Lincoln is the third. Next came Hamilton from New York, having as
colleagues a couple of mere obstructionists sent by the Clintonians to
handicap him. From Pennsylvania came Robert Morris and Gouverneur
Morris; from Virginia, Madison; from South Carolina, Rutledge and the
Pinckneys; and so on through the other states. Some of the most noted
statesmen were absent, however. Adams and Jefferson were abroad. Jay was
acting as Secretary for Foreign Affairs; in which capacity, by the way,
he had shown most unlooked-for weakness in yielding to Spanish demands
about the Mississippi.

Two years after taking part in the proceedings of the American
Constitutional Convention, Morris witnessed the opening of the States
General of France. He thoroughly appreciated the absolute and curious
contrast offered by these two bodies, each so big with fate for all
mankind. The men who predominated in and shaped the actions of the first
belonged to a type not uncommonly brought forth by a people already
accustomed to freedom at a crisis in the struggle to preserve or extend
its liberties. During the past few centuries this type had appeared many
times among the liberty loving nations who dwelt on the shores of the
Baltic and the North Sea; and our forefathers represented it in its
highest and most perfect shapes. It is a type only to be found among men
already trained to govern themselves as well as others. The American
statesmen were the kinsfolk and fellows of Hampden and Pym, of William
the Silent and John of Barneveldt. Save love of freedom, they had little
in common with the closet philosophers, the enthusiastic visionaries,
and the selfish demagogues who in France helped pull up the flood-gates
of an all-swallowing torrent. They were great men; but it was less the
greatness of mere genius than that springing from the union of strong,
virile qualities with steadfast devotion to a high ideal. In certain
respects they were ahead of all their European compeers; yet they
preserved virtues forgotten or sneered at by the contemporaneous
generation of trans-Atlantic leaders. They wrought for the future as
surely as did the French Jacobins; but their spirit was the spirit of
the Long Parliament. They were resolute to free themselves from the
tyranny of man; but they had not unlearned the reverence felt by their
fathers for their fathers' God. They were sincerely religious. The
advanced friends of freedom abroad scoffed at religion, and would have
laughed outright at a proposition to gain help for their cause by
prayer; but to the founders of our Constitution, when matters were at a
deadlock, and the outcome looked almost hopeless, it seemed a most fit
and proper thing that one of the chief of their number should propose to
invoke to aid them a wisdom greater than the wisdom of human beings.
Even those among their descendants who no longer share their trusting
faith may yet well do regretful homage to a religious spirit so
deep-rooted and so strongly tending to bring out a pure and high
morality. The statesmen who met in 1787 were earnestly patriotic. They
unselfishly desired the welfare of their countrymen. They were cool,
resolute men, of strong convictions, with clear insight into the future.
They were thoroughly acquainted with the needs of the community for
which they were to act. Above all they possessed that inestimable
quality, so characteristic of their race, hard-headed common sense.
Their theory of government was a very high one; but they understood
perfectly that it had to be accommodated to the shortcomings of the
average citizen. Small indeed was their resemblance to the fiery orators
and brilliant pamphleteers of the States General. They were emphatically
good men; they were no less emphatically practical men. They would have
scorned Mirabeau as a scoundrel; they would have despised Sieyès as a
vain and impractical theorist.

The deliberations of the convention in their result illustrated in a
striking manner the truth of the American principle, that--for
deliberative, not executive, purposes--the wisdom of many men is worth
more than the wisdom of any one man. The Constitution that the members
assembled in convention finally produced was not only the best possible
one for America at that time, but it was also, in spite of its
short-comings, and taking into account its fitness for our own people
and conditions, as well as its accordance with the principles of
abstract right, probably the best that any nation has ever had, while it
was beyond question a very much better one than any single member could
have prepared. The particularist statesmen would have practically
denied us any real union or efficient executive power; while there was
hardly a Federalist member who would not, in his anxiety to avoid the
evils from which we were suffering, have given us a government so
centralized and aristocratic that it would have been utterly unsuited to
a proud, liberty-loving, and essentially democratic race, and would have
infallibly provoked a tremendous reactionary revolt.

It is impossible to read through the debates of the convention without
being struck by the innumerable shortcomings of each individual plan
proposed by the several members, as divulged in their speeches, when
compared with the plan finally adopted. Had the result been in
accordance with the views of the strong-government men like Hamilton on
the one hand, or of the weak-government men like Franklin on the other,
it would have been equally disastrous for the country. The men who
afterwards naturally became the chiefs of the Federalist party, and who
included in their number the bulk of the great revolutionary leaders,
were the ones to whom we mainly owe our present form of government;
certainly we owe them more, both on this and on other points, than we do
their rivals, the after-time Democrats. Yet there were some articles of
faith in the creed of the latter so essential to our national
wellbeing, and yet so counter to the prejudices of the Federalists, that
it was inevitable they should triumph in the end. Jefferson led the
Democrats to victory only when he had learned to acquiesce thoroughly in
some of the fundamental principles of Federalism, and the government of
himself and his successors was good chiefly in so far as it followed out
the theories of the Hamiltonians; while Hamilton and the Federalists
fell from power because they could not learn the one great truth taught
by Jefferson,--that in America a statesman should trust the people, and
should endeavor to secure to each man all possible individual liberty,
confident that he will use it aright. The old-school Jeffersonian
theorists believed in "a strong people and a weak government." Lincoln
was the first who showed how a strong people might have a strong
government and yet remain the freest on the earth. He seized--half
unwittingly--all that was best and wisest in the traditions of
Federalism; he was the true successor of the Federalist leaders; but he
grafted on their system a profound belief that the great heart of the
nation beat for truth, honor, and liberty.

This fact, that in 1787 all the thinkers of the day drew out plans that
in some respects went very wide of the mark, must be kept in mind, or
else we shall judge each particular thinker with undue harshness when we
examine his utterances without comparing them with those of his fellows.
But one partial exception can be made. In the Constitutional Convention
Madison, a moderate Federalist, was the man who, of all who were there,
saw things most clearly as they were, and whose theories most closely
corresponded with the principles finally adopted; and although even he
was at first dissatisfied with the result, and both by word and by
action interpreted the Constitution in widely different ways at
different times, still this was Madison's time of glory: he was one of
the statesmen who do extremely useful work, but only at some single
given crisis. While the Constitution was being formed and adopted, he
stood in the very front; but in his later career he sunk his own
individuality, and became a mere pale shadow of Jefferson.

Morris played a very prominent part in the convention. He was a ready
speaker, and among all the able men present there was probably no such
really brilliant thinker. In the debates he spoke more often than any
one else, although Madison was not far behind him; and his speeches
betrayed, but with marked and exaggerated emphasis, both the virtues
and the shortcomings of the Federalist school of thought. They show us,
too, why he never rose to the first rank of statesmen. His keen,
masterful mind, his far-sightedness, and the force and subtlety of his
reasoning were all marred by his incurable cynicism and deep-rooted
distrust of mankind. He throughout appears as _advocatus diaboli_; he
puts the lowest interpretation upon every act, and frankly avows his
disbelief in all generous and unselfish motives. His continual allusions
to the overpowering influence of the baser passions, and to their
mastery of the human race at all times, drew from Madison, although the
two men generally acted together, a protest against his "forever
inculcating the utter political depravity of men, and the necessity for
opposing one vice and interest as the only possible check to another
vice and interest."

Morris championed a strong national government, wherein he was right;
but he also championed a system of class representation, leaning towards
aristocracy, wherein he was wrong. Not Hamilton himself was a firmer
believer in the national idea. His one great object was to secure a
powerful and lasting Union, instead of a loose federal league. It must
be remembered that in the convention the term "federal" was used in
exactly the opposite sense to the one in which it was taken afterwards;
that is, it was used as the antithesis of "national," not as its
synonym. The states-rights men used it to express a system of government
such as that of the old federation of the thirteen colonies; while their
opponents called themselves Nationalists, and only took the title of
Federalists after the Constitution had been formed, and then simply
because the name was popular with the masses. They thus appropriated
their adversaries' party name, bestowing it on the organization most
hostile to their adversaries' party theories. Similarly, the term
"Republican Party," which was originally in our history merely another
name for the Democracy, has in the end been adopted by the chief
opponents of the latter.

The difficulties for the convention to surmount seemed insuperable; on
almost every question that came up, there were clashing interests.
Strong government and weak government, pure democracy or a modified
aristocracy, small states and large states, North and South, slavery and
freedom, agricultural sections as against commercial sections,--on each
of twenty points the delegates split into hostile camps, that could only
be reconciled by concessions from both sides. The Constitution was not
one compromise; it was a bundle of compromises, all needful.

Morris, like every other member of the convention, sometimes took the
right and sometimes the wrong side on the successive issues that arose.
But on the most important one of all he made no error; and he commands
our entire sympathy for his thorough-going nationalism. As was to be
expected, he had no regard whatever for states rights. He wished to deny
to the small states the equal representation in the Senate finally
allowed them; and he was undoubtedly right theoretically. No good
argument can be adduced in support of the present system on that point.
Still, it has thus far worked no harm; the reason being that our states
have merely artificial boundaries, while those of small population have
hitherto been distributed pretty evenly among the different sections, so
that they have been split up like the others on every important issue,
and thus have never been arrayed against the rest of the country.

Though Morris and his side were defeated in their efforts to have the
states represented proportionally in the Senate, yet they carried their
point as to representation in the House. Also on the general question of
making a national government, as distinguished from a league or
federation, the really vital point, their triumph was complete. The
Constitution they drew up and had adopted no more admitted of legal or
peaceable rebellion--whether called secession or nullification--on the
part of the state than on the part of a county or an individual.

Morris expressed his own views with his usual clear-cut, terse vigor
when he asserted that "state attachments and state importance had been
the bane of the country," and that he came, not as a mere delegate from
one section, but "as a representative of America,--a representative in
some degree of the whole human race, for the whole human race would be
affected by the outcome of the convention." And he poured out the flood
of his biting scorn on those gentlemen who came there "to truck and
bargain for their respective states," asking what man there was who
could tell with certainty the state wherein he--and even more wherein
his children--would live in the future; and reminding the small states,
with cavalier indifference, that, "if they did not like the Union, no
matter,--they would have to come in, and that was all there was about
it; for if persuasion did not unite the country, then the sword would."
His correct language and distinct enunciation--to which Madison has
borne witness--allowed his grim truths to carry their full weight; and
he brought them home to his hearers with a rough, almost startling
earnestness and directness. Many of those present must have winced when
he told them that it would matter nothing to America "if all the
charters and constitutions of the states were thrown into the fire, and
all the demagogues into the ocean," and asserted that "any particular
state _ought_ to be injured, for the sake of a majority of the people,
in case its conduct showed that it deserved it." He held that we should
create a national government, to be the one and only supreme power in
the land,--one which, unlike a mere federal league, such as we then
lived under, should have complete and compulsive operation; and he
instanced the examples as well of Greece as of Germany and the United
Netherlands, to prove that local jurisdiction destroyed every tie of

It shows the boldness of the experiment in which we were engaged, that
we were forced to take all other nations, whether dead or living, as
warnings, not examples; whereas, since we succeeded, we have served as a
pattern to be copied, either wholly or in part, by every other people
that has followed in our steps. Before our own experience, each similar
attempt, save perhaps on the smallest scale, had been a failure. Where
so many other nations teach by their mistakes, we are among the few who
teach by their successes.

Be it noted also that, the doctrinaires to the contrary notwithstanding,
we proved that a strong central government was perfectly compatible
with absolute democracy. Indeed, the separatist spirit does not lead to
true democratic freedom. Anarchy is the handmaiden of tyranny. Of all
the states, South Carolina has shown herself (at least throughout the
greater part of the present century) to be the most aristocratic, and
the most wedded to the separatist spirit. The German masses were never
so ground down by oppression as when the little German principalities
were most independent of each other and of any central authority.

Morris believed in letting the United States interfere to put down a
rebellion in a state, even though the executive of the state himself
should be at the head of it; and he was supported in his views by
Pinckney, the ablest member of the brilliant and useful but
unfortunately short-lived school of South Carolina Federalists. Pinckney
was a thorough-going Nationalist; he wished to go a good deal further
than the convention actually went in giving the central government
complete control. Thus he proposed that Congress should have power to
negative by a two-thirds vote all state laws inconsistent with the
harmony of the Union. Madison also wished to give Congress a veto over
state legislation. Morris believed that a national law should be allowed
to repeal any state law, and that Congress should legislate in all
cases where the laws of the states conflicted among themselves.

Yet Morris, on the very question of nationalism, himself showed the
narrowest, blindest, and least excusable sectional jealousy on one
point. He felt as an American for all the Union, as it then existed; but
he feared and dreaded the growth of the Union in the West, the very
place where it was inevitable, as well as in the highest degree
desirable, that the greatest growth should take place. He actually
desired the convention to commit the criminal folly of attempting to
provide that the West should always be kept subordinate to the East.
Fortunately he failed; but the mere attempt casts the gravest discredit
alike on his far-sightedness and on his reputation as a statesman. It is
impossible to understand how one who was usually so cool and
clear-headed an observer could have blundered so flagrantly on a point
hardly less vital than the establishment of the Union itself. Indeed,
had his views been carried through, they would in the end have nullified
all the good bestowed by the Union. In speaking against state jealousy,
he had shown its foolishness by observing that no man could tell in what
state his children would dwell; and the folly of the speaker himself was
made quite as clear by his not perceiving that their most likely
dwelling-place was in the West. This jealousy of the West was even more
discreditable to the Northeast than the jealousy of America had been to
England; and it continued strong, especially in New England, for very
many years. It was a mean and unworthy feeling; and it was greatly to
the credit of the Southerners that they shared it only to a very small
extent. The South in fact originally was in heartiest sympathy with the
West; it was not until the middle of the present century that the
country beyond the Alleghanies became preponderatingly Northern in
sentiment. In the Constitutional Convention itself, Butler, of South
Carolina, pointed out "that the people and strength of America were
evidently tending westwardly and southwestwardly."

Morris wished to discriminate against the West by securing to the
Atlantic States the perpetual control of the Union. He brought this idea
up again and again, insisting that we should reserve to ourselves the
right to put conditions on the Western States when we should admit them.
He dwelt at length on the danger of throwing the preponderance of
influence into the Western scale; stating his dread of the "back
members," who were always the most ignorant, and the opponents of all
good measures. He foretold with fear that some day the people of the
West would outnumber the people of the East, and he wished to put it in
the power of the latter to keep a majority of the votes in their own
hands. Apparently he did not see that, if the West once became as
populous as he predicted, its legislators would forthwith cease to be
"back members." The futility of his fears, and still more of his
remedies, was so evident that the convention paid very little heed to

On one point, however, his anticipations of harm were reasonable, and
indeed afterwards came true in part. He insisted that the West, or
interior, would join the South and force us into a war with some
European power, wherein the benefits would accrue to them and the harm
to the Northeast. The attitude of the South and West already clearly
foreshadowed a struggle with Spain for the Mississippi Valley; and such
a struggle would surely have come, either with the French or Spaniards,
had we failed to secure the territory in question by peaceful purchase.
As it was, the realization of Morris's prophecy was only put off for a
few years; the South and West brought on the War of 1812, wherein the
East was the chief sufferer.

On the question as to whether the Constitution should be made absolutely
democratic or not, Morris took the conservative side. On the suffrage
his views are perfectly defensible: he believed that it should be
limited to freeholders. He rightly considered the question as to how
widely it should be extended to be one of expediency merely. It is
simply idle folly to talk of suffrage as being an "inborn" or "natural"
right. There are enormous communities totally unfit for its exercise;
while true universal suffrage never has been, and never will be,
seriously advocated by any one. There must always be an age limit, and
such a limit must necessarily be purely arbitrary. The wildest democrat
of revolutionary times did not dream of doing away with the restrictions
of race and sex which kept most American citizens from the ballot-box;
and there is certainly much less abstract right in a system which limits
the suffrage to people of a certain color than there is in one which
limits it to people who come up to a given standard of thrift and
intelligence. On the other hand, our experience has not proved that men
of wealth make any better use of their ballots than do, for instance,
mechanics and other handicraftsmen. No plan could be adopted so perfect
as to be free from all drawbacks. On the whole, however, and taking our
country in its length and breadth, manhood suffrage has worked well,
better than would have been the case with any other system; but even
here there are certain localities where its results have been evil, and
must simply be accepted as the blemishes inevitably attendant upon, and
marring, any effort to carry out a scheme that will be widely

Morris contended that his plan would work no novel or great hardship, as
the people in several states were already accustomed to freehold
suffrage. He considered the freeholders to be the best guardians of
liberty, and maintained that the restriction of the right to them was
only creating a necessary safeguard "against the dangerous influence of
those people without property or principle, with whom, in the end, our
country, like all other countries, was sure to abound." He did not
believe that the ignorant and dependent could be trusted to vote.
Madison supported him heartily, likewise thinking the freeholders the
safest guardians of our rights; he indulged in some gloomy (and
fortunately hitherto unverified) forebodings as to our future, which
sound strangely coming from one who was afterwards an especial pet of
the Jeffersonian democracy. He said: "In future times a great majority
of the people will be without landed or any other property. They will
then either combine under the influence of their common situation,--in
which case the rights of property and the public liberty will not be
safe in their hands,--or, as is more probable, they will become the
tools of opulence and ambition."

Morris also enlarged on this last idea. "Give the votes to people who
have no property, and they will sell them to the rich," said he. When
taunted with his aristocratic tendencies, he answered that he had long
ceased to be the dupe of words, that the mere sound of the name
"aristocracy" had no terrors for him, but that he did fear lest harm
should result to the people from the unacknowledged existence of the
very thing they feared to mention. As he put it, there never was or
would be a civilized society without an aristocracy, and his endeavor
was to keep it as much as possible from doing mischief. He thus
professed to be opposed to the existence of an aristocracy, but
convinced that it would exist anyhow, and that therefore the best thing
to be done was to give it a recognized place, while clipping its wings
so as to prevent its working harm. In pursuance of this theory, he
elaborated a wild plan, the chief feature of which was the provision for
an aristocratic senate, and a popular or democratic house, which were to
hold each other in check, and thereby prevent either party from doing
damage. He believed that the senators should be appointed by the
national executive, who should fill up the vacancies that occurred. To
make the upper house effective as a checking branch, it should be so
constituted to as have a personal interest in checking the other branch;
it should be a senate for life, it should be rich, it should be
aristocratic. He continued:--It would then do wrong? He believed so; he
hoped so. The rich would strive to enslave the rest; they always did.
The proper security against them was to form them into a separate
interest. The two forces would then control each other. By thus
combining and setting apart the aristocratic interest, the popular
interest would also be combined against it. There would be mutual check
and mutual security. If, on the contrary, the rich and poor were allowed
to mingle, then, if the country were commercial, an oligarchy would be
established; and if it were not, an unlimited democracy would ensue. It
was best to look truth in the face. The loaves and fishes would be
needed to bribe demagogues; while as for the people, if left to
themselves, they would never act from reason alone. The rich would take
advantage of their passions, and the result would be either a violent
aristocracy, or a more violent despotism.--The speech containing these
extraordinary sentiments, which do no particular credit to either
Morris's head or heart, is given in substance by Madison in the
"Debates." Madison's report is undoubtedly correct, for, after writing
it, he showed it to the speaker himself, who made but one or two verbal

Morris applied an old theory in a new way when he proposed to make
"taxation proportional to representation" throughout the Union. He
considered the preservation of property as being the distinguishing
object of civilization, as liberty was sufficiently guaranteed even by
savagery; and therefore he held that the representation in the senate
should be according to property as well as numbers. But when this
proposition was defeated, he declined to support one making property
qualifications for congressmen, remarking that such were proper for the
electors rather than the elected.

His views as to the power and functions of the national executive were
in the main sound, and he succeeded in having most of them embodied in
the Constitution. He wished to have the President hold office during
good behavior; and, though this was negatived, he succeeded in having
him made reëligible to the position. He was instrumental in giving him a
qualified veto over legislation, and in providing for his impeachment
for misconduct; and also in having him made commander-in-chief of the
forces of the republic, and in allowing him the appointment of
governmental officers. The especial service he rendered, however, was
his successful opposition to the plan whereby the President was to be
elected by the legislature. This proposition he combated with all his
strength, showing that it would take away greatly from the dignity of
the executive, and would render his election a matter of cabal and
faction, "like the election of the pope by a conclave of cardinals." He
contended that the President should be chosen by the people at large, by
the citizens of the United States, acting through electors whom they had
picked out. He showed the probability that in such a case the people
would unite upon a man of continental reputation, as the influence of
designing demagogues and tricksters is generally powerful in proportion
as the limits within which they work are narrow; and the importance of
the stake would make all men inform themselves thoroughly as to the
characters and capacities of those who were contending for it; and he
flatly denied the statements, that were made in evident good faith, to
the effect that in a general election each State would cast its vote for
its own favorite citizen. He inclined to regard the President in the
light of a tribune chosen by the people to watch over the legislature;
and giving him the appointing power, he believed, would force him to
make good use of it, owing to his sense of responsibility to the people
at large, who would be directly affected by its exercise, and who could
and would hold him accountable for its abuse.

On the judiciary his views were also sound. He upheld the power of the
judges, and maintained that they should have absolute decision as to the
constitutionality of any law. By this means he hoped to provide against
the encroachments of the popular branch of the government, the one from
which danger was to be feared, as "virtuous citizens will often act as
legislators in a way of which they would, as private individuals,
afterwards be ashamed." He wisely disapproved of low salaries for the
judges, showing that the amounts must be fixed from time to time in
accordance with the manner and style of living in the country; and that
good work on the bench, where it was especially needful, like good work
everywhere else, could only be insured by a high rate of recompense. On
the other hand, he approved of introducing into the national
Constitution the foolish New York state inventions of a Council of
Revision and an Executive Council.

His ideas of the duties and powers of Congress were likewise very proper
on the whole. Most citizens of the present day will agree with him that
"the excess rather than the deficiency of laws is what we have to
dread." He opposed the hurtful provision which requires that each
congressman should be a resident of his own district, urging that
congressmen represented the people at large, as well as their own small
localities; and he also objected to making officers of the army and navy
ineligible. He laid much stress on the propriety of passing navigation
acts to encourage American bottoms and seamen, as a navy was essential
to our security, and the shipping business was always one that stood in
peculiar need of public patronage. Also, like Hamilton and most other
Federalists, he favored a policy of encouraging domestic manufactures.
Incidentally he approved of Congress having the power to lay an embargo,
although he has elsewhere recorded his views as to the general futility
of such kinds of "commercial warfare." He believed in having a uniform
bankruptcy law; approved of abolishing all religious tests as
qualifications for office, and was utterly opposed to the "rotation in
office" theory.

One curious incident in the convention was the sudden outcropping, even
thus early, of a "Native American" movement against all foreigners,
which was headed by Butler, of South Carolina, who himself was of Irish
parentage. He strenuously insisted that no foreigners whomsoever should
be admitted to our councils,--a rather odd proposition, considering that
it would have excluded quite a number of the eminent men he was then
addressing. Pennsylvania in particular--whose array of native talent has
always been far from imposing--had a number of foreigners among her
delegates, and loudly opposed the proposition, as did New York. These
States wished that there should be no discrimination whatever between
native and foreign born citizens; but finally a compromise was agreed
to, by which the latter were excluded only from the Presidency, but were
admitted to all other rights after a seven years' residence,--a period
that was certainly none too long.

A much more serious struggle took place over the matter of slavery,
quite as important then as ever, for at that time the negroes were a
fifth of our population, instead of, as now, an eighth. The question, as
it came before the convention, had several sides to it; the especial
difficulty arising over the representation of the Slave States in
Congress, and the importation of additional slaves from Africa. No one
proposed to abolish slavery off-hand; but an influential though small
number of delegates, headed by Morris, recognized it as a terrible evil,
and were very loath either to allow the South additional representation
for the slaves, or to permit the foreign trade in them to go on. When
the Southern members banded together on the issue, and made it evident
that it was the one which they regarded as almost the most important of
all, Morris attacked them in a telling speech, stating with his usual
boldness facts that most Northerners only dared hint at, and summing up
with the remark that, if he was driven to the dilemma of doing injustice
to the Southern States or to human nature, he would have to do it to the
former; certainly he would not encourage the slave trade by allowing
representation for negroes. Afterwards he characterized the proportional
representation of the blacks even more strongly, as being "a bribe for
the importation of slaves."

In advocating the proposal, first made by Hamilton, that the
representation should in all cases be proportioned to the number of free
inhabitants, Morris showed the utter lack of logic in the Virginian
proposition, which was that the Slave States should have additional
representation to the extent of three fifths of their negroes. If
negroes were to be considered as inhabitants, then they ought to be
added in their entire number; if they were to be considered as property,
then they ought to be counted only if all other wealth was likewise
included. The position of the Southerners was ridiculous: he tore their
arguments to shreds; but he was powerless to alter the fact that they
were doggedly determined to carry their point, while most of the
Northern members cared comparatively little about it.

In another speech he painted in the blackest colors the unspeakable
misery and wrong wrought by slavery, and showed the blight it brought
upon the land. "It was the curse of Heaven on the states where it
prevailed." He contrasted the prosperity and happiness of the Northern
States with the misery and poverty which overspread the barren wastes of
those where slaves were numerous. "Every step you take through the great
region of slavery presents a desert widening with the increasing number
of these wretched beings." He indignantly protested against the Northern
States being bound to march their militia for the defense of the
Southern States against the very slaves of whose existence the northern
men complained. "He would sooner submit himself to a tax for paying for
all the negroes in the United States than saddle posterity with such a

Some of the high-minded Virginian statesmen were quite as vigorous as he
was in their denunciation of the system. One of them, George Mason,
portrayed the effect of slavery upon the people at large with bitter
emphasis, and denounced the slave traffic as "infernal," and slavery as
a national sin that would be punished by a national calamity,--stating
therein the exact and terrible truth. In shameful contrast, many of the
Northerners championed the institution; in particular, Oliver Ellsworth,
of Connecticut, whose name should be branded with infamy because of the
words he then uttered. He actually advocated the free importation of
negroes into the South Atlantic States, because the slaves "died so fast
in the sickly rice swamps" that it was necessary ever to bring fresh
ones to labor and perish in the places of their predecessors; and, with
a brutal cynicism, peculiarly revolting from its mercantile baseness, he
brushed aside the question of morality as irrelevant, asking his hearers
to pay heed only to the fact that "what enriches the part enriches the

The Virginians were opposed to the slave trade: but South Carolina and
Georgia made it a condition of their coming into the Union. It was
accordingly agreed that it should be allowed for a limited time,--twelve
years; and this was afterwards extended to twenty by a bargain made by
Maryland and the three South Atlantic States with the New England
States, the latter getting in return the help of the former to alter
certain provisions respecting commerce. One of the main industries of
the New England of that day was the manufacture of rum; and its citizens
cared more for their distilleries than for all the slaves held in
bondage throughout Christendom. The rum was made from molasses which
they imported from the West Indies, and they carried there in return the
fish taken by their great fishing fleets; they also carried the slaves
into the Southern ports. Their commerce was what they especially relied
on; and to gain support for it they were perfectly willing to make terms
with even such a black Mammon of unrighteousness as the Southern
slaveholding system. Throughout the contest, Morris and a few other
stout anti-slavery men are the only ones who appear to advantage; the
Virginians, who were honorably anxious to minimize the evils of slavery,
come next; then the other Southerners who allowed pressing self-interest
to overcome their scruples; and, last of all, the New Englanders whom a
comparatively trivial self-interest made the willing allies of the
extreme slaveholders. These last were the only Northerners who yielded
anything to the Southern slaveholders that was not absolutely necessary;
and yet they were the forefathers of the most determined and effective
foes that slavery ever had.

As already said, the Southerners stood firm on the slave question: it
was the one which perhaps more than any other offered the most serious
obstacle to a settlement. Madison pointed out "that the real difference
lay, not between the small States and the large, but between the
Northern and the Southern States. The institution of slavery and its
consequences formed the real line of discrimination." To talk of this
kind Morris at first answered hotly enough:--"he saw that the Southern
gentlemen would not be satisfied unless they saw the way open to their
gaining a majority in the public councils.... If [the distinction they
set up between the North and South] was real, instead of attempting to
blend incompatible things, let them at once take a friendly leave of
each other." He afterwards went back from this position, and agreed to
the compromise by which the slaves were to add, by three fifths of their
number, to the representation of their masters, and the slave trade was
to be allowed for a certain number of years, and prohibited forever
after. He showed his usual straightforward willingness to call things by
their right names in desiring to see "slavery" named outright in the
Constitution, instead of being characterized with cowardly
circumlocution, as was actually done.

In finally yielding and assenting to a compromise, he was perfectly
right. The crazy talk about the iniquity of consenting to any
recognition of slavery whatever in the Constitution is quite beside the
mark; and it is equally irrelevant to assert that the so-called
"compromises" were not properly compromises at all, because there were
no mutual concessions, and the Southern States had "no shadow of right"
to what they demanded and only in part gave up. It was all-important
that there should be a Union, but it had to result from the voluntary
action of all the states; and each state had a perfect "right" to demand
just whatever it chose. The really wise and high-minded statesmen
demanded for themselves nothing save justice; but they had to accomplish
their purpose by yielding somewhat to the prejudices of their more
foolish and less disinterested colleagues. It was better to limit the
duration of the slave trade to twenty years than to allow it to be
continued indefinitely, as would have been the case had the South
Atlantic States remained by themselves. The three fifths representation
of the slaves was an evil anomaly, but it was no worse than allowing the
small states equal representation in the Senate; indeed, balancing the
two concessions against each other, it must be admitted that Virginia
and North Carolina surrendered to New Hampshire and Rhode Island more
than they got in return.

No man who supported slavery can ever have a clear and flawless title to
our regard; and those who opposed it merit, in so far, the highest
honor; but the opposition to it sometimes took forms that can be
considered only as the vagaries of lunacy. The only hope of abolishing
it lay, first in the establishment and then in the preservation of the
Union; and if we had at the outset dissolved into a knot of struggling
anarchies, it would have entailed an amount of evil both on our race and
on all North America, compared to which the endurance of slavery for a
century or two would have been as nothing. If we had even split up into
only two republics, a Northern and a Southern, the West would probably
have gone with the latter, and to this day slavery would have existed
throughout the Mississippi valley; much of what is now our territory
would have been held by European powers, scornfully heedless of our
divided might, while in not a few states the form of government would
have been a military dictatorship; and indeed our whole history would
have been as contemptible as was that of Germany for some centuries
prior to the rise of the house of Hohenzollern.

The fierceness of the opposition to the adoption of the Constitution,
and the narrowness of the majority by which Virginia and New York
decided in its favor, while North Carolina and Rhode Island did not come
in at all until absolutely forced, showed that the refusal to compromise
on any one of the points at issue would have jeopardized everything. Had
the slavery interest been in the least dissatisfied, or had the plan of
government been a shade less democratic, or had the smaller States not
been propitiated, the Constitution would have been rejected off-hand;
and the country would have had before it decades, perhaps centuries, of
misrule, violence, and disorder.

Madison paid a very just compliment to some of Morris's best points when
he wrote, anent his services in the convention: "To the brilliancy of
his genius he added, what is too rare, a candid surrender of his
opinions when the light of discussion satisfied him that they had been
too hastily formed, and a readiness to aid in making the best of
measures in which he had been overruled." Although so many of his own
theories had been rejected, he was one of the warmest advocates of the
Constitution; and it was he who finally drew up the document and put the
finish to its style and arrangement, so that, as it now stands, it comes
from his pen.

Hamilton, who more than any other man bore the brunt of the fight for
its adoption, asked Morris to help him in writing the "Federalist," but
the latter was for some reason unable to do so; and Hamilton was
assisted only by Madison, and to a very slight extent by Jay.
Pennsylvania, the State from which Morris had been sent as a delegate,
early declared in favor of the new experiment; although, as Morris wrote
Washington, there had been cause to "dread the cold and sour temper of
the back counties, and still more the wicked industry of those who have
long habituated themselves to live on the public, and cannot bear the
idea of being removed from the power and profit of state government,
which has been and still is the means of supporting themselves, their
families, and dependents, and (which perhaps is equally grateful) of
depressing and humbling their political adversaries." In his own native
state of New York the influences he thus describes were still more
powerful, and it needed all Hamilton's wonderful genius to force a
ratification of the Constitution in spite of the stupid selfishness of
the Clintonian faction; as it was, he was only barely successful,
although backed by all the best and ablest leaders in the
community,--Jay, Livingstone, Schuyler, Stephen Van Rensselaer, Isaac
Roosevelt, James Duane, and a host of others.

About this time Morris came back to New York to live, having purchased
the family estate at Morrisania from his elder brother, Staats Long
Morris, the British general. He had for some time been engaged in
various successful commercial ventures with his friend Robert Morris,
including an East India voyage on a large scale, shipments of tobacco to
France, and a share in iron works on the Delaware River, and had become
quite a rich man. As soon as the war was ended, he had done what he
could do to have the loyalists pardoned and reinstated in their
fortunes; thereby risking his popularity not a little, as the general
feeling against the Tories was bitter and malevolent in the highest
degree, in curious contrast to the good-will that so rapidly sprang up
between the Unionists and ex-Confederates after the Civil War.

He also kept an eye on foreign politics, and one of his letters to Jay
curiously foreshadows the good-will generally felt by Americans of the
present day towards Russia, running: "If her ladyship (the Czarina)
would drive the Turk out of Europe, and demolish the Algerines and other
piratical gentry, she will have done us much good for her own sake; ...
but it is hardly possible the other powers will permit Russia to possess
so wide a door into the Mediterranean. I may be deceived, but I think
England herself would oppose it. As an American, it is my hearty wish
that she may effect her schemes."

Shortly after this it became necessary for him to sail for Europe on



After a hard winter passage of forty days' length Morris reached France,
and arrived in Paris on February 3, 1789. He remained there a year on
his private business; but his prominence in America, and his intimate
friendship with many distinguished Frenchmen, at once admitted him to
the highest social and political circles, where his brilliant talents
secured him immediate importance.

The next nine years of his life were spent in Europe, and it was during
this time that he unknowingly rendered his especial and peculiar service
to the public. As an American statesman he has many rivals, and not a
few superiors; but as a penetrating observer and recorder of
contemporary events, he stands alone among the men of his time. He kept
a full diary during his stay abroad, and was a most voluminous
correspondent; and his capacity for keen, shrewd observation, his
truthfulness, his wonderful insight into character, his sense of humor,
and his power of graphic description, all combine to make his comments
on the chief men and events of the day a unique record of the inside
history of Western Europe during the tremendous convulsions of the
French Revolution. He is always an entertaining and in all matters of
fact a trustworthy writer. His letters and diary together form a real
mine of wealth for the student either of the social life of the upper
classes in France just before the outbreak, or of the events of the
Revolution itself.

In the first place, it must be premised that from the outset Morris was
hostile to the spirit of the French Revolution, and his hostility grew
in proportion to its excesses until at last it completely swallowed up
his original antipathy to England, and made him regard France as
normally our enemy, not our ally. This was perfectly natural, and indeed
inevitable: in all really free countries, the best friends of freedom
regarded the revolutionists, when they had fairly begun their bloody
career, with horror and anger. It was only to oppressed, debased, and
priest-ridden peoples that the French Revolution could come as the
embodiment of liberty. Compared to the freedom already enjoyed by
Americans, it was sheer tyranny of the most dreadful kind.

Morris saw clearly that the popular party in France, composed in part of
amiable visionaries, theoretic philanthropists, and closet
constitution-mongers, and in part of a brutal, sodden populace, maddened
by the grinding wrongs of ages, knew not whither its own steps tended;
and he also saw that the then existing generation of Frenchmen were not,
and never would be, fitted to use liberty aright. It is small matter for
wonder that he could not see as clearly the good which lay behind the
movement; that he could not as readily foretell the real and great
improvement it was finally to bring about, though only after a
generation of hideous convulsions. Even as it was, he discerned what was
happening, and what was about to happen, more distinctly than did any
one else. The wild friends of the French Revolution, especially in
America, supported it blindly, with but a very slight notion of what it
really signified. Keen though Morris's intellectual vision was, it was
impossible for him to see what future lay beyond the quarter of a
century of impending tumult. It did not lie within his powers to applaud
the fiendish atrocities of the Red Terror for the sake of the
problematical good that would come to the next generation. To do so he
would have needed the granite heart of a zealot, as well as the
prophetic vision of a seer.

The French Revolution was in its essence a struggle for the abolition of
privilege, and for equality in civil rights. This Morris perceived,
almost alone among the statesmen of his day; and he also perceived that
most Frenchmen were willing to submit to any kind of government that
would secure them the things for which they strove. As he wrote to
Jefferson, when the republic was well under weigh: "The great mass of
the French nation is less solicitous to preserve the present order of
things than to prevent the return of the ancient oppression, and of
course would more readily submit to a pure despotism than to that kind
of monarchy whose only limits were found in those noble, legal and
clerical corps by which the people were alternately oppressed and
insulted." To the down-trodden masses of continental Europe the gift of
civil rights and the removal of the tyranny of the privileged classes,
even though accompanied by the rule of a directory, a consul, or an
emperor, represented an immense political advance; but to the free
people of England, and to the freer people of America, the change would
have been wholly for the worse.

Such being the case, Morris's attitude was natural and proper. There is
no reason to question the sincerity of his statement in another letter,
that "I do, from the bottom of my heart, wish well to this country
[France]." Had the French people shown the least moderation or wisdom,
he would have unhesitatingly sided with them against their oppressors.
It must be kept in mind that he was not influenced in the least in his
course by the views of the upper classes with whom he mingled. On the
contrary, when he first came to Europe, he distinctly lost popularity in
some of the social circles in which he moved, because he was so much
more conservative than his aristocratic friends, among whom the closet
republicanism of the philosophers was for the moment all the rage. He
had no love for the French nobility, whose folly and ferocity caused the
Revolution, and whose craven cowardice could not check it even before it
had gathered headway. Long afterwards he wrote of some of the _emigrés_:
"The conversation of these gentlemen, who have the virtue and good
fortune of their grandfathers to recommend them, leads me almost to
forget the crimes of the French Revolution; and often the unforgiving
temper and sanguinary wishes which they exhibit make me almost believe
that the assertion of their enemies is true, namely, that it is success
alone which has determined on whose side should be the crimes, and on
whose the miseries." The truth of the last sentence was strikingly
verified by the White Terror, even meaner, if less bloody, than the Red.
Bourbon princes and Bourbon nobles were alike, and Morris only erred in
not seeing that their destruction was the condition precedent upon all

There was never another great struggle, in the end productive of good to
mankind, where the tools and methods by which that end was won were so
wholly vile as in the French Revolution. Alone among movements of the
kind, it brought forth no leaders entitled to our respect; none who were
both great and good; none even who were very great, save, at its
beginning, strange, strong, crooked Mirabeau, and at its close the
towering world-genius who sprang to power by its means, wielded it for
his own selfish purposes, and dazzled all nations over the wide earth by
the glory of his strength and splendor.

We can hardly blame Morris for not appreciating a revolution whose
immediate outcome was to be Napoleon's despotism, even though he failed
to see all the good that would remotely spring therefrom. He considered,
as he once wrote a friend, that "the true object of a great statesman is
to give to any particular nation the kind of laws which is suitable to
them, and the best constitution which they are capable of." There can
be no sounder rule of statesmanship; and none was more flagrantly broken
by the amiable but incompetent political doctrinaires of 1789. Thus the
American, as a far-sighted statesman, despised the theorists who began
the Revolution, and, as a humane and honorable man, abhorred the
black-hearted wretches who carried it on. His view of the people among
whom he found himself, as well as his statement of his own position, he
himself has recorded: "To fit people for a republic, as for any other
form of government, a previous education is necessary.... In despotic
governments the people, habituated to beholding everything bending
beneath the weight of power, never possess that power for a moment
without abusing it. Slaves, driven to despair, take arms, execute vast
vengeance, and then sink back to their former condition of slaves. In
such societies the patriot, the melancholy patriot, sides with the
despot, because anything is better than a wild and bloody confusion."

So much for an outline of his views. His writings preserve them for us
in detail on almost every important question that came up during his
stay in Europe; couched, moreover, in telling, piquant sentences that
leave room for hardly a dull line in either letters or diary.

No sooner had he arrived in Paris than he sought out Jefferson, then the
American minister, and Lafayette. They engaged him to dine on the two
following nights. He presented his various letters of introduction, and
in a very few weeks, by his wit, tact, and ability, had made himself
completely at home in what was by far the most brilliant and
attractive--although also the most hopelessly unsound--fashionable
society of any European capital. He got on equally well with fine
ladies, philosophers, and statesmen; was as much at his ease in the
salons of the one as at the dinner-tables of the other; and all the time
observed and noted down, with the same humorous zest, the social
peculiarities of his new friends as well as the tremendous march of
political events. Indeed, it is difficult to know whether to set the
higher value on his penetrating observations concerning public affairs,
or on his witty, light, half-satirical sketches of the men and women of
the world with whom he was thrown in contact, told in his usual charming
and effective style. No other American of note has left us writings half
so humorous and amusing, filled, too, with information of the greatest

Although his relations with Jefferson were at this time very friendly,
yet his ideas on most subjects were completely at variance with those
of the latter. He visited him very often; and, after one of these
occasions, jots down his opinion of his friend in his usual amusing
vein: "Call on Mr. Jefferson, and sit a good while. General conversation
on character and politics. I think he does not form very just estimates
of character, but rather assigns too many to the humble rank of fools;
whereas in life the gradations are infinite, and each individual has his
peculiarities of fort and feeble:" Not a bad protest against the dangers
of sweeping generalization. Another time he records his judgment of
Jefferson's ideas on public matters as follows: "He and I differ in our
systems of politics. He, with all the leaders of liberty here, is
desirous of annihilating distinctions of order. How far such views may
be right respecting mankind in general is, I think, extremely
problematical. But with respect to this nation I am sure they are wrong,
and cannot eventuate well."

As soon as he began to go out in Parisian society, he was struck by the
closet republicanism which it had become the fashion to affect. After
his first visit to Lafayette, who received him with that warmth and
frank, open-handed hospitality which he always extended to Americans,
Morris writes: "Lafayette is full of politics; he appears to be too
republican for the genius of his country." And again, when Lafayette
showed him the draft of the celebrated Declaration of Rights, he notes:
"I gave him my opinions, and suggested several amendments tending to
soften the high-colored expressions of freedom. It is not by sounding
words that revolutions are produced." Elsewhere he writes that "the
young nobility have brought themselves to an active faith in the natural
equality of mankind, and spurn at everything which looks like
restraint." Some of their number, however, he considered to be actuated
by considerations more tangible than mere sentiment. He chronicles a
dinner with some members of the National Assembly, where "one, a noble
representing the _Tiers_, is so vociferous against his own order, that I
am convinced he means to rise by his eloquence, and finally will, I
expect, vote with the opinion of the court, let that be what it may."
The sentimental humanitarians--who always form a most pernicious body,
with an influence for bad hardly surpassed by that of the professionally
criminal class--of course throve vigorously in an atmosphere where
theories of mawkish benevolence went hand in hand with the habitual
practice of vices too gross to name. Morris, in one of his letters,
narrates an instance in point; at the same time showing how this excess
of watery philanthropy was, like all the other movements of the French
Revolution, but a violent and misguided reaction against former abuses
of the opposite sort. The incident took place in Madame de Staël's
salon. "The Count de Clermont Tonnerre, one of their best orators, read
to us a very pathetic oration; and the object was to show that no
penalties are the legal compensations for crimes or injuries: the man
who is hanged, having by that event paid his debt to society, ought not
to be held in dishonor; and in like manner he who has been condemned for
seven years to be flogged in the galleys, should, when he has served out
his apprenticeship, be received again into good company, as if nothing
had happened. You smile; but observe the extreme to which the matter was
carried the other way. Dishonoring thousands for the guilt of one has so
shocked the public sentiment as to render this extreme fashionable. The
oration was very fine, very sentimental, very pathetic, and the style
harmonious. Shouts of applause and full approbation. When this was
pretty well over, I told him that his speech was extremely eloquent, but
that his principles were not very solid. Universal surprise!"

At times he became rather weary of the constant discussion of politics,
which had become the chief drawing-room topic. Among the capacities of
his lively and erratic nature was the power of being intensely bored by
anything dull or monotonous. He remarked testily that "republicanism was
absolutely a moral influenza, from which neither titles, places, nor
even the diadem can guard the possessor." In a letter to a friend on a
different subject he writes: "Apropos,--a term which my Lord
Chesterfield well observes we generally use to bring in what is not at
all to the purpose,--apropos, then, I have here the strangest employment
imaginable. A republican, and just as it were emerged from that assembly
which has formed one of the most republican of all republican
constitutions, I preach incessantly respect for the prince, attention to
the rights of the nobles, and above all moderation, not only in the
object, but also in the pursuit of it. All this you will say is none of
my business; but I consider France as the natural ally of my country,
and, of course, that we are interested in her prosperity; besides, to
say the truth, I love France."

His hostility to the fashionable cult offended some of his best friends.
The Lafayettes openly disapproved his sentiments. The Marquis told him
that he was injuring the cause, because his sentiments were being
continually quoted against "the good party." Morris answered that he was
opposed to democracy from a regard to liberty; that the popular party
were going straight to destruction, and he would fain stop them if he
could; for their views respecting the nation were totally inconsistent
with the materials of which it was composed, and the worst thing that
could happen to them would be to have their wishes granted. Lafayette
half admitted that this was true: "He tells me that he is sensible his
party are mad, and tells them so, but is not the less determined to die
with them. I tell him that I think it would be quite as well to bring
them to their senses and live with them,"--the last sentence showing the
impatience with which the shrewd, fearless, practical American at times
regarded the dreamy inefficiency of his French associates. Madame de
Lafayette was even more hostile than her husband to Morris's ideas. In
commenting on her beliefs he says: "She is a very sensible woman, but
has formed her ideas of government in a manner not suited, I think,
either to the situation, the circumstances, or the disposition of

He was considered too much of an aristocrat in the salon of the Comtesse
de Tessé, the resort of "republicans of the first feather;" and at
first was sometimes rather coldly received there. He felt, however, a
most sincere friendship and regard for the comtesse, and thoroughly
respected the earnestness with which she had for twenty years done what
lay in her power to give her country greater liberty. She was a genuine
enthusiast, and, when the National Assembly met, was filled with
exultant hope for the future. The ferocious outbreaks of the mob, and
the crazy lust for blood shown by the people at large, startled her out
of her faith, and shocked her into the sad belief that her life-long and
painful labors had been wasted in the aid of a bad cause. Later in the
year Morris writes: "I find Madame de Tessé is become a convert to my
principles. We have a gay conversation of some minutes on their affairs,
in which I mingle sound maxims of government with that piquant
_légèreté_ which this nation delights in. She insists that I dine with
her at Versailles the next time I am there. We are vastly gracious, and
all at once, in a serious tone, 'Mais attendez, madame, est-ce que je
suis trop aristocrat?' To which she answers, with a smile of gentle
humility, 'Oh, mon Dieu, non!'"

It is curious to notice how rapidly Morris's brilliant talents gave him
a commanding position, stranger and guest though he was, among the most
noted statesmen of France; how often he was consulted, and how widely
his opinions were quoted. Moreover, his incisive truthfulness makes his
writings more valuable to the historian of his time than are those of
any of his contemporaries, French, English, or American. Taine, in his
great work on the Revolution, ranks him high among the small number of
observers who have recorded clear and sound judgments of those years of
confused, formless tumult and horror.

All his views on French politics are very striking. As soon as he
reached Paris, he was impressed by the unrest and desire for change
prevailing everywhere, and wrote home: "I find on this side of the
Atlantic a resemblance to what I left on the other,--a nation which
exists in hopes, prospects, and expectations; the reverence for ancient
establishments gone; existing forms shaken to the very foundation; and a
new order of things about to take place, in which, perhaps, even the
very names of all former institutions will be disregarded." And again:
"This country presents an astonishing spectacle to one who has collected
his ideas from books and information half a dozen years old. Everything
is _à l'Anglaise_, and a desire to imitate the English prevails alike
in the cut of a coat and the form of a constitution. Like the English,
too, all are engaged in parliamenteering; and when we consider how novel
this last business must be, I assure you the progress is far from
contemptible,"--a reference to Lafayette's electioneering trip to
Auvergne. The rapidity with which, in America, order had come out of
chaos, while in France the reverse process had been going on, impressed
him deeply; as he says: "If any new lesson were wanting to impress on
our hearts a deep sense of the mutability of human affairs, the double
contrast between France and America two years ago and at the present
would surely furnish it."

He saw at once that the revolutionists had it in their power to do about
as they chose. "If there be any real vigor in the nation the prevailing
party in the States-General may, if they please, overturn the monarchy
itself, should the king commit his authority to a contest with them. The
court is extremely feeble, and the manners are so extremely corrupt that
they cannot succeed if there be any consistent opposition, unless the
whole nation be equally depraved."

He did not believe that the people would be able to profit by the
revolution, or to use their opportunities aright. For the numerous
class of patriots who felt a vague, though fervent, enthusiasm for
liberty in the abstract, and who, without the slightest practical
knowledge, were yet intent on having all their own pet theories put into
practice, he felt profound scorn and contempt; while he distrusted and
despised the mass of Frenchmen, because of their frivolity and
viciousness. He knew well that a pure theorist may often do as much
damage to a country as the most corrupt traitor; and very properly
considered that in politics the fool is quite as obnoxious as the knave.
He also realized that levity and the inability to look life seriously in
the face, or to attend to the things worth doing, may render a man just
as incompetent to fulfil the duties of citizenship as would actual

To the crazy theories of the constitution-makers and closet-republicans
generally, he often alludes in his diary, and in his letters home. In
one place he notes: "The literary people here, observing the abuses of
the monarchical form, imagine that everything must go the better in
proportion as it recedes from the present establishment, and in their
closets they make men exactly suited to their systems; but unluckily
they are such men as exist nowhere else, and least of all in France."
And he writes almost the same thing to Washington: "The middle party,
who mean well, have unfortunately acquired their ideas of government
from books, and are admirable fellows upon paper: but as it happens,
somewhat unfortunately, that the men who live in the world are very
different from those who dwell in the heads of philosophers, it is not
to be wondered at if the systems taken out of books are fit for nothing
but to be put back into books again." And once more: "They have all that
romantic spirit, and all those romantic ideas of government, which,
happily for America, we were cured of before it was too late." He shows
how they had never had the chance to gain wisdom through experience. "As
they have hitherto felt severely the authority exercised in the name of
their princes, every limitation of that power seems to them desirable.
Never having felt the evils of too weak an executive, the disorders to
be apprehended from anarchy make as yet no impression." Elsewhere he
comments on their folly in trying to apply to their own necessities
systems of government suited to totally different conditions; and
mentions his own attitude in the matter: "I have steadily combated the
violence and excess of those persons who, either inspired with an
enthusiastic love of freedom, or prompted by sinister designs, are
disposed to drive everything to extremity. Our American example has
done them good; but, like all novelties, liberty runs away with their
discretion, if they have any. They want an American constitution with
the exception of a King instead of a President, without reflecting that
they have not American citizens to support that constitution.... Whoever
desires to apply in the practical science of government those rules and
forms which prevail and succeed in a foreign country, must fall into the
same pedantry with our young scholars, just fresh from the university,
who would fain bring everything to the Roman standard.... The scientific
tailor who should cut after Grecian or Chinese models would not have
many customers, either in London or Paris; and those who look to America
for their political forms are not unlike the tailors in Laputa, who, as
Gulliver tells us, always take measures with a quadrant."

He shows again and again his abiding distrust and fear of the French
character, as it was at that time, volatile, debauched, ferocious, and
incapable of self-restraint. To Lafayette he insisted that the "extreme
licentiousness" of the people rendered it indispensable that they should
be kept under authority; and on another occasion told him "that the
nation was used to being governed, and would have to be governed; and
that if he expected to lead them by their affections, he would himself
be the dupe." In writing to Washington he painted the outlook in colors
that, though black indeed, were not a shade too dark. "The materials for
a revolution in this country are very indifferent. Everybody agrees that
there is an utter prostration of morals; but this general proposition
can never convey to an American mind the degree of depravity. It is not
by any figure of rhetoric or force of language that the idea can be
communicated. A hundred anecdotes and a hundred thousand examples are
required to show the extreme rottenness of every member. There are men
and women who are greatly and eminently virtuous. I have the pleasure to
number many in my own acquaintance; but they stand forward from a
background deeply and darkly shaded. It is however from such crumbling
matter that the great edifice of freedom is to be erected here. Perhaps
like the stratum of rock which is spread under the whole surface of
their country, it may harden when exposed to the air; but it seems quite
as likely that it will fall and crush the builders. I own to you that I
am not without such apprehensions, for there is one fatal principle
which pervades all ranks. It is a perfect indifference to the violation
of engagements. Inconstancy is so mingled in the blood, marrow, and very
essence of this people, that when a man of high rank and importance
laughs to-day at what he seriously asserted yesterday, it is considered
as in the natural order of things. Consistency is a phenomenon. Judge,
then, what would be the value of an association should such a thing be
proposed and even adopted. The great mass of the common people have no
religion but their priests, no law but their superiors, no morals but
their interest. These are the creatures who, led by drunken curates, are
now on the high road _à la liberté_."

Morris and Washington wrote very freely to each other. In one of his
letters, the latter gave an account of how well affairs were going in
America (save in Rhode Island, the majority of whose people "had long
since bid adieu to every principle of honor, common sense, and
honesty"), and then went on to discuss things in France. He expressed
the opinion that, if the revolution went no further than it had already
gone, France would become the most powerful and happy state in Europe;
but he trembled lest, having triumphed in the first paroxysms, it might
succumb to others still more violent that would be sure to follow. He
feared equally the "licentiousness of the people" and the folly of the
leaders, and doubted if they possessed the requisite temperance,
firmness, and foresight; and if they did not, then he believed they
would run from one extreme to another, and end with "a higher toned
despotism than the one which existed before."

Morris answered him with his usual half-satiric humor: "Your sentiments
on the revolution here I believe to be perfectly just, because they
perfectly accord with my own, and that is, you know, the only standard
which Heaven has given us by which to judge," and went on to describe
how the parties in France stood. "The king is in effect a prisoner in
Paris and obeys entirely the National Assembly. This assembly may be
divided into three parts: one, called the _aristocrats_, consists of the
high clergy, the members of the law (note, these are not the lawyers)
and such of the nobility as think they ought to form a separate order.
Another, which has no name, but which consists of all sorts of people,
really friends to a good free government. The third is composed of what
is here called the _enragées_, that is, the madmen. These are the most
numerous, and are of that class which in America is known by the name of
pettifogging lawyers; together with ... those persons who in all
revolutions throng to the standard of change because they are not well.
This last party is in close alliance with the populace here, and they
have already unhinged everything, and, according to custom on such
occasions, the torrent rushes on irresistibly until it shall have wasted
itself." The _literati_ he pronounced to have no understanding whatever
of the matters at issue, and as was natural to a shrewd observer
educated in the intensely practical school of American political life,
he felt utter contempt for the wordy futility and wild theories of the
French legislators. "For the rest, they _discuss_ nothing in their
assembly. One large half of the time is spent in hallooing and bawling."

Washington and Morris were both so alarmed and indignant at the excesses
committed by the revolutionists, and so frankly expressed their
feelings, as to create an impression in some quarters that they were
hostile to the revolution itself. The exact reverse was originally the
case. They sympathized most warmly with the desire for freedom, and with
the efforts made to attain it. Morris wrote to the President: "We have,
I think, every reason to wish that the patriots may be successful. The
generous wish that a free people must have to disseminate freedom, the
grateful emotion which rejoices in the happiness of a benefactor, the
interest we must feel as well in the liberty as in the power of this
country, all conspire to make us far from indifferent spectators. I say
that we have an _interest_ in the liberty of France. The leaders here
are our friends. Many of them have imbibed their principles in America,
and all have been fired by our example. Their opponents are by no means
rejoiced at the success of our revolution, and many of them are disposed
to form connections of the strictest kind with Great Britain." Both
Washington and Morris would have been delighted to see liberty
established in France; but they had no patience with the pursuit of the
bloody chimera which the revolutionists dignified with that title. The
one hoped for, and the other counseled, moderation among the friends of
republican freedom, not because they were opposed to it, but because
they saw that it could only be gained and kept by self-restraint. They
were, to say the least, perfectly excusable for believing that at that
time some form of monarchy, whether under king, dictator, or emperor,
was necessary to France. Every one agrees that there are certain men
wiser than their fellows; the only question is as to how these men can
be best chosen out, and to this there can be no absolute answer. No mode
will invariably give the best results; and the one that will come
nearest to doing so under given conditions will not work at all under
others. Where the people are enlightened and moral they are themselves
the ones to choose their rulers; and such a form of government is
unquestionably the highest of any, and the only one that a high-spirited
and really free nation will tolerate; but if they are corrupt and
degraded, they are unfit for republicanism, and need to be under an
entirely different system. The most genuine republican, if he has any
common sense, does not believe in a democratic government for every race
and in every age.

Morris was a true republican, and an American to the core. He was alike
free from truckling subserviency to European opinion,--a degrading
remnant of colonialism that unfortunately still lingers in certain
limited social and literary circles,--and from the uneasy self-assertion
that springs partly from sensitive vanity, and partly from a smothered
doubt as to one's real position. Like most men of strong character, he
had no taste for the "cosmopolitanism" that so generally indicates a
weak moral and mental make-up. He enjoyed his stay in Europe to the
utmost, and was intimate with the most influential men and charming
women of the time; but he was heartily glad to get back to America,
refused to leave it again, and always insisted that it was the most
pleasant of all places in which to live. While abroad he was simply a
gentleman among gentlemen. He never intruded his political views or
national prejudices upon his European friends; but he was not inclined
to suffer any imputation on his country. Any question about America that
was put in good faith, no matter how much ignorance it displayed, he
always answered good-humoredly; and he gives in his Diary some amusing
examples of such conversations. Once he was cross-examined by an
inquisitive French nobleman, still in the stage of civilization which
believes that no man can be paid to render a service to another,
especially a small service, and yet retain his self-respect and continue
to regard himself as the full political equal of his employer. One of
this gentleman's sagacious inquiries was as to how a shoemaker could, in
the pride of his freedom, think himself equal to a king, and yet accept
an order to make shoes; to which Morris replied that he would accept it
as a matter of business, and be glad of the chance to make them, since
it lay in the line of his duty; and that he would all the time consider
himself at full liberty to criticise his visitor, or the king, or any
one else, who lapsed from _his_ own duty. After recording several
queries of the same nature, and some rather abrupt answers, the Diary
for that day closes rather caustically with the comment: "This manner of
thinking and speaking, however, is too masculine for the climate I am
now in."

In a letter to Washington Morris made one of his usual happy guesses--if
forecasting the future by the aid of marvelous insight into human
character can properly be called a guess--as to what would happen to
France: "It is very difficult to guess whereabouts the flock will settle
when it flies so wild; but as far as it is possible to guess this (late)
kingdom will be cast into a congeries of little democracies, laid out,
not according to rivers, mountains, etc., but with the square and
compass according to latitude and longitude," and adds that he thinks so
much fermenting matter will soon give the nation "a kind of political

He rendered some services to Washington that did not come in the line of
his public duty. One of these was to get him a watch, Washington having
written to have one purchased in Paris, of gold, "not a small, trifling,
nor a finical ornamental one, but a watch well executed in point of
workmanship, large and flat, with a plain, handsome key." Morris sent it
to him by Jefferson, "with two copper keys and one golden one, and a box
containing a spare spring and glasses." His next service to the great
Virginian, or rather to his family, was of a different kind, and he
records it with a smile at his own expense. "Go to M. Hudon's; he has
been waiting for me a long time. I stand for his statue of General
Washington, being the humble employment of a manikin. This is literally
taking the advice of St. Paul, to be all things to all men."

He corresponded with many men of note; not the least among whom was the
daring corsair, Paul Jones. The latter was very anxious to continue in
the service of the people with whom he had cast in his lot, and in
command of whose vessels he had reached fame. Morris was obliged to tell
him that he did not believe an American navy would be created for some
years to come, and advised him meanwhile to go into the service of the
Russians, as he expected there would soon be warm work on the Baltic;
and even gave him a hint as to what would probably be the best plan of
campaign. Paul Jones wanted to come to Paris; but from this Morris
dissuaded him. "A journey to this city can, I think, produce nothing but
the expense attending it; for neither pleasure nor profit can be
expected here, by one of your profession in particular; and, except that
it is a more dangerous residence than many others, I know of nothing
which may serve to you as an inducement."



Although Morris entered into the social life of Paris with all the zest
natural to his pleasure-loving character, yet he was far too
clear-headed to permit it to cast any glamour over him. Indeed, it is
rather remarkable that a young provincial gentleman, from a raw, new,
far-off country, should not have had his head turned by being made
somewhat of a lion in what was then the foremost city of the civilized
world. Instead of this happening, his notes show that he took a
perfectly cool view of his new surroundings, and appreciated the
over-civilized, aristocratic society, in which he found himself, quite
at its true worth. He enjoyed the life of the salon very much, but it
did not in the least awe or impress him; and he was of too virile fibre,
too essentially a man, to be long contented with it alone. He likewise
appreciated the fashionable men, and especially the fashionable women,
whom he met there; but his amusing comments on them, as shrewd as they
are humorous, prove how little he respected their philosophy, and how
completely indifferent he was to their claims to social preëminence.

Much has been written about the pleasure-loving, highly cultured society
of eighteenth-century France; but to a man like Morris, of real ability
and with an element of sturdiness in his make-up, both the culture and
knowledge looked a little like veneering; the polish partook of
effeminacy; the pleasure so eagerly sought after could be called
pleasure only by people of ignoble ambition; and the life that was lived
seemed narrow and petty, agreeable enough for a change, but dreary
beyond measure if followed too long. The authors, philosophers, and
statesmen of the salon were rarely, almost never, men of real greatness;
their metal did not ring true; they were shams, and the life of which
they were a part was a sham. Not only was the existence hollow,
unwholesome, effeminate, but also in the end tedious: the silent,
decorous dullness of life in the dreariest country town is not more
insufferable than, after a time, become the endless chatter, the small
witticisms, the mock enthusiasms, and vapid affectations of an
aristocratic society as artificial and unsound as that of the Parisian
drawing-rooms in the last century.

But all this was delightful for a time, especially to a man who had
never seen any city larger than the overgrown villages of New York and
Philadelphia. Morris thus sums up his first impressions in a letter to a
friend: "A man in Paris lives in a sort of whirlwind, which turns him
round so fast that he can see nothing. And as all men and things are in
the same vertiginous condition, you can neither fix yourself nor your
object for regular examination. Hence the people of this metropolis are
under the necessity of pronouncing their definitive judgment from the
first glance; and being thus habituated to shoot flying, they have what
sportsmen call a quick sight. _Ex pede Herculem_. They know a wit by his
snuff-box, a man of taste by his bow, and a statesman by the cut of his
coat. It is true that, like other sportsmen, they sometimes miss; but
then, like other sportsmen too, they have a thousand excuses besides the
want of skill: the fault, you know, may be in the dog, or the bird, or
the powder, or the flint, or even the gun, without mentioning the

Among the most famous of the salons where he was fairly constant in his
attendance was that of Madame de Staël. There was not a little contempt
mixed with his regard for the renowned daughter of Necker. She amused
him, however, and he thought well of her capacity, though in his Diary
he says that he never in his life saw "such exuberant vanity" as she
displayed about her father, Necker,--a very ordinary personage, whom the
convulsions of the time had for a moment thrown forward as the most
prominent man in France. By way of instance he mentions a couple of her
remarks, one to the effect that a speech of Talleyrand on the church
property was "excellent, admirable, in short that there were two pages
in it which were worthy of M. Necker;" and another wherein she said that
wisdom was a very rare quality, and that she knew of no one who
possessed it in a superlative degree except her father.

The first time he met her was after an exciting discussion in the
assembly over the finances, which he describes at some length. Necker
had introduced an absurd scheme for a loan. Mirabeau, who hated Necker,
saw the futility of his plan, but was also aware that popular opinion
was blindly in his favor, and that to oppose him would be ruinous; so in
a speech of "fine irony" he advocated passing Necker's proposed bill
without change or discussion, avowing that his object was to have the
responsibility and glory thrown entirely on the proposer of the measure.
He thus yielded to the popular view, while at the same time he
shouldered on Necker all the responsibility for a deed which it was
evident would in the end ruin him. It was a not very patriotic move,
although a good example of selfish political tactics, and Morris sneered
bitterly at its adoption by the representatives of a people who prided
themselves on being "the modern Athenians." To his surprise, however,
even Madame de Staël took Mirabeau's action seriously; she went into
raptures over the wisdom of the assembly in doing just what Necker said,
for "the only thing they could do was to comply with her father's wish,
and there could be no doubt as to the success of her father's plans!

With Morris she soon passed from politics to other subjects. "Presented
to Madame de Staël as _un homme d'esprit_," he writes, "she singles me
out and makes _a talk_; asks if I have not written a book on the
American Constitution. 'Non, madame, j'ai fait mon devoir en assistant à
la formation de cette constitution.' 'Mais, monsieur, votre conversation
doit être très intéressante, car je vous entends cité de toute parti.'
'Ah, madame, je ne suis pas digne de cette éloge.' How I lost my leg? It
was unfortunately not in the military service of my country. 'Monsieur,
vous avez l'air très imposant,' and this is accompanied with that look
which, without being what Sir John Falstaff calls the 'leer of
invitation,' amounts to the same thing.... This leads us on, but in the
midst of the chat arrive letters, one of which is from her lover,
Narbonne, now with his regiment. It brings her to a little recollection,
which a little time will, I think, again banish, and a few interviews
would stimulate her to try the experiment of her fascinations even on
the native of a new world who has left one of his legs behind him."

An entry in Morris's Diary previous to this conversation shows that he
had no very high opinion of this same Monsieur de Narbonne: "He
considers a civil war inevitable, and is about to join his regiment,
being, as he says, in a conflict between the dictates of his duty and
his conscience. I tell him that I know of no duty but that which
conscience dictates. I presume that his conscience will dictate to join
the strongest side."

Morris's surmises as to his fair friend's happy forgetfulness of her
absent lover proved true: she soon became bent on a flirtation with the
good-looking American stranger, and when he failed to make any advances
she promptly made them herself; told him that she "rather invited than
repelled those who were inclined to be attentive," and capped this
exhibition of modest feminine reserve by suggesting that "perhaps he
might become an admirer." Morris dryly responded that it was not
impossible, but that, as a previous condition, she must agree not to
repel him,--which she instantly promised. Afterwards, at dinner, "we
become engaged in an animated conversation, and she desires me to speak
English, which her husband does not understand. In looking round the
room, I observe in him very much emotion, and I tell her that he loves
her distractedly, which she says she knows, and that it renders her
miserable.... I condole with her a little on her widowhood, the
Chevalier de Narbonne being absent in Franche Comté.... She asks me if I
continue to think she has a preference for Monsieur de Tonnerre. I reply
only by observing that each of them has wit enough for one couple, and
therefore I think they had better separate, and take each a partner who
is _un peu bête_. After dinner I seek a conversation with the husband,
which relieves him. He inveighs bitterly [poor, honest Swede] against
the manners of the country, and the cruelty of alienating a wife's
affection. I regret with him on general grounds that prostitution of
morals which unfits them for good government, and convince him, I think,
I shall not contribute to making him any more uncomfortable than he
already is." Certainly, according to Morris's evidence, Madame de
Staël's sensitive delicacy could only be truthfully portrayed by the
unfettered pen of a Smollett.

He was an especial _habitué_ of the salon of Madame de Flahaut, the
friend of Talleyrand and Montesquieu. She was a perfectly characteristic
type; a clever, accomplished little woman, fond of writing romances, and
a thorough-paced _intriguante_. She had innumerable enthusiasms, with
perhaps a certain amount of sincerity in each, and was a more infatuated
political schemer than any of her male friends. She was thoroughly
conversant with the politics of both court and assembly; her "precision
and justness of thought was very uncommon in either sex," and, as time
went on, made her a willing and useful helper in some of Morris's plans.
Withal she was a mercenary, self-seeking little personage, bent on
increasing her own fortune by the aid of her political friends. Once,
when dining with Morris and Talleyrand, she told them in perfect good
faith that, if the latter was made minister, "they must be sure to make
a million for her."

She was much flattered by the deference that Morris showed for her
judgment, and in return let him into not a few state secrets. She and he
together drew up a translation of the outline for a constitution for
France, which he had prepared, and through her it was forwarded to the
king. Together with her two other intimates, Talleyrand and Montesquieu,
they made just a party of four, often dining at her house; and when her
husband was sent to Spain, the dinners became more numerous than ever,
sometimes merely _parties carrées_, sometimes very large entertainments.
Morris records that, small or large, they were invariably "excellent
dinners, where the conversation was always extremely gay."

Once they planned out a ministry together, and it must be kept in mind
that it was quite on the cards that their plan would be adopted. After
disposing suitably of all the notabilities, some in stations at home,
others in stations abroad, the scheming little lady turned to Morris:
"'Enfin,' she says, 'mon ami, vous et moi nous gouvernerons la France.'
It is an odd combination, but the kingdom is actually in much worse

This conversation occurred one morning when he had called to find madame
at her toilet, with her dentist in attendance. It was a coarse age, for
all the gilding; and the coarseness was ingrained in the fibre even of
the most ultra sentimental. At first Morris felt perhaps a little
surprised at the easy familiarity with which the various ladies whose
friend he was admitted him to the privacy of boudoir and bedroom, and
chronicles with some amusement the graceful indifference with which one
of them would say to him: "Monsieur Morris me permettra de faire ma
toilette?" But he was far from being a strait-laced man,--in fact, he
was altogether too much the reverse,--and he soon grew habituated to
these as well as to much worse customs. However, he notes that the
different operations of the toilet "were carried on with an entire and
astounding regard to modesty."

Madame de Flahaut was a very charming member of the class who, neither
toiling nor spinning, were supported in luxury by those who did both,
and who died from want while so doing. At this very time, while France
was rapidly drifting into bankruptcy, the fraudulent pensions given to a
horde of courtiers, titled placemen, well-born harlots and their
offspring, reached the astounding total of two hundred and seventy odd
millions of livres. The assembly passed a decree cutting away these
pensions right and left, and thereby worked sad havoc in the gay society
that nothing could render serious but immediate and pressing
poverty,--not even the loom of the terror ahead, growing darker moment
by moment. Calling on his fascinating little friend immediately after
the decree was published, Morris finds her "_au désespoir_, and she
intends to cry very loud, she says.... She has been in tears all day.
Her pensions from Monsieur and the Comte d'Artois are stopped. On that
from the king she receives but three thousand francs,--and must
therefore quit Paris. I try to console her, but it is impossible.
Indeed, the stroke is severe; for, with youth, beauty, wit, and every
loveliness, she must quit all she loves, and pass her life with what she
abhors." In the time of adversity Morris stood loyally by the friends
who had treated him so kindly when the world was a merry one, and things
went well with them. He helped them in every way possible; his time and
his purse were always at their service; and he performed the difficult
feat of giving pecuniary assistance with a tact and considerate delicacy
that prevented the most sensitive from taking offense.

He early became acquainted with the Duchess of Orleans, wife of Philippe
Egalité, the vicious voluptuary of liberal leanings and clouded
character. He met her at the house of an old friend, Madame de
Chastellux. At first he did not fancy her, and rather held himself
aloof, being uncertain "how he would get on with royalty." The duchess,
however, was attracted by him, asked after him repeatedly, made their
mutual friends throw them together, and finally so managed that he
became one of her constant visitors and attendants. This naturally
flattered him, and he remained sincerely loyal to her always afterwards.
She was particularly anxious that he should be interested in her son,
then a boy, afterwards destined to become the citizen king,--not a bad
man, but a mean one, and rather an unkingly king even for the nineteenth
century, fertile though it has been in ignoble royalty. Morris's further
dealings with this precious youth will have to be considered hereafter.

After his first interview he notes that the duchess was "handsome enough
to punish the duke for his irregularities." He also mentioned that she
still seemed in love with her husband. However, the lady was not averse
to seeking a little sentimental consolation from her new friend, to whom
she confided, in their after intimacy, that she was weary at heart and
not happy, and--a thoroughly French touch--that she had the "besoin
d'être aimée." On the day they first met, while he is talking to her,
"the widow of the late Duke of Orleans comes in, and at going away,
according to custom, kisses the duchess. I observe that the ladies of
Paris are very fond of each other; which gives rise to some observations
from her royal highness on the person who has just quitted the room,
which show that the kiss does not always betoken great affection. In
going away she is pleased to say that she is glad to have met me, and I
believe her. The reason is that I dropped some expressions and
sentiments a little rough, which were agreeable because they contrasted
with the palling polish she meets with everywhere. Hence I conclude that
the less I have the honor of such good company the better; for when the
novelty ceases all is over, and I shall probably be worse than insipid."

Nevertheless, the "good company" was determined he should make one of
their number. He was not very loath himself, when he found he was in no
danger of being patronized,--for anything like patronage was always
particularly galling to his pride, which was of the kind that resents a
tone of condescension more fiercely than an overt insult,--and he became
a fast friend of the house of Orleans. The duchess made him her
confidant; unfolded to him her woes about the duke; and once, when he
was dining with her, complained to him bitterly of the duke's conduct in
not paying her allowance regularly. She was in financial straits at the
time; for, though she was allowed four hundred and fifty thousand livres
a year, yet three hundred and fifty thousand were appropriated for the
house-servants, table, etc.,--an item wherein her American friend,
albeit not over-frugal, thought a very little economy would result in a
great saving.

His description of one of the days he spent at Raincy with the duchess
and her friends, gives us not only a glimpse of the life of the great
ladies and fine gentlemen of the day, but also a clear insight into the
reasons why these same highly polished ladies and gentlemen had utterly
lost their hold over the people whose God-given rulers they deemed
themselves to be.

_Déjeuner à la fourchette_ was not served till noon,--Morris
congratulating himself that he had taken a light breakfast earlier.
"After breakfast we go to mass in the chapel. In the tribune above we
have a bishop, an abbé, the duchess, her maids and some of their
friends. Madame de Chastellux is below on her knees. We are amused above
by a number of little tricks played off by Monsieur de Ségur and
Monsieur de Cabières with a candle, which is put into the pockets of
different gentlemen, the bishop among the rest, and lighted, while they
are otherwise engaged, (for there is a fire in the tribune,) to the
great merriment of the spectators. Immoderate laughter is the
consequence. The duchess preserves as much gravity as she can. This
scene must be very edifying to the domestics who are opposite to us,
and the villagers who worship below." The afternoon's amusements were
not to his taste. They all walked, which he found very hot; then they
got into bateaux, and the gentlemen rowed the ladies, which was still
hotter; and then there came more walking, so he was glad to get back to
the château. The formal dinner was served after five; the conversation
thereat varied between the vicious and the frivolous. There was much
bantering, well-bred in manner and excessively under-bred in matter,
between the different guests of both sexes, about the dubious episodes
in their past careers, and the numerous shady spots in their respective
characters. Epigrams and "epitaphs" were bandied about freely, some in
verse, some not; probably very amusing then, but their lustre sadly
tarnished in the eyes of those who read them now. While they were
dining, "a number of persons surround the windows, doubtless from a high
idea of the company, to whom they are obliged to look up at an awful
distance. Oh, did they but know how trivial the conversation, how very
trivial the characters, their respect would soon be changed to an
emotion entirely different!"

This was but a month before the Bastile fell; and yet, on the threshold
of their hideous doom, the people who had most at stake were incapable
not only of intelligent action to ward off their fate, but even of
serious thought as to what their fate would be. The men--the nobles, the
clerical dignitaries, and the princes of the blood--chose the church as
a place wherein to cut antics that would have better befitted a pack of
monkeys; while the women, their wives and mistresses, exchanged with
them impure jests at their own expense, relished because of the truth on
which they rested. Brutes might still have held sway at least for a
time; but these were merely vicious triflers. They did not believe in
their religion; they did not believe in themselves; they did not believe
in anything. They had no earnestness, no seriousness; their
sensibilities and enthusiasms were alike affectations. There was still
plenty of fire and purpose and furious energy in the hearts of the
French people; but these and all the other virile virtues lay not among
the noblesse, but among the ranks of the common herd beneath them,
down-trodden, bloody in their wayward ferocity, but still capable of
fierce, heroic devotion to an ideal in which they believed, and for
which they would spill the blood of others, or pour out their own, with
the proud waste of utter recklessness.

Many of Morris's accounts of the literary life of the salon read as if
they were explanatory notes to "Les Précieuses Ridicules." There was a
certain pretentiousness about it that made it a bit of a sham at the
best; and the feebler variety of salon, built on such a foundation, thus
became that most despicable of things, an imitation of a pretense. At
one of the dinners which Morris describes, the company was of a kind
that would have done no discredit to an entertainment of the great
social and literary light of Eatanswill. "Set off in great haste to dine
with the Comtesse de R., on an invitation of a week's standing. Arrive
at about a quarter past three, and find in the drawing-room some dirty
linen and no fire. While a waiting-woman takes away one, a valet lights
up the other. Three small sticks in a deep bed of ashes give no great
expectation of heat. By the smoke, however, all doubts are removed
respecting the existence of fire. To expel the smoke, a window is
opened, and, the day being cold, I have the benefit of as fresh air as
can reasonably be expected in so large a city.

"Towards four o'clock the guests begin to assemble, and I begin to
expect that, as madame is a poetess, I shall have the honor to dine with
that exalted part of the species who devote themselves to the muses. In
effect, the gentlemen begin to compliment their respective works; and,
as regular hours cannot be expected in a house where the mistress is
occupied more with the intellectual than the material world, I have a
delightful prospect of a continuance of the scene. Towards five, madame
steps in to announce dinner, and the hungry poets advance to the charge.
As they bring good appetites, they have certainly reason to praise the
feast. And I console myself with the persuasion that for this day at
least I shall escape an indigestion. A very narrow escape, too, for some
rancid butter, of which the cook had been liberal, puts me in bodily
fear. If the repast is not abundant, we have at least the consolation
that there is no lack of conversation. Not being perfectly master of the
language, most of the jests escaped me. As for the rest of the company,
each being employed either in saying a good thing, or else in studying
one to say, it is no wonder if he cannot find time to applaud that of
his neighbors. They all agree that we live in an age alike deficient in
justice and in taste. Each finds in the fate of his own works numerous
instances to justify this censure. They tell me, to my great surprise,
that the public now condemn theatrical compositions before they have
heard the first recital. And, to remove my doubts, the comtesse is so
kind as to assure me that this rash decision has been made on one of
her own pieces. In pitying modern degeneracy, we rise from the table.

"I take my leave immediately after the coffee, which by no means
dishonors the precedent repast; and madame informs me that on Tuesdays
and Thursdays she is always at home, and will always be glad to see me.
While I stammer out some return to the compliment, my heart, convinced
of my unworthiness to partake of such attic entertainments, makes me
promise never again to occupy the place from which perhaps I had
excluded a worthier personage."

Among Morris's other qualities, he was the first to develop that
peculiarly American vein of humor which is especially fond of gravely
pretending to believe without reserve some preposterously untrue
assertion,--as throughout the above quotation.

Though the society in which he was thrown interested him, he always
regarded it with half-sarcastic amusement, and at times it bored him
greatly. Meditating on the conversation in "this upper region of wits
and graces," he concludes that "the sententious style" is the one best
fitted for it, and that in it "observations with more of justice than
splendor cannot amuse," and sums up by saying that "he could not please,
because he was not sufficiently pleased."

His comments upon the various distinguished men he met are always
interesting, on account of the quick, accurate judgment of character
which they show. It was this insight into the feelings and ideas alike
of the leaders and of their followers which made his political
predictions often so accurate. His judgment of many of his
contemporaries comes marvelously near the cooler estimate of history.

He was originally prejudiced in favor of the king, poor Louis XVI., and,
believing him "to be an honest and good man, he sincerely wished him
well," but he very soon began to despise him for his weakness. This
quality was the exact one that under existing circumstances was
absolutely fatal; and Morris mentions it again and again, pronouncing
the king "a well-meaning man, but extremely weak, without genius or
education to show the way towards that good which he desires," and "a
prince so weak that he can influence very little either by his presence
or absence." Finally, in a letter to Washington, he gives a biting
sketch of the unfortunate monarch. "If the reigning prince were not the
small-beer character that he is, there can be but little doubt that,
watching events and making a tolerable use of them, he would regain his
authority; but what will you have from a creature who, situated as he
is, eats and drinks, sleeps well and laughs, and is as merry a grig as
lives? The idea that they will give him some money, which he can
economize, and that he will have no trouble in governing, contents him
entirely. Poor man! He little thinks how unstable is his situation. He
is beloved, but it is not with the sort of love which a monarch should
inspire. It is that kind of good-natured pity which one feels for a led
captive. There is besides no possibility of serving him, for at the
slightest show of opposition he gives up everything and every person."
Morris had too robust a mind to feel the least regard for mere
amiability and good intentions when unaccompanied by any of the ruder,
manlier virtues.

The Count d'Artois had "neither sense to counsel himself, nor to choose
counsellors for himself, much less to counsel others." This gentleman,
afterwards Charles X., stands as perhaps the most shining example of the
monumental ineptitude of his royal house. His fellow Bourbon, the
amiable Bomba of Naples, is his only equal for dull silliness, crass
immorality, and the lack of every manly or kingly virtue. Democracy has
much to answer for, but after all it would be hard to find, even among
the aldermen of New York and Chicago, men whose moral and mental
shortcomings would put them lower than this royal couple. To our shame
be it said, our system of popular government once let our greatest city
fall under the control of Tweed; but it would be rank injustice to that
clever rogue to compare him with the two vicious dullards whom the
opposite system permitted to tyrannize at Paris and Naples. Moreover, in
the end, we of the democracy not only overthrew the evil-doer who
oppressed us, but also put him in prison; and in the long run we have
usually meted out the same justice to our lesser criminals. Government
by manhood suffrage shows at its worst in large cities; and yet even in
these experience certainly does not show that a despotism works a whit
better, or as well.

Morris described the Count de Montmorin pithily, saying: "He has more
understanding than people in general imagine, and he means well, very
well, but he means it feebly."

When Morris came to France, Necker was the most prominent man in the
kingdom. He was a hard-working, well-meaning, conceited person, not in
the least fitted for public affairs, a banker but not a financier, and
affords a beautiful illustration of the utter futility of the popular
belief that a good business man will necessarily be a good statesman.
Accident had made him the most conspicuous figure of the government,
admired and hated, but not looked down upon; yet Morris saw through him
at a glance. After their first meeting, he writes down in his diary: "He
has the look and manner of the counting-house, and, being dressed in
embroidered velvet, he contrasts strongly with his habiliments. His bow,
his address, say, 'I am the man.' ... If he is really a very great man,
I am deceived; and yet this is a rash judgment. If he is not a laborious
man, I am also deceived." He soon saw that both the blame and the praise
bestowed on him were out of all proportion to his consequence, and he
wrote: "In their anguish [the nobles] curse Necker, who is in fact less
the cause than the instrument of their sufferings. His popularity
depends now more on the opposition he meets with from one party than any
serious regard of the other. It is the attempt to throw him down which
saves him from falling; ... as it is, he must soon fall." To Washington
he gave a fuller analysis of his character. "As to M. Necker, he is one
of those people who has obtained a much greater reputation than he has
any right to.... In his public administration he has always been honest
and disinterested; which proves well, I think, for his former private
conduct, or else it proves that he has more vanity than cupidity. Be
that as it may, an unspotted integrity as minister, and serving at his
own expense in an office which others seek for the purpose of enriching
themselves, have acquired for him very deservedly much confidence. Add
to this that his writings on finance teem with that sort of sensibility
which makes the fortune of modern romances, and which is exactly suited
to this lively nation, who love to read but hate to think. Hence his
reputation. He ... [has not] the talents of a great minister. His
education as a banker has taught him to make tight bargains, and put him
upon his guard against projects. But though he understands man as a
covetous creature, he does not understand mankind,--a defect which is
remediless. He is utterly ignorant of politics, by which I mean politics
in the great sense, or that sublime science which embraces for its
object the happiness of mankind. Consequently he neither knows what
constitution to form, nor how to obtain the consent of others to such as
he wishes. From the moment of convening the states-general, he has been
afloat upon the wide ocean of incidents. But what is most extraordinary
is that M. Necker is a very poor financier. This I know will sound like
heresy in the ears of most people, but it is true. The plans he has
proposed are feeble and inept."

A far more famous man, Talleyrand, then Bishop of Autun, he also gauged
correctly from the start, writing down that he appeared to be "a sly,
cool, cunning, ambitious, and malicious man. I know not why conclusions
so disadvantageous to him are formed in my mind, but so it is, and I
cannot help it." He was afterwards obliged to work much in common with
Talleyrand, for both took substantially the same view of public affairs
in that crisis, and were working for a common end. Speaking of his new
ally's plan respecting church property, he says: "He is bigoted to it,
and the thing is well enough; but the mode is not so well. He is
attached to this _as an author_, which is not a good sign for a man of
business." And again he criticises Talleyrand's management of certain
schemes for the finances, as showing a willingness "to sacrifice great
objects for the sake of small ones ... an inverse ratio of moral

Morris was fond of Lafayette, and appreciated highly his courage and
keen sense of honor; but he did not think much of his ability, and
became at times very impatient with his vanity and his impractical
theories. Besides, he deemed him a man who was carried away by the
current, and could neither stem nor guide it. "I have known my friend
Lafayette now for many years, and can estimate at the just value both
his words and actions. He means ill to no one, but he is very much below
the business he has undertaken; and if the sea runs high, he will be
unable to hold the helm." And again, in writing to Washington:
"Unluckily he has given in to measures ... which he does not heartily
approve, and he heartily approves many things which experience will
demonstrate to be dangerous."

The misshapen but mighty genius of Mirabeau he found more difficulty in
estimating; he probably never rated it quite high enough. He naturally
scorned a man of such degraded debauchery, who, having been one of the
great inciters to revolution, had now become a subsidized ally of the
court. He considered him "one of the most unprincipled scoundrels that
ever lived," although of "superior talents," and "so profligate that he
would disgrace any administration," besides having so little principle
as to make it unsafe to trust him. After his death he thus sums him up:
"Vices both degrading and detestable marked this extraordinary being.
Completely prostitute, he sacrificed everything to the whim of the
moment;--_cupidus alieni prodigus sui_; venal, shameless; and yet
greatly virtuous when pushed by a prevailing impulse, but never truly
virtuous, because never under the steady control of reason, nor the
firm authority of principle. I have seen this man, in the short space of
two years, hissed, honored, hated, mourned. Enthusiasm has just now
presented him gigantic. Time and reflection will sink this stature."
Even granting this to be wholly true, as it undoubtedly is in the main,
it was nevertheless the fact that in Mirabeau alone lay the least hope
of salvation for the French nation; and Morris erred in strenuously
opposing Lafayette's going into a ministry with him. Indeed, he seems in
this case to have been blinded by prejudice, and certainly acted very
inconsistently; for his advice, and the reasons he gave for it, were
completely at variance with the rules he himself laid down to Lafayette,
with even more cynicism than common sense, when the latter once made
some objections to certain proposed coadjutors of his: "I state to him
... that, as to the objections he has made on the score of morals in
some, he must consider that men do not go into an administration as the
direct road to heaven; that they are prompted by ambition or avarice,
and therefore that the only way to secure the most virtuous is by making
it their interest to act rightly."

Morris thus despised the king, and distrusted the chief political
leaders; and, as he wrote Washington, he was soon convinced that there
was an immense amount of corruption in the upper circles. The people at
large he disliked even more than he did their advisers, and he had good
grounds, too, as the following extract from his journal shows: "July
22d. After dinner, walk a little under the arcade of the Palais Royal,
waiting for my carriage. In this period the head and body of M. de
Toulon are introduced in triumph, the head on a pike, the body dragged
naked on the earth. Afterwards this horrible exhibition is carried
through the different streets. His crime is, to have accepted a place in
the ministry. This mutilated form of an old man of seventy-five is shown
to his son-in-law, Berthier, the intendant of Paris; and afterwards he
also is put to death and cut to pieces, the populace carrying about the
mangled fragments with a savage joy. Gracious God, what a people!"

He describes at length, and most interestingly, the famous opening of
the states-general, "the beginning of the Revolution." He eyed this body
even at the beginning with great distrust; and he never thought that any
of the delegates showed especial capacity for grappling with the
terrible dangers and difficulties by which they were encompassed. He
comments on the extreme enthusiasm with which the king was greeted, and
sympathizes strongly with Marie Antoinette, who was treated with
studied and insulting coldness. "She was exceedingly hurt. I cannot help
feeling the mortification which the poor queen meets with, for I see
only the woman; and it seems unmanly to treat a woman with
unkindness.... Not one voice is heard to wish her well. I would
certainly raise mine if I were a Frenchman; but I have no right to
express a sentiment, and in vain solicit those who are near me to do
it." ... At last "the queen rises, and, to my great satisfaction, she
hears, for the first time in several months, the sound of '_Vive la
reine!_' She makes a low courtesy, and this produces a louder
acclamation, and that a lower courtesy."

The sympathy was for the woman, not the queen, the narrow-minded,
absolute sovereign, the intriguer against popular government, whose
policy was as heavily fraught with bale for the nation as was that of
Robespierre himself. The king was more than competent to act as his own
evil genius; had he not been, Marie Antoinette would have amply filled
the place.

He characterized the carrying of "that diabolical castle," the Bastile,
as "among the most extraordinary things I have met with." The day it
took place he wrote in his journal, with an irony very modern in its
flavor: "Yesterday it was the fashion at Versailles not to believe that
there were any disturbances at Paris. I presume that this day's
transactions will induce a conviction that all is not perfectly quiet."

He used the Bastile as a text when, shortly afterwards, he read a brief
lesson to a certain eminent painter. The latter belonged to that class
of artists with pen or pencil (only too plentiful in America at the
present day) who always insist on devoting their energies to depicting
subjects worn threadbare by thousands of predecessors, instead of
working in the new, broad fields, filled with picturesque material,
opened to them by their own country and its history. "The painter shows
us a piece he is now about for the king, taken from the Æneid: Venus
restraining the arm which is raised in the temple of the Vestals to shed
the blood of Helen. I tell him he had better paint the storm of the



In March, 1790, Morris went to London, in obedience to a letter received
from Washington appointing him private agent to the British government,
and enclosing him the proper credentials.

Certain of the conditions of the treaty of peace between Great Britain
and the United States, although entered into seven years before, were
still unfulfilled. It had been stipulated that the British should give
up the fortified frontier posts within our territory, and should pay for
the negroes they had taken away from the Southern States during the war.
They had done neither, and Morris was charged to find out what the
intentions of the government were in the matter. He was also to find out
whether there was a disposition to enter into a commercial treaty with
the United States; and finally, he was to sound them as to their sending
a minister to America.

On our part we had also failed to fulfil a portion of our treaty
obligations, not having complied with the article which provided for the
payment of debts due before the war to British merchants. Both sides had
been to blame; each, of course, blamed only the other. But now, when we
were ready to perform our part, the British refused to perform theirs.

As a consequence, Morris, although he spent most of the year in
London, failed to accomplish anything. The feeling in England was
hostile to America; to the king, in particular, the very name was
hateful. The English were still sore over their defeat, and hated us
because we had been victors; and yet they despised us also, for they
thought we should be absolutely powerless except when we were acting
merely on the defensive. From the days of the Revolution till the days
of the Civil War, the ruling classes of England were bitterly
antagonistic to our nation; they always saw with glee any check to our
national well-being: they wished us ill, and exulted in our
misfortunes, while they sneered at our successes. The results have
been lasting, and now work much more to their hurt than to ours. The
past conduct of England certainly offers much excuse for, though it
cannot in the least justify, the unreasonable and virulent
anti-English feeling--that is, the feeling against Englishmen
politically and nationally, not socially or individually--which is so
strong in many parts of our country where the native American blood is

The English ministry in 1790 probably had the general feeling of the
nation behind them in their determination to injure us as much as they
could; at any rate, their aim seemed to be, as far as lay in them, to
embitter our already existing hostility to their empire. They not only
refused to grant us any substantial justice, but they were inclined to
inflict on us and on our representatives those petty insults which
rankle longer than injuries.

When it came to this point, however, Morris was quite able to hold his
own. He had a ready, biting tongue; and, excepting Pitt and Fox, was
intellectually superior to any of the public men whom he met. In social
position, even as they understood it, he was their equal; they could
hardly look down on the brother of a British major-general, and a
brother-in-law of the Duchess of Gordon. He was a man of rather fiery
courage, and any attacks upon his country were not likely to be made
twice in his presence. Besides, he never found the English congenial as
friends or companions; he could not sympathize, or indeed get along
well, with them. This distaste for their society he always retained, and
though he afterwards grew to respect them, and to be their warm
partisan politically, he was at this time much more friendly to France,
and was even helping the French ministers concoct a scheme of warfare
against their neighbor. To his bright, impatient temperament, the
English awkwardness seemed to be an insuperable obstacle to bringing
people together "as in other countries." He satirized the English
drawing-rooms, "where the arrangement of the company was stiff and
formal, the ladies all ranged in battalia on one side of the room;" and
remarked "that the French, having no liberty in their government, have
compensated to themselves that misfortune by bestowing a great deal upon
society. But that, I fear, in England, is all confined to the House of
Commons." Years afterwards he wrote to a friend abroad: "Have you
reflected that there is more of real society in one week at [a
Continental watering-place] than in a London year? Recollect that a
tedious morning, a great dinner, a boozy afternoon, and dull evening
make the sum total of English life. It is admirable for young men who
shoot, hunt, drink,--but for us! How are we to dispose of ourselves? No.
Were I to give you a rendezvous in Europe, it should be on the
continent. I respect, as you know, the English nation highly, and love
many individuals among them, but I do not love their manners." Times
have changed, and the manners of the Islanders with them. Exactly as the
"rude Carinthian boor" has become the most polished of mortals, so,
after a like transformation, English society is now perhaps the
pleasantest and most interesting in Europe. Were Morris alive to-day, he
would probably respect the English as much as he ever did, and like them
a good deal more; and, while he might well have his preference for his
own country confirmed, yet, if he had to go abroad, it is hard to
believe that he would now pass by London in favor of any continental
capital or watering-place.

In acknowledging Washington's letter of appointment, Morris wrote that
he did not expect much difficulty, save from the king himself, who was
very obstinate, and bore a personal dislike to his former subjects. But
his interviews with the minister of foreign affairs, the Duke of Leeds,
soon undeceived him. The duke met him with all the little tricks of
delay, and evasion, known to old-fashioned diplomacy; tricks that are
always greatly relished by men of moderate ability, and which are
successful enough where the game is not very important, as in the
present instance, but are nearly useless when the stakes are high and
the adversary determined. The worthy nobleman was profuse in
expressions of general good-will, and vague to a degree in his answers
to every concrete question; affected to misunderstand what was asked of
him, and, when he could not do this "slumbered profoundly" for weeks
before making his reply. Morris wrote that "his explanatory comments
were more unintelligible than his texts," and was delighted when he
heard that he might be replaced by Lord Hawksbury; for the latter,
although strongly anti-American, "would at least be an efficient
minister," whereas the former was "evidently afraid of committing
himself by saying or doing anything positive." He soon concluded that
Great Britain was so uncertain as to how matters were going in Europe
that she wished to keep us in a similar state of suspense. She had
recovered with marvelous rapidity from the effects of the great war; she
was felt on all sides to hold a position of commanding power; this she
knew well, and so felt like driving a very hard bargain with any nation,
especially with a weak one that she hated. It was particularly difficult
to form a commercial treaty. There were very many Englishmen who agreed
with a Mr. Irwin, "a mighty sour sort of creature," who assured Morris
that he was utterly opposed to all American trade in grain, and that he
wished to oblige the British people, by the force of starvation, to
raise enough corn for their own consumption. Fox told Morris that he and
Burke were about the only two men left who believed that Americans
should be allowed to trade in their own bottoms to the British Islands;
and he also informed him that Pitt was not hostile to America, but
simply indifferent, being absorbed in European matters, and allowing his
colleagues free hands.

Becoming impatient at the long-continued delay, Morris finally wrote,
very courteously but very firmly, demanding some sort of answer, and
this produced a momentary activity, and assurances that he was under a
misapprehension as to the delay, etc. The subject of the impressment of
American sailors into British men-of-war,--a matter of chronic complaint
throughout our first forty years of national life,--now came up; and he
remarked to the Duke of Leeds, with a pithy irony that should have made
the saying famous: "I believe, my lord, that this is the only instance
in which we are not treated as aliens." He proposed a plan which would
have at least partially obviated the difficulties in the way of a
settlement of the matter, but the duke would do nothing. Neither would
he come to any agreement in reference to the exchange of ministers
between the two countries.

Then came an interview with Pitt, and Morris, seeing how matters stood,
now spoke out perfectly clearly. In answer to the accusations about our
failure wholly to perform certain stipulations of the treaty, after
reciting the counter accusations of the Americans, he brushed them all
aside with the remark: "But, sir, what I have said tends to show that
these complaints and inquiries are excellent if the parties mean to keep
asunder; if they wish to come together, all such matters should be kept
out of sight." He showed that the House of Representatives, in a
friendly spirit, had recently decided against laying extraordinary
restrictions on British vessels in our ports. "Mr. Pitt said that,
instead of restrictions, we ought to give them particular privileges, in
return for those we enjoy here. I assured him that I knew of none except
that of being impressed, a privilege which of all others we least wished
to partake of.... Mr. Pitt said seriously that they had certainly
evinced good-will to us by what they had done respecting our commerce. I
replied therefore, with like seriousness, that their regulations had
been dictated with a view to their own interests; and therefore, as we
felt no favor, we owed no obligation." Morris realized thoroughly that
they were keeping matters in suspense because their behavior would
depend upon the contingencies of war or peace with the neighboring
powers; he wished to show that, if they acted thus, we would also bide
our time till the moment came to strike a telling blow; and accordingly
he ended by telling Pitt, with straightforward directness, a truth that
was also a threat: "We do not think it worth while to go to war with you
for the [frontier] forts; but we know our rights, and will avail
ourselves of them when time and circumstances may suit."

After this conversation he became convinced that we should wait until
England herself felt the necessity of a treaty before trying to
negotiate one. He wrote Washington "that those who, pursuing the
interests of Great Britain, wish to be on the best terms with America,
are outnumbered by those whose sour prejudice and hot resentment render
them averse to any intercourse except that which may immediately
subserve a selfish policy. These men do not yet know America. Perhaps
America does not yet know herself.... We are yet in but the seeding-time
of national prosperity, and it will be well not to mortgage the crop
before it is gathered.... England will not, I am persuaded, enter into a
treaty with us unless we give for it more than it is worth now, and
infinitely more than it will be worth hereafter. A present bargain would
be that of a young heir with an old usurer.... But, should war break
out [with a European power], the anti-American party here will agree to
_any_ terms; for it is more the taste of the medicine which they
nauseate than the quantity of the dose."

Accordingly all negotiations were broken off. In America his enemies
blamed Morris for this failure. They asserted that his haughty manners
and proud bearing had made him unpopular with the ministers, and that
his consorting with members of the opposition had still further damaged
his cause. The last assertion was wholly untrue; for he had barely more
than met Fox and his associates. But on a third point there was genuine
reason for dissatisfaction. Morris had confided his purpose to the
French minister at London, M. de la Luzerne, doing so because he trusted
to the latter's honor, and did not wish to seem to take any steps
unknown to our ally; and he was in all probability also influenced by
his constant association and intimacy with the French leaders. Luzerne,
however, promptly used the information for his own purposes, letting the
English ministers know that he was acquainted with Morris's objects, and
thus increasing the weight of France by making it appear that America
acted only with her consent and advice. The affair curiously illustrates
Jay's wisdom eight years before, when he insisted on keeping Luzerne's
superior at that time, Vergennes, in the dark as to our course during
the peace negotiations. However, it is not at all likely that Mr. Pitt
or the Duke of Leeds were influenced in their course by anything Luzerne

Leaving London, Morris made a rapid trip through the Netherlands and up
the Rhine. His journals, besides the usual comments on the inns, the bad
roads, poor horses, sulky postilions, and the like, are filled with very
interesting observations on the character of the country through which
he passed, its soil and inhabitants, and the indications they afforded
of the national resources. He liked to associate with people of every
kind, and he was intensely fond of natural scenery; but, what seems
rather surprising in a man of his culture, he apparently cared very
little for the great cathedrals, the picture galleries, and the works of
art for which the old towns he visited were so famous.

He reached Paris at the end of November, but was almost immediately
called to London again, returning in January, 1791, and making three or
four similar trips in the course of the year. His own business affairs
took up a great deal of his time. He was engaged in very many different
operations, out of which he made a great deal of money, being a shrewd
business man with a strong dash of the speculator. He had to prosecute a
suit against the farmers-general of France for a large quantity of
tobacco shipped them by contract; and he gives a very amusing
description of the visits he made to the judges before whom the case was
to be tried. Their occupations were certainly various, being those of a
farrier, a goldsmith, a grocer, a currier, a woolen draper, and a
bookseller respectively. As a sample of his efforts, take the following:
"Return home and dine. At five resume my visits to my judges, and first
wait upon the honorable M. Gillet, the grocer, who is in a little cuddy
adjoining his shop, at cards. He assures me that the court are
impartial, and alike uninfluenced by farmers, receivers, and grand
seigneurs; that they are generally of the same opinion; that he will do
everything in his power; and the like. _De l'autre côté_, perfect
confidence in the ability and integrity of the court. Wish only to bring
the cause to such a point as that I may have the honor to present a
memorial. Am vastly sorry to have been guilty of an intrusion upon the
amusements of his leisure hours. Hope he will excuse the solicitude of a
stranger, and patronize a claim of such evident justice. The whole goes
off very well, though I with difficulty restrain my risible
faculties.... A disagreeable scene, the ridicule of which is so strongly
painted to my own eyes that I cannot forbear laughing."

He also contracted to deliver Necker twenty thousand barrels of flour
for the relief of Paris; wherein, by the way, he lost heavily. He took
part in sundry shipping operations. Perhaps the most lucrative business
in which he was engaged was in negotiating the sale of wild lands in
America. He even made many efforts to buy the Virginian and
Pennsylvanian domains of the Fairfaxes and the Penns. On behalf of a
syndicate, he endeavored to purchase the American debts to France and
Spain; these being purely speculative efforts, as it was supposed that
the debts could be obtained at quite a low figure, while, under the new
Constitution, the United States would certainly soon make arrangements
for paying them off. These various operations entailed a wonderful
amount of downright hard work; yet all the while he remained not only a
close observer of French politics, but, to a certain extent, even an
actor in them.

He called upon Lafayette as soon as he was again established in Paris,
after his mission to London. He saw that affairs had advanced to such a
pitch in France that "it was no longer a question of liberty, but
simply who shall be master." He had no patience with those who wished
the king to place himself, as they phrased it, at the head of the
Revolution, remarking: "The trade of a revolutionist appears to me a
hard one for a prince." What with the folly of one side and the madness
of the other, things were going to pieces very rapidly. At one of his
old haunts, the club, the "sentiment aristocratique" had made great
headway: one of his friends, De Moustin, now in favor with the king and
queen, was "as usual on the high ropes of royal prerogative." Lafayette,
however, was still wedded to his theories, and did not appear over-glad
to see his American friend, all whose ideas and habits of thought were
so opposed to his own; while madame was still cooler in her reception.
Morris, nothing daunted, talked to his friend very frankly and
seriously. He told him that the time had come when all good citizens
would be obliged, simply from lack of choice, to cling to the throne;
that the executive must be strengthened, and good and able men put into
the council. He pronounced the "thing called a constitution" good for
nothing, and showed that the National Assembly was rapidly falling into
contempt. He pointed out, for the hundredth time, that each country
needed to have its own form of government; that an American
constitution would not do for France, for the latter required an even
higher-toned system than that of England; and that, above all things,
France needed stability. He gave the reasons for his advice clearly and
forcibly; but poor Lafayette flinched from it, and could not be
persuaded to take any effectual step.

It is impossible to read Morris's shrewd comments on the events of the
day, and his plans in reference to them, without wondering that France
herself should at the crisis have failed to produce any statesmen to
be compared with him for force, insight, and readiness to do what was
practically best under the circumstances; but her past history for
generations had been such as to make it out of the question for her to
bring forth such men as the founders of our own government. Warriors,
lawgivers, and diplomats she had in abundance. Statesmen who would be
both hard-headed and true-hearted, who would be wise and yet
unselfish, who would enact laws for a free people that would make that
people freer still, and yet hinder them from doing wrong to their
neighbors,--statesmen of this order she neither had nor could have
had. Indeed, had there been such, it may well be doubted if they could
have served France. With a people who made up in fickle ferocity what
they lacked in self-restraint, and a king too timid and short-sighted
to turn any crisis to advantage, the French statesmen, even had they
been as wise as they were foolish, would hardly have been able to
arrest or alter the march of events. Morris said bitterly that France
was the country where everything was talked of, and where hardly
anything was understood.

He told Lafayette that he thought the only hope of the kingdom lay in a
foreign war; it is possible that the idea may have been suggested to him
by Lafayette's naive remark that he believed his troops would readily
follow him into action, but that they would not mount guard when it
rained. Morris not only constantly urged the French ministers to make
war, but actually drew up a plan of campaign for them. He believed it
would turn the popular ardor, now constantly inflamed against the
aristocrats, into a new channel, and that "there was no word perhaps in
the dictionary which would take the place of _aristocrat_ so readily as
_Anglais_." In proof of the wisdom of his propositions he stated, with
absolute truthfulness: "If Britain had declared war in 1774 against the
house of Bourbon, the now United States would have bled freely in her
cause." He was disgusted with the littleness of the men who, appalled at
their own surroundings, and unable to make shift even for the moment,
found themselves thrown by chance to the helm, and face to face with the
wildest storm that had ever shaken a civilized government. Speaking of
one of the new ministers, he remarked: "They say he is a good kind of
man, which is saying very little;" and again, "You want just now great
men, to pursue great measures." Another time, in advising a war,--a war
of men, not of money,--and speaking of the efforts made by the
neighboring powers against the revolutionists in Flanders, he told his
French friends that they must either suffer for or with their allies;
and that the latter was at once the noblest and the safest course.

In a letter to Washington he drew a picture of the chaos as it really
was, and at the same time, with wonderful clear-sightedness, showed the
great good which the change was eventually to bring to the mass of the
people. Remembering how bitter Morris's feelings were against the
revolutionists, it is extraordinary that they did not blind him to the
good that would in the long run result from their movement. Not another
statesman would have been able to set forth so clearly and temperately
the benefits that would finally come from the convulsions he saw around
him, although he rightly believed that these benefits would be even
greater could the hideous excesses of the revolutionists be forthwith
stopped and punished.

His letter runs: "This unhappy country, bewildered in the pursuit of
metaphysical whimsies, presents to our moral view a mighty ruin.... The
sovereign, humbled to the level of a beggar without pity, without
resources, without authority, without a friend. The Assembly, at once a
master and a slave, new in power, wild in theory, raw in practice. It
engrosses all functions, though incapable of exercising any, and has
taken from this fierce, ferocious people every restraint of religion and
of respect." Where this would all end, or what sum of misery would be
necessary to change the popular will and awaken the popular heart, he
could not say. A glorious opportunity had been lost, and for the time
being the Revolution had failed. Yet, he went on to say, in the
consequences flowing from it he was confident he could see the
foundation of future prosperity. For among these consequences were,--1.
The abolition of the different rights and privileges which had formerly
kept the various provinces asunder; 2. The abolition of feudal tyranny,
by which the tenure of real property would be simplified, and the rent
no longer be dependent upon idle vanity, capricious taste, or sullen
pride; 3. The throwing into the circle of industry those vast
possessions formerly held by the clergy in mortmain, wealth conferred
upon them as wages for their idleness; 4. The destruction of the system
of venal jurisprudence which had established the pride and privileges of
the few on the misery and degradation of the general mass; 5. Above all,
the establishment of the principles of true liberty, which would remain
as solid facts after the superstructure of metaphysical froth and vapor
should have been blown away. Finally, "from the chaos of opinion and the
conflict of its jarring elements a new order will at length arise,
which, though in some degree the child of chance, may not be less
productive of human happiness than the forethought provisions of human
speculation." Not one other contemporary statesman could have begun to
give so just an estimate of the good the Revolution would accomplish; no
other could have seen so deeply into its ultimate results, while also
keenly conscious of the dreadful evil through which these results were
being worked out.

The social life of Paris still went on, though with ever less of gayety,
as the gloom gathered round about. Going with Madame de Chastellux to
dine with the Duchess of Orleans, Morris was told by her royal highness
that she was "ruined," that is, that her income was reduced from four
hundred and fifty thousand to two hundred thousand livres a year, so
that she could no longer give him good dinners; but if he would come and
fast with her, she would be glad to see him. The poor lady was yet to
learn by bitter experience that real ruin was something very different
from the loss of half of an enormous income.

On another occasion he breakfasted with the duchess, and was introduced
to her father, with whom he agreed to dine. After breakfast she went out
walking with him till nearly dinner-time, and gave him the full history
of her breach with her husband, Egalité, showing the letters that had
passed between them, complaining of his numerous misdeeds, and assuring
Morris that what the world had attributed to fondness for her worthless
spouse was merely discretion; that she had hoped to bring him to a
decent and orderly behavior, but had finally made up her mind that he
could only be governed by fear.

Now and then he indulges in a quiet laugh at the absurd pretensions and
exaggerated estimates of each other still affected by some of the
frequenters of the various salons. "Dine with Madame de Staël. The Abbé
Sieyès is here, and descants with much self-sufficiency on government,
despising all that has been said or sung on that subject before him; and
madame says that his writings and opinions will form in politics a new
era, like those of Newton in physics."

After dining with Marmontel, he notes in his Diary that his host "thinks
soundly,"--rare praise for him to bestow on any of the French statesmen
of the time. He records a _bon mot_ of Talleyrand's. When the Assembly
had declared war on the emperor conditionally upon the latter's failing
to beg pardon before a certain date, the little bishop remarked that
"the nation was _une parvenue_, and of course insolent." At the British
ambassador's he met the famous Colonel Tarleton, who did not know his
nationality, and amused him greatly by descanting at length on the
American war.

He was very fond of the theatre, especially of the Comédie Française,
where Préville, whom he greatly admired, was acting in Molière's
"Amphitryon." Many of the plays, whose plots presented in any way
analogies to what was actually happening in the political world, raised
great excitement among the spectators. Going to see "Brutus" acted, he
records that the noise and altercations were tremendous, but that
finally the democrats in the parterre got the upper hand by sheer lusty
roaring, which they kept up for a quarter of an hour at a time, and, at
the conclusion of the piece, insisted upon the bust of Voltaire being
crowned and placed on the stage. Soon afterwards a tragedy called
"Charles Neuf," founded on the massacre of St. Bartholomew, was put on
the stage, to help the Assembly in their crusade against the clergy; he
deemed it a very extraordinary piece to be represented in a Catholic
country, and thought that it would give a fatal blow to the Catholic

The priesthood, high and low, he disliked more than any other set of
men; all his comments on them show his contempt. The high prelates he
especially objected to. The Bishop of Orleans he considered to be a
luxurious old gentleman, "of the kind whose sincerest prayer is for the
fruit of good living, one who evidently thought it more important to
_speak_ than to speak the _truth_." The leader of the great church
dignitaries, in their fight for their rich benefices, was the Abbé
Maury, who, Morris writes, "is a man who looks like a downright
ecclesiastical scoundrel." He met him in Madame de Nadaillac's salon,
where were "a party of fierce aristocrats. They have the word 'valet'
written on their foreheads in large characters. Maury is formed to
govern such men, and they are formed to obey him or any one else. But
Maury seems to have too much vanity for a great man." To tell the bare
truth is sometimes to make the most venomous comment possible, and this
he evidently felt when he wrote of his meeting with the Cardinal de
Rohan: "We talk among other things about religion, for the cardinal is
very devout. He was once the lover of Madame de Flahaut's sister."

But as the tremendous changes went on about him, Morris had continually
less and less time to spend in mere social pleasures; graver and
weightier matters called for his attention, and his Diary deals with the
shifts and stratagems of the French politicians, and pays little heed to
the sayings and manners of nobles, bishops, and ladies of rank.

The talented, self-confident, fearless American, admittedly out of
sympathy with what he called "this abominable populace," was now well
known; and in their terrible tangle of dangers and perplexities, court
and ministry alike turned to him for help. Perhaps there has hardly been
another instance where, in such a crisis, the rulers have clutched in
their despair at the advice of a mere private stranger sojourning in the
land on his own business. The king and his ministers, as well as the
queen, kept in constant communication with him. With Montmorin he dined
continually, and was consulted at every stage. But he could not prevail
on them to adopt the bold, vigorous measures he deemed necessary; his
plain speaking startled them, and they feared it would not suit the
temper of the people. He drafted numerous papers for them, among others
a royal speech, which the king liked, but which his ministers prevented
him from using. In fact, it had grown to be hopeless to try to help the
court; for the latter pursued each course by fits and starts, now
governed by advice from Coblentz, now by advice from Brussels, and then
for a brief spasm going its own gait. All the while the people at large
knew their own minds no better than poor Louis knew his, and cheered him
with fervent ecstasy one day, only to howl at him with malignant fury
the next. With such a monarch and such subjects it is not probable that
any plan would have worked well; but Morris's was the ablest as well as
the boldest and best defined of the many that were offered to the
wretched, halting king; and had his proposed policy been pursued, things
might have come out better, and they could not possibly have come out

All through these engrossing affairs, he kept up the liveliest interest
in what was going on in his own country, writing home shrewd
observations on every step taken. One of his remarks deserves to be kept
in mind. In speaking of the desire of European nations to legislate
against the introduction of our produce, he says that this effort has
after all its bright side; because it will force us "to make great and
rapid progress in useful manufactures. This alone is wanting to complete
our independence. We shall then be, as it were, a world by ourselves."



In the spring of 1792, Morris received his credentials as minister to
France. There had been determined opposition in the Senate to the
confirmation of his appointment, which was finally carried only by a
vote of sixteen to eleven, mainly through the exertions of Rufus King.
His opponents urged the failure of the British negotiations, the
evidences repeatedly given of his proud, impatient spirit, and above all
his hostility to the French Revolution, as reasons why he should not be
made minister. Washington, however, as well as Hamilton, King, and the
other federalists, shared most of Morris's views with regard to the
Revolution, and insisted upon his appointment.

But the president, as good and wise a friend as Morris had, thought it
best to send him a word of warning, coupling with the statement of his
own unfaltering trust and regard, the reasons why the new diplomat
should observe more circumspection than his enemies thought him capable
of showing. For his opponents asserted that his brilliant, lively
imagination always inclined him to act so promptly as to leave no time
for cool judgment, and was, wrote Washington, "the primary cause of
those sallies which too often offend, and of that ridicule of character
which begets enmity not easy to be forgotten, but which might easily be
avoided if it were under the control of caution and prudence.... By
reciting [their objections] I give you a proof of my friendship, if I
give none of my policy."

Morris took his friend's advice in good part, and profited by it as far
as lay in his nature. He knew that he had a task of stupendous
difficulty before him; as it would be almost impossible for a minister
to steer clear of the quarrels springing from the ferocious hatred born
to each other by the royalists and the various republican factions. To
stand well with all parties he knew was impossible: but he thought it
possible, and merely so, to stand _well_ with the best people in each,
without greatly offending the others; and in order to do this, he had to
make up his mind to mingle with the worst as well as the best, to listen
unmoved to falsehoods so foul and calumnies so senseless as to seem the
ravings of insanity; and meanwhile to wear a front so firm and yet so
courteous as to ward off insult from his country and injury from
himself during the days when the whole people went crazy with the
blood-lust, when his friends were butchered by scores around him, and
when the rulers had fulfiled Mirabeau's terrible prophecy, and had
"paved the streets with their bodies."

But when he began his duties, he was already entangled in a most
dangerous intrigue, one of whose very existence he should not, as a
foreign minister, have known, still less have entered into. He got
enmeshed in it while still a private citizen, and could not honorably
withdraw, for it dealt with nothing less than the escape of the king and
queen from Paris. His chivalrous sympathy for the two hemmed-in, hunted
creatures, threatened by madmen and counseled by fools, joined with his
characteristic impulsiveness and fearlessness, to incline him to make an
effort to save them from their impending doom. A number of plans had
been made to get the king out of Paris; and as the managers of each were
of necessity ignorant of all the rest, they clashed with and thwarted
one another. Morris's scheme was made in concert with a M. de Monciel,
one of the royal ministers, and some other French gentlemen; and their
measures were so well taken that they would doubtless have succeeded had
not the king's nerve invariably failed him at the critical moment, and
brought delay after delay. The Swiss guards, faithful to their salt,
were always ready to cover his flight, and Lafayette would have helped

Louis preferred Morris's plan to any of the others offered, and gave a
most striking proof of his preference by sending to the latter, towards
the end of July, to say how much he regretted that his advice had not
been followed, and to ask him if he would not take charge of the royal
papers and money. Morris was unwilling to take the papers, but finally
consented to receive the money, amounting in all to nearly seven hundred
and fifty thousand livres, which was to be paid out in hiring and
bribing the men who stood in the way of the escape; for most of the
revolutionists were as venal as they were bloodthirsty. Still the king
lingered; then came the 10th of August; the Swiss guards were
slaughtered, and the whole scheme was at an end. Some of the men engaged
in the plot were suspected; one, D'Angrémont, was seized and condemned,
but he went to his death without betraying his fellows. The others, by
the liberal use of the money in Morris's possession, were saved, the
authorities being bribed to wink at their escape or concealment. Out of
the money that was left advances were made to Monciel and others;
finally, in 1796, Morris gave an accurate account of the expenditures
to the dead king's daughter, the Duchesse d'Angoulême, then at the
Austrian court, and turned over to her the remainder, consisting of a
hundred and forty-seven pounds.

Of course all this was work in which no minister had the least right to
share; but the whole crisis was one so completely without precedent that
it is impossible to blame Morris for what he did. The extraordinary
trust reposed in him, and the feeling that his own exertions were all
that lay between the two unfortunate sovereigns and their fate, roused
his gallantry and blinded him to the risk he himself ran, as well as to
the hazard to which he put his country's interests. He was under no
illusion as to the character of the people whom he was trying to serve.
He utterly disapproved the queen's conduct, and he despised the king,
noting the latter's feebleness and embarrassment, even on the occasion
of his presentation at court; he saw in them "a lack of mettle which
would ever prevent them from being truly royal"; but when in their
mortal agony they held out their hands to him for aid, his generous
nature forbade him to refuse it, nor could he look on unmoved as they
went helplessly down to destruction.

The rest of his two years' history as minister forms one of the most
brilliant chapters in our diplomatic annals. His boldness, and the
frankness with which he expressed his opinions, though they at times
irritated beyond measure the factions of the revolutionists who
successively grasped a brief but tremendous power, yet awed them, in
spite of themselves. He soon learned to combine courage and caution, and
his readiness, wit, and dash always gave him a certain hold over the
fiery nation to which he was accredited. He was firm and dignified in
insisting on proper respect being shown our flag, while he did all he
could to hasten the payment of our obligations to France. A very large
share of his time, also, was taken up with protesting against the French
decrees aimed at neutral--which meant American--commerce, and with
interfering to save American ship-masters, who had got into trouble by
unwittingly violating them. Like his successor, Mr. Washburne, in the
time of the commune, Morris was the only foreign minister who remained
in Paris during the terror. He stayed at the risk of his life; and yet,
while fully aware of his danger, he carried himself as coolly as if in a
time of profound peace, and never flinched for a moment when he was
obliged for his country's sake to call to account the rulers of France
for the time being--men whose power was as absolute as it was ephemeral
and bloody, who had indulged their desire for slaughter with the
unchecked ferocity of madmen, and who could by a word have had him slain
as thousands had been slain before him. Few foreign ministers have faced
such difficulties, and not one has ever come near to facing such dangers
as Morris did during his two years' term of service. His feat stands by
itself in diplomatic history; and, as a minor incident, the letters and
despatches he sent home give a very striking view of the French

As soon as he was appointed he went to see the French minister of
foreign affairs; and in answer to an observation of the latter stated
with his customary straightforwardness that it was true that, while a
mere private individual, sincerely friendly to France, and desirous of
helping her, and whose own nation could not be compromised by his acts,
he had freely taken part in passing events, had criticised the
constitution, and advised the king and his ministers; but he added that,
now that he was a public man, he would no longer meddle with their
affairs. To this resolution he kept, save that, as already described,
sheer humanity induced him to make an effort to save the king's life. He
had predicted what would ensue as the result of the exaggerated
decentralization into which the opponents of absolutism had rushed;
when they had split the state up into more than forty thousand
sovereignties, each district the sole executor of the law, and the only
judge of its propriety, and therefore obedient to it only so long as it
listed, and until rendered hostile by the ignorant whim or ferocious
impulse of the moment; and now he was to see his predictions come true.
In that brilliant and able state paper, the address he had drawn up for
Louis to deliver when, in 1791, the latter accepted the constitution,
the key-note of the situation was struck in the opening words: "It is no
longer a king who addresses you, Louis XVI. is a private individual";
and he had then scored off, point by point, the faults in a document
that created an unwieldy assembly of men unaccustomed to govern, that
destroyed the principle of authority, though no other could appeal to a
people helpless in their new-born liberty, and that created out of one
whole a jarring multitude of fractional sovereignties. Now he was to see
one of these same sovereignties rise up in successful rebellion against
the government that represented the whole, destroy it and usurp its
power, and establish over all France the rule of an anarchic despotism
which, by what seems to a free American a gross misnomer, they called a

All through June, at the beginning of which month Morris had been
formally presented at court, the excitement and tumult kept increasing.
When, on the 20th, the mob forced the gates of the chateau, and made the
king put on the red cap, Morris wrote in his Diary that the constitution
had given its last groan. A few days afterwards he told Lafayette that
in six weeks everything would be over, and tried to persuade him that
his only chance was to make up his mind instantly to fight either for a
good constitution or for the wretched piece of paper which bore the
name. Just six weeks to a day from the date of this prediction came the
10th of August to verify it.

Throughout July the fevered pulses of the people beat with always
greater heat. Looking at the maddened mob the American minister thanked
God from his heart that in his own country there was no such populace,
and prayed with unwonted earnestness that our education and morality
should forever stave off such an evil. At court even the most purblind
dimly saw their doom. Calling there one morning he chronicles with a
matter of fact brevity, impressive from its very baldness, that nothing
of note had occurred except that they had stayed up all night expecting
to be murdered. He wrote home that he could not tell "whether the king
would live through the storm; for it blew hard."

His horror of the base mob, composed of people whose kind was absolutely
unknown in America, increased continually, as he saw them going on from
crimes that were great to crimes that were greater, incited by the
demagogues who flattered them and roused their passions and appetites;
and blindly raging because they were of necessity disappointed in the
golden prospects held out to them. He scorned the folly of the
enthusiasts and doctrinaires who had made a constitution all sail and no
ballast, that overset at the first gust; who had freed from all
restraint a mass of men as savage and licentious as they were wayward;
who had put the executive in the power of the legislature, and this
latter at the mercy of the leaders who could most strongly influence and
inflame the mob. But his contempt for the victims almost exceeded his
anger at their assailants. The king, who could suffer with firmness, and
who could act either not at all, or else with the worst possible effect,
had the head and heart that might have suited the monkish idea of a
female saint, but which were hopelessly out of place in any rational
being supposed to be fitted for doing good in the world. Morris wrote
home that he knew his friend Hamilton had no particular aversion to
kings, and would not believe them to be tigers; but that if Hamilton
came to Europe to see for himself, he would surely believe them to be
monkeys; the Empress of Russia was the only reigning sovereign whose
talents were not "considerably below par." At the moment of the final
shock the court was involved in a set of paltry intrigues "unworthy of
anything above the rank of a footman or a chambermaid. Every one had his
or her little project, and every little project had some abettors.
Strong, manly counsels frightened the weak, alarmed the envious, and
wounded the enervated minds of the lazy and luxurious." The few such
counsels that appeared were always approved, rarely adopted, and never
followed out.

Then in the sweltering heat of August, the end came. A raving, furious
horde stormed the chateau, and murdered, one by one, the brave
mountaineers who gave their lives for a sovereign too weak to be worthy
of such gallant bloodshed. King and queen fled to the National Assembly,
and the monarchy was over. Immediately after the awful catastrophe
Morris wrote to a friend: "The voracity of the court, the haughtiness of
the nobles, the sensuality of the church, have met their punishment in
the road of their transgressions. The oppressor has been squeezed by
the hands of the oppressed; but there remains yet to be acted an awful
scene in this great tragedy, played on the theatre of the universe for
the instruction of mankind."

Not the less did he dare everything, and jeopardize his own life in
trying to save some at least among the innocent who had been overthrown
in the crash of the common ruin. When on the 10th of August the whole
city lay abject at the mercy of the mob, hunted men and women, bereft of
all they had, and fleeing from a terrible death, with no hiding-place,
no friend who could shield them, turned in their terror-struck despair
to the one man in whose fearlessness and generous gallantry they could
trust. The shelter of Morris's house and flag was sought from early
morning till past midnight by people who had nowhere else to go and who
felt that within his walls they were sure of at least a brief safety
from the maddened savages in the streets. As far as possible they were
sent off to places of greater security; but some had to stay with him
till the storm lulled for a moment. An American gentleman who was in
Paris on that memorable day, after viewing the sack of the Tuileries,
thought it right to go to the house of the American minister. He found
him surrounded by a score of people, of both sexes, among them the old
Count d'Estaing, and other men of note, who had fought side by side with
us in our war for independence, and whom now our flag protected in their
hour of direst need. Silence reigned, only broken occasionally by the
weeping of the women and children. As his visitor was leaving, Morris
took him to one side, and told him that he had no doubt there were
persons on the watch who would find fault with his conduct as a minister
in receiving and protecting these people; that they had come of their
own accord, uninvited. "Whether my house will be a protection to them or
to me, God only knows; but I will not turn them out of it, let what will
happen to me; you see, sir, they are all persons to whom our country is
more or less indebted, and had they no such claim upon me, it would be
inhuman to force them into the hands of the assassins." No one of
Morris's countrymen can read his words even now without feeling a throb
of pride in the dead statesman, who, a century ago, held up so high the
honor of his nation's name in the times when the souls of all but the
very bravest were tried and found wanting.

Soon after this he ceased writing in his Diary, for fear it might fall
into the hands of men who would use it to incriminate his friends; and
for the same reason he had also to be rather wary in what he wrote
home, as his letters frequently bore marks of being opened, thanks to
what he laughingly called "patriotic curiosity." He was, however,
perfectly fearless as regards any ill that might befall himself; his
circumspection was only exercised on behalf of others, and his own
opinions were given as frankly as ever.

He pictured the French as huddled together, in an unreasoning panic,
like cattle before a thunderstorm. Their every act increased his
distrust of their capacity for self-government. They were for the time
agog with their republic, and ready to adopt any form of government with
a huzza; but that they would adopt a good form, or, having adopted it,
keep it, he did not believe; and he saw that the great mass of the
population were already veering round, under the pressure of
accumulating horrors, until they would soon be ready to welcome as a
blessing even a despotism, if so they could gain security to life and
property. They had made the common mistake of believing that to enjoy
liberty they had only to abolish authority; and the equally common
consequence was, that they were now, through anarchy, on the high road
to absolutism. Said Morris: "Since I have been in this country I have
seen the worship of many idols, and but little of the true God. I have
seen many of these idols broken, and some of them beaten to the dust. I
have seen the late constitution in one short year admired as a
stupendous monument of human wisdom, and ridiculed as an egregious
production of folly and vice. I wish much, very much, the happiness of
this inconstant people. I love them, I feel grateful for their efforts
in our cause, and I consider the establishment of a good constitution
here as the principal means, under Divine Providence, of extending the
blessings of freedom to the many millions of my fellow-men who groan in
bondage on the continent of Europe. But I do not greatly indulge the
flattering illusions of hope, because I do not yet perceive that
reformation of morals without which liberty is but an empty sound."
These words are such as could only come from a genuine friend of France,
and champion of freedom; from a strong, earnest man, saddened by the
follies of dreamers, and roused to stern anger by the licentious
wickedness of scoundrels who used the name of liberty to cloak the worst
abuses of its substance.

His stay in Paris was now melancholy indeed. The city was shrouded in a
gloom only relieved by the frenzied tumults that grew steadily more
numerous. The ferocious craving once roused could not be sated; the
thirst grew ever stronger as the draughts were deeper. The danger to
Morris's own person merely quickened his pulses, and roused his strong,
brave nature; he liked excitement, and the strain that would have been
too tense for weaker nerves keyed his own up to a fierce, half-exultant
thrilling. But the woes that befell those who had befriended him caused
him the keenest grief. It was almost unbearable to be seated quietly at
dinner, and hear by accident "that a friend was on his way to the place
of execution," and to have to sit still and wonder which of the guests
dining with him would be the next to go to the scaffold. The vilest
criminals swarmed in the streets, and amused themselves by tearing the
earrings from women's ears, and snatching away their watches. When the
priests shut up in the _carnes_, and the prisoners in the _abbaie_ were
murdered, the slaughter went on all day, and eight hundred men were
engaged in it.

He wrote home that, to give a true picture of France, he would have to
paint it like an Indian warrior, black and red. The scenes that passed
were literally beyond the imagination of the American mind. The most
hideous and nameless atrocities were so common as to be only alluded to
incidentally, and to be recited in the most matter-of-fact way in
connection with other events. For instance, a man applied to the
Convention for a recompense for damage done to his quarry, a pit dug
deep through the surface of the earth into the stone bed beneath: the
damage consisted in such a number of dead bodies having been thrown into
the pit as to choke it up so that he could no longer get men to work it.
Hundreds, who had been the first in the land, were thus destroyed
without form or trial, and their bodies thrown like dead dogs into the
first hole that offered. Two hundred priests were killed for no other
crime than having been conscientiously scrupulous about taking the
prescribed oath. The guillotine went smartly on, watched with a devilish
merriment by the fiends who were themselves to perish by the instrument
their own hands had wrought. "Heaven only knew who was next to drink of
the dreadful cup; as far as man could tell, there was to be no lack of
liquor for some time to come."

Among the new men who, one after another, sprang into the light, to
maintain their unsteady footing as leaders for but a brief time before
toppling into the dark abyss of death or oblivion that waited for each
and all, Dumouriez was for the moment the most prominent. He stood
towards the Gironde much as Lafayette had stood towards the
Constitutionalists of 1789: he led the army, as Lafayette once had led
it; and as the constitutional monarchists had fallen before his
fellow-republicans, so both he and they were to go down before the even
wilder extremists of the "Mountain." For the factions in Paris, face to
face with the banded might of the European monarchies, and grappling in
a grim death-struggle with the counter-revolutionists of the provinces,
yet fought one another with the same ferocity they showed towards the
common foe. Nevertheless, success was theirs; for against opponents only
less wicked than themselves they moved with an infinitely superior fire
and enthusiasm. Reeking with the blood of the guiltless, steeped in it
to the lips, branded with fresh memories of crimes and infamies without
number, and yet feeling in their very marrow that they were avenging
centuries of grinding and intolerable thralldom, and that the cause for
which they fought was just and righteous; with shameless cruelty and
corruption eating into their hearts' core, yet with their foreheads
kindled by the light of a glorious morning,--they moved with a ruthless
energy that paralyzed their opponents, the worn-out, tottering, crazy
despotisms, rotten with vice, despicable in their ludicrous pride of
caste, moribund in their military pedantry, and fore-doomed to perish
in the conflict they had courted. The days of Danton and Robespierre are
not days to which a French patriot cares to look back; but at any rate
he can regard them without the shame he must feel when he thinks of the
times of Louis Quinze. Danton and his like, at least, were men, and
stood far, far above the palsied coward--a eunuch in his lack of all
virile virtues--who misruled France for half a century; who, with his
followers, indulged in every crime and selfish vice known, save only
such as needed a particle of strength, or the least courage, in the

Morris first met Dumouriez when the latter was minister of foreign
affairs, shortly before the poor king was driven from the Tuileries. He
dined with him, and afterwards noted down that the society was noisy and
in bad style; for the grace and charm of French social life were gone,
and the raw republicans were ill at ease in the drawing-room. At this
time Morris commented often on the change in the look of Paris: all his
gay friends gone; the city sombre and uneasy. When he walked through the
streets, in the stifling air of a summer hot beyond precedent, as if the
elements sympathized with the passions of men, he met, instead of the
brilliant company of former days, only the few peaceable citizens left,
hurrying on their ways with frightened watchfulness; or else groups of
lolling ruffians, with sinister eyes and brutalized faces; or he saw in
the Champs de Mars squalid ragamuffins signing the petition for the

Morris wrote Washington that Dumouriez was a bold, determined man,
bitterly hostile to the Jacobins and all the extreme revolutionary
clubs, and, once he was in power, willing to risk his own life in the
effort to put them down. However, the hour of the Jacobins had not yet
struck, and the Revolution had now been permitted to gather such headway
that it could be stopped only by a master genius; and Dumouriez was none

Still he was an able man, and, as Morris wrote home, in his military
operations he combined the bravery of a skilled soldier and the arts of
an astute politician. To be sure, his victories were not in themselves
very noteworthy; the artillery skirmish at Valmy was decided by the
reluctance of the Germans to come on, not by the ability of the French
to withstand them; and at Jemappes the imperialists were hopelessly
outnumbered. Still the results were most important, and Dumouriez
overran Flanders in the face of hostile Europe. He at once proceeded to
revolutionize the government of his conquest in the most approved
French fashion, which was that all the neighbors of France should
receive liberty whether or no, and should moreover pay the expense of
having it thrust upon them: accordingly he issued a proclamation to his
new fellow-citizens, "which might be summed up in a few words as being
an order to them to be free forthwith, according to his ideas of
freedom, on pain of military execution."

He had things all his own way for the moment, but after a while he was
defeated by the Germans; then while the Gironde tottered to its fall, he
fled to the very foes he had been fighting, as the only way of escaping
death from the men whose favorite he had been. Morris laughed bitterly
at the fickle people. One anecdote he gives is worth preserving: "It is
a year ago that a person who mixed in tumults to see what was doing,
told me of a _sans culottes_ who, bellowing against poor Lafayette, when
Petion appeared, changed at once his note to '_Vive Petion!_' and then,
turning round to one of his companions, 'Vois tu! C'est notre ami, n'est
ce pas? Eh bien, il passera comme les autres.' And, lo! the prophecy is
fulfilled; and I this instant learn that Petion, confined to his room as
a traitor or conspirator, has fled, on the 24th of June, 1793, from
those whom he sent, on the 20th of June, 1792, to assault the king in
the Tuileries. In short you will find, in the list of those who were
ordered by their brethren to be arrested, the names of those who have
proclaimed themselves to be the prime movers of the revolution of the
10th of August, and the fathers of the republic."

About the time the _sans culottes_ had thus bellowed against Lafayette,
the latter met Morris, for the first time since he was presented at
court as minister, and at once spoke to him in his tone of ancient
familiarity. The Frenchman had been brought at last to realize the truth
of his American friend's theories and predictions. It was much too late
to save himself, however. After the 10th of August he was proclaimed by
the Assembly, found his troops falling away from him, and fled over the
frontier; only to be thrown into prison by the allied monarchs, who
acted with their usual folly and baseness. Morris, contemptuously
impatient of the part he had played, wrote of him: "Thus his circle is
completed. He has spent his fortune on a revolution, and is now crushed
by the wheel which he put in motion. He lasted longer than I expected."
But this momentary indignation soon gave way to a generous sympathy for
the man who had served America so well, and who, if without the great
abilities necessary to grapple with the tumult of French affairs, had
yet always acted with such unselfish purity of motive. Lafayette, as
soon as he was imprisoned, wrote to the American minister in Holland,
alleging that he had surrendered his position as a French subject, and
was now an American citizen, and requesting the American representatives
in Europe to procure his release. His claim was of course untenable;
and, though the American government did all it could on his behalf
through its foreign ministers, and though Washington himself wrote a
strong letter of appeal to the Austrian emperor, he remained in prison
until the peace, several years later.

All Lafayette's fortune was gone, and while in prison he was reduced to
want. As soon as Morris heard this, he had the sum of ten thousand
florins forwarded to the prisoner by the United States bankers at
Amsterdam; pledging his own security for the amount, which was, however,
finally allowed by the government under the name of compensation for
Lafayette's military services in America. Morris was even more active in
befriending Madame de Lafayette and her children. To the former he lent
from his own private funds a hundred thousand livres, enabling her to
pay her debts to the many poor people who had rendered services to her
family. To the proud, sensitive lady the relief was great, much though
it hurt her to be under any obligation: she wrote to her friend that he
had broken the chains that loaded her down, and had done it in a way
that made her feel the consolation, rather than the weight, of the
obligation. But he was to do still more for her; for, when she was cast
into prison by the savage Parisian mob, his active influence on her
behalf saved her from death. In a letter to him, written some time
later, she says, after speaking of the money she had borrowed: "This is
a slight obligation, it is true, compared with that of my life, but
allow me to remember both while life lasts, with a sentiment of
gratitude which it is precious to feel."

There were others whose fortunes turned with the wheel of fate, for whom
Morris felt no such sympathy as for the Lafayettes. Among the number was
the Duke of Orleans, now transformed into _citoyen Egalité_. Morris
credited this graceless debauchee with criminal ambitions which he
probably did not possess, saying that he doubted the public virtue of a
profligate, and could not help distrusting such a man's pretensions; nor
is it likely that he regretted much the fate of the man who died under
the same guillotine which, with his assent, had fallen on the neck of
the king, his cousin.

It needed no small amount of hardihood for a man of Morris's prominence
and avowed sentiments to stay in Paris when Death was mowing round him
with a swath at once so broad and so irregular. The power was passing
rapidly from hand to hand, through a succession of men fairly crazy in
their indifference to bloodshed. Not a single other minister of a
neutral nation dared stay. In fact, the foreign representatives were
preparing to go away even before the final stroke was given to the
monarchy, and soon after the 10th of August the entire _corps
diplomatique_ left Paris as rapidly as the various members could get
their passports. These the new republican government was at first very
reluctant to grant; indeed, when the Venetian ambassador started off he
was very ignominiously treated and brought back. Morris went to the
British ambassador's to take leave, having received much kindness from
him, and having been very intimate in his house. He found Lord Gower in
a tearing passion because he could not get passports; he had burned his
papers, and strongly advised his guest to do likewise. On this advice
the latter refused to act, nor would he take the broad hints given him
to the effect that honor required him to quit the country. Morris could
not help showing his amusement at the fear and anger exhibited at the
ambassador's, "which exhibition of spirits his lordship could hardly
bear." Talleyrand, who was getting his own passport, also did all in his
power to persuade the American minister to leave, but without avail.
Morris was not a man to be easily shaken in any determination he had
taken after careful thought. He wrote back to Jefferson that his opinion
was directly opposed to the views of such people as had tried to
persuade him that his own honor, and that of America, required him to
leave France; and that he was inclined to attribute such counsel mainly
to fear. It was true that the position was not without danger; but he
presumed that, when the president named him to the embassy, it was not
for his own personal pleasure or safety, but for the interests of the
country; and these he could certainly serve best by staying.

He was able to hold his own only by a mixture of tact and firmness. Any
signs of flinching would have ruined him outright. He would submit to no
insolence. The minister of foreign affairs was, with his colleagues,
engaged in certain schemes in reference to the American debt, which were
designed to further their own private interests; he tried to bully
Morris into acquiescence, and, on the latter's point-blank refusal, sent
him a most insulting letter. Morris promptly retorted by demanding his
passports. France, however, was very desirous not to break with the
United States, the only friend she had left in the world; and the
offending minister sent a sullen letter of apology, asking him to
reconsider his intention to leave, and offering entire satisfaction for
every point of which he complained. Accordingly Morris stayed.

He was, however, continually exposed to insults and worries, which were
always apologized for by the government for the time being, on the
ground, no doubt true, that in such a period of convulsions it was
impossible to control their subordinate agents. Indeed, the changes from
one form of anarchy to another went on so rapidly that the laws of
nations had small chance of observance.

One evening a number of people, headed by a commissary of the section,
entered his house, and demanded to search it for arms said to be hidden
therein. Morris took a high tone, and was very peremptory with them;
told them that they should not examine his house, that it held no arms,
and moreover that, if he had possessed any, they should not touch one of
them; he also demanded the name of "the blockhead or rascal" who had
informed against him, announcing his intention to bring him to
punishment. Finally he got them out of the house, and the next morning
the commissary called with many apologies, which were accepted.

Another time he was arrested in the street for not having a _carte de
citoyen_, but he was released as soon as it was found out who he was.
Again he was arrested while traveling in the country, on the pretence
that his passport was out of date; an insult for which the government at
once made what amends they could. His house was also visited another
time by armed men, whom, as before, he persuaded to go away. Once or
twice, in the popular tumults, even his life was in danger; on one
occasion it is said that it was only saved by the fact of his having a
wooden leg, which made him known to the mob as "a cripple of the
American war for freedom." Rumors even got abroad in England and America
that he had been assassinated.

Morris's duties were manifold, and as harassing to himself as they were
beneficial to his country. Sometimes he would interfere on behalf of
America as a whole, and endeavor to get obnoxious decrees of the
Assembly repealed; and again he would try to save some private citizen
of the United States who had got himself into difficulties. Reports of
the French minister of foreign affairs, as well as reports of the
_comité de salut public_, alike bear testimony to the success of his
endeavors, whenever success was possible, and unconsciously show the
value of the services he rendered to his country. Of course it was often
impossible to obtain complete redress, because, as Morris wrote home,
the government, while all-powerful in certain cases, was in others not
merely feeble, but enslaved, and was often obliged to commit acts the
consequences of which the nominal leaders both saw and lamented. Morris
also, while doing all he could for his fellow-citizens, was often
obliged to choose between their interests and those of the nation at
large; and he of course decided in favor of the latter, though well
aware of the clamor that was certain to be raised against him in
consequence by those who, as he caustically remarked, found it the
easiest thing in the world to get anything they wanted from the French
government _until they had tried_.

One of his most important transactions was in reference to paying off
the debt due by America for amounts loaned her during the war for
independence. The interest and a part of the principal had already been
paid. At the time when Morris was made minister, the United States had a
large sum of money, destined for the payment of the public debt, lying
idle in the hands of the bankers at Amsterdam; and this sum both Morris
and the American minister to Holland, Mr. Short, thought could be well
applied to the payment of part of our remaining obligation to France.
The French government was consulted, and agreed to receive the sum; but
hardly was the agreement entered into before the monarchy was
overturned. The question at once arose as to whether the money could be
rightfully paid over to the men who had put themselves at the head of
affairs, and who, a month hence, might themselves be ousted by others
who would not acknowledge the validity of a payment made to them. Short
thought the payment should be stopped, and, as it afterwards turned out,
the home authorities agreed with him. But Morris thought otherwise, and
paid over the amount. Events fully justified his course, for France
never made any difficulty in the matter, and even had she done so, as
Morris remarked, America had the staff in her own hands, and could walk
which way she pleased, for she owed more money, and in the final
adjustment could insist on the amount paid being allowed on account of
the debt.

The French executive council owed Morris gratitude for his course in
this matter; but they became intensely irritated with him shortly
afterwards because he refused to fall in with certain proposals they
made to him as to the manner of applying part of the debt to the
purchase of provisions and munitions for San Domingo. Morris had good
reason to believe that there was a private speculation at the bottom of
this proposal, and declined to accede to it. The urgency with which it
was made, and the wrath which his course excited, confirmed his
suspicions, and he persisted in his refusal although it almost brought
about a break with the men then carrying on the government. Afterwards,
when these men fell with the Gironde, he wrote home: "I mentioned to you
the plan of a speculation on drafts to have been made on the United
States, could my concurrence have been procured. Events have shown that
this speculation would have been a good one to the parties, who would
have gained (and the French nation of course have lost) about fifty
thousand pounds sterling in eighty thousand. I was informed at that time
that the disappointed parties would attempt to have me recalled, and
some more tractable character sent, who would have the good sense to
look after his own interest. Well, sir, nine months have elapsed, and
now, if I were capable of such things, I think it would be no difficult
matter to have some of them hanged; indeed it is highly probable that
they will experience a fate of that sort."

Much of his time was also taken up in remonstrating against the attacks
of French privateers on American shipping. These, however, went steadily
on until, half a dozen years afterwards, we took the matter into our own
hands, and in the West Indies inflicted a smart drubbing, not only on
the privateers of France, but on her regular men-of-war as well. He also
did what he could for the French officers who had served in America
during the War of Independence, most of whom were forced to flee from
France after the outbreak of the Revolution.

His letters home, even after his regular duties had begun to be
engrossing, contained a running commentary on the events that were
passing around him. His forecasts of events within France were
remarkably shrewd, and he displayed a wonderful insight into the motives
and characters of the various leaders; but at first he was all at sea in
his estimate of the military situation, being much more at home among
statesmen than soldiers. He had expected the allied sovereigns to make
short work of the raw republican armies, and was amazed at the success
of the latter. But he very soon realized how the situation stood; that
whereas the Austrian and Prussian troops simply came on in well-drilled,
reluctant obedience to their commanding officers, the soldiers of
France, on the contrary, were actuated by a fiery spirit the like of
which had hardly been seen since the crusades. The bitterness of the
contest was appalling, and so was the way in which the ranks of the
contestants were thinned out. The extreme republicans believed in their
creed with a furious faith; and they were joined by their
fellow-citizens with an almost equal zeal, when once it had become
evident that the invaders were hostile not only to the Republic but to
France itself, and very possibly meditated its dismemberment.

When the royal and imperial forces invaded France in 1792, they
threatened such ferocious vengeance as to excite the most desperate
resistance, and yet they backed up their high sounding words by deeds so
faulty, weak, and slow as to make themselves objects of contempt rather
than dread. The Duke of Brunswick in particular, as a prelude to some
very harmless military manoeuvres, issued a singularly lurid and foolish
manifesto, announcing that he would deliver up Paris to utter
destruction and would give over all the soldiers he captured to military
execution. Morris said that his address was in substance, "Be all
against me, for I am opposed to you all, and make a good resistance, for
there is no longer any hope;" and added that it would have been wiser
to have begun with some great success and then to have carried the
danger near those whom it was desired to intimidate. As it was, the
Duke's campaign failed ignominiously, and all the invaders were driven
back, for France rose as one man, her warriors overflowed on every side,
and bore down all her foes by sheer weight of numbers and impetuous
enthusiasm. Her government was a despotism as well as an anarchy; it was
as totally free from the drawbacks as from the advantages of the
democratic system that it professed to embody. Nothing could exceed the
merciless energy of the measures adopted. Half-way wickedness might have
failed; but a wholesale murder of the disaffected, together with a
confiscation of all the goods of the rich, and a vigorous conscription
of the poor for soldiers, secured success, at least for the time being.
The French made it a war of men; so that the price of labor rose
enormously at once, and the condition of the working classes forthwith
changed greatly for the better--one good result of the Revolution, at
any rate.

Morris wrote home very soon after the 10th of August that the then
triumphant revolutionists, the Girondists or party of Brissot, who had
supplanted the moderate party of Lafayette exactly as the latter had
succeeded the aristocracy, would soon in their turn be overthrown by men
even more extreme and even more bloodthirsty; and that thus it would go
on, wave after wave, until at last the wizard arose who could still
them. By the end of the year the storm had brewed long enough to be near
the bursting point. One of the promoters of the last outbreak, now
himself marked as a victim, told Morris that he personally would die
hard, but that most of his colleagues, though like him doomed to
destruction, and though so fierce in dealing with the moderate men, now
showed neither the nerve nor hardihood that alone could stave off the

Meanwhile the king, as Morris wrote home, showed in his death a better
spirit than his life had promised; for he died in a manner becoming his
dignity, with calm courage, praying that his foes might be forgiven and
his deluded people be benefited by his death,--his words from the
scaffold being drowned by the drums of Santerre. As a whole, the Gironde
had opposed putting the king to death, and thus capping the structure
whose foundations they had laid; they held back all too late. The fabric
of their system was erected on a quagmire, and it now settled down and
crushed the men who had built it. "All people of morality and
intelligence had long agreed that as yet republican virtues were not of
Gallic growth;" and so the power slipped naturally into the grasp of the
lowest and most violent, of those who were loudest to claim the
possession of republican principles, while in practice showing that they
had not even the dimmest idea of what such principles meant.

The leaders were quite at the mercy of the gusts of fierce passion that
swayed the breasts of their brutal followers. Morris wrote home that the
nominal rulers, or rather the few by whom these rulers were directed,
had finally gained very just ideas of the value of popular opinion; but
that they were not in a condition to act according to their knowledge;
and that if they were able to reach harbor there would be quite as much
of good luck as of good management about it, and, at any rate, a part of
the crew would have to be thrown overboard.

Then the Mountain rose under Danton and Marat, and the party of the
Gironde was entirely put down. The leaders were cast into prison, with
the certainty before their eyes that the first great misfortune to
France would call them from their dungeons to act as expiatory victims.
The Jacobins ruled supreme, and under them the government became a
despotism in principle as well as in practice. Part of the Convention
arrested the rest; and the revolutionary tribunals ruled red-handed,
with a whimsical and ferocious tyranny. Said Morris: "It is an
emphatical phrase among the patriots that _terror is the order of the
day_; some years have elapsed since Montesquieu wrote that the principle
of arbitrary governments is _fear_." The prisons were choked with
_suspects_, and blood flowed more freely than ever. Terror had reached
its highest point. Danton was soon to fall before Robespierre. Among a
host of other victims the queen died, with a brave dignity that made
people half forget her manifold faults; and Philippe Egalité, the
dissolute and unprincipled scoundrel, after a life than which none could
be meaner and more unworthy, now at the end went to his death with calm
and unflinching courage.

One man had a very narrow escape. This was Thomas Paine, the Englishman,
who had at one period rendered such a striking service to the cause of
American independence, while the rest of his life had been as ignoble as
it was varied. He had been elected to the Convention, and, having sided
with the Gironde, was thrown into prison by the Jacobins. He at once
asked Morris to demand him as an American citizen; a title to which he
of course had no claim. Morris refused to interfere too actively,
judging rightly that Paine would be saved by his own insignificance and
would serve his own interests best by keeping still. So the filthy
little atheist had to stay in prison, "where he amused himself with
publishing a pamphlet against Jesus Christ." There are infidels and
infidels; Paine belonged to the variety--whereof America possesses at
present one or two shining examples--that apparently esteems a bladder
of dirty water as the proper weapon with which to assail Christianity.
It is not a type that appeals to the sympathy of an onlooker, be said
onlooker religious or otherwise.

Morris never paid so much heed to the military events as to the progress
of opinion in France, believing "that such a great country must depend
more upon interior sentiment than exterior operations." He took a half
melancholy, half sardonic interest in the overthrow of the Catholic
religion by the revolutionists; who had assailed it with the true French
weapon, ridicule, but ridicule of a very grim and unpleasant kind. The
people who five years before had fallen down in the dirt as the
consecrated matter passed by, now danced the carmagnole in holy
vestments, and took part in some other mummeries a great deal more
blasphemous. At the famous Feast of Reason, which Morris described as a
kind of opera performed in Notre Dame, the president of the Convention,
and other public characters, adored on bended knees a girl who stood in
the place _ci-devant_ most holy to personate Reason herself. This girl,
Saunier by name, followed the trades of an opera dancer and harlot; she
was "very beautiful and next door to an idiot as to her intellectual
gifts." Among her feats was having appeared in a ballet in a dress
especially designed, by the painter David, at her bidding, to be more
indecent than nakedness. Altogether she was admirably fitted, both
morally and mentally, to personify the kind of reason shown and admired
by the French revolutionists.

Writing to a friend who was especially hostile to Romanism, Morris once
remarked, with the humor that tinged even his most serious thoughts,
"Every day of my life gives me reason to question my own infallibility;
and of course leads me further from confiding in that of the pope. But I
have lived to see a new religion arise. It consists in a denial of all
religion, and its votaries have the superstition of not being
superstitious. They have this with as much zeal as any other sect, and
are as ready to lay waste the world in order to make proselytes."
Another time, speaking of his country place at Sainport, to which he
had retired from Paris, he wrote: "We are so scorched by a long drought
that in spite of all philosophic notions we are beginning our procession
to obtain the favor of the _bon dieu_. Were it proper for _un homme
public et protestant_ to interfere, I should be tempted to tell them
that mercy is before sacrifice." Those individuals of arrested mental
development who now make pilgrimages to our Lady of Lourdes had plenty
of prototypes, even in the atheistical France of the Revolution.

In his letters home Morris occasionally made clear-headed comments on
American affairs. He considered that "we should be unwise in the extreme
to involve ourselves in the contests of European nations, where our
weight could be but small, though the loss to ourselves would be
certain. We ought to be extremely watchful of foreign affairs, but there
is a broad line between vigilance and activity." Both France and England
had violated their treaties with us; but the latter "had behaved worst,
and with deliberate intention." He especially laid stress upon the need
of our having a navy; "with twenty ships of the line at sea no nation on
earth will dare to insult us;" even aside from individual losses, five
years of war would involve more national expense than the support of a
navy for twenty years, and until we rendered ourselves respectable, we
should continue to be insulted. He never showed greater wisdom than in
his views about our navy; and his party, the federalists, started to
give us one; but it had hardly been begun before the Jeffersonians came
into power, and, with singular foolishness, stopped the work.

Washington heartily sympathized with Morris's views as to the French
Revolution; he wrote him that events had more than made good his
gloomiest predictions. Jefferson, however, was utterly opposed to his
theories, and was much annoyed at the forcible way in which he painted
things as they were; characteristically enough, he only showed his
annoyance by indirect methods,--leaving Morris's letters unanswered,
keeping him in the dark as to events at home, etc. Morris understood all
this perfectly, and was extremely relieved when Randolph became
secretary of state in Jefferson's stead. Almost immediately afterwards,
however, he was himself recalled. The United States, having requested
the French government to withdraw Genet, a harlequin rather than a
diplomat, it was done at once, and in return a request was forwarded
that the United States would reciprocate by relieving Morris, which of
course had to be done also. The revolutionary authorities both feared
and disliked Morris; he could neither be flattered nor bullied, and he
was known to disapprove of their excesses. They also took umbrage at his
haughtiness; an unfortunate expression he used in one of his official
letters to them, "ma cour," gave great offense, as being
unrepublican--precisely as they had previously objected to Washington's
using the phrase "your people" in writing to the king.

Washington wrote him a letter warmly approving of his past conduct.
Nevertheless Morris was not over-pleased at being recalled. He thought
that, as things then were in France, any minister who gave satisfaction
to its government would prove forgetful of the interests of America. He
was probably right; at any rate, what he feared was just what happened
under his successor, Monroe--a very amiable gentleman, but distinctly
one who comes in the category of those whose greatness is thrust upon
them. However, under the circumstances, it was probably impossible for
our government to avoid recalling Morris.

He could say truthfully: "I have the consolation to have made no
sacrifice either of personal or national dignity, and I believe I should
have obtained everything if the American government had refused to
recall me." His services had been invaluable to us; he had kept our
national reputation at a high point, by the scrupulous heed with which
he saw that all our obligations were fulfilled, as well as by the firm
courage with which he insisted on our rights being granted us. He
believed "that all our treaties, however onerous, must be strictly
fulfilled according to their true intent and meaning. The honest nation
is that which, like the honest man, 'hath to its plighted faith and vow
forever firmly stood, and though it promise to its loss, yet makes that
promise good;'" and in return he demanded that others should mete to us
the same justice we meted to them. He met each difficulty the instant it
arose, ever on the alert to protect his country and his countrymen; and
what an ordinary diplomat could barely have done in time of peace, he
succeeded in doing amid the wild, shifting tumult of the Revolution,
when almost every step he made was at his own personal hazard. He took
precisely the right stand; had he taken too hostile a position, he would
have been driven from the country, whereas had he been a sympathizer, he
would have more or less compromised America, as his successor afterwards
did. We have never had a foreign minister who deserved more honor than

One of the noteworthy features in his letters home was the accuracy
with which he foretold the course of events in the political world.
Luzerne once said to him, "Vous dites toujours les chôses
extraordinaires qui se realisent;" and many other men, after some given
event had taken place, were obliged to confess their wonder at the way
in which Morris's predictions concerning it had been verified. A notable
instance was his writing to Washington: "Whatever may be the lot of
France in remote futurity ... it seems evident that she must soon be
governed by a single despot. Whether she will pass to that point through
the medium of a triumvirate or other small body of men, seems as yet
undetermined. I think it most probable that she will." This was
certainly a remarkably accurate forecast as to the precise stages by
which the already existing despotism was to be concentrated in a single
individual. He always insisted that, though it was difficult to foretell
how a single man would act, yet it was easy with regard to a mass of
men, for their peculiarities neutralized each other, and it was
necessary only to pay heed to the instincts of the average animal. He
also gave wonderfully clear-cut sketches of the more prominent actors in
affairs; although one of his maxims was that "in examining historical
facts we are too apt to ascribe to individuals the events which are
produced by general causes." Danton, for instance, he described as
always believing, and, what was worse for himself, maintaining, that a
popular system of government was absurd in France; that the people were
too ignorant, too inconstant, too corrupt, and felt too much the need of
a master; in short, that they had reached the point where Cato was a
madman, and Cæsar a necessary evil. He acted on these principles; but he
was too voluptuous for his ambition, too indolent to acquire supreme
power, and he cared for great wealth rather than great fame; so he "fell
at the feet of Robespierre." Similarly, said Morris, there passed away
all the men of the 10th of August, all the men of the 2d of September;
the same mob that hounded them on with wild applause when they grasped
the blood-stained reins of power, a few months later hooted at them with
ferocious derision as they went their way to the guillotine. Paris ruled
France, and the _sans culottes_ ruled Paris; factions continually arose,
waging inexplicable war, each in turn acquiring a momentary influence
which was founded on fear alone, and all alike unable to build up any
stable or lasting government.

Each new stroke of the guillotine weakened the force of liberal
sentiment, and diminished the chances of a free system. Morris wondered
only that, in a country ripe for a tyrant's rule, four years of
convulsions among twenty-four millions of people had brought forth
neither a soldier nor yet a statesman, whose head was fitted to wear the
cap that fortune had woven. Despising the mob as utterly as did Oliver
Cromwell himself, and realizing the supine indifference with which the
French people were willing to accept a master, he yet did full justice
to the pride with which they resented outside attack, and the enthusiasm
with which they faced their foes. He saw the immense resources possessed
by a nation to whom war abroad was a necessity for the preservation of
peace at home, and with whom bankruptcy was but a starting-point for
fresh efforts. The whole energy and power lay in the hands of the
revolutionists; the men of the old regime had fled, leaving only that
"waxen substance," the propertied class, "who in foreign wars count so
much, and in civil wars so little." He had no patience with those
despicable beings, the traders and merchants who have forgotten how to
fight, the rich who are too timid to guard their wealth, the men of
property, large or small, who need peace, and yet have not the sense and
courage to be always prepared to conquer it.

In his whole attitude towards the Revolution, Morris represents better
than any other man the clear-headed, practical statesman, who is
genuinely devoted to the cause of constitutional freedom. He was utterly
opposed to the old system of privilege on the one hand, and to the wild
excesses of the fanatics on the other. The few liberals of the
Revolution were the only men in it who deserve our true respect. The
republicans who champion the deeds of the Jacobins, are traitors to
their own principles; for the spirit of Jacobinism, instead of being
identical with, is diametrically opposed to the spirit of true liberty.
Jacobinism, socialism, communism, nihilism, and anarchism--these are the
real foes of a democratic republic, for each one, if it obtains control,
obtains it only as the sure forerunner of a despotic tyranny and of some
form of the one-man power.

Morris, an American, took a clearer and truer view of the French
Revolution than did any of the contemporary European observers. Yet
while with them it was the all-absorbing event of the age, with him, as
is evident by his writings, it was merely an important episode; for to
him it was dwarfed by the American Revolution of a decade or two back.
To the Europeans of the present day, as yet hardly awake to the fact
that already the change has begun that will make Europe but a fragment,
instead of the whole, of the civilized world, the French Revolution is
the great historical event of our times. But in reality it affected only
the people of western and central Europe; not the Russians, not the
English-speaking nations, not the Spaniards who dwelt across the
Atlantic. America and Australia had their destinies moulded by the
crisis of 1776, not by the crisis of 1789. What the French Revolution
was to the states within Europe, that the American Revolution was to the
continents without.



Monroe, as Morris's successor, entered upon his new duties with an
immense flourish, and rapidly gave a succession of startling proofs that
he was a minister altogether too much to the taste of the frenzied
Jacobinical republicans to whom he was accredited. Indeed, his capers
were almost as extraordinary as their own, and seem rather like the
antics of some of the early French commanders in Canada, in their
efforts to ingratiate themselves with their Indian allies, than like the
performance we should expect from a sober Virginian gentleman on a
mission to a civilized nation. He stayed long enough to get our affairs
into a snarl, and was then recalled by Washington, receiving from the
latter more than one scathing rebuke.

However, the fault was really less with him than with his party and with
those who sent him. Monroe was an honorable man with a very un-original
mind, and he simply reflected the wild, foolish views held by all his
fellows of the Jeffersonian democratic-republican school concerning
France--for our politics were still French and English, but not yet
American. His appointment was an excellent example of the folly of
trying to carry on a government on a "non-partisan" basis. Washington
was only gradually weaned from this theory by bitter experience; both
Jefferson and Monroe helped to teach him the lesson. It goes without
saying that in a well-ordered government the great bulk of the employees
in the civil service, the men whose functions are merely to execute
faithfully routine departmental work, should hold office during good
behavior, and should be appointed without reference to their politics;
but if the higher public servants, such as the heads of departments and
the foreign ministers, are not in complete accord with their chief, the
only result can be to introduce halting indecision and vacillation into
the counsels of the nation, without gaining a single compensating
advantage, and without abating by one iota the virulence of party
passion. To appoint Monroe, an extreme Democrat, to France, while at the
same time appointing Jay, a strong Federalist, to England, was not only
an absurdity which did nothing towards reconciling the Federalists and
Democrats, but, bearing in mind how these parties stood respectively
towards England and France, it was also an actual wrong, for it made our
foreign policy seem double-faced and deceitful. While one minister was
formally embracing such of the Parisian statesmen as had hitherto
escaped the guillotine, and was going through various other theatrical
performances that do not appeal to any but a Gallic mind, his fellow was
engaged in negotiating a treaty in England that was so obnoxious to
France as almost to bring us to a rupture with her. The Jay treaty was
not altogether a good one, and a better might perhaps have been secured;
still, it was better than nothing, and Washington was right in urging
its adoption, even while admitting that it was not entirely
satisfactory. But certainly, if we intended to enter into such
engagements with Great Britain, it was rank injustice to both Monroe and
France to send such a man as the former to such a country as the latter.

Meanwhile Morris, instead of returning to America, was forced by his
business affairs to prolong his stay abroad for several years. During
this time he journeyed at intervals through England, the Netherlands,
Germany, Prussia, and Austria. His European reputation was well
established, and he was everywhere received gladly into the most
distinguished society of the time. What made him especially welcome was
his having now definitely taken sides with the anti-revolutionists in
the great conflict of arms and opinions then raging through Europe; and
his brilliancy, the boldness with which he had behaved as minister
during the Terror, and the reputation given him by the French _emigrés_,
all joined to cause him to be hailed with pleasure by the aristocratic
party. It is really curious to see the consideration with which he was
everywhere treated, although again a mere private individual, and the
terms of intimacy on which he was admitted into the most exclusive
social and diplomatic circles at the various courts. He thus became an
intimate friend of many of the foremost people of the period. His
political observation, however, became less trustworthy than heretofore;
for he was undoubtedly soured by his removal, and the excesses of the
revolutionists had excited such horror in his mind as to make him no
longer an impartial judge. His forecasts and judgments on the military
situation in particular, although occasionally right, were usually very
wild. He fully appreciated Napoleon's utter unscrupulousness and
marvelous mendacity; but to the end of his life he remained unwilling to
do justice to the emperor's still more remarkable warlike genius, going
so far, after the final Russian campaign, as to speak of old Kutusoff
as his equal. Indeed, in spite of one or two exceptions,--notably his
predicting almost the exact date of the retreat from Moscow,--his
criticisms on Napoleon's military operations do not usually stand much
above the rather ludicrous level recently reached by Count Tolstoï.

Morris was relieved by Monroe in August, 1794, and left Paris for
Switzerland in October. He stopped at Coppet and spent a day with Madame
de Staël, where there was a little French society that lived at her
expense and was as gay as circumstances would permit. He had never been
particularly impressed with the much vaunted society of the salon, and
this small survival thereof certainly had no overpowering attraction for
him, if we may judge by the entry in his diary: "The road to her house
is up-hill and execrable, and I think I shall not again go thither."
Mankind was still blind to the grand beauty of the Alps,--it must be
remembered that the admiration of mountain scenery is, to the shame of
our forefathers be it said, almost a growth of the present century,--and
Morris took more interest in the Swiss population than in their
surroundings. He wrote that in Switzerland the spirit of commerce had
brought about a baseness of morals which nothing could cure but the
same spirit carried still further:--"It teaches eventually fair dealing
as the most profitable dealing. The first lesson of trade is, My son,
get money. The second is, My son, get money, honestly if you can, but
get money. The third is, My son, get money; but honestly, if you would
get much money."

He went to Great Britain in the following summer, and spent a year
there. At one time he visited the North, staying with the Dukes of
Argyle, Atholl and Montrose, and was very much pleased with Scotland,
where everything he saw convinced him that the country was certain of a
rapid and vigorous growth. On his return he stopped with the Bishop of
Landaff, at Colgate Park. The bishop announced that he was a stanch
opposition man, and a firm whig; to which statement Morris adds in his
diary: "Let this be as it will, he is certainly a good landlord and a
man of genius."

But Morris was now a favored guest in ministerial, even more than in
opposition circles; he was considered to belong to what the czar
afterwards christened the "parti sain de l'Europe." He saw a good deal
of both Pitt and Grenville, and was consulted by them not only about
American, but also about European affairs; and a number of favors, which
he asked for some of his friends among the _emigrés_, were granted. All
his visits were not on business, however; as, for instance, on July
14th: "Dine at Mr. Pitt's. We sit down at six. Lords Grenville, Chatham,
and another come later. The rule is established for six precisely, which
is right, I think. The wines are good and the conversation flippant."
Morris helped Grenville in a number of ways, at the Prussian court for
instance; and was even induced by him to write a letter to Washington,
attempting to put the English attitude toward us in a good light.
Washington, however, was no more to be carried off his feet in favor of
the English than against them; and the facts he brought out in his reply
showed that Morris had rather lost his poise, and had been hurried into
an action that was ill advised. He was quite often at court; and relates
a conversation with the king, wherein that monarch's language seems to
have been much such as tradition assigns him--short, abrupt sentences,
repetitions, and the frequent use of "what."

He also saw a good deal of the royalist refugees. Some of them he liked
and was intimate with; but the majority disgusted him and made him
utterly impatient with their rancorous folly. He commented on the
strange levity and wild negotiations of the Count d'Artois, and
prophesied that his character was such as to make his projected attempt
on La Vendée hopeless from the start. Another day he was at the Marquis
de Spinola's: "The conversation here, where our company consists of
aristocrats of the first feather, turns on French affairs. They, at
first, agree that union among the French is necessary. But when they
come to particulars, they fly off and are mad. Madame Spinola would send
the Duke of Orleans to Siberia. An abbé, a young man, talks much and
loud, to show his _esprit_; and to hear them one would suppose they were
quite at their ease in a _petit souper de Paris_." Of that ponderous
exile, the chief of the House of Bourbon, and afterwards Louis XVIII, he
said that, in his opinion, he had nothing to do but to try to get shot,
thereby redeeming by valor the foregone follies of his conduct.

In June, 1796, Morris returned to the continent, and started on another
tour, in his own carriage; having spent some time himself in breaking in
his young and restive horses to their task. He visited all the different
capitals, at one time or another; among them, Berlin, where, as usual,
he was very well received. For all his horror of Jacobinism, Morris was
a thorough American, perfectly independent, without a particle of the
snob in his disposition, and valuing his acquaintances for what they
were, not for their titles. In his diary he puts down the Queen of
England as "a well-bred, sensible woman," and the Empress of Austria as
"a good sort of little woman," and contemptuously dismisses the Prussian
king with a word, precisely as he does with any one else. One of the
entries in his journal, while he was staying in Berlin, offers a case in
point. "July 23d, I dine, very much against my will, with Prince
Ferdinand. I was engaged to a very agreeable party, but it seems the
highnesses must never be denied, unless it be from indisposition. I had,
however, written a note declining the intended honor; but the messenger,
upon looking at it, for it was a letter patent, like the invitation,
said he could not deliver it; that nobody ever refused; all of which I
was informed of after he was gone. On consulting I found that I must go
or give mortal offense, which last I have no inclination to do; so I
write another note, and send out to hunt up the messenger. While I am
abroad this untoward incident is arranged, and of course I am at
Bellevue." While at court on one occasion he met, and took a great fancy
to, the daughter of the famous Baroness Riedesel; having been born in
the United States, she had been christened America.

In one of his conversations with the king, who was timid and hesitating,
Morris told him that the Austrians would be all right if he would only
lend them some Prussian generals--a remark upon which Jena and Auerstadt
later on offered a curious commentary. He became very impatient with the
king's inability to make up his mind; and wrote to the Duchess of
Cumberland that "the guardian angel of the French Republic kept him
lingering on this side of the grave." He wrote to Lord Grenville that
Prussia was "seeking little things by little means," and that the war
with Poland was popular "because the moral principles of a Prussian go
to the possession of whatever he can acquire. And so little is he the
slave of what he calls vulgar prejudice, that, give him opportunity and
means, and he will spare you the trouble of finding a pretext. This
liberality of sentiment greatly facilitates negotiation, for it is not
necessary to clothe propositions in honest and decent forms." Morris was
a most startling phenomenon to the diplomatists of the day, trampling
with utter disregard on all their hereditary theories of finesse and
cautious duplicity. The timid formalists, and more especially those who
considered double-dealing as the legitimate, and in fact the only
legitimate, weapon of their trade, were displeased with him; but he was
very highly thought of by such as could see the strength and
originality of the views set forth in his frank, rather over-bold

At Dresden he notes that he was late on the day set down for his
presentation at court, owing to his valet having translated _halb zwölf_
as half past twelve. The Dresden picture galleries were the first that
drew from him any very strong expressions of admiration. In the city
were numbers of the _emigrés_, fleeing from their countrymen, and only
permitted to stop in Saxony for a few days; yet they were serene and
gay, and spent their time in busy sightseeing, examining everything
curious which they could get at. Morris had become pretty well
accustomed to the way in which they met fate; but such lively
resignation surprised even him, and he remarked that so great a calamity
had never lighted on shoulders so well fitted to bear it.

At Vienna he made a long stay, not leaving it until January, 1797. Here,
as usual, he fraternized at once with the various diplomatists; the
English ambassador, Sir Morton Eden, in particular, going out of his way
to show him every attention. The Austrian prime minister, M. Thugut, was
also very polite; and so were the foreign ministers of all the powers.
He was soon at home in the upper social circles of this German Paris;
but from the entries in his journal it is evident that he thought very
little of Viennese society. He liked talking and the company of
brilliant conversationalists, and he abominated gambling; but in Vienna
every one was so devoted to play that there was no conversation at all.
He considered a dumb circle round a card-table as the dullest society in
the world, and in Vienna there was little else. Nor was he impressed
with the ability of the statesmen he met. He thought the Austrian nobles
to be on the decline; they stood for the dying feudal system. The great
families had been squandering their riches with the most reckless
extravagance, and were becoming broken and impoverished; and the
imperial government was glad to see the humiliation of the haughty
nobles, not perceiving that, if preserved, they would act as a buffer
between it and the new power beginning to make itself felt throughout
Europe, and would save the throne if not from total overthrow, at least
from shocks so fierce as greatly to weaken it.

Morris considered Prince Esterhazy as an archtypical representative of
the class. He was captain of the noble Hungarian Guard, a small body of
tall, handsome men on fiery steeds, magnificently caparisoned. The
Prince, as its commander, wore a Hungarian dress, scarlet, with fur cape
and cuffs, and yellow morocco boots; everything embroidered with
pearls, four hundred and seventy large ones, and many thousand small,
but all put on in good taste. He had a collar of large diamonds, a plume
of diamonds in his cap; and his sword-hilt, scabbard, and spurs were
inlaid with the same precious stones. His horse was equally bejeweled;
steed and rider, with their trappings, "were estimated at a value of a
quarter of a million dollars." Old Blücher would surely have considered
the pair "very fine plunder."

The Prince was reported to be nominally the richest subject in Europe,
with a revenue that during the Turkish war went up to a million guilders
annually; yet he was hopelessly in debt already and getting deeper every
year. He lived in great magnificence, but was by no means noted for
lavish hospitality; all his extravagance was reserved for himself,
especially for purposes of display. His Vienna stable contained a
hundred and fifty horses; and during a six weeks' residence in
Frankfort, where he was ambassador at the time of an imperial
coronation, he spent eighty thousand pounds. Altogether, an outsider may
be pardoned for not at first seeing precisely what useful function such
a merely gorgeous being performed in the body politic; yet when summoned
before the bar of the new world-forces, Esterhazy and his kind showed
that birds of such fine feathers sometimes had beaks and talons as well,
and knew how to use them, the craven flight of the French noblesse to
the contrary notwithstanding.

Morris was often at court, where the constant theme of conversation was
naturally the struggle with the French armies under Moreau and
Bonaparte. After one of these mornings he mentions: "The levee was oddly
arranged, all the males being in one apartment, through which the
Emperor passes in going to chapel, and returns the same way with the
Empress and imperial family; after which they go through their own rooms
to the ladies assembled on the other side."

The English members of the _Corps Diplomatique_ in all the European
capitals were especially civil to him; and he liked them more than their
continental brethren. But for some of their young tourist countrymen he
cared less; and it is curious to see that the ridicule to which
Americans have rightly exposed themselves by their absurd fondness for
uniforms and for assuming military titles to which they have no warrant,
was no less deservedly earned by the English at the end of the last
century. One of Morris's friends, Baron Groshlaer, being, like the other
Viennese, curious to know the object of his stay,--they guessed aright
that he wished to get Lafayette liberated,--at last almost asked him
outright about it. "Finally I tell him that the only difference between
me and the young Englishmen, of whom there is a swarm here, is, that I
seek instruction with gray hairs and they with brown.... At the
Archduchess's one of the little princes, brother to the Emperor, and who
is truly an _arch_-duke, asks me to explain to him the different
uniforms worn by the young English, of whom there are a great number
here, all in regimentals. Some of these belong to no corps at all, and
the others to yeomanry, fencibles and the like, all of which purport to
be raised for the defense of their country in case she should be
invaded; but now, when the invasion seems most imminent, they are
abroad, and cannot be made to feel the ridiculous indecency of appearing
in regimentals. Sir M. Eden and others have given them the broadest
hints without the least effect. One of them told me that all the world
should not laugh him out of his regimentals. I bowed.... I tell the
prince that I really am not able to answer his question, but that, in
general, their dresses I believe are worn for convenience in traveling.
He smiles at this.... If I were an Englishman I should be hurt at these
exhibitions, and as it is I am sorry for them.... I find that here they
assume it as unquestionable that the young men of England have a right
to adjust the ceremonial of Vienna. The political relations of the two
countries induce the good company here to treat them with politeness;
but nothing prevents their being laughed at, as I found the other
evening at Madame de Groshlaer's, where the young women as well as the
girls were very merry at the expense of these young men."

After leaving Vienna he again passed through Berlin, and in a
conversation with the king he foreshadowed curiously the state of
politics a century later, and showed that he thoroughly appreciated the
cause that would in the end reconcile the traditional enmity of the
Hohenzollerns and Hapsburgs. "After some trifling things I tell him that
I have just seen his best friend. He asks who? and, to his great
surprise, I reply, the Emperor. He speaks of him well personally, and I
observe that he is a very honest young man, to which his Majesty replies
by asking, "Mais, que pensez vous de Thugut." "Quant à cela, c'est une
autre affaire, sire." I had stated the interest, which makes him and the
Emperor good friends, to be their mutual apprehensions from Russia. "But
suppose we all three unite?" "Ce sera un diable de fricassée, sire, si
vous vous mettez tous les trois à casser les oeufs.""

At Brunswick he was received with great hospitality, the Duke, and
particularly the Duchess Dowager, the King of England's sister, treating
him very hospitably. He here saw General Riedesel, with whom he was most
friendly; the general in the course of conversation inveighed bitterly
against Burgoyne. He went to Munich also, where he was received on a
very intimate footing by Count Rumford, then the great power in Bavaria,
who was busily engaged in doing all he could to better the condition of
his country. Morris was much interested in his reforms. They were
certainly needed; the Count told his friend that on assuming the reins
of power, the abuses to be remedied were beyond belief--for instance,
there was one regiment of cavalry that had five field officers and only
three horses. With some of the friends that Morris made--such as the
Duchess of Cumberland, the Princess de la Tour et Taxis and others--he
corresponded until the end of his life.

While at Vienna he again did all he could to get Lafayette released from
prison, where his wife was confined with him; but in vain. Madame de
Lafayette's sister, the Marquise de Montagu, and Madame de Staël, both
wrote him the most urgent appeals to do what he could for the prisoners;
the former writing, "My sister is in danger of losing the life you
saved in the prisons of Paris ... has not he whom Europe numbers among
those citizens of whom North America ought to be most proud, has not he
the right to make himself heard in favor of a citizen of the United
States, and of a wife, whose life belongs to him, since he has preserved
it?" Madame de Staël felt the most genuine grief for Lafayette, and very
sincere respect for Morris; and in her letters to the latter she
displayed both sentiments with a lavish exaggeration that hardly seems
in good taste. If Morris had needed a spur the letters would have
supplied it; but the task was an impossible one, and Lafayette was not
released until the peace in 1797, when he was turned over to the
American consul at Hamburg, in Morris's presence.

Morris was able to render more effectual help to an individual far less
worthy of it than Lafayette. This was the then Duke of Orleans,
afterwards King Louis Philippe, who had fled from France with Dumouriez.
Morris's old friend, Madame de Flahaut, appealed to him almost
hysterically on the duke's behalf; and he at once did even more than she
requested, giving the duke money wherewith to go to America, and also
furnishing him with unlimited credit at his own New York banker's,
during his wanderings in the United States. This was done for the sake
of the Duchess of Orleans, to whom Morris was devotedly attached, not
for the sake of the duke himself. The latter knew this perfectly,
writing: "Your kindness is a blessing I owe to my mother and to our
friend" (Madame de Flahaut). The bourgeois king admirably represented
the meanest, smallest side of the bourgeois character; he was not a bad
man, but he was a very petty and contemptible one; had he been born in a
different station of life, he would have been just the individual to
take a prominent part in local temperance meetings, while he sanded the
sugar he sold in his corner grocery. His treatment of Morris's loan was
characteristic. When he came into his rights again, at the Restoration,
he at first appeared to forget his debt entirely, and when his memory
was jogged, he merely sent Morris the original sum, without a word of
thanks; whereupon Morris, rather nettled, and as prompt to stand up for
his rights against a man in prosperity as he had been to help him when
in adversity, put the matter in the hands of his lawyer, through whom he
notified Louis Philippe that if the affair was to be treated on a merely
business basis, it should then be treated in a strictly business way,
and the interest for the twenty years that had gone by should be
forwarded also. This was accordingly done, although not until after
Morris's death, the entire sum refunded being seventy thousand francs.

Morris brought his complicated business affairs in Europe to a close in
1798, and sailed from Hamburg on October 4th of that year, reaching New
York after an exceedingly tedious and disagreeable voyage of eighty



Morris was very warmly greeted on his return; and it was evident that
the length of his stay abroad had in nowise made him lose ground with
his friends at home. His natural affiliations were all with the
Federalist party, which he immediately joined.

During the year 1799 he did not take much part in politics, as he was
occupied in getting his business affairs in order and in putting to
rights his estates at Morrisania. The old manor house had become such a
crazy, leaky affair that he tore it down and built a new one; a great,
roomy building, not in the least showy, but solid, comfortable, and in
perfect taste; having, across the tree-clad hills of Westchester, a
superb view of the Sound, with its jagged coast and capes and islands.

Although it was so long since he had practiced law, he was shortly
engaged in a very important case that was argued for eight days before
the Court of Errors in Albany. Few trials in the State of New York have
ever brought together such a number of men of remarkable legal ability;
for among the lawyers engaged on one side or the other were Morris,
Hamilton, Burr, Robert Livingstone, and Troup. There were some sharp
passages of arms: and the trial of wits between Morris and Hamilton in
particular were so keen as to cause a passing coolness.

During the ten years that had gone by since Morris sailed for Europe,
the control of the national government had been in the hands of the
Federalists; when he returned, party bitterness was at the highest
pitch, for the Democrats were preparing to make the final push for power
which should overthrow and ruin their antagonists. Four-fifths of the
talent, ability, and good sense of the country were to be found in the
Federalist ranks; for the Federalists had held their own so far, by
sheer force of courage and intellectual vigor, over foes in reality more
numerous. Their great prop had been Washington. His colossal influence
was to the end decisive in party contests, and he had in fact, although
hardly in name, almost entirely abandoned his early attempts at
non-partisanship, had grown to distrust Madison as he long before had
distrusted Jefferson, and had come into constantly closer relations with
their enemies. His death diminished greatly the chances of Federalist
success; there were two other causes at work that destroyed them

One of these was the very presence in the dominant party of so many men
nearly equal in strong will and great intellectual power; their
ambitions and theories clashed; even the loftiness of their aims, and
their disdain of everything small, made them poor politicians, and with
Washington out of the way there was no one commander to overawe the rest
and to keep down the fierce bickerings constantly arising among them;
while in the other party there was a single leader, Jefferson,
absolutely without a rival, but supported by a host of sharp political
workers, most skillful in marshaling that unwieldy and hitherto
disunited host of voters who were inferior in intelligence to their

The second cause lay deep in the nature of the Federalist organization:
it was its distrust of the people. This was the fatally weak streak in
Federalism. In a government such as ours it was a foregone conclusion
that a party which did not believe in the people would sooner or later
be thrown from power unless there was an armed break-up of the system.
The distrust was felt, and of course excited corresponding and intense
hostility. Had the Federalists been united, and had they freely trusted
in the people, the latter would have shown that the trust was well
founded; but there was no hope for leaders who suspected each other and
feared their followers.

Morris landed just as the Federalist reaction, brought about by the
conduct of France, had spent itself,--thanks partly to some inopportune
pieces of insolence from England, in which country, as Morris once wrote
to a foreign friend, "on a toujours le bon esprit de vouloir prendre les
mouches avec du vinaigre." The famous alien and sedition laws were
exciting great disgust, and in Virginia and Kentucky Jefferson was using
them as handles wherewith to guide seditious agitation--not that he
believed in sedition, but because he considered it good party policy,
for the moment, to excite it. The parties hated each other with
rancorous virulence; the newspapers teemed with the foulest abuse of
public men, accusations of financial dishonesty were rife, Washington
himself not being spared, and the most scurrilous personalities were
bandied about between the different editors. The Federalists were split
into two factions, one following the President, Adams, in his efforts to
keep peace with France, if it could be done with honor, while the
others, under Hamilton's lead, wished war at once.

Pennsylvanian politics were already very low. The leaders who had taken
control were men of mean capacity and small morality, and the State was
not only becoming rapidly democratic but was also drifting along in a
disorganized, pseudo-jacobinical, half insurrectionary kind of way that
would have boded ill for its future had it not been fettered by the
presence of healthier communities round about it. New England was the
only part of the community, excepting Delaware, where Federalism was on
a perfectly sound footing; for in that section there was no caste
spirit, the leaders and their followers were thoroughly in touch, and
all the citizens, shrewd, thrifty, independent, were used to
self-government, and fully awake to the fact that honesty and order are
the prerequisites of liberty. Yet even here Democracy had made some

South of the Potomac the Federalists had lost ground rapidly. Virginia
was still a battlefield; as long as Washington lived, his tremendous
personal influence acted as a brake on the democratic advance, and the
state's greatest orator, Patrick Henry, had halted beside the grave to
denounce the seditious schemes of the disunion agitators with the same
burning, thrilling eloquence that, thirty years before, had stirred to
their depths the hearts of his hearers when he bade defiance to the
tyrannous might of the British king. But when these two men were dead,
Marshall,--though destined, as chief and controlling influence in the
third division of our governmental system, to mould the whole of that
system on the lines of Federalist thought, and to prove that a sound
judiciary could largely affect an unsound executive and
legislature,--even Marshall could not, single-handed, stem the current
that had gradually gathered head. Virginia stands easily first among all
our commonwealths for the statesmen and warriors she has brought forth;
and it is noteworthy that during the long contest between the
nationalists and separatists, which forms the central fact in our
history for the first three quarters of a century of our national life,
she gave leaders to both sides at the two great crises: Washington and
Marshall to the one, and Jefferson to the other, when the question was
one of opinion as to whether the Union should be built up; and when the
appeal to arms was made to tear it down, Farragut and Thomas to the
north, Lee and Jackson to the south.

There was one eddy in the tide of democratic success that flowed so
strongly to the southward. This was in South Carolina. The fierce little
Palmetto state has always been a free lance among her southern sisters;
for instance, though usually ultra-democratic, she was hostile to the
two great democratic chiefs, Jefferson and Jackson, though both were
from the south. At the time that Morris came home, the brilliant little
group of Federalist leaders within her bounds, headed by men of national
renown like Pinckney and Harper, kept her true to Federalism by
downright force of intellect and integrity; for they were among the
purest as well as the ablest statesmen of the day.

New York had been going through a series of bitter party contests; any
one examining a file of papers of that day will come to the conclusion
that party spirit was even more violent and unreasonable then than now.
The two great Federalist leaders, Hamilton and Jay, stood head and
shoulders above all their democratic competitors, and they were backed
by the best men in the state, like Rufus King, Schuyler and others. But,
though as orators and statesmen they had no rivals, they were very
deficient in the arts of political management. Hamilton's imperious
haughtiness had alienated the powerful family of the Livingstones, who
had thrown in their lot with the Clintonians; and a still more valuable
ally to the latter had arisen in that consummate master of "machine"
politics, Aaron Burr. In 1792, Jay, then chief justice of the United
States, had run for governor against Clinton, and had received the
majority of the votes; but had been counted out by the returning board
in spite of the protest of its four Federalist members--Gansevoort,
Roosevelt, Jones, and Sands. The indignation was extreme, and only Jay's
patriotism and good sense prevented an outbreak. However, the memory of
the fraud remained fresh in the minds of the citizens, and at the next
election for governor he was chosen by a heavy majority, having then
just come back from his mission to England. Soon afterwards his treaty
was published, and excited a whirlwind of indignation; it was only
ratified in the senate through Washington's great influence, backed by
the magnificent oratory of Fisher Ames, whose speech on this occasion,
when he was almost literally on his death-bed, ranks among the half
dozen greatest of our country. The treaty was very objectionable in
certain points, but it was most necessary to our well-being, and Jay was
probably the only American who could have negotiated it. As with the
Ashburton treaty many years later, extreme sections in England attacked
it as fiercely as did the extreme sections here; and Lord Sheffield
voiced their feelings when he hailed the war of 1812 as offering a
chance to England to get back the advantages out of which "Jay had duped

But the clash with France shortly afterwards swept away the recollection
of the treaty, and Jay was reëlected in 1798. One of the arguments, by
the way, which was used against him in the canvass was that he was an
abolitionist. But, in spite of his reëlection, the New York Democrats
were steadily gaining ground.

Such was the situation when Morris returned. He at once took high rank
among the Federalists, and in April, 1800, just before the final wreck
of their party, was chosen by them to fill an unexpired term of three
years in the United States Senate. Before this he had made it evident
that his sympathies lay with Hamilton and those who did not think highly
of Adams. He did not deem it wise to renominate the latter for the
Presidency. He had even written to Washington, earnestly beseeching him
to accept the nomination; but Washington died a day or two after the
letter was sent. In spite of the jarring between the leaders, the
Federalists nominated Adams and Pinckney. In the ensuing Presidential
election many of the party chiefs, notably Marshall of Virginia, already
a strong Adams man, faithfully stood by the ticket in its entirety; but
Hamilton, Morris, and many others at the North probably hoped in their
hearts that, by the aid of the curious electoral system which then
existed, some chance would put the great Carolinian in the first place
and make him President. Indeed, there is little question that this might
have been done, had not Pinckney, one of the most high-minded and
disinterested statesmen we have ever had, emphatically declined to
profit in any way by the hurting of the grim old Puritan.

The house thus divided against itself naturally fell, and Jefferson was
chosen President. It was in New York that the decisive struggle took
place, for that was the pivotal state; and there the Democrats, under
the lead of the Livingstones and Clintons, but above all by the masterly
political manoeuvres of Aaron Burr, gained a crushing victory. Hamilton,
stung to madness by the defeat, and sincerely believing that the success
of his opponents would be fatal to the republic,--for the two parties
hated each other with a blind fury unknown to the organizations of the
present day,--actually proposed to Jay, the governor, to nullify the
action of the people by the aid of the old legislature, a Federalist
body, which was still holding over, although the members of its
successor had been chosen. Jay, as pure as he was brave, refused to
sanction any such scheme of unworthy partisanship. It is worth noting
that the victors in this election introduced for the first time the
"spoils system," in all its rigor, into our state affairs; imitating the
bad example of Pennsylvania a year or two previously.

When the Federalists in Congress, into which body the choice for
President had been thrown, took up Burr, as a less objectionable
alternative than Jefferson, Morris, much to his credit, openly and
heartily disapproved of the movement, and was sincerely glad that it
failed. For he thought Burr far the more dangerous man of the two, and,
moreover, did not believe that the evident intention of the people
should be thwarted. Both he and Hamilton, on this occasion, acted more
wisely and more honestly than did most of their heated fellow-partisans.
Writing to the latter, the former remarked: "It is dangerous to be
impartial in politics; you, who are temperate in drinking, have never
perhaps noticed the awkward situation of a man who continues sober after
the company are drunk."

Morris joined the Senate at Philadelphia in May, 1800, but it almost
immediately adjourned, to meet at Washington in November, when he was
again present. Washington, as it then was, was a place whose straggling
squalor has often been described. Morris wrote to the Princess de la
Tour et Taxis, that it needed nothing "but houses, cellars, kitchens,
well-informed men, amiable women, and other little trifles of the kind
to make the city perfect;" that it was "the very best city in the world
for a future residence," but that as he was "not one of those good
people whom we call posterity," he would meanwhile like to live
somewhere else.

During his three years' term in the Senate he was one of the strong
pillars of the Federalist party; but he was both too independent and too
erratic to act always within strict party lines, and while he was an
ultra-Federalist on some points, he openly abandoned his fellows on
others. He despised Jefferson as a tricky and incapable theorist,
skillful in getting votes, but in nothing else; a man who believed "in
the wisdom of mobs, and the moderation of Jacobins," and who found
himself "in the wretched plight of being forced to turn out good
officers to make room for the unworthy."

After the election that turned them out of power, but just before their
opponents took office, the Federalists in the Senate and House passed
the famous judiciary bill, and Adams signed it. It provided for a number
of new federal judges to act throughout the states, while the supreme
court was retained as the ultimate court of decision. It was an
excellent measure, inasmuch as it simplified the work of the judiciary,
saved the highest branch from useless traveling, prevented the calendars
from being choked with work, and supplied an upright federal judiciary
to certain districts where the local judges could not be depended upon
to act honestly. On the other hand, the Federalists employed it as a
means to keep themselves partly in power, after the nation had decided
that they should be turned out. Although the Democrats had bitterly
opposed it, yet if, as was only right, the offices created by it had
been left vacant until Jefferson came in, it would probably have been
allowed to stand. But Adams, most improperly, spent the last hours of
his administration in putting in the new judges.

Morris, who heartily championed the measure, wrote his reasons for so
doing to Livingstone; giving, with his usual frankness, those that were
political and improper, as well as those based on some public policy,
but apparently not appreciating the gravity of the charges he so lightly
admitted. He said: "The new judiciary bill may have, and doubtless has,
many little faults, but it answers the double purpose of bringing
justice near to men's doors, and of giving additional fibre to the root
of government. You must not, my friend, judge of other states by your
own. Depend on it, that in some parts of this Union, justice cannot be
readily obtained in the state courts." So far, he was all right, and the
truth of his statements, and the soundness of his reasons, could not be
challenged as to the propriety of the law itself; but he was much less
happy in giving his views of the way in which it would be carried out:
"That the leaders of the federal party may use this opportunity to
provide for friends and adherents is, I think, probable; and if they
were my enemies, I should blame them for it. Whether I should do the
same thing myself is another question.... They are about to experience a
heavy gale of adverse wind; can they be blamed for casting many anchors
to hold their ship through the storm?" Most certainly they should be
blamed for casting this particular kind of anchor; it was a very gross
outrage for them to "provide for friends and adherents" in such a

The folly of their action was seen at once; for they had so maddened the
Democrats that the latter repealed the act as soon as they came into
power. This also was of course all wrong, and was a simple sacrifice of
a measure of good government to partisan rage. Morris led the fight
against it, deeming the repeal not only in the highest degree unwise
but also unconstitutional. After the repeal was accomplished, the
knowledge that their greed to grasp office under the act was probably
the cause of the loss of an excellent law, must have been rather a
bitter cud for the Federalists to chew. Morris always took an
exaggerated view of the repeal, regarding it as a death-blow to the
constitution. It was certainly a most unfortunate affair throughout; and
much of the blame attaches to the Federalists, although still more to
their antagonists.

The absolute terror with which even moderate Federalists had viewed the
victory of the Democrats was in a certain sense justifiable; for the
leaders who led the Democrats to triumph were the very men who had
fought tooth and nail against every measure necessary to make us a free,
orderly, and powerful nation. But the safety of the nation really lay in
the very fact that the policy hitherto advocated by the now victorious
party had embodied principles so wholly absurd in practice that it was
out of the question to apply them at all to the actual running of the
government. Jefferson could write or speak--and could feel too--the most
high-sounding sentiments; but once it came to actions he was absolutely
at sea, and on almost every matter--especially where he did well--he had
to fall back on the Federalist theories. Almost the only important
point on which he allowed himself free scope was that of the national
defenses; and here, particularly as regards the navy, he worked very
serious harm to the country. Otherwise he generally adopted and acted on
the views of his predecessors; as Morris said, the Democrats "did more
to strengthen the executive than Federalists dared think of, even in
Washington's day." As a consequence, though the nation would certainly
have been better off if men like Adams or Pinckney had been retained at
the head of affairs, yet the change resulted in far less harm than it
bade fair to.

On the other hand the Federalists cut a very sorry figure in opposition.
We have never had another party so little able to stand adversity. They
lost their temper first and they lost their principles next, and
actually began to take up the heresies discarded by their adversaries.
Morris himself, untrue to all his previous record, advanced various
states-rights doctrines; and the Federalists, the men who had created
the Union, ended their days under the grave suspicion of having desired
to break it up. Morris even opposed, and on a close vote temporarily
defeated, the perfectly unobjectionable proposition to change the
electoral system by designating the candidates for President and
Vice-President; the reason he gave was that he believed parties should
be forced to nominate both of their best men, and that he regarded the
Jefferson-Burr tie as a beautiful object-lesson for teaching this point!

On one most important question, however, he cut loose from his party,
who were entirely in the wrong, and acted with the administration, who
were behaving in strict accordance with Federalist precepts. This was in
reference to the treaty by which we acquired Louisiana.

While in opposition, one of the most discreditable features of the
Republican-Democratic party had been its servile truckling to France,
which at times drove it into open disloyalty to America. Indeed this
subservience to foreigners was a feature of our early party history; and
the most confirmed pessimist must admit that, as regards patriotism and
indignant intolerance of foreign control, the party organizations of
to-day are immeasurably superior to those of eighty or ninety years
back. But it was only while in opposition that either party was ready to
throw itself into the arms of outsiders. Once the Democrats took the
reins they immediately changed their attitude. The West demanded New
Orleans and the valley of the Mississippi; and what it demanded it was
determined to get. When we only had the decaying weakness of Spain to
deal with, there was no cause for hurry; but when Louisiana was ceded to
France, at the time when the empire of Napoleon was a match for all the
rest of the world put together, the country was up in arms at once.

The Administration promptly began to negotiate for the purchase of
Louisiana. Morris backed them up heartily, thus splitting off from the
bulk of the Federalists, and earnestly advocated far stronger measures
than had been taken. He believed that so soon as the French should
establish themselves in New Orleans, we should have a war with them; he
knew it would be impossible for the haughty chiefs of a military
despotism long to avoid collisions with the reckless and warlike
backwoodsmen of the border. Nor would he have been sorry had such a war
taken place. He said that it was a necessity to us, for we were
dwindling into a race of mere speculators and driveling philosophers,
whereas ten years of warfare would bring forth a crop of heroes and
statesmen, fit timber out of which to hew an empire.

Almost his last act in the United States Senate was to make a most
powerful and telling speech in favor of at once occupying the territory
in dispute, and bidding defiance to Napoleon. He showed that we could
not submit to having so dangerous a neighbor as France, an ambitious and
conquering nation, at whose head was the greatest warrior of the age.
With ringing emphasis he claimed the western regions as peculiarly our
heritage, as the property of the fathers of America which they held in
trust for their children. It was true that France was then enjoying the
peace which she had wrung from the gathered armies of all Europe; yet he
advised us to fling down the gauntlet fearlessly, not hampering
ourselves by an attempt at alliance with Great Britain or any other
power, but resting confident that, if America was heartily in earnest,
she would be able to hold her own in any struggle. The cost of the
conquest he brushed contemptuously aside; he considered "that
counting-house policy, which sees nothing but money, a poor,
short-sighted, half-witted, mean, and miserable thing, as far removed
from wisdom as is a monkey from a man." He wished for peace; but he did
not believe the Emperor would yield us the territory, and he knew that
his fellow-representatives, and practically all the American people,
were determined to fight for it if they could get it in no other way;
therefore he advised them to begin at once, and gain forthwith what they
wanted, and perhaps their example would inspirit Europe to rise against
the tyrant.

It was bold advice, and if need had arisen it would have been followed;
for we were bound to have Louisiana, if not by bargain and sale then by
fair shock of arms. But Napoleon yielded, and gave us the land for
fifteen millions, of which, said Morris, "I am content to pay my share
to deprive foreigners of all pretext for entering our interior country;
if nothing else were gained by the treaty, that alone would satisfy me."

Morris's term as senator expired on March 4th, 1803, and he was not
reëlected; for New York State had passed into the hands of the
Democrats. But he still continued to play a prominent part in public
affairs, for he was the leader in starting the project of the Erie
canal. It was to him that we owe the original idea of this great
water-way, for he thought of it and planned it out long before any one
else. He had publicly proposed it during the revolutionary period; in
1803 he began the agitation in its favor that culminated in its
realization, and he was chairman of the Canal Commissioners from the
time of their appointment, in 1810, until within a few months of his
death. The three first reports of the Commission were all from his pen.
As Stephen Van Rensselaer, himself one of the commissioners from the
beginning, said, "Gouverneur Morris was the father of our great canal."
He hoped ultimately to make it a ship canal. While a member of the
commission, he not only discharged his duties as such with
characteristic energy and painstaking, but he also did most effective
outside work in advancing the enterprise, while he mastered the subject
more thoroughly in all its details than did any other man.

He spent most of his time at Morrisania, but traveled for two or three
months every summer, sometimes going out to the then "far West," along
the shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario, and once descending the St.
Lawrence. At home he spent his time tilling his farm, reading, receiving
visits from his friends, and carrying on a wide correspondence on
business and politics. Jay's home was within driving distance, and the
two fine old fellows saw much of each other. On the 25th of December,
1809, Morris, then fifty-six years old, married Miss Anne Cary Randolph,
a member of the famous Virginia family; he was very happy with her, and
by her he had one son. Three weeks after the marriage he wrote Jay a
pressing request to visit him: "I pray you will, with your daughters,
embark immediately in your sleigh, after a very early breakfast, and
push on so as to reach this house in the evening. My wife sends her
love, and says she longs to receive her husband's friend; that his
sickness must be no excuse, for she will nurse him. Come, then, and see
your old friend perform his part in an old-fashioned scene of domestic
enjoyment." Jay was very simple in his way of living; but Morris was
rather formal. When he visited his friend he always came with his valet,
was shown straight to his room without seeing any one, dressed himself
with scrupulous nicety,--being very particular about his powdered
hair,--and then came down to see his host.

Although his letters generally dealt with public matters, he sometimes
went into home details. He thus wrote an amusing letter to a good friend
of his, a lady, who was desirous, following the custom of the day, to
send her boy to what was called a "college" at an absurdly early age; he
closed by warning her that "these children of eleven, after a four
years' course, in which they may learn to smatter a little of
everything, become bachelors of arts before they know how to button
their clothes, and are the most troublesome and useless, sometimes the
most pernicious, little animals that ever infested a commonwealth."

At one time he received as his guest Moreau, the exiled French general,
then seeking service in the United States. Writing in his diary an
account of the visit, he says: "In the course of our conversation,
touching very gently the idea of his serving (in case of necessity)
against France, he declares frankly that, when the occasion arrives, he
shall feel no reluctance; that France having cast him out, he is a
citizen of the country where he lives, and has the same right to follow
his trade here as any other man."

He took the keenest pleasure in his life, and always insisted that
America was the pleasantest of all places in which to live. Writing to a
friend abroad, and mentioning that he respected the people of Britain,
but did not find them congenial, he added: "But were the manners of
those countries as pleasant as the people are respectable, I should
never be reconciled to their summers. Compare the uninterrupted warmth
and splendor of America, from the first of May to the last of September,
and her autumn, truly celestial, with your shivering June, your July and
August sometimes warm but often wet, your uncertain September, your
gloomy October, and your dismal November. Compare these things, and then
say how a man who prizes the charm of Nature can think of making the
exchange. If you were to pass one autumn with us, you would not give it
for the best six months to be found in any other country.... There is a
brilliance in our atmosphere of which you can have no idea."

He thoroughly appreciated the marvelous future that lay before the race
on this continent. Writing in 1801, he says: "As yet we only crawl along
the outer shell of our country. The interior excels the part we inhabit
in soil, in climate, in everything. The proudest empire in Europe is but
a bauble compared to what America _will_ be, _must_ be, in the course of
two centuries, perhaps of one!" And again, "With respect to this
country, calculation outruns fancy, and fact outruns calculation."

Until his hasty, impulsive temper became so soured by partisanship as to
warp his judgment, Morris remained as well satisfied with the people and
the system of government as with the land itself. In one of his first
letters after his return to America he wrote: "There is a fund of good
sense and calmness of character here, which will, I think, avoid all
dangerous excesses. We are free: we know it: and we know how to continue
free." On another occasion, about the same time, he said: "_Nil
desperandum de republica_ is a sound principle." Again, in the middle of
Jefferson's first term: "We have indeed a set of madmen in the
administration, and they will do many foolish things; but there is a
vigorous vegetative principle at the root which will make our tree
flourish, let the winds blow as they may."

He at first took an equally just view of our political system, saying
that in adopting a republican form of government he "not only took it,
as a man does his wife, for better or worse, but, what few men do with
their wives, knowing all its bad qualities." He observed that there was
always a counter current in human affairs, which opposed alike good and
evil. "Thus the good we hope is seldom attained, and the evil we fear is
rarely realized. The leaders of faction must for their own sakes avoid
errors of enormous magnitude; so that, while the republican form lasts,
we shall be fairly well governed." He thought this form the one best
suited for us, and remarked that "every kind of government was liable to
evil; that the best was that which had fewest faults; that the
excellence even of that best depended more on its fitness for the nation
where it was established than on intrinsic perfection." He denounced,
with a fierce scorn that they richly merit, the despicable demagogues
and witless fools who teach that in all cases the voice of the majority
must be implicitly obeyed, and that public men have only to carry out
its will, and thus "acknowledge themselves the willing instruments of
folly and vice. They declare that in order to please the people they
will, regardless alike of what conscience may dictate or reason approve,
make the profligate sacrifice of public right on the altar of private
interest. What more can be asked by the sternest tyrant of the most
despicable slave? Creatures of this sort are the tools which usurpers
employ in building despotism."

Sounder and truer maxims never were uttered; but unfortunately the
indignation naturally excited by the utter weakness and folly of
Jefferson's second term, and the pitiable incompetence shown both by
him, by his successor, and by their party associates in dealing with
affairs, so inflamed and exasperated Morris as to make him completely
lose his head, and hurried him into an opposition so violent that his
follies surpassed the worst of the follies he condemned. He gradually
lost faith in our republican system, and in the Union itself. His old
jealousy of the West revived more strongly than ever; he actually
proposed that our enormous masses of new territory, destined one day to
hold the bulk of our population, "should be governed as provinces, and
allowed no voice in our councils." So hopelessly futile a scheme is
beneath comment; and it cannot possibly be reconciled with his previous
utterances when he descanted on our future greatness as a people, and
claimed the West as the heritage of our children. His conduct can only
be unqualifiedly condemned; and he has but the poor palliation that, in
our early history, many of the leading men in New York, and an even
larger proportion in New England, felt the same narrow, illiberal
jealousy of the West which had formerly been felt by the English
statesmen for America as a whole.

It is well indeed for our land that we of this generation have at last
learned to think nationally, and, no matter in what state we live, to
view our whole country with the pride of personal possession.



It is a painful thing to have to record that the closing act in a great
statesman's career not only compares ill with what went before, but is
actually to the last degree a discreditable and unworthy performance.

Morris's bitterness and anger against the government grew apace; and
finally his hatred for the administration became such, that, to hurt it,
he was willing also to do irreparable harm to the nation itself. He
violently opposed the various embargo acts, and all the other
governmental measures of the decade before the war; and worked himself
up to such a pitch, when hostilities began, that, though one of the
founders of the Constitution, though formerly one of the chief exponents
of the national idea, and though once a main upholder of the Union, he
abandoned every patriotic principle and became an ardent advocate of
Northern secession.

To any reasoning student of American history it goes without saying that
there was very good cause for his anger with the administration. From
the time the House of Virginia came into power, until the beginning of
Monroe's administration, there was a distinctly anti-New England feeling
at Washington, and much of the legislation bore especially heavily on
the Northeast. Excepting Jefferson, we have never produced an executive
more helpless than Madison, when it came to grappling with real dangers
and difficulties. Like his predecessor, he was only fit to be President
in a time of profound peace; he was utterly out of place the instant
matters grew turbulent, or difficult problems arose to be solved, and he
was a ridiculously incompetent leader for a war with Great Britain. He
was entirely too timid to have embarked on such a venture of his own
accord, and was simply forced into it by the threat of losing his second
term. The fiery young Democrats of the South and West, and their
brothers of the Middle States, were the authors of the war; they
themselves, for all their bluster, were but one shade less incompetent
than their nominal chief, when it came to actual work, and were
shamefully unable to make their words good by deeds.

The administration thus drifted into a war which it had neither the
wisdom to avoid, nor the forethought to prepare for. In view of the fact
that the war was their own, it is impossible to condemn sufficiently
strongly the incredible folly of the Democrats in having all along
refused to build a navy or provide any other adequate means of defense.
In accordance with their curiously foolish theories, they persisted in
relying on that weakest of all weak reeds, the militia, who promptly ran
away every time they faced a foe in the open. This applied to all,
whether eastern, western, or southern; the men of the northern states in
1812 and 1813 did as badly as, and no worse than, the Virginians in
1814. Indeed, one of the good results of the war was that it did away
forever with all reliance on the old-time militia, the most expensive
and inefficient species of soldiery that could be invented. During the
first year the monotonous record of humiliations and defeats was only
relieved by the splendid victories of the navy which the Federalists had
created twelve years previously, and which had been hurt rather than
benefited in the intervening time. Gradually, however, the people
themselves began to bring out leaders: two, Jackson and Scott, were
really good generals, under whom our soldiers became able to face even
the English regulars, then the most formidable fighting troops in the
world; and it must be remembered that Jackson won his fights absolutely
unhelped by the administration. In fact, the government at Washington
does not deserve one shred of credit for any of the victories we won,
although to it we directly owe the greater number of our defeats.

Granting, however, all that can be said as to the hopeless inefficiency
of the administration, both in making ready for and in waging the war,
it yet remains true that the war itself was eminently justifiable, and
was of the greatest service to the nation. We had been bullied by
England and France until we had to fight to preserve our national
self-respect; and we very properly singled out our chief aggressor,
though it would perhaps have been better still to have acted on the
proposition advanced in Congress, and to have declared war on both.
Although nominally the peace left things as they had been, practically
we gained our point; and we certainly came out of the contest with a
greatly increased reputation abroad. In spite of the ludicrous series of
failures which began with our first attempt to invade Canada, and
culminated at Bladensburg, yet in a succession of contests on the ocean
and the lakes, we shattered the charmed shield of British naval
invincibility; while on the northern frontier we developed under Scott
and Brown an infantry which, unlike any of the armies of continental
Europe, was able to meet on equal terms the British infantry in pitched
battle in the open; and at New Orleans we did what the best of
Napoleon's marshals, backed by the flower of the French soldiers, had
been unable to accomplish during five years of warfare in Spain, and
inflicted a defeat such as no English army had suffered during a quarter
of a century of unbroken warfare. Above all, the contest gave an immense
impetus to our national feeling, and freed our politics forever from any
dependence on those of a foreign power.

The war was distinctly worth fighting, and resulted in good to the
country. The blame that attaches to Madison and the elder
democratic-republican leaders, as well as to their younger associates,
Clay, Calhoun, and the rest, who fairly flogged them into action,
relates to their utter failure to make any preparations for the contest,
to their helpless inability to carry it on, and to the extraordinary
weakness and indecision of their policy throughout; and on all these
points it is hardly possible to visit them with too unsparing censure.

Yet, grave though these faults were, they were mild compared to those
committed by Morris and the other ultra-Federalists of New York and New
England. Morris's opposition to the war led him to the most extravagant
lengths. In his hatred of the opposite party he lost all loyalty to the
nation. He championed the British view of their right to impress seamen
from our ships; he approved of peace on the terms they offered, which
included a curtailment of our western frontier, and the erection along
it of independent Indian sovereignties under British protection. He
found space in his letters to exult over the defeats of Bonaparte, but
could spare no word of praise for our own victories.

He actually advocated repudiating our war debt,[3] on the ground that it
was void, being founded on a moral wrong; and he wished the Federalists
to make public profession of their purpose, so that when they should
come back to power, the holders might have no reason to complain that
there had been no warning of their intention. To Josiah Quincy, on May
15th, he wrote: "Should it be objected, as it probably will to favor
lenders and their associates, that public faith is pledged, it may be
replied that a pledge wickedly given is not to be redeemed." He thus
advanced the theory that in a government ruled by parties, which come
into power alternately, any debt could be repudiated, at any time, if
the party in power happened to disapprove of its originally being
incurred. No greenback demagogue of the lowest type ever advocated a
proposition more dishonest or more contemptible.

[3] As, for instance, in a letter to David R. Ogden, April 5, 1813.

He wrote that he agreed with Pickering that it was impious to raise
taxes for so unjust a war. He endeavored, fortunately in vain, to induce
Rufus King in the Senate to advocate the refusal of supplies of every
sort, whether of men or money, for carrying on the war; but King was far
too honorable to turn traitor. Singularly forgetful of his speeches in
the Senate ten years before, he declared that he wished that a foreign
power might occupy and people the West, so as, by outside pressure, to
stifle our feuds. He sneered at the words union and constitution, as
being meaningless. He railed bitterly at the honest and loyal majority
of his fellow-Federalists in New York, who had professed their devotion
to the Union; and in a letter of April 29th, to Harrison Gray Otis,--who
was almost as bad as himself,--he strongly advocated secession, writing
among other things that he wished the New York Federalists to declare
publicly that "the Union, being the means of freedom, should be prized
as such, but that the end should not be sacrificed to the means." By
comparing this with Calhoun's famous toast at the Jefferson birthday
dinner in 1880, "The Union; next to our liberty the most dear; may we
all remember that it can only be preserved by respecting the rights of
the states and distributing equally the benefit and the burden of the
Union," it can be seen how completely Morris's utterances went on all
fours with those of the great nullifier.

To Pickering he wrote, on October 17th, 1814: "I hear every day
professions of attachment to the Union, and declarations as to its
importance. I should be glad to meet with some one who could tell me
what has become of the Union, in what it consists, and to what useful
purpose it endures." He regarded the dissolution of the Union to be so
nearly an accomplished fact that the only question was whether the
boundary should be "the Delaware, the Susquehanna, or the Potomac"; for
he thought that New York would have to go with New England. He nourished
great hopes of the Hartford convention, which he expected would formally
come out for secession; he wrote Otis that the convention should declare
that the Union was already broken, and that all that remained to do was
to take action for the preservation of the interests of the Northeast.
He was much chagrined when the convention fell under the control of
Cabot and the moderates. As late as January 10, 1815, he wrote that the
only proceeding from which the people of his section would gain
practical benefit would be a "severance of the Union."

In fact, throughout the war of 1812 he appeared as the open champion of
treason to the nation, of dishonesty to the nation's creditors, and of
cringing subserviency to a foreign power. It is as impossible to
reconcile his course with his previous career and teachings as it is to
try to make it square with the rules of statesmanship and morality. His
own conduct affords a conclusive condemnation of his theories as to the
great inferiority of a government conducted by the multitude, to a
government conducted by the few who should have riches and education.
Undoubtedly he was one of these few; he was an exceptionally able man,
and a wealthy one; but he went farther wrong at this period than the
majority of our people--the "mob" as he would have contemptuously called
them--have ever gone at any time; for though every state in turn, and
almost every statesman, has been wrong upon some issue or another, yet
in the long run the bulk of the people have always hitherto shown
themselves true to the cause of right. Morris strenuously insisted upon
the need of property being defended from the masses; yet he advocated
repudiation of the national debt, which he should have known to be quite
as dishonest as the repudiation of his individual liabilities, and he
was certainly aware that the step is a short one between refusing to pay
a man what _ought_ to be his and taking away from him what actually _is_

There were many other Federalist leaders in the same position as
himself, especially in the three southern New England states, where the
whole Federalist party laid itself open to the gravest charges of
disloyalty. Morris was not alone in his creed at this time. On the
contrary, his position is interesting because it is typical of that
assumed by a large section of his party throughout the Northeast. In
fact, the Federalists in this portion of the Union had split in three,
although the lines of cleavage were not always well marked. Many of them
remained heartily loyal to the national idea; the bulk hesitated as to
whether they should go all lengths or not; while a large and influential
minority, headed by Morris, Pickering, Quincy, Lowell and others, were
avowed disunionists. Had peace not come when it did, it is probable that
the moderates would finally have fallen under the control of these
ultras. The party developed an element of bitter unreason in defeat; it
was a really sad sight to see a body of able, educated men, interested
and skilled in the conduct of public affairs, all going angrily and
stupidly wrong on the one question that was of vital concern to the

It is idle to try to justify the proceedings of the Hartford convention,
or of the Massachusetts and Connecticut legislatures. The decision to
keep the New England troops as an independent command was of itself
sufficient ground for condemnation; moreover, it was not warranted by
any show of superior prowess on the part of the New Englanders, for a
portion of Maine continued in possession of the British till the close
of the war. The Hartford resolutions were so framed as to justify
seceding or not seceding as events turned out; a man like Morris could
extract comfort from them, while it was hoped they would not frighten
those who were more loyal. The majority of the people in New England
were beyond question loyal, exactly as in 1860 a majority of Southerners
were opposed to secession; but the disloyal element was active and
resolute, and hoped to force the remainder into its own way of thinking.
It failed signally, and was buried beneath a load of disgrace; and New
England was taught thus early and by heart the lesson that wrongs must
be righted within, and not without the Union. It would have been well
for her sister section of the South, so loyal in 1815, if forty-five
years afterwards she had spared herself the necessity of learning the
same lesson at an infinitely greater cost.

The truth is that it is nonsense to reproach any one section with being
especially disloyal to the Union. At one time or another almost every
state has shown strong particularistic leanings; Connecticut and
Pennsylvania, for example, quite as much as Virginia or Kentucky.
Fortunately the outbursts were never simultaneous in a majority. It is
as impossible to question the fact that at one period or another of the
past, many of the states in each section have been very shaky in their
allegiance as it is to doubt that they are now all heartily loyal. The
secession movement of 1860 was pushed to extremities, instead of being
merely planned and threatened, and the revolt was peculiarly abhorrent,
because of the intention to make slavery the "corner-stone" of the new
nation, and to reintroduce the slave-trade, to the certain ultimate ruin
of the Southern whites; but at least it was entirely free from the
meanness of being made in the midst of a doubtful struggle with a
foreign foe. Indeed, in this respect the ultra-Federalists of New York
and New England in 1814 should be compared with the infamous Northern
copperheads of the Vallandigham stripe rather than with the gallant
confederates who risked and lost all in fighting for the cause of their
choice. Half a century before the "stars and bars" waved over Lee's last
intrenchments, perfervid New England patriots were fond of flaunting
"the flag with five stripes," and drinking to the health of
the--fortunately stillborn--new nation. Later on, the disunion movement
among the Northern abolitionists, headed by Garrison, was perhaps the
most absolutely senseless of all, for its success meant the immediate
abandonment of every hope of abolition.

In each one of these movements men of the highest character and capacity
took part. Morris had by previous services rendered the whole nation his
debtor; Garrison was one of the little band who, in the midst of general
apathy, selfishness, and cowardice, dared to demand the cutting out of
the hideous plague spot of our civilization; while Lee and Jackson were
as remarkable for stainless purity and high-mindedness as they were for
their consummate military skill. But the disunion movements in which
they severally took part were wholly wrong. An Englishman of to-day may
be equally proud of the valor of Cavalier and Roundhead; but, if
competent to judge, he must admit that the Roundhead was right. So it is
with us. The man who fought for secession warred for a cause as evil and
as capable of working lasting harm as the doctrine of the divine right
of kings itself. But we may feel an intense pride in his gallantry; and
we may believe in his honesty as heartily as we believe in that of the
only less foolish being who wishes to see our government strongly
centralized, heedless of the self-evident fact that over such a vast
land as ours the nation can exist only as a Federal Union; and that,
exactly as the liberty of the individual and the rights of the states
can only be preserved by upholding the strength of the nation, so this
same localizing of power in all matters not essentially national is
vital to the wellbeing and durability of the government.

Besides the honorable men drawn into such movements there have always
been plenty who took part in or directed them for their own selfish
ends, or whose minds were so warped and their sense of political
morality so crooked as to make them originate schemes that would have
reduced us to the impotent level of the Spanish-American republics.
These men were peculiar to neither section. In 1803, Aaron Burr of New
York was undoubtedly anxious to bring about in the Northeast[4] what
sixty years later Jefferson Davis of Mississippi so nearly succeeded in
doing in the South; and the attempt in the South to make a hero of the
one is as foolish as it would be to make a hero of the other in the
North. If there are such virtues as loyalty and patriotism, then there
must exist the corresponding crime of treason; if there is any merit in
practicing the first, then there must be equal demerit in committing the
last. Emasculated sentimentalists may try to strike from the national
dictionary the word treason; but until that is done, Jefferson Davis
must be deemed guilty thereof.

[4] People sometimes forget that Burr was as willing to try sedition in
the East as in the West.

There are, however, very few of our statesmen whose characters can be
painted in simple, uniform colors, like Washington and Lincoln on the
one hand, or Burr and Davis on the other. Nor is Morris one of these
few. His place is alongside of men like Madison, Samuel Adams, and
Patrick Henry, who did the nation great service at times, but each of
whom, at some one or two critical junctures, ranged himself with the
forces of disorder.

After the peace Morris accommodated himself to the altered condition
with his usual buoyant cheerfulness; he was too light-hearted, and, to
say the truth, had too good an opinion of himself, to be cast down even
by the signal failure of his expectations and the memory of the by no
means creditable part he had played. Besides, he had the great virtue of
always good-humoredly yielding to the inevitable. He heartily wished the
country well, and kept up a constant correspondence with men high in
influence at Washington. He disliked the tariff bill of 1816; he did not
believe in duties or imposts, favoring internal, although not direct,
taxation. He was sharp-sighted enough to see that the Federal party had
shot its bolt and outlived its usefulness, and that it was time for it
to dissolve. To a number of Federalists at Philadelphia, who wished to
continue the organization, he wrote strongly advising them to give up
the idea, and adding some very sound and patriotic counsel. "Let us
forget party and think of our country. That country embraces both
parties. We must endeavor, therefore, to save and benefit both. This
cannot be effected while political delusions array good men against each
other. If you abandon the contest, the voice of reason, now drowned in
factious vociferation, will be listened to and heard. The pressure of
distress will accelerate the moment of reflection; and when it arrives
the people will look out for men of sense, experience, and integrity.
Such men may, I trust, be found in both parties; and if our country be
delivered, what does it signify whether those who operate her salvation
wear a federal or democratic cloak?" These words formed almost his last
public utterance, for they were penned but a couple of months before his
death; and he might well be content to let them stand as a fit closing
to his public career.

He died November 6, 1816, when sixty-four years old, after a short
illness. He had suffered at intervals for a long time from gout; but he
had enjoyed general good health, as his erect, commanding, well-built
figure showed; for he was a tall and handsome man. He was buried on his
own estate at Morrisania.

There has never been an American statesman of keener intellect or more
brilliant genius. Had he possessed but a little more steadiness and
self-control he would have stood among the two or three very foremost.
He was gallant and fearless. He was absolutely upright and truthful; the
least suggestion of falsehood was abhorrent to him. His extreme,
aggressive frankness, joined to a certain imperiousness of disposition,
made it difficult for him to get along well with many of the men with
whom he was thrown in contact. In politics he was too much of a free
lance ever to stand very high as a leader. He was very generous and
hospitable; he was witty and humorous, a charming companion, and
extremely fond of good living. He had a proud, almost hasty temper, and
was quick to resent an insult. He was strictly just; and he made open
war on all traits that displeased him, especially meanness and
hypocrisy. He was essentially a strong man, and he was an American
through and through.

Perhaps his greatest interest for us lies in the fact that he was a
shrewder, more far-seeing observer and recorder of contemporary men and
events, both at home and abroad, than any other American or foreign
statesman of his time. But aside from this he did much lasting work. He
took a most prominent part in bringing about the independence of the
colonies, and afterwards in welding them into a single powerful nation,
whose greatness he both foresaw and foretold. He made the final draft of
the United States Constitution; he first outlined our present system of
national coinage; he originated and got under way the plan for the Erie
Canal; as minister to France he successfully performed the most
difficult task ever allotted to an American representative at a foreign
capital. With all his faults, there are few men of his generation to
whom the country owes more than to Gouverneur Morris.


  Adams, John, 52;
    appointed commissioner, 119;
    repudiates command of Congress, 120;
    share in most important treaty, 124;
    absent from National Convention, 133;
    nominated for the Presidency, 328;
    signs judiciary bill, 331;
    appoints new judges, 332.

  Adams, Samuel, 77, 79, 128.

  Allen, Ethan, 46.

  America, successful, 117, 118, 131, 132, 144.

  American army, suffering of, 76, 77;
    commissioners, 119, 120, 121, 123, 124;
    Constitutional Convention, delegates in, 133;
    contrasted with States General of France, 134, 135, 136;
    independence, 122, 123;
    leaders compared with European, 82, 83;
    navy, 196, 291;
    triumph, 123, 124.

  Americans, in Revolutionary War, 5;
    of 1776, compared with those of Civil War, 49, 50.

  Ames, Fisher, 327.

  Assembly, 33, 36, 37, 44.

  Bank of North America, 103.

  Bastile, the, 211, 225, 226.

  Battle of Bennington, 69;
    Brandywine, 75;
    Princeton, 48;
    Trenton, 48, 49;
    Guilford Court House, 113.

  Battles on soil of New York, 3, 4.

  British allies, 49, 50, 68, 119;
    war-ships, 43, 47.

  Brunswick, Duke of, 284, 285.

  Burgoyne, 49, 68, 72, 74, 78;
    breach of faith with, 125.

  Burke, Edmund, 39.

  Burr, Aaron, 329, 330, 360;
    and Jefferson Davis, 361.

  Butler, 147, 157.

  Calhoun, famous toast of, 354.

  Canada, 45, 89, 90.

  Carolinas, the, 8, 11, 30, 45, 50.

  Carroll, 40.

  Church of Rome, 65.

  Churches, 9, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19.

  Civil War, people in the, 49, 50.

  Clermont-Tonnerre, Count de, 179, 203.

  Clinton, George, 10;
    chosen governor, 68, 327;
    as a politician, 97, 128.

  Clintons, the, 10, 20, 68.

  Colonial contests, 3;
    legislature, 20, 21, 33.

  Colonies, 11.

  Confederation, condition of, after the war, 126.

  Congress. _See_ Continental;
    _see_ Provincial.

  Connecticut, 45, 46.

  Constitution, its character, 136, 141, 142;
    opposition to its adoption, 165, 167.

  Continental Congress, the, 36;
    dishonorable acts, 73, 78, 79, 80;
    its condition at end of 1779, 99;
    establishes four departments, 103;
    instructions to commissioners, 119, 120.

  Convention, New York, 59, 65;
    national, 133-139.

  Cornwallis, 114, 116.

  Council of appointment, 64, 155;
    of revisions, 64, 155;
    of safety, 67, 68, 71.

  Cruger, 14, 45.

  Currency, condition of, 105;
    table proposed, 107.

  Dalrymple, General, 125.

  Danton, 270, 287, 296.

  Davis, Jefferson, 361.

  D'Artois, Count (Charles X.), 217, 306.

  Deane, Silas, 93.

  Decimal system, 104, 107.

  Declaration, of Independence, 47, 53;
    of Rights, 178.

  De Lanceys, 16, 21, 45.

  D'Estaing, Count, 264.

  De Flahaut, Madame, 204-207.

  Democracy, 145.

  Democrats, 137, 138.

  Departments, 103.

  De Staël, 203;
    Madame, 179, 199;
    vanity of, 200, 201;
    want of delicacy, 202, 203;
    her estimate of the Abbé Sieyès, 247;
    grief for Lafayette, 317.

  Disunion movements, 358, 359, 360.

  Dollar, the Spanish, 106, 107.

  Dumouriez, 269-272.

  Dutch, descendants of, 9;
    language, 13;
    republicans, 17;
    battle with English, 115;
    in war with Spain, 132.

  Ellsworth, Oliver, 160.

  England, treatment of her American subjects, 4, 5;
    grounds of complaint, 5;
    courage, 116;
    insolence, 323.

  English, stock, people of, 5, 126;
    language, 12, 13;
    historians, 117;
    hostile feeling, 228, 229;
    society, 230, 231;
    climate, 342.

  Episcopalians, 13, 16, 18, 21, 60.

  Esterhazy, 311, 312.

  Extremists, 20.

  Federalism, 138, 322, 323.

  Federalist party, leaders of, 92, 137, 138.

  Federalists, 141, 156, 321, 323, 331, 334, 335.

  Foreign or non-English elements, 11, 12, 13, 34.

  Foreigners, movement against, 157.

  Fox, 123, 233, 236.

  France, treaty with, 88;
    would have Americans dependent allies, 121, 122, 123;
    contrasted with America, 184;
    destitute of statesmen, 241.

  Franklin appointed commissioner, 119, 120, 124;
    delegate to National Convention, 133;
    advocate of weak central government, 137.

  French, motives, 89, 90;
    struggles with England, 115;
    navy, 116;
    admirals, 117;
    government, 121;
    character, 186-189;
    noblesse and common people, 212;
    Revolution, 170-175, 244, 258-263.

  Gates, 71, 72, 73, 74.

  Generals, of Revolution, 52, 116;
    in Civil War, 52.

  Genet, 292.

  George III., 8, 228, 231.

  Georgia, 8, 11, 50, 160.

  Gerard, 89, 90, 122.

  German auxiliaries, 119.

  Germany, 144, 145, 165.

  Gibraltar, 115, 116, 122.

  Government, 130, 131, 144, 145.

  Governor, name obnoxious, 62, 63.

  Gower, Lord, 276.

  Great Britain and American subjects, 4, 6;
    odds against, 115;
    hostility to American trade, 128.

  Greene, 45, 52, 86, 113, 115, 116, 117.

  Hamilton, Alexander, 10, 52, 92, 102, 104, 111;
    delegate to National Convention, 133;
    advocate of strong government, 137, 138;
    in favor of domestic manufactures, 156;
    proposes basis of representation, 158;
    assisted in writing the "Federalist," 166;
    procures ratification of the Constitution, 167;
    passing coolness with Morris, 320;
    his haughtiness, 326;
    defeat by Democrats, 329.

  Hancock, John, 79.

  Hartford Convention, 357.

  Henry, Patrick, 128, 324.

  Herkomer, 10.

  Holland, 116.

  Huguenots, 9, 10, 65.

  Impressment of American sailors, 233, 234.

  Independence, 55, 56, 88.

  India, 115, 116.

  Indian warfare, 3, 4, 8, 74.

  Infidels, 289.

  Irish, in New England, 12;
    of 1776, 21;
    in Revolutionary armies, 34;
    in Civil War, 35.

  Jackson, General, 349, 350.

  Jay, John, admitted to the bar, 23;
    in Continental Congress, 41, 42;
    resolution indorsing Declaration of Independence, 58;
    plan for state constitution, 62, 63;
    article on toleration, 65;
    would abolish slavery, 66, 67;
    on committee to organize state government, 67;
    defends Schuyler's cause, 72;
    reinforcements for Gates, 73;
    chief justice, 75;
    wishes well to Old England, 92;
    of Puritanic morality, 110;
    friendship with Morris, 111;
    minister to Spain, 111;
    views on education of children, 111;
    affection for America, 112;
    commissioner, 119;
    repudiates command of Congress, 120;
    true policy summed up, 123;
    his the chief part in treaty, 124;
    secretary for foreign affairs, 133;
    helps Hamilton on the "Federalist," 166;
    a strong Federalist, 301, 326;
    appointed to negotiate treaty in England, 301, 302, 327;
    governor, 327, 328, 329;
    visits to and from Morris, 340, 341.

  Jefferson, 52, 104, 107, 108, 129, 131, 133;
    important truth taught by him, 138;
    American minister to France, 176, 177;
    treatment of Morris, 292;
    incompetence when President, 334, 335, 348.

  Johnsons, the, 17, 38, 45.

  Judiciary bill, 331-334.

  King, Rufus, 252, 353.

  King's College, 3, 18.

  Lafayette, 85, 86, 117, 176, 177, 178, 180, 181, 184, 187;
    his character, 221, 222, 273;
    ideas impracticable, 240, 241;
    proclaimed and imprisoned, 273, 274;
    released, 317.

  Lafayette, Madame de, 181, 274, 275.

  Lake Champlain, 4, 68.

  Lake George, 3.

  Leaders, 52;
    loyalist, 16, 45;
    revolutionary, 16, 49.

  Lecky, 117, 118.

  Leeds, Duke of, 231, 233, 237.

  Lincoln, 52, 133, 138.

  Lineage, 10, 34.

  Livingston, Robert, 10, 59;
    on committee to organize state government, 67;
    chancellor, 75;
    secretary of foreign affairs, 103.

  Livingstons, the, 21, 326.

  Louis XVI., 216, 250, 254, 255, 256, 286.

  Louis XVII., 307.

  Louis Philippe, 317, 318.

  Louisiana, 336, 337, 339.

  Loyalists, 16, 29, 45, 119, 167.

  Luzerne, 236.

  Madison, 129;
    delegate to National Convention, 133;
    during formation of Constitution, 139, 140, 145, 150, 153, 162;
    compliment to Morris, 165;
    assists Hamilton in writing the "Federalist," 166;
    as President, 348.

  Manorial families, 14, 15, 19.

  Marie Antoinette, 225, 288.

  Marmontel, 247.

  Marshall, 325.

  Mason, George, 160.

  Merchants, 15, 19, 21.

  Militia, 69, 70, 72, 113, 114.

  Mirabeau, 136, 174, 200, 222, 223.

  Mississippi, 90, 91, 95, 112, 113, 148.

  Money, 24, 37, 128.

  Monroe, 293;
    recalled and rebuked, 300;
    a foolish minister, 301, 302.

  Montmorin, Count de, 218, 249.

  Moreau, General, 341, 342.

  Morris, Gouverneur, birth, 1;
    descent, 2;
    boyhood, 3;
    college career, 20, 22;
    takes part in public affairs, 23, 24;
    desire for foreign travel, 25;
    narrow means, 26;
    in society, 27;
    little faith in extreme democracy, 30, 31;
    dislike for mobs, 31, 32;
    plans for reunion with Great Britain, 32, 33;
    delegate to Provincial Congress, 35, 36;
    report and speech, 37, 38;
    objects to eighth article of report, 41;
    at head of patriotic party, 46, 47, 53;
    able speech in favor of new governments, 53-58;
    member of committees, 59;
    position in regard to the Tories, 60, 61;
    formation of State Constitution, 62-67;
    at Schuyler's headquarters, 68-71;
    efforts in behalf of Schuyler, 72;
    secures reinforcements for Gates, 73;
    letters to Schuyler, 74, 75;
    elected to Continental Congress, 76;
    visits Valley Forge, 77;
    a good financier, 78, 80, 86;
    endeavors to secure approval of Washington's plans, 78, 79, 83, 85;
    letter to Washington, 84;
    friendship with Greene, 86;
    report on Lord North's conciliatory bills, 88;
    prepares "Observations on the American Revolution," 88;
    drafts instructions to Franklin, 89;
    reply to French minister, 91;
    "Observations on the Finances of America," 91;
    his loyalist relatives, 92, 93;
    controversy with Thomas Paine, 93, 94;
    drafts instructions to our foreign ministers, 94, 95;
    dispute of New York with Vermont, 96, 97;
    fails of reëlection, 98;
    life in Philadelphia, 99;
    publishes essays on the finances, 100, 101, 102;
    assistant financier, 103;
    founder of national coinage, 104, 105, 106, 107;
    enjoyment in society, 108, 110;
    serious injury, 109;
    want of insight into the future, 112, 113;
    foresees final success of Greene, 113;
    letters to Jay, 118, 120, 127;
    advocates a firmer Union, 129, 130;
    in Constitutional Convention, 133, 139, 140;
    has no regard for States-rights, 142-145;
    jealousy of the West, 146, 147;
    views on the suffrage, 149-153;
    on the power of the President, 153, 154;
    on the judiciary, 155;
    on Congress, 156;
    speeches on the slavery question, 158, 159;
    a warm advocate of the Constitution, 166;
    return to New York, 167;
    acts in behalf of loyalists, 167;
    residence in France, 169;
    letters and diary, 170, 175, 176, 183;
    hostile to spirit of French Revolution, 170-175;
    at home in Parisian society, 176;
    opinion of Jefferson, 177;
    of Lafayette, 178, 181;
    views on French politics, 183-186;
    distrust of French character, 185, 186, 188, 189;
    National Assembly, 190, 191;
    a true republican and American, 193, 194;
    minor services to Washington, 195;
    correspondence with Paul Jones, 196;
    life in Paris, 197, 198, 199;
    opinion of Madame de Staël, 199-204;
    intimacy with Madame de Flahaut, 204-207;
    acquaintance with the Duchess of Orleans, 207-211, 245, 246;
    literary life of the salon, 213-215;
    judgment of his contemporaries, 216, 219-223;
    of French people, 224;
    advice to a certain painter, 226;
    mission to British government, 227, 228;
    English not congenial, 229, 230;
    impatience at delay, 233;
    interview with Pitt, 234;
    is blamed for failure of negotiations, 236;
    trip through Netherlands and up the Rhine, 237;
    speculations of various kinds, 238, 239;
    advice to Lafayette, 240-243, 260;
    letter to Washington, 243-245;
    fondness for the theatre, 247;
    dislike to priesthood, 248, 249;
    interest in home affairs, 250;
    made minister to France, 252;
    is advised by Washington, 252, 253;
    plans for escape of the king and queen, 254, 255, 256;
    his, a brilliant chapter in American diplomacy, 257, 258;
    horror of the mob, 260, 261;
    his house a place of refuge, 263, 264;
    picture of the French, 265-268;
    generosity to Lafayette family, 274, 275;
    remains in Paris, 276, 277;
    spirited conduct when harassed, 278, 279;
    payment of American debt, 280, 281;
    irritates the executive council, 281, 282;
    French privateers, 283;
    commentary on passing events, 283-291;
    is recalled, 292, 293;
    as foreign minister to be honored, 264, 294;
    accurate forecast of events, 295;
    clear views of French Revolution, 298;
    journeys in Europe, 302;
    no longer an impartial judge, 303;
    estimate of Napoleon, 303, 304;
    in Switzerland, 304;
    in Great Britain, 305;
    opinion of royalist refugees, 306, 307;
    in Berlin, 308, 315;
    in Vienna, 310-315;
    dealings with Louis Philippe, 317, 318;
    return to New York, 320;
    elected to Senate, 328;
    disapproves of Burr, 330;
    opinion of Jefferson, 331;
    speech in favor of occupying Louisiana, 337, 338;
    fails of reëlection, 339;
    leader in project of Erie canal, 339, 340;
    life at Morrisania, 340;
    marriage, 340;
    formality, 341;
    compares America and England, 342;
    loses his satisfaction with the people and the government, and
      becomes soured, 345;
    advocates northern secession, 347;
    loses his loyalty to the nation, 352-359;
    closing acts of his career unworthy of him, 352-355;
    after the peace, 361;
    gives sound and patriotic counsel, 362, 363;
    death, 363;
    character and services, 363, 364.

  Morris, Robert, 102, 103, 133.

  Morris, Staats Long, 15, 61, 167.

  Morrisania, 1, 167, 340.

  Morrises, the, 2.

  Narbonne, Chevalier de, 202, 203.

  National Union, 126, 140.

  Nationalists, 141.

  Necker, 199, 200, 218, 219, 220.

  New England, 11, 161, 324;
    Puritans, 5;
    militia, 69;
    members of Continental Congress, 71, 79, 80.

  New Rochelle, 3.

  New York city, 1;
    society in, 26;
    exposed positions, 43;
    entered by Continental forces, 46;
    left by peaceable citizens, 48;
    held by British, 116.

  New York colony, 1, 3;
    battles in, 3, 4;
    claim of liberty as a right, 6;
    loyalty, 7, 8;
    many nationalities, 9, 10;
    churches, 9;
    ethnic type, 11;
    rivalries, 14;
    government, 14;
    three parties, 19;
    in debt, 23;
    not in full sympathy with the patriots, 35, 36;
    soldiers in royal armies, 44;
    famous Tory leaders, 45;
    second Provincial Congress, 46;
    third Provincial Congress, 47;
    Declaration of Independence ratified, and State Constitution
    adoption of the national Constitution, 165, 167.

  New York State, 48;
    party contests, 326.

  New Yorkers, 13, 33, 96.

  North Carolina, 165.

  North, Lord, conciliatory bills of, 87.

  Officers, in trade, 81;
    foreign, 85;
    French, in American Revolution, 264.

  Oriskany, fight at, 10, 12, 72.

  Orleans, Duchess of, 207, 208, 209, 245, 246.

  Orleans, Duke of (Egalité), 207, 216, 275, 288.

  Otis, Harrison Gray, 353.

  Paine, Thomas, 93, 208, 289.

  Paris, 266, 267;
    factions in, 269;
    changed, 270.

  Paul Jones, 196.

  Pennsylvania, 28, 157, 166, 324.

  Philadelphia, 110.

  Pinckney, 145, 326, 328, 329.

  Pitt, 233, 234, 237.

  Presbyterians, 14, 18, 21.

  Prisoners, exchange of, 125.

  Provincial Congress, 34, 35, 38, 39, 43, 46, 47, 53, 58.

  Proviso regarding toleration, 66.

  Prussia, 308, 309.

  Quebec, 10;
    bill, 41.

  Queen's County, 44, 46.

  Randolph, 292.

  Representation of slave states, 157, 158, 164.

  Republican party, 141.

  Republicanism, extreme, 20.

  Revolution, enemies in, 49, 68;
    two sides of, 30;
    officers of, 79;
    men of, 81, 82;
    influence of, compared with that of French, 298, 299.

  Revolutionary armies compared with those in Civil War, 50, 51, 81.

  Rhode Island, 126, 165, 189.

  Riedesel, "America," 308;
    General, 316.

  Rodney, 116, 117.

  Rohan, Cardinal de, 249.

  Roman Catholics, 9, 39, 64, 65.

  Royalist party, 19, 20.

  Rumford, Count, 316.

  Russia, 168.

  Schuyler, Philip, 10, 68, 69, 71;
    replaced by Gates, 71, 72, 73;
    his noble behavior, 74.

  Scott, General, 349.

  Sherman, Roger, 71.

  Sieyès, the Abbé, 136, 246.

  Six Nations, 3.

  Slavery, question of, 66, 67, 157-165.

  Sons of Liberty, 31, 43.

  South Carolina, 80, 145, 160, 325.

  Southern States, 115, 147, 148, 158, 161, 162, 163.

  Spain, 90, 91, 112, 115, 120, 121, 122, 123, 148.

  Spanish-Americans, 131, 132.

  St. Clair, General, 69.

  St. Patrick's Day, 21.

  Stamp Act, 4.

  Stark, 69.

  States General, 134, 184, 224.

  Statesmen, 51, 52, 134.

  Suffrage not an inborn or natural right, 149, 150, 157.

  Taine, 183.

  Talleyrand, 204, 221, 247, 277.

  Tarleton, Colonel, 247.

  Tessé, Comtesse de, 181, 182.

  Toleration, 39, 64, 65, 66.

  Tories, 35, 44, 50, 60, 61, 68, 92, 167.

  Tory leaders, 45.

  Treaty, 124;
    obligations of, unfulfilled, 227, 228;
    Jay's, 327.

  Trio, great American, 133.

  Tryon, royal governor, 44.

  Valley Forge, 49, 76.

  Vergennes, 121, 237.

  Vermont, 70, 96, 98.

  Virginia, 114, 160, 161, 165;
    her statesmen and warriors, 325.

  War of 1812, 148, 349, 350.

  Warriors, 51, 52, 325.

  Washington, 33, 44, 47, 48;
    statesman, soldier, patriot, 52;
    difficulties, 78, 79;
    confidence in Morris, 83;
    dislike to foreign officers, 85;
    letter to Jay, 118;
    delegate in National Convention, 133;
    letter to Morris, 189, 190;
    views with regard to French Revolution, 191, 192, 252, 292, 293;
    a watch for, 195;
    statue by Hudon, 196;
    kind advice, 252, 253;
    recalls Monroe, 300;
    reply to letter of Morris, 306;
    distrust of Jefferson, and Madison, 321.

  West, the, 146, 147, 148.

  Whig families, 20, 21.

  White Plains, 53.

  Wisdom of many worth more than wisdom of one, 136, 137.

  Yorktown, 76, 116.

American Statesmen.

A Series of Biographies of Men famous in the Political History of
the United States. Edited by JOHN T. MORSE, Jr. Each volume, 16mo,
gilt top, $1.25; half morocco, $2.50.

  _JOHN QUINCY ADAMS_. _By John T. Morse, Jr_.
  _ALEXANDER HAMILTON_. _By Henry Cabot Lodge_.
  _JOHN C. CALHOUN_. _By Dr. H. Von Holst_.
  _ANDREW JACKSON_. _By W. G. Sumner_.
  _JOHN RANDOLPH_. _By Henry Adams_.
  _JAMES MONROE_. _By D. C. Gilman_.
  _THOMAS JEFFERSON_. _By John T. Morse, Jr_.
  _DANIEL WEBSTER_. _By Henry Cabot Lodge_.
  _ALBERT GALLATIN_. _By John Austin Stevens_.
  _JAMES MADISON_. _By Sydney Howard Gay_.
  _JOHN ADAMS_. _By John T. Morse, Jr_.
  _JOHN MARSHALL_. _By Allan B. Magruder_.
  _SAMUEL ADAMS_. _By James K. Hosmer_.
  _THOMAS H. BENTON_. _By Theodore Roosevelt_.
  _HENRY CLAY_. _By Carl Schurz_. 2 vols.
  _PATRICK HENRY_. _By Moses Coit Tyler_.
  _GOUVERNEUR MORRIS_. _By Theodore Roosevelt_.
  _MARTIN VAN BUREN_. _By Edward M. Shepard_.
  _GEORGE WASHINGTON_. _By Henry Cabot Lodge_. 2 vols.
  _BENJAMIN FRANKLIN_. _By John T. Morse, Jr_.
  _JOHN JAY_. _By George Pellew_.
  _LEWIS CASS_. _By Andrew C. McLaughlin_.

  _Others to be announced hereafter_.


_JOHN QUINCY ADAMS_. That Mr. Morse's conclusions will in the main be
those of posterity we have very little doubt, and he has set an
admirable example to his coadjutors in respect of interesting narrative,
just proportion, and judicial candor.--_New York Evening Post_.

_HAMILTON_. The biography of Mr. Lodge is calm and dignified throughout.
He has the virtue--rare indeed among biographers--of impartiality. He
has done his work with conscientious care, and the biography of Hamilton
is a book which cannot have too many readers. It is more than a
biography; it is a study in the science of government.--_St. Paul

_CALHOUN_. Nothing can exceed the skill with which the political career
of the great South Carolinian is portrayed in these pages. The work is
superior to any other number of the series thus far, and we do not think
it can be surpassed by any of those that are to come. The whole
discussion in relation to Calhoun's position is eminently philosophical
and just.--_The Dial_ (Chicago).

_JACKSON_. Professor Sumner has ... all in all, made the justest long
estimate of Jackson that has had itself put between the covers of a
book.--_New York Times_.

_RANDOLPH_. The book has been to me intensely interesting.... It is rich
in new facts and side lights, and is worthy of its place in the already
brilliant series of monographs on American Statesmen.--Prof. MOSES COIT

_MONROE_. In clearness of style, and in all points of literary
workmanship, from cover to cover, the volume is well-nigh perfect. There
are also a calmness of judgment, a correctness of taste, and an absence
of partisanship which are too frequently wanting in biographies, and
especially in political biographies.--_American Literary Churchman_

_JEFFERSON_. The book is exceedingly interesting and readable. The
attention of the reader is strongly seized at once, and he is carried
along in spite of himself, sometimes protesting, sometimes doubting, yet
unable to lay the book down.--_Chicago Standard_.

_WEBSTER_. It will be read by students of history; it will be invaluable
as a work of reference; it will be an authority as regards matters of
fact and criticism; it hits the keynote of Webster's durable and
ever-growing fame; it is adequate, calm, impartial; it is
admirable.--_Philadelphia Press_.

_GALLATIN_. It is one of the most carefully prepared of these very
valuable volumes, ... abounding in information not so readily accessible
as is that pertaining to men more often treated by the biographer....
The whole work covers a ground which the political student cannot afford
to neglect.--_Boston Correspondent Hartford Courant_.

_MADISON_. The execution of the work deserves the highest praise. It is
very readable, in a bright and vigorous style, and is marked by unity
and consecutiveness of plan.--_The Nation_ (New York).

_JOHN ADAMS_. A good piece of literary work.... It covers the ground
thoroughly, and gives just the sort of simple and succinct account that
is wanted.--_Evening Post_ (New York).

_MARSHALL_. Well done, with simplicity, clearness, precision, and
judgment, and in a spirit of moderation and equity. A valuable addition
to the series.--_New York Tribune_.

_SAMUEL ADAMS_. Thoroughly appreciative and sympathetic, yet fair and
critical.... This biography is a piece of good work--a clear and simple
presentation of a noble man and pure patriot; it is written in a spirit
of candor and humanity.--_Worcester Spy_.

_BENTON_. An interesting addition to our political literature, and will
be of great service if it spread an admiration for that austere public
morality which was one of the marked characteristics of its chief
figure.--_The Epoch_ (New York).

_CLAY_. We have in this life of Henry Clay a biography of one of the
most distinguished of American statesmen, and a political history of the
United States for the first half of the nineteenth century. In each of
these important and difficult undertakings, Mr. Schurz has been
eminently successful. Indeed, it is not too much to say that, for the
period covered, we have no other book which equals or begins to equal
this life of Henry Clay as an introduction to the study of American
politics.--_Political Science Quarterly_ (New York).

_HENRY_. Professor Tyler has not only made one of the best and most
readable of American biographies; he may fairly be said to have
reconstructed the life of Patrick Henry, and to have vindicated the
memory of that great man from the unappreciative and injurious estimate
which has been placed upon it.--_New York Evening Post_.

_MORRIS_. Mr. Roosevelt has produced an animated and intensely
interesting biographical volume.... Mr. Roosevelt never loses sight of
the picturesque background of politics, war-governments, and
diplomacy.--_Magazine of American History_ (New York).

_VAN BUREN_. No more generous, appreciative, or just biography, and no
more interesting or philosophical piece of political history has
appeared in this valuable series ... than this absorbing book.... To
give any adequate idea of the personal interest of the book, or its
intimate bearing on nearly the whole course of our political history
would be equivalent to quoting the larger part of it.--_Brooklyn Eagle_.

_WASHINGTON_. Mr. Lodge has written an admirable biography, and one
which cannot but confirm the American people in the prevailing estimate
concerning the Father of his Country; but its deepest and most important
significance appears to us to consist in its testimony to the exaltation
and the uniqueness of a character whose like comes seldom to the world,
and only in periods of great stress and crisis.--_New York Tribune_.

_FRANKLIN_. He has managed to condense the whole mass of matter gleaned
from all sources into his volume without losing in a single sentence the
freedom or lightness of his style or giving his book in any part the
crowded look of an epitome. He has plenty of time and plenty of room for
all he wishes to say, and says it in the very best and most interesting
manner.--_The Independent_ (New York).

*** _For sale by all Booksellers. Sent, post-paid, on receipt of price
by the Publishers_,


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Gouverneur Morris" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.