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This Day In Founding Fathers History – 31 January 2013
One notable birthday on this day in 1752, that of Gouverneur Morris. Morris was born into a wealthy family and received a classical education at King’s College and went on to study law. He was a delegate to the New York provincial congress, served as lieutenant colonel in the state militia, and was a member of the committee which drafted the New York State constitution. Morris served on the Continental Congress in 1778 and 1779 where he signed the Articles of Confederation. Morris served with Robert Morris (unrelated-see below) as assistant superintendent of finance. He served as a Pennsylvania delegate to the Federal Convention where he signed the Constitution. In 1788, Morris traveled to Europe on both business and political pursuits, serving as Minister Plenipotentiary to France. After returning to the U.S., Morris served as U.S. senator. He was also chairman of the Erie Canal Commission and gave many high-profile public speeches in the last years of his life. 1
Another birthday on this day in history in 1734, that of Robert Morris. Morris emigrated from England at the age of 13, following his father to Maryland. He was apprenticed to a mercantile house in Philadelphia run by Charles Willing. Morris developed a friendship with Willing’s son Thomas, and in 1757 the two became partners in an importing firm, Willing and Morris. Morris was active in political affairs, fighting against the Stamp Act in 1765 and signing the Non-Importation Agreement. Morris served on the provincial assembly and was a delegate to the Continental Congress for Pennsylvania, where he was involved in many committees and signed the Declaration of Independence. Morris was a member of the finance committee and appointed superintendent of finance. He used his own personal funds on numerous occasions to keep supplies moving and ensure that the revolution stay its course. In 1782, Morris founded the Bank of North America, the first chartered financial institution in the U.S. Again Morris was a delegate to the Continental Congress and signed the Articles of Confederation, and he later attended the Federal Convention, signing the Constitution. Morris went on to serve as a U.S. senator for Pennsylvania, serving on dozens of committees. 3
1 “Gouverneur Morris,” colonialhall.com/morrisg/morrisg.php; “Morris, Gouverneur,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, bioguide.congress.gov
2 “Penn Biographies – Robert Morris (1734-1806),” Penn University Archives & Records Center, archives.upenn.edu/people/1700s/morris_robt.html; “The Men Behind the American Revolution: Robert Morris,” 18th Century History, history1700s.com/articles/article1141.shtml