BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
ANNUAL MEETING, JANUARY 19, 1910
PUBLISHED BY THE SOCIETY
Committee on Papers and Publications.
William O. Comstock
Charles F. White.
Edward W. Baker.
Charles F. Read.
Fire Station A, Village Square
BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
NINTH ANNUAL MEETING.
The ninth annual meeting of the Brookline Historical Society was held in the G. A. R. Room, Town Hall, Brookline, Mass., on Wednesday, January 19, 1910, at 8 p. m., in accordance with a notice mailed to every member. President Charles H. Stearns was in the chair.
The record of the last monthly meeting was read and the President then delivered his annual address.
Members of the Brookline Historical Society and Friends
Ladies and Gentlemen,-In beginning this, my first annual address as its President, it is meet that we should accord to my predecessor in office our thanks and praise for all he has done in the past, to promote the welfare of this Society and to endeavor to make it a success. It is well to remember all we owe to Captain Candage. Indeed, but for him, this Society would not have been, and in his old age and retirement, let us give him a hearty good word and earnest wishes for a happy year.
In looking back over the past twelve months, I think we may reasonably congratulate ourselves; and with the renewed good attendance and interest since the beginning of another active season, we certainly have reason to believe that there is warrant for our continued existence.
The following have been the Papers presented during the year:-
January 26. Address of the President, R. G. F. Candage. As this was his retiring address, he made it the occasion of a resume of some of the many changes, inventions and almost revolutions that have happened during his long life, and especially as it has affected this, our beloved town.
February 12. This was a special meeting and called at this date to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. It is one of the regrets in the life of your president that he was unable to be present at this meeting, but his place was most ably filled by your vice-president, and you who had the good fortune to be present will, I am sure, bear witness to his eloquent words, and to the interesting reminiscences of our fellow-member, William J. Seaver. The other addresses, the readings and musical solos and the singing by the whole meeting were of a high order and were a most fitting commemoration of the noble man. The gathering was a large one.
March 24. "The Royal House and Some of its People," by Bliss Helen Wild of Medford. This was an interesting description and history of this fine old house and of some of its occupants, and was prepared and read by one who has been enthusiastic in its preservation and partial restoration.
April 21. "Personal Experiences in Confederate Prisons, 1861-62," by William Carver Bates of Newton. This was not a formal paper, but an exceedingly interesting talk about his experiences in the Rebellion, in Rebel prisons in and about New Orleans.
May 19. "Diary of John Howe, a British Spy in 1776." Prepared by Miss Ellen Chase, and read by Mr. Charles F. White. This was an account of the trials and perplexities and narrow escapes of a spy who went over the roads between Boston and the towns of Worcester county in the early year of the Revolution.
October 20. The first paper after the summer vacation. "From the Stage Coach to the Parlor Car," by Charles E. Mann of Maiden. Mr. Mann is secretary of the Board of Railroad Commissioners of Massachusetts, and he was most familiar with the great changes and improvements in railroad travel. His talk was informal and very entertaining.
November 17. "The Evolution of a New England Home," by Frank Smith of Dedham. This paper had originally been prepared for the Dedham Historical Society, and some of his allusions were of a local character, but the paper was historically very happy with old associations, and might well have applied to Brookline as well as Dedham.
December 15. "Memories of Forty Years of Teaching," by Miss Mary P. Frye of Brookline. Beginning with her first school in Boston in 1869, Miss Frye came to Brookline in 1870, and has taught here continuously until 1909. Her talk, for it was informal, was most amusing and entertaining, and her allusions to events and persons so well known to most of us, brought the past condition of things most vividly to her hearers. We shall hope to again hear from Miss Frye.
And here I want to emphasize the fact that this is a Brookline institution, and though we most cordially welcome speakers and friends from other towns, we should mainly depend upon ourselves for the instruction and benefits to be derived at our monthly meetings. We certainly have the talent and ability in our ranks to make these meetings profitable; and your president would strongly urge the members to come forward and proffer their services in the preparation of papers, in which they may feel interested and which may interest others.
The total membership in this Society January 26, 1909 was 173. There has been one resignation because of removal from the town, and four other resignations for various causes; and one new member has joined. Death has removed four from our ranks during the year, leaving the whole number of members December 31, 1909, 165. The deaths were:-
James Rooney, died April 5. Aged 46 yrs.
Dr. Tappan Eustis Francis, died April 20. Aged 85 yrs, 6 mos. 20 dys.
Frederick Beck, died October 2. Aged 91 yrs. 4 mos. 22dys.
George Sumner Mann, died October 27. Aged 74yrs. 11 mos. 2 dys.
Mr. Rooney was born in Brookline, and had always lived here. He attended the public schools, and succeeded his father in business. He was not an active member in this Society, and for several years had been in poor health. He will be remembered for his polite and cheerful presence.
Dr. Francis (who did not know Dr. Francis?) came to Brookline as a very young man, and has always been a large part of the town. During his active years he was probably the best known person in Brookline. He was a blessed exemplification of the Good Physician, and by his kind heart, his genial nature and proverbial flow of wit and humor, had endeared himself to all who knew him. His presence here will be well remembered by those who attended our earlier meetings, and he always had a pleasant word of comment on the paper of the evening. He was a faithful friend of the old soldiers, and his memory will always be blessed by them as well as ourselves.
Mr. Frederick Beck was formerly connected with the Boston banking house of Dupee, Beck and Sayles, but had lived in retirement for several years. He had lived for a long time in his pleasant home on Davis avenue, his grounds joining those of his old friend, Dr. Francis. It was a blessed Providence that these two neighbors for so many years here should be so soon re-united in the beyond. The fine old house so long occupied by Mr. Beck was built about 1840 by Mr. Isaac Thayer, and on what was then known as Washington place, and the garden extended to Washington street. Mr. Beck was a great reader, was for many years a member of the Thursday Club and had contributed many papers to that organization.
Mr. Mann was a native of Petersham in this state. He had lived in Brookline for the past sixteen years, and was an early member of this Society. He was very much interested, and until his last sickness, a most punctual attendant at its meetings. He had contributed several papers, the last one on Gouverneur Morris a little more than a year ago.
The recent destructive fire in what is now known as the David Hall Rice house, has brought this historic house into prominence. It was built in 1821 by Joseph Sewall a descendant of Chief Justice Sewall, and the grandfather of Mrs. Edward C. Cabot, who has recently deceased. Mr. Sewall was a partner in the firm of Sewall and Tappan, merchants of Boston, and Mr. John Tappan built what is now known as the Philbrick house about the same time, probably in the same year. Mr. Sewall lived in his house for ten or twelve years. This must have been a very retired, secluded spot. There was no house on what is now Walnut street, then known as the Sherburn road, between these two partners' homes, and the Sewall property took in all of what is now called the Sewall district, extending to Jamaica Pond. There was a narrow lane extending from the public road to the back end of the estate, and years after, during the occupancy of Mr. Hugh R. Kendall, this was the scene of many May-day parties and picnics. That part of Mr. Edward C. Cabot's land which has been suggested as a possible park by the town was known as Fairyland, and a most beautiful spot it was. The next occupant of the house was a family named Tilson, and one of the sons was a colonel in the Civil War. Deacon Lambert next lived here. He was quite prominent in one of the Boston churches and quite an interesting anecdote in connection with the deacon's occupancy was recently related to me. It seems that at one time during the preaching of that celebrated divine, Dr. William Ellery Channing, a Unitarian, Dr. Lyman Beecher, was sent to Boston from his home in Litchfield, Conn., to try to combat the effect of Dr. Channing's preaching, and he stayed for a while with his friend, Deacon Lambert. Now, as has been said, this house and Mr. Philbrick's were the only ones on that side of Walnut street. Each had quite a long approach from the road, and each had a great resemblance to the other. It happened that Deacon Lambert called one day on Mr. Philbrick on some business, and while they were talking in walked Dr. Beecher without the formality of knocking. The deacon looked surprised, but introduced Mr. Philbrick to the doctor, who nodded rather coolly to his host, and then took up a book and sat down to read. After the deacon had finished his business, he went to Dr. Beecher and said, "Doctor, do you know where you are?" The reply was, "Why in your house, of course," Imagine his surprise when he learned he was in the house of an entire stranger.
Mr. Hugh R. Kendall was the next owner and occupant, and it was he who cleared the land and allowed the public to enjoy it. He was a retired Boston merchant, and quite wealthy in the estimation of those days. In the tax book of 1843, Mr. Kendall was taxed on 22 ½ acres of land, and on $80,000 personal estate. Since his day there have been a number of occupants, the house being used at one time as a home for orphans of naval officers.
The Philbrick house, after a few years' occupancy of Mr. Tappan, was next owned by a Mr. Ropes. He was a zealous orthodox, and there being no church of that faith in Brookline he opened his parlors for services, which probably was the beginning of what is now the Harvard Church. Mr. Samuel Philbrick bought the place in 1829, and it has since been in that family. Mr. Philbrick was a good citizen, and withal an ardent member of the Anti-Slavery Society, and his house was well known in the days before the war as one of the stations of the "Underground Railroad."
Another house, built by a brother of John Tappan, and probably about the same time, is the fine stone mansion occupied for many years by the Blake family. Mr. Lewis Tappan, soon after building, removed to New York, and there followed several occupants of the house. Mr. George Baty Blake bought the place about 1845, and it has since been in possession of the Blake family. Mr. Blake was the senior partner in the banking house of Blake Bros., and he had a large family, four sons and two daughters, all of whom have passed away, the widow of the youngest son now owning the place. The property has been added to and greatly improved of late years, making it one of the most beautiful country seats in the town, and situated as it is in the very centre of population, with its fine old trees and beautiful lawns and gardens, it is indeed a most restful spot. May it be many years before its lovely slopes are invaded by the ever increasing apartment houses. Another brother, Charles Tappan, lived in and owned at one time the John L. Gardner estate on Warren street, a pleasant description of which was given several years ago in Miss Julia Goddard's delightful paper. This family of Tappans were well-known wealthy Boston merchants, and were men of sterling character. A sister was the second wife of Dr. John Pierce, the beloved pastor of the First Parish.
These three stone houses are types of a beautiful style of architecture, and give one the sense of largeness and hospitality, simple yet dignified, so different from the heterogeneous appearance of many of the newer houses.
The Devotion house has had a year's experience under the control of the Devotion House Association. By subscriptions from this Society, from the D. A. R. and D. R. Chapters, and from individuals and memberships, the house has been maintained and cared for by the Association. Put in admirable order by the town, and the interior finish planned and carried out by Mr. Walter H. Kilham, the well-known architect, it is a fine example of old-time architecture, and with the contributions and loans of furniture, books, pictures and relics of the olden time, it is well worthy of a visit. The house is open on two days of the week. The attendance has not been as large as was hoped for, but the visitors' register shows that they have come from a wide range of country. Recently several meetings of patriotic societies have been held there, and it is hoped that the advertisement thus given it will prompt a larger attendance during the coming summer. An old-fashioned garden, suggested and laid out by the lady members of the Committee of the Association, adds much to the appearance of the place. Situated as it is, with its beautiful front lawn and the noble maple on either side, it presents with its simplicity a notable contrast with the large modern schoolhouses, making with them a fine quadrangle.
In some portions of our town the increase of buildings is most notable, particularly so in the growth of apartment houses. Much as we older residents may lament this, these houses evidently fill a want, though it is hard to imagine one of these suites a home.
The new Public Library, so long talked of, is rapidly becoming a reality. The moving of the old building, while the business of the Library was in constant use, was one of the novelties of the past summer.
During the past year the settlement of the long vexed question of transfers from the street cars in Village Square, has been settled and a shelter on either side of the tracks have been finished. The station has not been established long enough as yet to venture an opinion as to its desirability.
The town has made a fine roadway of the village street with a brick pavement from the town line to the junction of Washington and Boylston street, and it is now to be hoped
that the owners of the dilapidated buildings below Pearl street may see their way to replace them with something that will be more attractive to people entering this, the beautiful town of Brookline.
Your Society was represented at the winter meeting of the Bay State League at Roxbury by five of its members. Coming as it did on Saturday last, in the midst of the snow storm and blizzard, there was rather a small attendance, but the meeting made up in enthusiasm what it lacked in numbers. The subject was, "How a Local Society can Best Commemorate Noted Persons, Places or Events." Mr. James P. Monroe of the Lexington Historical Society told of what that town had done in the way of commemoration, and all who have visited that beautiful town and its venerated and venerable Clark Hancock House will bear witness to what has been accomplished. Mr. John P. Reynolds, treasurer of the Paul Revere House Memorial Association, gave an exceedingly interesting account of the trials and tribulations attending the purchase and renovation of the Paul Revere House. They did not have the treasury of the town to draw from as we in our Devotion House, and it was a long, dragging persistency which finally conquered and preserved the old house. Mr. John E. Oilman of the Roxbury Historical Society, and at the same time a member of the Grand Army, laid special emphasis on the desirability, nay, the necessity, of a cordial understanding between the historical societies and the Grand Army Posts, whereby the former should eventually be the heir to the collections and relics of the latter, whenever, as it surely must be sooner or later, that in the course of nature, the Posts must cease to be.
In this connection this Society may well congratulate itself on its pleasant meeting place. This ample, nay spacious room with the many relics of the Grand Army Post, its pictures and portraits are indeed inspiring to our meetings and make it, as I trust, for the mutual benefit to us and to the old soldiers.
And now, fellow members, I wish you a happy and a prosperous year, a wish which can only be fulfilled by a determination on the part of all of us that we will make it so.
February 12, 1909.
The Society celebrated the Lincoln Centenary with a special program in the Grand Army Room of the Town Hall on February 12, 1909, at 8 p. m.
C. L. Chandler Post, G. A. R., Woman's Relief Corps, Johanna Aspinwall and Hannah Goddard Chapters, D. A. R., and Isaac Gardner Chapter, D. R.,and the Brookline Thursday Club were the guests of the Historical Society.
William O. Comstock, vice-president, who, in the absence of President Charles H. Stearns, had charge of the exercises, read Lincoln's sketch of his own life, and recited Lincoln's poem, "Memory." William J. Seaver read a paper which follows on "Some Personal Impressions of Abraham Lincoln in 1856." Charles F. Read spoke on "Lincoln's Visits to Boston and Vicinity." Edward W. Baker read President Roosevelt's recently published "Appreciation of Lincoln." Miss M. T. Simpson read the Gettysburg address and recited Lowell's "Commemoration Ode," Walt Whitman's "My Captain," and Bryant's "Death of Lincoln." Mrs. Marguerite A. Goodspeed sang the "Battle Hymn," "Old Blind Joe" and "When I'm Big I'll Be a Soldier." Mrs. Harriet L. Pierce was at the piano. A collection of Lincoln relics was on exhibition.
By William J. Seaver.
Probably more has been written about Abraham Lincoln than of any other American citizen, and it may seem presumptuous on my part to add anything to what has been said. I am afraid I shall say little that is new, but I cannot deny myself the opportunity of paying this small tribute to his memory.
A little more than fifty years ago the signboards at every turn of the roads in the East seemed to read, "Go West, young man." California gold fields were attracting thousands. Western farms were sought by many interested in agriculture. The forests of Michigan and Wisconsin resounded with the axes of the lumbermen from Maine. Young men engaged in mercantile pursuits were told that their business chances were much better in a country where cities were born every week.
But beyond all these interests and allurements was that tide of immigration flowing toward Kansas,-devoted spirits who were determined that there should not be another slave state added to the Union.
I became infected with the Western fever, and landed, as it happened..in Springfield, Illinois,-the home of Abraham Lincoln,-then as far west as Dakota is today. (Some of my personal experiences there would make as good reading as Winston Churchill's novel "The Crisis," and be as entertaining.) Among other things I was told (because of the AntiSlavery sentiment of New England) that it would be just as well not to say that I was from Massachusetts, and especially from Boston. The southern half of Illinois was settled by many Tenneseeans and Kentuckians who were prejudiced against this section of the country.
But I am to speak of Abraham Lincoln. That I knew him in 1856-7 has been more than a pleasant recollection with me for over half a century. I was not old enough to be called his friend, but I love to feel that I had more than a passing acquaintance with him during those two years.
The first time I saw him he was sitting on the grass in front of his modest home; three or four small children were climbing over his chair and running about him, which would not have been encouraged, perhaps, by a person less fond of little children. I speak of this to show his loving nature. He was paying but little attention to their antics, however. There was a far-away look in his eyes as if his thoughts were elsewhere. Perhaps even then he had visions of what might be possible and probable, when the conflict of argument over the great question of that day should be followed by the clash of arms-for there were many who predicted, five years before the Civil War, that there would be bloodshed before the issue was settled.
Mr. Lincoln's figure, tall and ungainly, was dressed in a ready-made suit of dark cloth, all too short in the arms and legs. He wore a round plush cap without any visor, and his necktie of black silk was carelessly tied. His personal appearance would not impress a boy from an eastern city, who was familiar with the figures of Charles Sumner, Edward Everett and other prominent men of New England, that he was a great man. I was pleased with his speech, his kindly smile; he impressed me with his sincerity; but that his was the master mind that should be so influential in public affairs in the years to follow never entered my mind any more than that later he was to be the savior of his country. Neither was he
aware of his natural gifts, or conscious that he possessed those qualities that made him a statesman outranking his contemporaries.
I took him to be a fairly good lawyer with a small practice, and a strong liking for politics. He was extremely modest; absolutely fair and thoroughly honest and unselfish; willing at all times to waive his claims for political place and position for the benefit of others and the cause, his great desire, to use his own words, being "to do what was right and make himself useful. "
At times he was very sober, but often, and even on serious matters, his opinion was expressed in a lighter vein. He was practical in his advice, but he had moods of deep sentiment. Pathos and humor are blood relations. Where will you find a finer or more beautiful expression of this characteristic than in the following lines:-
"The mystic clouds of memory stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely it will be, by the better angels of our nature."
At the time I knew him-in 1856-he had not become prominent in national affairs. We can hardly realize the stupendous, wonderful work he was to perform in the short period of the nine years which followed. It does not seem possible that an inexperienced mind and human hands could have accomplished it unaided and alone. Today I do not seem to be listening to the story of the man. I lose sight of the tall, ungainly figure, the rugged features, and through "the mystic clouds of memory" I see a mighty, luminous form-a benign spirit controlled and directed by an infinite power for a purpose beneficent to this country, the whole world, and for all time.
I was employed in a general store and bank in Springfield where there were two or three boys from Massachusetts. Mr. Lincoln was on very intimate terms with our employer, and he liked to talk with us. We had many opportunities of enjoying his genial conversation. My fellow clerks were criticising a lady patron; they remarked that she was so unsophisticated that she was lacking in tact, although she had many other good qualities. Mr. Lincoln, always ready to excuse the failings of others, said, "That reminds me of a girl who wasn't much of a dancer. Her friends said that what she lacked in dancing she made up in turning round." Those who are familiar with the old-fashioned cotillion will appreciate the story. He had a way of illustrating his side of an argument with a funny story-not always original, but always to the point; the laugh would be on you, and, as the boys say, you would take a back seat. Mr. Lincoln was free with good advice to young men, for he called himself an old man before he was 47, and felt privileged to give it. I remember at one time, in answer to something I had said, he replied in a common expression of the day, "You'll know more when the steamer gets in," and as the Irishman said, "Begorra, I did." Mr. Lincoln was not mistaken. Frequently since then I have awaited the arrival of the steamer.
The question practically before the people in 1856 was, "Has the United States government the light to determine what the status of a new state shall be-Slave or Free?" All this is a matter of history, however, and you are familiar with it. The excitement over the question was intense-much more so in the West than in the East. Through Springfield, Mr. Lincoln's home, immigrant trains from the South were passing almost daily to the disputed territory of bleeding Kansas,-I can see them now with their huge covered wagons, and hear the drum and fife that often headed the caravan,- and there was a contingent from the North traveling in the same direction.
In Springfield also were recruited a corps of so-called government inspector's deputies, whose business it was to supervise, or rather control, the elections that were to take place in that territory. All this was going on under Mr. Lincoln's immediate observation.
Mr. Douglass, on the stump, was drawing large audiences, who were pleased with the plausible story of "Squatter Sovereignty," and Mr. Lincoln attracted equally large numbers in his reply.
On one of these occasions I heard Mr. Douglass during the afternoon in a grove outside Of the city. I was astonished at the attendance. Railroads were few in number in those days and the country sparsely settled, but there were almost thousands where I expected to see only hundreds. The ox wagon and mule team brought whole families, including children, from long distances, for miles and miles around. They came prepared to stay over night, with their supplies of food and the usual amount of corn, whiskey and quinine. Lincoln was to reply to Mr. Douglass in the evening from the State House, which stood in a square in the centre of the city. Delegations were to arrive from Chicago and elsewhere up the State, and it was a gala time. The event appealed to me at once.
I was much pleased with Mr. Douglass, his manner, person and finished oratory; but I could not help thinking that he, born in Vermont, brought up in his youth surrounded by the influences of New England, was expressing himself antagonistic to the sentiments that prevailed in his old home; while his opponent, Abraham Lincoln, born in a slave-holding state, of rough exterior, educated more by his experiences than books, whose thought and ideas of right and wrong were the children of a mind developed in the loneliness of the forest and in his communion with nature, stood boldly as the champion of freedom and justice.
Mr. Lincoln gave his reply to Mr. Douglass's address from the steps of the State House. I had climbed into a window seat just behind, and at one side of him. The Chicago delegation had not arrived-the train was behind time; it carried a platform car in the rear on which they had mounted a small field piece which saluted the several stations they passed on the Chicago & Alton Railroad. The crowd was awaiting anxiously its arrival. Presently we heard it coming, and soon, to the soul-stirring music of a brass band, the delegation came round the corner.
Mr. Lincoln's remarks on this occasion were of the character of a stump speech; they were offhand, informal, but logical and conclusive. I do not know that they were ever published, but one little bit has been in my mind ever since. "The Honorable Senator asks me if I intend to go across the river and fire stones at their institutions [meaning the Southern States]. I tell the Honorable Senator, No, but I mean to stand on this side of the river and fire as many stones as I like." As commander of the army of the United States he was to do more than this later. He was to use an armed force, bullets instead of stones. And no commander in the history of the world ever had so great or so devoted an army, and never so valiant an enemy. No commander ever took more interest, down to the smallest details of the service, and gave it more time and labor, or watched its progress with such tireless zeal. From consultations with his cabinet to the telegraph office, in message, speech, correspondence and interview through four long years he left a most remarkable record of devotion and service to his country. "It was said of him by an English paper after his death that he never attempted invective, and nothing elicited from him impatience or resentment. Creditable to his head and heart was the entire absence of violence, either of language or opinion."
Some men are so arbitrary, because of success, or they are so blind with prejudice and passion that they cannot excuse the mistakes or be charitable for the short-comings of others, but Abraham Lincoln's character and magnanimity gave him clearer, broader vision. He rose to the noblest heights of patriotism, duty and good-will. Like a prophet he saw that the future of his country depended on the harmony of all its parts. And when the war was over, the spirit that animated these immortal words, "With malice toward none, with charity for all," was almost divine.
And today a grateful, united country expresses its love and appreciation for the greatest American-Abraham Lincoln.
George Sumner Mann
A paper read before the Brookline Historical Society November 25, 1908, by George S. Mann.
Not only at the present time, but in the past, history has recorded the deeds of political actors and statesmen a number of whom in our own country, especially in provincial and in colonial times, have made their impress upon us by their strenuousness, oddity and boldness of action-such as "John Randolph of Roanoke," for an extreme example.
Could the glaring inconsistencies and illogical deeds recorded of some of these historical characters be erased from the pages of history how much more it would add to their reputation as statesmen. But as this cannot be done it may be of some consolation to know that in this world of transitory existence men are not altogether perfect. Nevertheless, in our enlightened age we have more mature and keener intellects than in ye olden time when many of the inhabitants are said to have been in such a low state of intelligence as to be accounted by an early historian well-nigh "social animals."
In the formation of our government out of the old colonial system we were extremely fortunate in having many able and patriotic statesmen whose difficult task was to harmonize the various and conflicting interests represented by the thirteen independent states and consolidate them into a general government, by a legal compact known as our Federal Constitution.
To be a little more definite in my subject-matter, I will name Gouverneur Morris, as my text, an American citizen, who took an active part in the affairs of government of that period. At the outset let me say that in a paper of thirty or forty minutes, one can mention only a few of the important events, and these briefly, in the strenuous life of this statesman whose unique and somewhat erratic career covered a period of forty-five years.
Gouverneur Morris was born in the family's manor-house at Morrisania, New York, January 31, 1752, and on the estate where his forefathers had dwelt for three generations. By birth he was an aristocrat. His great-grandfather, Richard Morris, who had served under Cromwell, came to the lower Hudson and settled in Westchester County, bordering on Haerlem River, where he purchased a vast estate, a manorial grant, known more than two hundred years ago by its present designation, "Morrisania"-then almost wholly a natural forest-now the upper part of New York City. Lewis Morris, son of the original proprietor, was left an orphan. He was an impetuous youth and wandered to the West Indies, but returned and took an active part in the colonial administration. He became Chief Justice of New York and died while governor of New Jersey. This was the grandfather of Gouvemeur Morris. Lewis Morris, Jr. (son of Gouverneur's grandfather) was also in public life. His brother, Robert Hunter Morris, was for a time governor of Pennsylvania. "In my Journey to Boston this year 1754," writes Franklin, "I met at New York with our new Governor, Mr. Morris, just arrived there from England, with whom I had been before intimately acquainted." He was called a disputatious official. The fourth son of his elder brother Lewis is the subject of this paper. Gouverneur's father died early, having directed in his will that his son Gouverneur "should have the best education that is to be had in England or America." Both the father and grandfather of Gouverneur for a period had occupied the bench.
The Morrises had the reputation of being of restless dispositions, of strong intellects, eccentric and erratic tempers. Young Gouverneur inherited also many of the vivacious traits of the French, for his mother was one of the Huguenot Gouverneurs who settled in New York after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. He was a boy of active parts and fond of out-door sports. He was early put to school in the family of a French teacher at New Rochelle, where he also took a rapid course of instruction in the classics. The church services there being often held in French he learned to speak and write that language nearly as well as he could in English.
From thence he entered King's College (now Columbia), where we find him a graduate at the early age of sixteen. It is said that Latin and mathematics were his favorite studies. He must have profited by the course, for his Commencement exercise on "Wit and Beauty" and his subsequent "Master of Arts" theme on "Love" were treated with considerable ingenuity and were enthusiastically applauded by the young ladies, many of whom, no doubt, were attracted to him, for he was a tall, handsome young man with finely cut features, and graceful in his bearing. He studied law with a man of celebrity in the Colony, William Smith, a Chief Justice, and author of the History of the Province. While a student young Morris attracted some attention by his writings against a financial project of the Assembly, and before he was twenty was a full-fledged Attorney at Law. He was licensed to practise in the Courts in 1771, tho' I failed to find evidence that he made any considerable use of his profession at the New York bar thus early. Among the very few cases he tried was one concerning a contested election, in which he was pitted against John Jay. About this time, in a letter to his friend Judge William Smith, asking advice about visiting Europe, he says, "I desire this trip 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." He obeyed the injunction of his old preceptor, however, who said to him, "Imitate your grandfather who stayed in America and prospered rather than spend a fortune abroad in imitation of one of your uncles." He now turned his attention to the affairs in the Colony which were much unsettled.
Early development and responsibility were marked traits of our Revolutionary worthies. The habit of forming opinions and resolutely maintaining them was a characteristic of the Morris family. There was a great opportunity for the exercise of this kind of talent in New York, where opposition to the decrees of the British Parliament, together with the popular local element of agitation, was in conflict with the staid laws of the Mother Country. Morris and Jay stood side by side in maintainance of the Colonial cause. Morris's skill in debate was of great value in the local gatherings. When the State was rapidly resolving itself into open revolt, in a speech of eloquence and sound logic he maintained and defended the independence of the American Colonies. Before this, and even during his minority, he had begun to take interest in public affairs. In consequence of the French and Indian wars, the Colony was in debt. A bill was before the New York Assembly to provide for this by raising money by the issue of interest-bearing bills of credit. Morris attacked this bill with great vehemence, opposing any issue of paper money which would, he argued, end in catastrophy and bankruptcy; but later on, as we shall see, he took a different view of this subject.
The Colonial Government of New York at this period was a sort of an aristocratic republic, its constitution similar to that of England. The power was vested in the hands of the wealthy land-holders, such as the Livingstons, Van Rensselaers, Schuylers, Van Cortlandts, Jays, Ludlows, Beekmans, Roosevelts, Morrises and others. For more than a century these magnates held political sway, save by contests between themselves, or with the royal Governor. Some of these rich landowners held black slaves, and lived in state and great comfort in roomy manor-houses with wainscotted walls, and enormous fireplaces, encompassed by well-kept gardens, intermingled by box hedges and formal-shaped flower beds. Certain representatives of these families remained loyal to England. Staats Long Morris, Gouverneur's elder brother, remained a royalist and rose to be a Major General in the British Army, and married the Duchess of Gordon.
The rebellious sentiment and opposition to the dictum of Great Britain in New York and New Jersey was somewhat behind the more radical leaders of New-England. Indeed, the battles of Lexington, Concord and even Bunker Hill, had been fought before the New Yorkers became thoroughly aroused. The sturdy men of New York, though slow at first, were far sighted enough to see the true value of the struggle and most of them joined the patriots. They were men of a high ideal of freedom, and too fond of liberty to be overtaxed and arbitrarily ruled by a nation three thousand miles away. Morris, who belonged to the ruling Episcopalian Church, was at first slow in siding with the patriots. The semi-secret society of the "Sons of Liberty" originating among the merchants, which at times took the form of mob-law, he disliked, and argued for compromise, but at length, when he saw no hope of reconciliation, and the British ministry growing more imperious, and the Colonies more defiant, he cast in his lot with the patriots. Once in, he was not the kind of a man to look back, or even waver.
Like the great Washington at this crisis, Morris fully believed that a lasting separation from the Mother Country was now inevitable. In April, 1775, the last Colonial legislature in New York adjourned for all time and in its place various committees were formed and met in convention to elect delegates to the Continental Congress, and also to the Provincial Congress, of which there were eighty-one delegates, including Gouverneur Morris from the County of Westchester. Morris said in 1776, "Experience will teach the British powers that an American war will be tedious, expensive, uncertain and ruinous." He said, "Why should we hesitate? Have you the least hope in treaty? Can you trust in the acts of Parliament? No, they come from the king. We have no business with the king. He has officially made himself a party in the dispute against us. Trust crocodiles, trust the hungry wolf in your flock, or a rattlesnake in your bosom. But trust the king, his ministers, or his commissioners is madness in the extreme." The war having fully commenced he wrote to his mother from the convention at Fishkill thus: "What may be the event of the present war it is not in man to determine, but he who dies in defence of the injured rights of mankind is happier than his conqueror or more beloved by mankind."
The constitution of New York, which was finally adopted, and which continued the basis of the law of the State till 1821, owed much to the labors of Morris. He was constantly employed in the various duties of semi-civil and semi-military character, in negotiations with the officers of the army, and visiting General Schuyler with whom he was in full sympathy. The following year the New York convention made him a member of the Congress at Philadelphia, and almost immediately he visited Washington at his camp at Valley Forge, where the General's half-starved and shoeless army were quartered. Morris took up his residence there for the winter. The intimate friendship formed with Washington and the influence of the latter helped Morris in his duties in the Congress at Philadelphia. The two years which he passed in Congress included the mission of Franklin to Paris. This called forth important services from Morris in the foreign negotiations leading to the treaty of peace. One of the first steps in this Congress was to provide means of raising funds. A committee was chosen, of which Morris was a member, and he prepared and drew up the report. It was found impossible to raise the amount needed by direct taxation. In his report in behalf of the committee he recommended an issue of paper money, that the Continental Congress should name the whole sum needed, and apportion the several shares to the different colonies, each being bound to discharge its own allotted part, and all together to be liable to whatever any allotted Colony was unable to pay. It must have been rather hard for Morris, a metal currency man, to have been obliged to acquiesce in the adoption of paper money. However, at this desperate state of affairs, it was a necessity, he plainly saw. This plan worked well at the time and strengthened the bond of union between the colonies. Morris's mind had now become thoroughly national, and his voice was often heard in Congress, being one of the leaders, and no doubt one of the best orators in that body. He took a conspicuous part in the religious controversey of the time also, but the limit of this paper forbids only a mere mention of this. When General Washington was on his way to take command of the army around Boston he passed through New York the same day royal Governor Tryon arrived by sea, and the authorities were in a quandary how to treat two such officials. Finally it was agreed to send a guard of honor to attend each. Montgomery and Morris, as delegates from the Assembly, received Washington, and brought him before that body, who addressed him cordially, but ended in this noteworthy phrase: "When the contest should be decided by an accommodation with the Mother Country, he should deliver up the important trust that had been confided to his hands." ' 'This,'' says one author, "gives us the key to the situation." Even the patriots of the Colony, at that time, could not realize that there was no hope of an "accommodation." Washington, the far-sighted statesman, urged the New Yorkers to take a bolder stand, and presently they did. As the Declaration of Independence had been ratified by most of the colonies, the State Constitution organized, and the die was cast. The third Provincial Congress of New York came together and before the close of its sessions, on account of marauding parties, was obliged to adjourn to White Plains, where they acted on the Declaration of Independence, and lay the foundation of a new State Government. Morris at this time was a zealous worker, and the acknowledged head of the patriotic party in New York. In one of his speeches he predicted that if we gained our liberties, "all nations would resort hither as an asylum from oppression." This has literally proved true, and, no doubt, to our great disadvantage, by the injudicious law of giving the vote to a vast multitude of persons without a property qualification. About this time the Provincial Congress changed its name to that of "The Convention of the Representatives of the State of New York." Just previous to this Morris had been sent to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia on complaint that the New England troops were paid more than those from other colonies. This Morris got remedied and returned to his own State in triumph after a week's absence.
The constitutional convention of New York led a checkered existence. The members, pursued by the victorious British from town to town, at times resolved themselves into a committee of safety with arms by their side in self-protection. The most important duties of this Convention were in charge of two committees. Of the first, was to draft a plan for the Constitution. Morris, Jay and Livingston were the three leading members. Of the second, was to devise means for the establishment of a State fund. Of this committee Morris was chairman. He was also chairman of a committee to look after the Tories, and prevent them from aiding the British. This was an unwelcome task, for many of his relatives, including his elder brother, were staunch Loyalists. The family mansion, where his mother lived, was within the British lines. About this time one of his sisters died, and in a letter to his mother were marks of deep feeling. The letter closes by sending love to "such as deserve it, the number," he adds, "are not great." Among the questions that came up in the Convention was the abolition of domestic slavery. Morris and Jay strenuously advocated this, but their fellow members in opposition outnumbered them, and the cause was postponed. As soon as the Constitution was adopted, a committee, headed by Morris, Jay and Livingston, was appointed to organize the new government. The courts of justice were formed and put in running order. A council of safety of fifteen members, Morris being one, was established to act as the provincial government until the new Legislature should convene. An election for Governor was held and George Clinton was chosen. At this juncture of affairs Burgoyne with his army was approaching from Canada through the northern part of the state, causing the wildest excitement. The council of safety was at its wit's end to know how to act, but finally sent a committee of two, Morris being one, to General Schuyler, the commander-in-chief. Morris outlined a plan for the army in part as follows: "Harass the British in every way without risking a stand-up fight and to lay waste the country through which the enemy were to pass so as to render it impossible for an army to subsist." You all know the story how the New England members of Congress, always jealous of New York, took advantage of General Schuyler's caution and had him replaced by Gates, who subsequently coveted Washington's position in the army. Morris was very angry at this treatment of Schuyler, but nevertheless did all in his power to strengthen Gates, and predicted his success. In a letter to Schuyler, dated September 18, 1777, Morris praised him for the way he behaved and roughly commented on Gates's littleness of spirit. It appears at first, the leaders in New England, like Samuel Adams and John Hancock, did noble service, but later on they hampered nearly as much as they helped the patriot cause. Morris stood by Washington nobly, and did him great service on nearly all of his measures he wanted put through; in fact, Washington chose Morris as his confidential agent to bring favorably before Congress a matter in which he did not consider politic to write about; viz., to stop giving admission to the service foreign officers who were clamoring to be appointed. General Lafayette and one or two others, of course, were an exception. In 1778 the British sent over commissioners, headed by Lord Carlisle, to treat with us. They had propositions called "Lord North conciliatory bills," two in number-the first giving up the right of taxation, the second authorizing the commissioners to treat with the revolted colonies in all questions of dispute. This was done in fear of an American alliance with France. Two days after the bills were received Morris drew up and presented his report, which was at once adopted by Congress. The tenor of this report was 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 colonial states. This decisive step was taken when the colonies were without any allies, but only a few days afterwards messengers came to Congress with copies of the treaty with France, which was immediately ratified. Again, Morris was appointed chairman of a committee to prepare an address on this subject to go before the American people.
Shortly afterwards he drew up, on behalf of Congress, a sketch of the proceedings of the British commissioners, under the title of "Observations on the American Revolution." He was one of the committee to receive M. Gerard, the new French minister, and upon this he was selected by Congress to draft the instructions to be sent to Franklin, the American minister at the French Court. Morris was instrumental in having the famous Thomas Paine removed from the secretaryship of the Committee of Foreign Affairs for his venomous attack on Silas Deane and the French Court.
He had to deal also with an irritating matter affecting the State of New York. This was the dispute about the boundary between the latter State and Vermont in which Clinton, the politician, took an active part. Regarding the western boundary of the State, Jay was for extending it as far west as possible. Morris, not so far sighted, did not agree with him, saying, "A territory we cannot occupy, a navigation we cannot enjoy, not worth quarrelling about." In 1779 Morris was defeated for Congress and about this time took up his abode in Philadelphia. In 1780 he published a series of Essays in the "Pennsylvania Packet" reviewing the state of the national finances, which gave proof of his ability in that line, and probably in consequence of this, through his friend and namesake, Robert Morris, received the appointment of his assistant, "Minister of Finance," at an annual salary of $1,850, which lasted three and one-quarter years. The report of 1782, to which Jefferson subsequently was indebted, formulating a decimal system of notation for the national coinage, was prepared by him.
Morris, good-looking, well dressed, a wit among men and a beau among the ladies, drove about the streets of Philadelphia in a phaeton with a pair of small spirited horses. One day his horses took fright, threw him out and broke his leg, the bone so badly shattered it had to be amputated, and ever after wore a wooden stick, as many of his pictures will show. This loss of limb did not prevent him from mixing in society, of which he was very fond. The death of Morris's mother in 1786 threw the family residence at Morrisania, which had been cut off by the enemy during the war, into the hands of his elder brother, a British officer residing abroad (already alluded to), from whom he now purchased the estate. Soon after peace was declared each colony set up for itself, and for four or five years had no settled policy or credit. We refused to pay our debts, or our army. Mob violence nourished, notably "Shays' Rebellion" in New England and the "Whiskey Insurrection" in western Pennsylvania. Our statesmen saw the absolute necessity of a National Union. Morris, then a delegate from Pennsylvania, was one of the great leaders of this movement, and made the final draft by his own pen of our Federal Constitution. Washington, Hamilton and Morris advocated a strong National Government. Patrick Henry and most of the Southern statesmen were zealous defenders of "States' Rights." Henry said in his Virginia speech, "The American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country into a powerful and mighty empire." Morris, to his credit, was not a full believer in free suffrage. He said, "to give votes to people who have no property, they will sell them to the rich." In pursuance of this theory, he brought forward a plan, the chief feature was for an aristocratic Senate, and a democratic House, which would hold each other in check. He wished to have the president hold office during good behavior. The year after these labors Morris gratified a long-cherished desire of visiting Europe, and after a stormy passage of forty days arrived in France, and reached Paris February 3, 1789, in time to study the opening scenes of the French Revolution. He remained there and in other parts of the Continent many years and kept a diary of the leading events. He found Jefferson installed as American Minister, planning and consulting in affairs, and was very handsomely received by Lafayette. Morris's aim was to study the character of the French, and he did so very closely. He was at once admitted to the highest social and political circles. Of Necker he says, after a glance at his counting-house manner and his embroidered velvet costume, "If he is really a very great man I am deceived." He disposes of Talleyrand, of whom he saw much, in a very few words. "Sly, cool, cunning, ambitious, malicious." On the fourth of July, 1789, dining with Jefferson and a large party of Americans, he urged Jefferson to persevere if possible in advocating some constitutional authority to the body of Nobles, as the only means of preserving the only liberty for the people of France, and soon after he gave the same advice to Lafayette, who appeared to be hostile to his ideas, and the Frenchman's wife still more so. Morris was always wont to freely give advice in all political matters. He was at the opening of the States General in May at Versailles, and the following July word was sent him that the Bastile had been taken. A few days later, walking in the Palais Royal, he saw the head of Minister Foulon on a pike, his body dragged naked on the earth. "Gracious God," he exclaimed, "what a people." April first of the following year Mirabeau died. Morris witnessed his funeral, which was attended by more than a hundred thousand persons. He says, "Vices both degrading and detestable marked this extraordinary being." In his studies of the French people he has left on record this: "There are men and women who are greatly and eminently virtuous, I have the pleasure to number many in my own acquaintances, but they stand forward from a background deeply and darkly shaded." In a letter to Washington he called the nation "a kind of political colic." While in Paris he corresponded with Paul Jones, aiding him to go into the Russian service, as he expected soon there would be warm work on the Baltic, and in the same letter advised him not to visit Paris. One of Morris's services to Washington was to procure him a gold watch. Washington's order was "not for 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 purchased the watch with two copper keys, and one golden one, including a box containing a spare spring and glasses, and sent them to him by Jefferson.
Another service to the Father of his Country was this order, "Go to M. Houdon's (the sculptor), he has been waiting for me a long time." And Morris says, "I stand for the statue of General Washington, being a humble employment of a manikin." It is said that Morris resembled the great Virginian in looks more than any other American statesman of his time. Among the famous ladies of the salons where Morris often visited was Madame de Stael, who amused him, though in his diary he says that he never in his life saw such exuberant vanity as she displayed about her father Necker. Morris often met Madame de Flahaut at her salon. 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." It was a coarse age. Morris says that he often met the fair sex at their toilets, but adds, "their operations at this task were carried on with an entire and astonishing regard to modesty." In the spring of 1790 Morris went to London, in obedience to a letter received from Washington appointing him private agent to the British Government, to see if he could induce them to strictly carry out the conditions of the treaty of peace previously made between Great Britain and the American colonies. Although Morris spent nearly a year in London he failed to accomplish anything. "The very name of America," said the king, "was hateful" to him. Here at home Morris's enemies blamed him for his failure there. They thought, and with more or less reason, that his haughty manner and proud bearing made him unpopular with the king and his minister. Probably a greater reason for his failure at the English Court was his intimacy with the French minister stationed there, M. de la Luzerne, and other French leaders whom the English disliked and were suspicious of. On leaving London he made a trip through the Netherlands, and up the Rhine. By the end of November we find him back again in Paris, but was soon called back to London, making a number of trips between there and Paris during the year 1901 looking after his own business affairs. At this time he might be properly called a speculator. He engaged in different schemes of a business nature, and is said to have made a great deal of money. He shipped tobacco from Virginia. He contracted to deliver Necker 20,000 bbls. of flour for the relief of Paris, wherein he lost heavily. Another of his projects was on behalf of a syndicate, where he endeavored to purchase the American debts to France, thinking they could be bought low and then get full pay in America, but I believe this project came to naught.
Morris was fond of the theatre, and enjoyed himself to the full, especially when in company of the Parisian ladies of quality. He thus describes one of the characters at the Opera: "One girl by the name of Sarenser, very handsome, but next door to an idiot as to her intelligence, appeared in a ballet in a dress, designed at her bidding, to be more indecent than nakedness."
The priesthood he very much disliked and kept clear of them. The great church leader Maury, Morris said looked "like a downright scoundrel." He drafted many papers for the French Ministry and one for the King which he liked, but his ministers prevented him from using it. In the spring of 1792 his credentials arrived as minister at the French Court. At the same time Washington sent him a word of warning, admonishing him not to let his brilliant imagination get the better of his cool judgment. Morris took the letter in good part and profited by it as far as lay in his nature. In the desperate state of affairs in Paris at this time, Morris had much sympathy for the King and Queen and tried to get them out of the city by a number of plans, but of no avail. One of the plans the King said he regretted his advice was not taken, and at the same time asked him if he would not take charge of the royal papers and money. Morris declined to take the papers, but consented to take charge of the money, amounting to about seven hundred and fifty thousand livres, which was paid out in living and bribing the men who stood in the way of the escape. The King remained in the city and the 10th of August the Swiss guard was slaughtered, and the whole scheme of escape at an end. The King on the scaffold prayed that his deluded people might be benefited by his death.
In 1796 Morris accounted for the expenditures to the dead King's daughter, and turned over to her the remainder, which was one hundred and forty-seven pounds. It appears that Morris was the only foreign minister who stayed in Paris during the reign of terror. It was an extremely dangerous position, but he faced the difficulties with unwonted courage. He wrote home that he could not tell "whether the King would live through the storm; for it blew hard." The horror of the mob was terrible. The shelter of Morris's house and flag was constantly sought. The old Count d'Estaing, and others of note who fought side by side with us in our war of independence, he sheltered in his own house. Morris said, "The vilest criminals swarmed in the streets, and amused themselves by tearing the earrings from women's ears and snatching away their watches." Morris befriended Lafayette out of his own purse, when in prison and in want; besides he had the sum of ten thousand florins forwarded to the prisoner by the United States banker at Amsterdam. He gave the Duke of Orleans, afterwards King Louis Philippe, money to flee to America, and the debt was not paid till after the death of Morris, which amounted to about $14,000. It needed no small amount of courage of Morris's avowed sentiments to stay in Paris and do what he did when death was mowing round him in such a wide swath. Many times his life was threatened, and more than once he said 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."
Thomas Paine, the Englishman, who was there and had been elected to the convention, having sided with Gironda was thrown into prison by the Jacobins. He at once asked Morris to demand his release as an American citizen, a title to which he, of course, had no claim. Morris refused, thinking Paine by keeping still would be saved by his own insignificance. So "the filthy little atheist," as one called him, had to remain in prison, where he amused himself by writing a pamphlet against Jesus Christ.
Much more might be said of Morris while in Paris, but time will not permit. The French rather took umbrage at
his haughtiness, but Washington, on the whole, approved of his conduct. The insulting aggressions of the French minister Genet at home now compelled the United States to ask for his recall.
In August, 1794, Monroe was selected to take the place of Morris at the French Court, although Washington's first choice for the position was Thomas Pinckney, whom he would have transferred from England to France. Roosevelt says that "Monroe entered upon his new duties in Paris with an immense flourish." Meanwhile Morris did not return to America. On account of his business affairs in Europe he prolonged his stay abroad for several years, visited Switzerland, stopping a day with Madame de Stael at Coppet, then toured through England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, Russia and Austria, and interested himself in the liberation of Lafayette, then in prison at Olmutz. He was received everywhere into the most distinguished society of the time. At length Morris wound up his business transactions in Europe and sailed from Hamburg Oct. 4, 1798, reaching New York after a tedious passage of eighty days, and immediately joined with the Federalist party, although during the year 1799 did not take much part in politics, but occupied most of his time in putting to rights his estate at Morrisania. The old manor-house, a leaky affair, he tore down and built a large, solid and comfortable one in its place. The next year he entered into law practice and met such legal lights as Hamilton, Burr, Robert Livingston, Troup and others. In 1800 we find him engaged in an important law-suit before the Court of Errors at Albany, in which he had Hamilton for his antagonist, and the same year he was selected by the legislature to supply a vacancy in the Senate of the United States, where he became a staunch pillar of Federalism, retiring at the close of 1803. The next year called him to utter his lamentations at the bier of his friend Hamilton, which John Randolph declared "was a wretched attempt at oratory." During Morris's absence of ten years, the control of the National Government had been in the hands of the leaders of the Federal party. Their great support had been Washington, aided by Hamilton and others. Washington's death in 1799 greatly diminished the success of that party. Jefferson was the great leader of the opposite faction-the Republicans- which was gaining a great foothold in governmental affairs.
Virginia, the great political battle ground, had lost Washington, the wisest statesman of all time. Also Patrick Henry, the great orator; but Marshall and Madison were left to battle for Federalism aided now by Morris of New York and a few others. Morris wrote from Washington to one of his lady correspondents in Paris at this time, describing the seat of the American Government. He said that the city "needed nothing but houses, cellars, kitchens, well-informed men, amiable women, and other little trifles of the kind to make the city perfect." He thought Jefferson a tricky theorist, skillful in getting votes, "a man who believed in the wisdom of mobs, and the moderation of Jacobins." Morris, as a rule upheld the administration of President Adams.
In the purchase of Louisiana Morris broke with his party and voted with the Republicans. Almost his last speech in Congress was a telling one in favor of at once occupying the territory in dispute. The cost of the purchase of Louisiana he brushed aside. He said "a counting-house policy which saw nothing but money, a poor, short-sighted, half-witted, mean and miserable thing, as far removed from wisdom as a monkey from a man."
At last Napoleon, in great need of funds, sold us Louisiana for $15,000,000. Morris said, "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 March 4, 1803. The State then being Democratic he was not re-elected, but continued to be interested in public affairs. He was one of the leaders in studying the prospect of the Erie Canal; in fact, the project was advocated by him during the Revolutionary War. The three first reports of the commissioners were all from his pen. "Stephen Van Rensselaer, one of the commissioners from the beginning," said Morris, "was the father of our great Canal." From this time on he spent most of his time at Morrisania, travelling two or three months every summer, out in the "Far West," on the shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario, and once descending the river St. Lawrence. He tilled his farm, and was otherwise occupied in reading and receiving his friends. He also carried on a wide correspondence on business and politics. On the 25th of December, 1809, Morris, then 57 years old, married Miss Anne Gary Randolph, a member of the famous Virginia family of that name. He lived happily with her and had one son.
Morris was rather formal in his manner of living, dressed himself with great care and was very particular about his powdered hair. He took the greatest pleasure in life, and always insisted that America was the pleasantest country in which to live. He was somewhat erratic in his opinions. He considered the policy of Jefferson during his second term of the presidency, also Madison's, as pitiably weak, so much so, it exasperated him and really made him lose his head. He almost lost faith in our republican system. His former interest in the West now revived, and he proposed that our enormous masses of new territory "should be governed as provinces and allowed no voice in our councils," an absurd idea put forth in his declining years. Morris's bitterness, late in life, against the government grew strong, and finally his hatred really got the better of his former and sounder judgment. He opposed the various embargo acts and nearly all other government measures. His opposition to the late war with England led him to great lengths. In his bitter hatred of the opposite party, he lost all loyalty to the nation. He approved of the peace on the terms the British offered, which included the curtailment of our western frontier and the creation along it of independent Indian sovereignties under British protection. He argued with Pinckney that it was impious to raise taxes for an urgent war. He tried to induce Rufus King, then in the Senate from his own State, to advocate the refusal of supplies of every sort, whether of men or money, for carrying on the war, but King did not obey him. Morris wrote a letter to Harrison Gray Otis, a secession sympathizer, saying 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. He wrote to Pinckney Oct. 17, 1814: "I hear every day professions of attachment to the Union. I should like," he writes, "to meet with some one who can tell me what has become of the Union, in what it consists, and to what useful purpose it endures." He actually regarded dissolution of the Union as almost an accomplished fact, and that New York would go with New England, and it was a quandary in his mind whether the boundary should be the Delaware, the Susquehanna, or the Potomac. He hoped and expected much of the Hartford Convention by way of secession, and he wrote to Otis that the Convention should declare that the Union was already broken and that they should take action for the preservation of the Northwest. He was disappointed when the Convention fell under the control of Cabot and the Moderates. As late as January 10, 1815, he wrote that his section would be benefited only by the severance of the Union. It is impossible to reconcile his course at this time with his previous career. Morris was not alone in advocating secession of New York and New England; with him were Harrison Gray Otis, Samuel Dexter, William Prescott, Elijah H. Mills, Israel Thorndike, Benjamin Russell, John Wells, Pinckney, Quincy, Lowell, and even Daniel Webster, who was accused by Theodore Lyman as a disunionist. A stenuous politician of our day says that "Morris's 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."
Fortunately, this nation in its infancy brought forth a statesman who above all others of his time was pre-eminent for his steadfast devotion to liberty and the welfare of all the people, a wise and far-sighted official, the immortal Washington. After the peace with Great Britain in the 1812 War, Morris accommodated himself to the changed condition with apparent cheerfulness. He good-humoredly yielded to the inevitable, and in his very last days said, "Let us forget party and think of our country. What does it signify whether those who operate her salvation wear a Federal or Democratic cloak?" On his death-bed he said: "Sixty-five years ago it pleased the Almighty to call me into existence here, on this spot, in this very room; and shall I complain that He is pleased to call me hence?" On the day of his death he asked about the weather. Being told it was fine, he replied (his mind recurring to Gray's "Elegy"): "A beautiful day; yes, but
‘Who to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing, anxious being ere resigned,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing, lingering look behind?’ "
After a short illness of the gout he died November 6, 1816, and was buried on his own estate at Morrisania. He was a brilliant man, a good orator, and had a very keen intellect. He was truthful, upright and fearless, but was haughty in his manner and possessed a tyrannical quality in his disposition, which at times led him into trouble with his fellow-men. He was exceedingly generous, hospitable, and extremely fond of good living. Witty and humorous as a companion, but of rather hasty temper, he had many good qualities and some faults.
The late Mr. Moore, formerly librarian of the New York Historical Society, put on record the following: "Gouverneur Morris of New York, one of the noblest of her sons, a great man and a good citizen, who could truly say that the welfare of his country was his single object- during a conspicuous career. He never sought, refused, nor resigned an office, although there was no department of government in which he was not called to act; and it was the unvarying principle of his life that the interest of his country must be preferred to every other interest. Such a man was Gouverneur Morris, the inspired penman of the Federal Constitution."
The country, certainly, owes much to him for his good services and brilliant statesmanship. He was the author of "Observations on the American Revolution" (1779); "An Address to the Assembly of Pennsylvania on the Abolition of the Bank of North America" (1785); "An Address in Celebration of the Deliverence of Europe from the Yoke of Military Despotism" (1814); an inaugural disccourse before the New York Historical Society on his appointment as its president, and funeral orations on Washington, Hamilton and Gov. George Clinton. He also, late in life, contributed political satires in prose and verse to the newspaper press.
It is generally admitted that he was the more far-seeing observer of contemporary men and events than any other American or foreign statesman of his time, and his colloquial powers were unrivalled.
It is to be regretted, however, that in his last days, when virtually in retirement, he should lose his head, so to speak, by going back on his former political teachings and theory of government and allying himself with a small coterie of prominent New England men who were apparently advocates of secession. As a consolation to his friends and adherents of our day, the same might be said of many able statesmen who have lived in the States since his time, who committed the overt act of secession, and seemingly without permanent harm to themselves or the cause they represented. If in your judgment my mind is out of gear in making this statement, or if I thus predict too prematurely, I await for some future historian to confirm or deny this declaration of mine.
BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The name of this corporation shall be Brookline Historical Society.
The objects of this Society shall be the study of the history of the town of Brookline, Massachusetts, its societies, organizations, families, individuals, events; the collection and preservation of its antiquities, the establishment and maintenance of an historical library, and the publication from time to time of such information relating to the same as shall be deemed expedient.
Any person of moral character who shall be nominated and approved by the Board of Trustees may be elected to membership by ballot of two-thirds of the members present and voting thereon at any regular meeting of the Society. Each person so elected shall pay an admission fee of three dollars, and an annual assessment of two dollars; and any member who shall fail for two consecutive years to pay the annual assessment shall cease to be a member of this Society; provided, however, that any member who shall pay twenty-five dollars in anyone year may thereby become a Life member; and any member who shall pay fifty dollars in any one year may thereby become a Benefactor of the Society, and thereafter shall be free from all dues and assessments. The money received from Life members and Benefactors shall constitute a fund, of which not more than twenty per cent, together with the annual income there from, shall be spent in anyone year.
The Society may elect Honorary and Corresponding members in the manner in which annual members are elected, but they shall have no voice in the management of the Society, and shall not be subject to fee or assessment.
Certificates signed by the President and the Clerk may be issued to all persons who become Life members, and to Benefactors.
The officers of this Society shall be seven Trustees, a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary (who shall be Clerk of the Society and may also be elected to fill the office of Treasurer), and a Treasurer, who, together, shall constitute the Board of Trustees. The Trustees, Clerk, and Treasurer shall be chosen by ballot at the annual meeting in January, and shall hold office for one year, and until others are chosen and qualified in their stead. The President and Vice-President shall be chosen by the Board of Trustees from their number at their first meeting after their election, or at an adjournment thereof.
The annual meeting of this Society shall be held on the fourth Wednesday of January. Regular stated meetings shall be held on the fourth Wednesday of February, March, April, May, October, November, and December.
Special meetings may be called by order of the Board of Trustees. The Clerk shall notify each member by a written or printed notice sent through the mail postpaid at least three days before the time of meeting, or by publishing such notice in one or more newspapers published in Brookline.
At all meetings of the Society ten (10) members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
The meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be called by the Clerk at the request of the President, by giving each member personal or written notice, or by sending such notice by mail, postpaid, at least twenty-four hours before the time of such meeting; but meetings where all the Trustees are present may be held without' such notice. The President shall call meetings of the Board of Trustees at the request of any three members thereof. A majority of its members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
Vacancies in the offices of Trustees, Clerk, or Treasurer may be filled for the remainder of the term at any regular meeting of the Society by the vote of two-thirds of the members present and voting. In the absence of the Clerk at a meeting of the Society, a Clerk pro tempore shall be chosen.
At the monthly meeting in December, a Nominating Committee of three members shall be appointed by the presiding officer, who shall report at the annual meeting a list of candidates for the places to be filled.
The President, or in his absence the Vice-President, shall preside at all meetings of the Society. In the absence of those officers a President pro tempore shall be chosen.
DUTIES OF THE CLERK.
The Clerk shall be sworn to the faithful discharge of his duties. He shall notify members of all meetings of the Society, and shall keep an exact record of all the proceedings of the Society at its meetings.
He shall conduct the general correspondence of the Society and place on file all letters received. He shall enter the names of members in order in books or cards kept for that purpose, and issue certificates to Life members and to Benefactors. He shall have charge of such property in possession of the Society as may from time to time be delegated to him by the Board of Trustees. He shall acknowledge all loans or gifts made to the Society.
DUTIES OF THE TREASURER.
The Treasurer shall collect all moneys due the Society, and pay all bills against the Society when approved by the Board of Trustees. He shall keep a full account of receipts and expenditures in a book belonging to the Society, which shall always be open to the inspection of the Trustees; and at the annual meeting in January he shall make a written report of all his doings for the year preceding. The Treasurer shall give bonds in such sum, with surety, as the Trustees may fix, for the faithful discharge of his duties.
DUTIES AND POWERS OF TRUSTEES.
The Board of Trustees shall superintend the prudential and executive business of the Society, authorize all expenditures of money, fix all salaries, provide a common seal, receive and act upon all resignations and forfeitures of membership, and see that the by-laws are duly complied with. The Board of Trustees shall have full powers to hire, lease, or arrange for a suitable home for the Society, and to make all necessary rules and regulations required in the premises.
They shall make a report of their doings at the annual meeting of the Society.
They may from time to time appoint such sub-committees from their own number as they deem expedient.
In case of a vacancy in the office of Clerk or Treasurer they shall have power to choose the same pro tempore till the next meeting of the Society.
The President shall annually, in the month of January, appoint four standing committees, as follows:
Committee on Rooms.
A committee of three members, to be styled the "Committee on Rooms," to which shall be added the President and Clerk of the Society ex-officio, who shall have charge of all arrangements of the rooms (except books, manuscripts, and other objects appropriate to the library offered as gifts or loans), the hanging of pictures, and the general arrangements of the Society's collection in their department.
Committee on Papers.
A committee of three members, to be styled the" Committee on Papers," who shall have charge of the subjects of papers to be read, or other exercises of a profitable nature, at the monthly meetings of the Society.
Committee on Membership.
A committee of three or more members, to be styled the "Committee on Membership," whose duty it shall be to give information in regard to the purposes of the Society, and increase its membership.
Committee on Library.
A committee of three or more members, to be styled the" Committee on Library," who shall have charge of the arrangements of the library, including acceptance and rejection of books, manuscripts, and other objects tendered to the library, and the general arrangement of the Society's collections in that department.
These four committees shall perform their duties as above set forth under the general direction and supervision of the Board of Trustees. Vacancies that occur in any of these committees during their term of service shall be filled by the President.
The President shall annually, in the month of January, appoint two members, who, with the President, shall constitute the Committee on Finance, to examine from time to time the books and accounts of the Treasurer, to audit his accounts at the close of the
year, and to report upon the expediency of proposed expenditures of money.
These by-laws may be altered or amended at any regular meeting by a two-thirds vote of the members present, notice of the subject matter of the proposed alterations or amendments having been given at a previous meeting.