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Collection Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774 to 1789

Gouverneur Morris

Governeer Morris Esqr. (1752-1816) R. Wilkinson (dates unknown). Mixed method, in Portraits of the Generals, 1783. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-45482.


Well-educated Gouverneur Morris came from a family with firm British loyalties; his mother was overjoyed when British troops captured New York, and his half-brother was a major general in the British army.

Morris was skillful at charming ladies, and his cynical sense of humor gave birth to frequent witty comments and jokes. Known throughout the states as a young man of great promise, Morris impressed his fellow Congressmen with his skillful writing and oratory, but left many of them wondering about his loose morals.

The final wording of the Constitution is largely due to the literary skill of delegate Gouverneur Morris. A talented orator and writer, Morris was named to the committee of style -- a committee formed to decide on the Constitution's final wording. Years after the Constitutional Convention, fellow delegate James Madison explained that "the finish given to the style and arrangement of the Constitution fairly belongs to the pen of Mr. Morris."

After several days of revision, the Constitutional Convention accepted the Constitution on September 15, 1787.