A Diary of the French Revolution - Vol. 1

A Diary of the French Revolution - Vol. 1

A Diary of the French Revolution - Vol. 1

A Diary of the French Revolution - Vol. 1

Excerpt

When Gouverneur Morris (1752-1816) cleared the Capes of Delaware in little Henrietta the ink had not long dried on the United States Constitution, entrusted to him by the Philadelphia Convention's Committee of Style to cast in its final wording. Quoting Madison to Sparks, 8 April 1831: 'The finish given to the style and arrangement of the Constitution fairly belongs to the pen of Mr. Morris . . . a better choice could not have been made, as the performance of the task proved . . . to the brilliancy of his genius he added, what is too rare, a candid surrender of his opinion when the lights of discussion satisfied him . . . and a readiness to aid in making the best of measures in which he had been overruled.' Madison alone had been more vocal than Morris in the Convention. A delegate from Pennsylvania, the New Yorker had stood for religious freedom, abolition of slavery, freehold suffrage, a powerful judiciary, a respectable navy, and a nationally elected President, re-eligible. One of his 'disrelished ideas' was a Senate for life or good behavior, and he wanted Senators apportioned according to size of States; in the deadlock over this he gave way, two Senators per State being better than two Republics. In 1814 Morris told Pickering: 'That Instrument was written by the Fingers which write this Letter. Having rejected redundant and equivocal Terms I believed it to be as clear as our Language would permit.' By 1815 he added: 'Our Country is too large for our Constitution. That is perhaps why our Rulers alter and piece it every Day.' The recent discovery of a thirty-dollar charge from a clerk in the Pennsylvania Legislature for engrossing the actual parchment in no way impairs Morris's hundred-and- fifty-year-old title of penman of the Constitution. This achievement, a childhood mastery of ba be bi bo bu in Huguenot New Rochelle, his War of Independence acquaintance with French officers, his reputation as Assistant Financier, equipped Morris for a swift conquest of French dinner tables, where constitutions and national finance were the burning topics.

In 1671 the first American Morris of his line had been born at . . .

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