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Page 5

Lewis Morris

1726-1798

   To prevent an intercourse between the citizens and the fleet, so injurious to the patriotic cause, timely measures were adopted by the committee of safety; but for a long time no efforts were availing, and even after General Washington had established his headquarters at New York, he was obliged to issue his proclamation, interdicting all intercourse and correspondence with the ships of war and other vessels belonging to the king of Great Britain.

   But, notwithstanding this prevalent aversion to a separation from Great Britain, there were many in the colony who believed that a declaration of independence was not only a point of political expediency, but a matter of paramount duty. Of this latter class, Mr. Morris was one; and, in giving his vote for that declaration, he exhibited a patriotism and disinterestedness which few had it in their power to display. He was at this time in possession of an extensive domain, within a few miles of the city of New York. A British army had already landed from their ships, which lay within cannon shot of the dwelling of his family. A signature to the Declaration of Independence would insure the devastation of the former, and the destruction of the latter. But, upon the ruin of his individual property, he could look with comparative indifference, while he knew that his honor was untarnished, and the interests of his country were safe. He voted, therefore, for a separation from the mother country, in the spirit of a man of honor, and of enlarged benevolence.

   It happened as was anticipated. The hostile army soon spread desolation over the beautiful and fertile manor of Morrisania. His tract of woodland of more than a thousand acres in extent, and, from its proximity to the city, of incalculable value, was destroyed; his house was greatly injured; his fences ruined; his stock driven away; and his family obliged to live in a state of exile. Few men during the revolution were called to make greater sacrifices than Mr. Morris; none made them more cheerfully. It made some amends for his losses and sacrifices, that the colony of New York, which had been backward in agreeing to a Declaration of Independence, unanimously concurred in that measure by her convention, when it was learned that congress had taken that step.

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