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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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When he left college he lost no time in deliberating on the choice of a profession, for he seems to have destined himself for the law from the time of his first reflections on the subject.  His ancestors had gained renown in this career, and it was natural, that his inclination should lead him in the same direction.  He knew, moreover, that his success in life, his fortune and fame, his future usefulness and consideration, depended on his own efforts.  A legacy of two thousand pounds, to be paid after his mother's death, was all he had to expect from his father's estate.

Naturally active, sanguine in his temperament, conscious of his powers, and not wanting in ambition, he had an early and continued confidence in himself, which enabled him to command all the resources of his mind, and to convert them on any given occasion to the best account.  In fact, this self confidence was one of the remarkable features of his character through life, and perhaps its tendency was rather to err on the side of boldness and presumption, than on that of timidity and reserve.  But there are few more enviable qualities of the understanding, than the power of ascertaining its own bias and strength, and of causing these to unite and co-operate in the attainment of a definite object.  No man had this power in a greater degree than Gouverneur Morris, nor exercised it with more skill and effect.  He has often been heard to say, that in his intercourse with men he never knew the sensation of fear or inferiority, of embarrassment or awkwardness.  Although this almost daring self-possession, which never forsook him, may at times have deprived his manners of the charm, which a becoming diffidence and gentleness of demeanor are apt to infuse, yet as a means of advancement in the world, it must be allowed, when properly regulated, to take precedence of every other quality.

He commenced the study of the law soon after he graduated as bachelor of arts, and applied himself with assiduity, becoming more and more pleased with his new pursuit as be advanced.  With a mind naturally given to method, and

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From The Life of Gouverneur Morris: With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers; Detailing Events in the American Revolution, The French Revolution, and in the Political History of the United States, by Jared Sparks, Volume 1, Boston: Gray & Bowen, 1832, p 10. Some minor edits may have been made, but an attempt has been made to preserve the original spelling. Although some effort has been made to correct the limitations of OCR technology, if you find an error please report it to


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