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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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was thought to exhibit a fairer promise of rapid advancement, and ultimate eminence in his profession.  But Providence had destined him to another and a wider sphere.  It was his fortune to come upon the theatre of action at a time, when events of the greatest moment both to his country and to the civilized world at large were ripening into maturity, and it was likewise his fortune to take a conspicuous part in the accomplishment of those events.  For the present, however, his views reached no farther than to the limited distinction of a colonial lawyer, and his chief aims were to attain an elevated rank in the profession of his choice.  Bent steadily on this purpose, neither his ambition nor his active spirit would allow him to neglect any means of qualifying himself for the fullest expansion and best use of his powers.

Like most young men he indulged early dreams of foreign travel, and scarcely had he completed his professional studies, when he began seriously to think of a voyage across the Atlantic.  Curiosity was not his only motive, for his ambition aimed at higher things than mere amusement or pleasure; he hoped to gather such fruits of experience and knowledge, as would be of solid advantage to him in his future career, being satisfied that,

‘He cannot be a perfect man,

Not being tried and tutored in the world.'

While deliberating on this subject he wrote, the following letter to his friend, Mr. William Smith, in whom, by the free and unreserved manner in which he lays open his mind and asks advice, he seems to have had much confidence.

' February 20th, 1772.

' Dear Sir.

'I have thoughts of sailing for London in the Miller, and I beg your sentiments with the same candor, that I deliver my own.  I shall pay most regard to your advice, because I believe it will be dictated by friendship, and founded on a more intimate knowledge of me than I possess.

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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 16. 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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