After failing to win reelection to the Congress Morris moved to Philadelphia and resumed his law practice. A series of newspaper articles on finance secured him the post of assistant to Robert Morris (no relative) in handling the finances of the new government (1781–85). In this position he planned the U.S. decimal coinage system. As a member of the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787 Morris played an active role, defending a strong centralized government and a powerful executive, opposing concessions on slavery, and putting the Constitution into its final literary form. He remained, however, a champion of aristocracy who distrusted democratic rule.
In 1789 Moris went to France as a private business agent, remained in Europe, and was appointed (1792) U.S. minister to France. During the French Revolution his sympathies lay with the royalists; he even helped plan a scheme to rescue Louis XVI. His recall was requested in 1794, but he traveled for several years before returning to America in 1798. From 1800 to 1803, Morris, a Federalist, was a U.S. senator from New York. He then retired to his estate. He condemned the War of 1812, going so far as to recommend the severance of the federal union. Morris was a strong advocate of the Erie Canal and served as chairman (1810–13) of the canal commission.
See his Diary of the French Revolution (1939), edited by his great-granddaughter, Beatrix Cary Davenport; biographies by T. Roosevelt (1888, repr. 1972), D. Walther (tr. 1934), and R. Brookhiser (2003); M. M. Mintz, Gouverneur Morris and the American Revolution (1970).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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