Volume 21

Gouverneur Morris and the Drafting of the Federalist Constitution

by William Michael Treanor

The Salmon P. Chase Colloquium series has had two themes: One is great moments in constitutional law, and the other is people who have been forgotten but should not have been. This colloquium is primarily in the latter category—it is about a forgotten founder of the Constitution. But the Constitution has more than one forgotten founder. I did a Google search this afternoon for “Forgotten Founder” and there are a whole se-ries of books on various people who are the Constitution’s Forgotten Founder. So the Chase Colloquium series has another decade of subjects: Luther Martin, George Mason, Charles Pinckney, Roger Sherman. There is a lot to work with.

Gouverneur Morris is the one “forgotten founder” who really shouldn’t be for-gotten. The classic picture of Gouverneur Morris is actually a joint picture painted by Charles Willson Peale in 1783. Gouverneur Morris is on the left, and Robert Morris is on the right.1 Referencing “Gouverneur Morris and Robert Morris,” Charles Willson Peale, oil on canvas (1783). Available at https://www.pafa.org/museum/collection/item/gouverneur-morris-robert-morris [https://perma.cc/4GL6-KTUJ]. They weren’t relatives, despite the shared last name, but they were very close. Gouverneur Morris and Robert Morris were busi-ness partners during the Revolutionary War. Robert Morris, who is kind of the Jeff Bezos of the 1780s, was as close as the United States had to a president dur-ing the Revolutionary War. He was the head of finance and Gouverneur Morris was his number two. I will be focusing today on Gouverneur Morris’s work on the Committee of Style at the end of the Federal Constitutional Convention.


Keep Reading Gouverneur Morris and the Drafting of the Federalist Constitution

Subscribe to GJLPP