Levi P. Morton

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Levi P. Morton
Levi Morton - Brady-Handy portrait - standard crop.jpg
22nd Vice President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1889 March 4, 1893
President Benjamin Harrison
Preceded by Thomas A. Hendricks
Succeeded by Adlai Stevenson
31st Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 1895 December 31, 1896
Lieutenant Charles T. Saxton
Preceded by Roswell P. Flower
Succeeded by Frank S. Black
United States Minister to France
In office
August 5, 1881 May 14, 1885
Appointed by James A. Garfield
Preceded by Edward Follansbee Noyes
Succeeded by Robert Milligan McLane
Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives
from New York's 11th district
In office
March 4, 1879 March 21, 1881
Preceded by Benjamin A. Willis
Succeeded by Roswell P. Flower
Personal details
Levi Parsons Morton

(1824-05-16)May 16, 1824
Shoreham, Vermont, U.S.
DiedMay 16, 1920(1920-05-16) (aged 96)
Rhinebeck, New York, U.S.
Political party Republican
Lucy Young Kimball
(m. 1856;died 1871)

Anna Livingston Reade Street
(m. 1873;died 1918)
Relations Daniel O. Morton (brother)
William Morton Grinnell (nephew)
ParentsDaniel Oliver Morton
Lucretia Parsons Morton
Signature Levi P Morton-2 Signature.svg

Levi Parsons Morton (May 16, 1824 – May 16, 1920) was the 22nd vice president of the United States from 1889 to 1893. He also served as United States ambassador to France, as a representative from New York, and as the 31st governor of New York.

United States House of Representatives lower house of the United States Congress

The United States House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the United States Congress, the Senate being the upper chamber. Together they compose the legislature of the United States.

New York (state) State of the United States of America

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. In order to distinguish the state from the city with the same name, it is sometimes referred to as New York State.


The son of a Congregational minister, Morton was born and educated in Vermont and Massachusetts, and trained for a business career by clerking in stores and working in mercantile establishments in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. After relocating to New York City, Morton became a successful merchant, cotton broker, and investment banker.

Congregationalism in the United States

Congregationalism in the United States consists of Protestant churches in the Reformed tradition that have a congregational form of church government and trace their origins mainly to Puritan settlers of colonial New England. Congregational churches in other parts of the world are often related to these in the United States due to American missionary activities.

Vermont State of the United States of America

Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders the U.S. states of Massachusetts to the south, New Hampshire to the east, New York to the west, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north. Vermont is the second-smallest by population and the sixth-smallest by area of the 50 U.S. states. The state capital is Montpelier, the least populous state capital in the United States. The most populous city, Burlington, is the least populous city to be the most populous city in a state. As of 2015, Vermont was the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States. In crime statistics, it was ranked as the safest state in the country since 2016.

Massachusetts State of the United States of America

Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of Massachusetts's population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.

Active in politics as a Republican, Morton was an ally of Roscoe Conkling. He was twice elected to the United States House of Representatives, and he served one full term, and one partial one (March 4, 1879 – March 21, 1881). In 1880, Republican presidential nominee James A. Garfield offered Morton the vice presidential nomination in an effort to win over Conkling loyalists who were disappointed that their choice for president, Ulysses S. Grant, had lost to Garfield. Conkling advised Morton to decline, which he did. Garfield then offered the nomination to another Conkling ally, Chester A. Arthur, who accepted.

Roscoe Conkling American politician

Roscoe Conkling was a politician from New York who served both as a member of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. He was the leader of the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party, the first Republican senator from New York to be elected for three terms, and the last person to turn down a U.S. Supreme Court appointment after he had already been confirmed to the post. While in the House, Conkling served as bodyguard for Representative Thaddeus Stevens, a sharp-tongued anti-slavery representative, and fully supported the Republican War effort. Conkling, who was temperate and detested tobacco, was known for his physical condition, maintained through regular exercise and boxing, an unusual devotion for his time. Conkling was elected to the Senate in 1867 as a leading Radical, who supported the rights of African Americans during Reconstruction.

James A. Garfield 20th president of the United States

James Abram Garfield was the 20th president of the United States, serving from March 4, 1881 until his death by assassination six and a half months later. He was the first sitting member of Congress to be elected to the presidency, and remains the only sitting House member to gain the White House.

Ulysses S. Grant 18th president of the United States

Ulysses S. Grant was an American soldier, politician, and international statesman who served as the 18th president of the United States from 1869 to 1877. During the American Civil War, General Grant, with President Abraham Lincoln, led the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy. During the Reconstruction Era, President Grant led the Republicans in their efforts to remove the vestiges of Confederate nationalism, racism, and slavery.

After Garfield and Arthur were elected, Garfield nominated Morton to be Minister Plenipotentiary to France, and Morton served in Paris until 1885. In 1888, Morton was nominated for Vice President on the Republican ticket with presidential nominee Benjamin Harrison; they were elected, and Morton served as Vice President from 1889 to 1893. In 1894, Morton was the successful Republican nominee for governor of New York, and he served one term, 1895 to 1896.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Benjamin Harrison 23rd President of the United States

Benjamin Harrison was an American politician and lawyer who served as the 23rd president of the United States from 1889 to 1893. He was a grandson of the ninth president, William Henry Harrison, creating the only grandfather–grandson duo to have held the office. He was also a great-grandson of Benjamin Harrison V, a founding father. Before ascending to the presidency, Harrison had established himself as a prominent local attorney, Presbyterian church leader, and politician in Indianapolis, Indiana. During the American Civil War, he served in the Union Army as a colonel, and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a brevet brigadier general of volunteers in 1865. Harrison unsuccessfully ran for governor of Indiana in 1876. The Indiana General Assembly elected Harrison to a six-year term in the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1881 to 1887.

Governor of New York head of state and of government of the U.S. state of New York

The Governor of New York is the head of government of the U.S. state of New York. The governor is the head of the executive branch of New York's state government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military and naval forces.

In retirement, Morton resided in New York City and Rhinebeck, New York. He died in 1920, and was buried at Rhinebeck Cemetery.

Early life

Morton was born in Shoreham, Vermont. He was one of six children born to the Reverend Daniel Oliver Morton (1788–1852), a Congregational minister and Lucretia Parsons (1789–1862). [1] Morton was named for his mother's brother Reverend Levi Parsons (1792-1822), a clergyman who was also the first U.S. missionary to work in Palestine. [2] His older brother, Daniel Oliver Morton (1815–59), served as the Mayor of Toledo, Ohio from 1849 to 1850. [3] His younger sister, Mary Morton, was married to William F. Grinnell, and was the mother of William Morton Grinnell (who later served as the Third Assistant Secretary of State while Morton was Vice President). [4]

Shoreham, Vermont Town in Vermont, United States

Shoreham is a town in Addison County, Vermont, United States. The population was 1,265 at the 2010 census.

Palestine (region) geographical region in the Middle East

Palestine is a geographic region in Western Asia usually considered to include Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and in some definitions, some parts of western Jordan.

Daniel O. Morton Ohio politician

Daniel Oliver Morton was a lawyer from Toledo, Ohio who was a United States Attorney and Mayor of Toledo.

Morton's family moved to Springfield, Vermont in 1832, when his father became the minister of the Congregational church there. Rev. Morton headed the congregation during the construction of the brick colonial revival-style church on Main Street that is still in use today. Levi P. Morton was considered by his Springfield peers to be a "leader in all affairs in which schoolboys usually engage." [5] The Morton family later moved to Winchendon, Massachusetts, where Rev. Morton continued to serve as a church pastor. [2]

Morton attended the public schools of Vermont and Massachusetts and the academy in Shoreham, Vermont. [6]


He decided on a business career, and worked as a general store clerk in Enfield, Massachusetts. [2] Morton also taught school in Boscawen, New Hampshire, engaged in mercantile pursuits in Hanover, New Hampshire, and moved to Boston to work in the Beebe & Co. importing business. [2] He eventually settled in New York City, where he entered the dry goods business in partnership with George Grennell Jr., became a successful cotton broker, and established himself as one of the country's top investment bankers in a firm he founded, Morton, Bliss & Co. [2] He was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1876 to the 45th Congress, and was appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes to be an honorary commissioner to the Paris Exhibition of 1878. [6]

Member of Congress

Morton was elected as a Republican to represent Manhattan in the 46th and 47th Congresses, and he served from March 4, 1879 until his resignation, effective March 21, 1881. [2] The 1880 Republican National Convention was dominated by Half-Breed supporters of James G. Blaine and Stalwart supporters of Ulysses S. Grant for the presidential nomination. [7] James A. Garfield, who was not affiliated with either faction, but was a friend of Blaine's, won the nomination [7] and attempted to win over Stalwarts by asking Morton to be his vice presidential running mate. [8] Senator Roscoe Conkling, Grant's campaign manager and the Stalwart leader, advised Morton to decline; Morton followed Conkling's advice. [8] Garfield's supporters then turned to Chester A. Arthur, a close Conkling friend and a Stalwart. [7] Conkling also advised Arthur to decline, but Arthur accepted; Garfield and he were narrowly elected over their Democratic opponents. [7]

Minister to France

After Garfield's election, Garfield offered Morton appointment as Secretary of the Navy, which he declined. [2] Morton then asked to be appointed United States ambassador to either the United Kingdom or France, and Garfield appointed him to the position in Paris. [2] He was U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary to France from 1881 to 1885. [2]

Morton was very popular in France. [2] He helped commercial relations between the two countries run smoothly during his term, and in Paris on October 24, 1881, he placed the first rivet in the construction of the Statue of Liberty. [2] (It was driven into the big toe of Lady Liberty's left foot.) After completion of the statue, he accepted Liberty on behalf of the United States in a ceremony on July 4, 1884, by signing the Union Franco Americaine contract.

US Senate candidate

After returning to the United States, Morton was a candidate for U.S. Senator in 1885. [2] He lost the Republican nomination to William M. Evarts, who went on to win election by the full New York State Legislature. [2] He was again a candidate in 1887. [2] Republicans controlled the legislature, meaning their nominee would win the election. [2] Incumbent Warner Miller was recognized as a member of the Half-Breed faction, while state Republican boss Thomas C. Platt was a Stalwart, and had been succeeded in the Senate by Miller in 1881. Platt was determined to see Miller defeated, and backed Morton, a fellow Stalwart. A third candidate, Frank Hiscock, was not affiliated with either faction and had little initial support. After 17 ballots failed to produce a nominee, Morton withdrew and asked his supporters to back Hiscock. [2] Hiscock was chosen on the 18th ballot, and won the election by defeating Democrat Smith Mead Weed.

Vice President

From 1889 until 1895, Morton lived at this residence in Washington, DC. Levi P. Morton House.JPG
From 1889 until 1895, Morton lived at this residence in Washington, DC.

Morton was elected Vice President of the United States, on the Republican ticket with President Benjamin Harrison, in which capacity he served from March 4, 1889 to March 4, 1893. [2] During his term, Harrison tried to pass the Lodge Bill, an election law enforcing the voting rights of blacks in the South; the billed failed because Morton did little in his role as the Senate's presiding officer to support the bill against a Democratic filibuster. [9] Harrison blamed Morton for the bill's eventual failure, and at the Republican convention prior to the 1892 election, Morton decided not to run for a second term and was replaced by Whitelaw Reid as the vice-presidential candidate. [10] Harrison and Reid went on to lose the 1892 election, to Grover Cleveland and Adlai E. Stevenson, the Democratic candidates.

Governor of New York

Gubernatorial portrait of Levi P. Morton LMorton.png
Gubernatorial portrait of Levi P. Morton

In 1894, Morton was elected governor of New York, defeating Democratic nominee David B. Hill and several minor-party candidates. [2] He served one two-year term, and focused his efforts on initiatives including road construction and civil-service reform. He was a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 1896, but the delegates chose William McKinley. He was then considered for the vice presidential nomination, but McKinley's campaign manager, Mark Hannah, was opposed and the nomination went to Garret Hobart. After Morton completed his term as governor, he became a real estate investor and was active in other business ventures. [6]

Later life

In 1890, he became one of the first members of the District of Columbia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. He was assigned national society membership number 1838 and district society number 38. He was also a member of the General Society of Colonial Wars. [11]

In retirement, he served as president of the Metropolitan Club at One East 60th Street, New York, between 1900 and 1911. He was preceded in that office by J. Pierpont Morgan and succeeded by Frank Knight Sturgis. [12] He was also a member of the Union League Club of New York, and served as president of the New York Zoological Society from 1897 to 1909. [11]

Personal life

On October 15, 1856, Morton was married to his first wife, Lucy Young Kimball (1836–1871), the daughter of Elijah Huntingdon Kimball, in Flatlands, Brooklyn. Together, they had one child, a daughter, Carrie Morton, who died in infancy, in 1857. [13]

After his first wife's death in 1871, Morton married Anna Livingston Reade Street in 1873. [14] She was Second Lady of the United States during her husband's vice presidency, and often handled entertaining duties for the administration due to First Lady Caroline Harrison's ill health. She had five daughters with Morton, and a son who died in infancy.

Morton became ill during the winter of 1919 to 1920; a cold developed into bronchitis, and Morton eventually contracted pneumonia, which proved fatal. [29] He died in Rhinebeck, New York, on May 16, 1920. [30] His death occurred on his 96th birthday. After a memorial service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, he was interred at Rhinebeck Cemetery. [31]

Morton was the second-longest lived Vice President of the United States. Only Franklin D. Roosevelt's first Vice President, John Nance Garner (who died 15 days before his 99th birthday), lived longer. Morton survived five of his successors in the vice presidency: Adlai E. Stevenson, Garret Hobart, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles W. Fairbanks, and James S. Sherman.


In 1881, Morton received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Dartmouth College. [2] In 1882, Middlebury College presented him with an honorary LL.D. [32]


The Village of Morton Grove, Illinois, is named after Morton. He provided the funding necessary to allow Miller's Mill (now Lincoln Avenue) to pass through the upstart neighborhood, and provide goods to trade and sell. Morton Grove was incorporated in December 1895.

Morton owned property in Newport, Rhode Island, spending his summers on Bellevue Avenue in his mansion called "Fairlawn", built 1852-1853, which is currently owned by Salve Regina University, housing the Pell Center of International Relations and Public Policy. He left a nearby property to the city of Newport for use as a park. The park is at the corner of Coggeshall and Morton Avenues (the latter formerly Brenton Road), and is named Morton Park.

Morton sold or donated property he owned in Hanover, New Hampshire, to Dartmouth College, and the college built Webster Hall on the land. Morton was considered an honorary alumnus at alumni gatherings in New York. He also owned a summer retreat in the Adirondack Park, on Eagle Island. [33] The architecture is of the Great Camps style, designed by the notable architect William L. Coulter. Over the years, the island found its way into the ownership of the Girl Scouts of the USA, where it remains today as Camp Eagle Island. [34]

See also

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  1. Emery, Samuel Hopkins (1893). History of Taunton, Massachusetts: From Its Settlement to the Present Time. D. Mason & Company. p. 63. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Murlin, Edgar L. (1897). The New York Red Book. Albany, NY: James B. Lyon. pp. 85–90.
  3. "Partial Genealogy of the Mortons of New York, Plymouth, and Ohio" (PDF).
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  8. 1 2 "Benjamin Harrison and Levi P. Morton". Miller Center: U.S. Presidents. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia. 2019.
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  10. "Vice Presidents of the United States, 1789-1993" (PDF). United States Senate Historical Office. 1997. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
  11. 1 2 "PRAISE THE MEMORY OF LEVI P. MORTON; Family and Delegates From Many Organizations Attend Services in Cathedral. ROOT TELLS OF EARLY LIFE Dr. Slattery Asks Business Men to Emulate Example of the Late Vice President". The New York Times . 10 January 1921. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  12. Club Members of New York. New York, NY: Club Members of New York, Inc. 1940. p. 136. Seven presidents have presided over the club: J. Pierpont Morgan, L. P. Morton, F. K. Sturgis...
  13. The Kimball Family News. G. F. Kimball. 1902. p. 365. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  14. "Mrs. Levi P. Morton Dies At Home in Rhinecliff, N.Y.", Boston Daily Globe, Thursday, August 15, 1918, Boston, Massachusetts, United States Of America.
  15. "FORMER V.P.'S DAUGHTER DIES -- Edith Morton Eustis, Active in Capital". The Record . 13 November 1964. p. 41. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  16. "Wm. Corcoran Eustis Dies. Former Diplomat was Captain on Gen. Pershing's staff". The New York Times . November 25, 1921. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  17. "MISS LENA MORTON DIED ON EVE OF ANNOUNCEMENT OF HER ENGAGEMENT". Detroit Free Press . 11 June 1904. p. 1. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  18. "MRS. HELEN S. MORTON". Daily News . 9 September 1952. p. 83. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  19. "MME. DE TALLEYRAND DEAD.; Duchess Was Born In 1839 -- Her Son Married Miss Morton". The New York Times . 13 October 1905. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  20. "MISS HELEN MORTON TO WED COUNT DE PERIGORD.; Engagement Rumored Last Week Officially Announced -- The Count the Due de Talleyrand's Younger Son". The New York Times . 29 August 1901. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  21. "DUCHESS OF VALENCAY SUES FOR A DIVORCE; Levi P. Morton's Daughter Resents Action of Mother-in-Law. POPE ASKED FOR ANNULMENT Ex-Governor Bought Castle for Bride and Now the Duke Occupies It Exclusively". The New York Times . 7 June 1904. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  22. "GETS DIVORCE FROM VALENCAY.; Levi P. Morton's Daughter Obtains Decree In Paris -- Proceedings Private". The New York Times . 1 July 1904. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  23. Strouse, Jean (2014). Morgan: American Financier. Random House Publishing Group. p. 184. ISBN   9780812987041 . Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  24. "Mrs. Winthrop Rutherfurd". The New York Times . 21 June 1917. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  25. 1 2 Times, Special To Te New Yor (21 March 1944). "W. RUTHERFURD, 82, LEADER IN SOCIETY; Sportsman, Member of Noted Family, Dies Was Owner of Famous Terrier Kennels". The New York Times . Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  26. "ENGAGEMENT OF MISS ALICE MORTON.; To Marry Winthrop Rutherfurd, One of the Best-Known Men in Society, an Adept at Out-Door Sports, and Wealthy". The New York Times . 13 January 1902. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  27. "MARY MORTON BURIAL PLANNED AT RHINEBECK". Poughkeepsie Eagle News . 11 May 1932. p. 2. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
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  29. "Levi P. Morton is Dead on his 96th Birthday" . The Sun and the New York Herald. New York, NY. May 17, 1920. p. 1.
  30. "Morton A Resident Of Washington. Only Part of His Estate Will Be Taxable in This State. But Suit Will Be Brought. Test Was Attempted In the Case of Mrs. Morton, but Never Reached Conclusion" (PDF). The New York Times . May 18, 1920. Retrieved 2015-05-16. The estate of ex-Governor Levi P. Morton will probably Day to the State of New York only the inheritance tax due from the estate of a nonresident, as Mr. Morton had made Washington, DC, his residence for ten years.
  31. "Many Notables to Attend Funeral of Levi P. Morton" . Poughkeepsie Eagle-News. Poughkeepsie, NY. May 18, 1920. p. 1.
  32. "The Vice-President". The Hamilton Literary Monthly. Vol. 24. Clinton, NY: Hamilton College. 1890. p. 111.
  33. "National Historic Landmark Nomination, Eagle Island Camp" (PDF). www.nps.gov. National Park Service. August 18, 2004. p. 13.
  34. ""National Historic Landmark Nomination, Eagle Island Camp"" (PDF).
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Benjamin A. Willis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
Roswell P. Flower
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Edward Noyes
United States Minister to France
Succeeded by
Robert Milligan McLane
Party political offices
Preceded by
John A. Logan
Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
Whitelaw Reid
Preceded by
Sloat Fassett
Republican nominee for Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Frank S. Black
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas A. Hendricks
Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
Adlai Stevenson
Preceded by
Roswell P. Flower
Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Frank S. Black