"Gouverneur Morris" by William Howard          Adams

Gouverneur Morris An Independent Life William Howard Adams

Publication date:
21 Jan 2014
Yale University Press
368 pages: 235 x 156mm
20 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

An engrossing biography of one of the most colorful and least well-known of the founding fathers

A plainspoken, racy patrician who distrusted democracy but opposed slavery and championed freedom for all minorities, an important player in the American Revolution, later an astute critic of the French Revolution, Gouverneur Morris remains an enigma among the founding generation. This comprehensive, engrossing biography tells his robust story, including his celebrated love affairs during his long stay in Europe. Morris’s public record is astonishing. One of the leading figures of the Constitutional Convention, he put the Constitution in its final version, including its opening Preamble. As Washington’s first minister to Paris, he became America’s most effective representative in France. A successful, international entrepreneur, he understood the dynamics of commerce in the modern world. Frankly cosmopolitan, he embraced city life as a creative center of civilization and had a central role in the building of the Erie Canal and in laying out the urban grid plan of Manhattan. William Howard Adams describes Morris’s many contributions, talents, sophistication, and wit, as well as his romantic liaisons, free habits, and free speech. He brings to life a fascinating man of great stature, a founding father who receives his due at last.

William Howard Adams is also the author of The Paris Years of Thomas Jefferson, published by Yale University Press.

Won honorable mention for the 2004 Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award

“This forgotten founder was as large and multifaceted as the Revolution itself. Marvelously idiosyncratic, he had a fiery imagination that went along with his unabashed taste for women. Alternately ambivalent and industrious, he was a cranky political genius. William Howard Adams’s biography is essential reading.”—Andrew Burstein, author of The Passions of Andrew Jackson

“There is little doubt that Adams has a firm grasp of his subject’s distinctive gifts and his importance to American history.”—Douglas L. Wilson, author of Honor’s Voice: The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln

“At last, Gouverneur Morris has found a biographer capable of capturing his sassy mixture of irreverence, energy, and wisdom. William Howard Adams has painted a brilliant full-length portrait of the only peg-legged genius in American history."—Joseph J. Ellis, author of Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

“At last we have an authoritative biography of this intriguing man so important in the early history of American diplomacy, finance, and constitutionalism. It’s an added dividend that his life was spiced with dramatic personal episodes, and that the book is written with such grace by a lively guide who knows his terrain so well.”—Michael Kammen, Professor of American History and Culture, Cornell University and past-president of the Organization of American Historians

“Adams deserves high praise for this insightful, revealing, and wonderfully well-written account of Gouverneur Morris, a largely forgotten yet important and compelling founder. Morris comes alive as never before—within a very rich, very carefully crafted historical context.”—Robert M. S. McDonald, United States Military Academy, West Point