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Levi Parsons Morton (May 16, 1824 May 16, 1920) was a Representative from New Yorkmarker and the 22nd Vice President of the United States. He also later served as Governor of New York.


Morton was born in Shorehammarker, in Addison County, Vermontmarker. His parents were the Rev. Daniel Oliver Morton (1788-1852), a Congregationalist minister of old New England stock, and Lucretia Parsons (1789-1862). His older brother, David Oliver Morton (1815-1859), was Mayor of Toledo, Ohiomarker from 1849 to 1850.

He left school early and worked as a clerk in a general store in Enfield, Massachusettsmarker, taught school in Boscawenmarker, New Hampshiremarker, engaged in mercantile pursuits in Hanover, New Hampshiremarker, moved to Bostonmarker, entered the dry-goods business in New York Citymarker, and engaged in banking there. He was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1876 to the 45th Congress, but he was appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes to be an honorary commissioner to the Paris Exhibition of 1878.

Levi Parsons Morton
Morton was elected, as a Republican, to the 46th and 47th Congresses. He served from March 4, 1879, until his resignation, effective March 21, 1881. The presidential candidate, James A. Garfield, asked him to be his vice presidential candidate in 1880, but Morton refused the offer. If he had accepted and history continued on the same course, Morton would have become the twenty-first President, instead of Chester A. Arthur, after Garfield's assassination.

He asked to be appointed Minister to Britainmarker or Francemarker instead. He was United States Minister to Francemarker from 1881 to 1885. (A deluded Charles J. Guiteau, reportedly, decided to murder Garfield after he was "passed over" as minister to France.)

Morton was very popular in France. 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 Libertymarker. (It was driven into the big toe of Lady Liberty’s left foot.)

Morton was elected to be 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. During his term, Harrison tried to pass an election law enforcing the voting rights of blacks in the South, but Morton did little to support the bill against a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. Harrison blamed Morton for the bill's eventual failure, and, at the Republican convention prior to the 1892 election, Morton was replaced by Whitelaw Reid as the vice-presidential candidate.

Levi Morton was Governor of New York in 1895 and 1896. He was considered for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1896, but the Republican Party chose William McKinley instead. After his public career was over, he became a real-estate investor.

He died at Rhinebeckmarker, in Dutchess Countymarker, New Yorkmarker, on his 96th birthday, the only U.S. President or Vice President to have died on his birthday. He is interred in the Rhinebeck Cemetery.

The Village of Morton Grove, Illinoismarker 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 Islandmarker and lived on tony Bellevue Avenue, in the mansion called "Fairlawn," a building currently owned by Salve Regina Universitymarker, 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. At the corner of Coggeshall and Morton Avenues (formerly Brenton Road), this land became Morton Park. Morton sold or donated property he owned in Hanover, New Hampshiremarker to Dartmouth Collegemarker, 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. 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 Islandmarker.

Morton was the second longest-lived Vice President, living to be exactly 96 years old; only John Nance Garner lived longer. Morton also survived five of his successors in the vice presidency, Adlai E. Stevenson, Garret A. Hobart, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles W. Fairbanks, and James S. Sherman, all of whom were considerably younger than he was.

Marriages and Social Life

He married his first wife, Lucy Young Kimball (July 22, 1836-July 11, 1871), on October 15, 1856 in Flatlandsmarker, New Yorkmarker. They had one child together. After her death, he married Anna Livingston Reade Street in 1873. They had five daughters together.

In retirement, Morton served as President of the Metropolitan Club of New York, at One East Sixtieth Street, between 1900 and 1911. He was preceded in that office by J. Pierpont Morgan; and succeeded by Frank Knight Sturgis.

See also


  2. (PDF) (see page 4)
  • National Contest, Containing Portraits and Biographies of Our National Favorites, Darling Bros. & Co., Detroit, Michigan, 1888.

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