Morgan Lewis

3rd Governor, 1804-1807
Morgan Lewis

Son of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Morgan Lewis (1754–1844) had an illustrious military career as chief of staff to General Horatio Gates and quartermaster general of New York State in the Revolutionary War and U.S. quartermaster general at the start of the War of 1812. He went on to serve as brigadier then major general on the Niagara Frontier and commanded at the battle of Fort George. Lewis served in the New York State Assembly and Senate, and as state attorney general and chief justice of the State Supreme Court. New York’s Lewis County was named for him.
Painted portrait of Morgan Lewis.
About the Artist


Portrait attributed to Henry Inman (1801–1846) who was an apprentice to John Wesley Jarvis in New York City. He produced genre paintings but became New York’s leading portraitist during the 1820s and 1830s. His other subjects included Martin Van Buren and William H. Seward.

Courtesy of Staatsburgh State Historic Site, Staatsburg, NY Gift of Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps.

 

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Historic Documents

 

Letter from Morgan Lewis to John Woodward, Esquire, 1791-1792
Letter from Morgan Lewis to John Woodward Esquire

The letter is undated but was probably written during Lewis’s term as Attorney General, 1791 – 1792. The engraving of Governor Lewis is taken from a daguerreotype. Although Lewis was born in 1754 and served in the American Revolution, he lived long enough to be photographed.

From the Collection of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biography
From The Encyclopedia of New York State

Lewis, Morgan (b New York City, 16 Oct 1754; d New York City, 7 Apr 1844). Governor.

The son of a prominent merchant and revolutionary leader Francis Lewis and Elizabeth Annesley, Morgan Lewis graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1773 and then read law with John Jay. During the Revolutionary War, he served in various capacities.

As Gen Horatio Gates’s chief of staff, Lewis received the British surrender at Saratoga. After the war, he resumed practicing law. In 1779 Lewis married Robert R. Livingston’s daughter Gertrude; they had one child. The marriage helped make Lewis one of the largest landowners in the state.

Elected to the assembly in 1789 and 1792, Lewis used the Livingston family’s break with Federalism in favor of Gov George Clinton’s faction to gain the attorney generalship in 1791 and appointment to the state supreme court the following year. In 1801 he was promoted to chief justice. Largely by default, Lewis was the Livingston- Clinton faction’s successful gubernatorial candidate against Aaron Burr in 1804, only to be largely responsible for splitting the Republican Party with his inadequate combination of Lewisites (labeled Quids by the Clintonians) and Federalists. As a result Lewis lost his bid for reelection in 1807 to Daniel D. Tompkins. His four terms in the state senate, 1811–14, marked the end of his political career and coincided with his military service in the War of 1812. The latter role included quartermaster general of the Northern Department at the rank of brigadier general, appointment as major general in 1813, brief assumption of the northern army’s command during its commander’s illness, accompanying a mistaken campaign against Montreal that began late in 1813, and command of the defense of New York City in 1814. Lewis’s retirement included presidency of the New-York Historical Society, 1832–36, and two positions he held until his death: grandmaster Mason of the state from 1830 and president general of the Society of the Cincinnati from 1839. Lewis Co is named after him.

 

Alexander, DeAlva Stanwood. A Political History of the State of New York, 4 vols (1909; repr Port Washington, NY: I. J. Friedman, 1969)
Delafield, Julia Livingston. Biographies of Francis Lewis and Morgan Lewis (New York: Anson D. F. Randolph, 1877)
Donald M. Roper

 

Peter Eisenstadt, ed., The Encyclopedia of New York State
(Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), [p. 888].
© Syracuse University Press. Reproduced with permission from the publisher.