by Janelle Pavao
Lewis Morris was a New York delegate to the Continental Congress, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a New York landowner.
Lewis Morris, Sr. was born on April 8, 1726 in Morrisania, New York. In 1762, upon the death of his father, Lewis inherited an estate in New York. Shortly after, he was appointed a judge of the Admiralty Court in New York.
In 1749, he married a young woman named Mary Walton. Together Lewis and Mary had ten children: Catherine, Mary, Lewis, Jacob, Sarah (who died as a child), William, Helena, James, Staats, and Richard.
Their son Lewis Jr. (who would eventually sign the Declaration of Independence) grew up to be a colonel, Jacob became a general, William grew up to be a lieutenant, Helena married a senator, Staats became a captain, and Richard also became a captain.
In 1769, Lewis Morris was elected to the Colonial Assembly in New York. In 1774, he signed his position as judge to focus on the oncoming war. Lewis was elected to the New York Provincial Congress. While he was a member of this Congress, they sent him to Continental Congress as a delegate for New York.
From the start, Lewis Morris was an active advocate for independence in Congress. In 1776, he was among the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Lewis Morris' most famous quote came from a conversation he had with his half-brother, Gouverneur Morris. Gouverneur, a politician and a signatory of the Articles of Confederation, warned him about what would happen if he signed the Declaration and advised him against it. Lewis's reply was "Damn the consequences. Give me the pen." With that, he fearlessly scratched his name on the document.
In 1777, Lewis became a member of the New York Senate. He held this position until 1790. After this Lewis retired to his home and his family. Lewis Morris died on January 22, 1798.