Gouverneur Morris (January 30, 1752 – November 6, 1816) was an American statesman, a Founding Father of the United States, and a signatory to the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution. He wrote the Preamble to the United States Constitution and has been called the “Penman of the Constitution.” In an era when most Americans thought of themselves as citizens of their respective states, Morris advanced the idea of being a citizen of a single union of states. He represented New York in the United States Senate from 1800 to 1803.
Morris was born into a wealthy landowning family in what is now New York City. After attending King’s College (now Columbia), he studied law under Judge William Smith and earned admission to the bar. He was elected to the New York Provincial Congress before serving in the Continental Congress. After losing re-election to Congress, he moved to Philadelphia and became the assistant U.S. superintendent of finance. He represented Pennsylvania at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, where he advocated a strong central government. He served on the committee that wrote the final draft of the United States Constitution.
After the ratification of the Constitution, Morris served as Minister Plenipotentiary to France. He criticized the French Revolution and the execution of Marie Antoinette. Morris returned to the United States in 1798 and won election to the Senate in 1800, affiliating with the Federalist Party. He lost re-election in 1803. After leaving the Senate, he served as chairman of the Erie Canal Commission.