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Levi P. Morton Correspondence

An inventory of his correspondence at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Feb 1989

Biographical History

Levi P. Morton (1824-1920) was a Congressman from New York (1879-1881), United States minister to France (1881-1885), Republican governor of New York State (1895-1896), and Vice President of the United States (1889-1893) under President Benjamin Harrison.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Levi P. Morton Correspondence is a collection of mostly incoming letters dated between 1860 and 1912, the bulk of which were written during Morton's tenure as Governor of New York (1895-1896). Morton's correspondents include authors and journalists (Henry Abbey, Lyman Abbott, W.J. Arkell, George W. Childs, Edwin L. Godkin, Frances M. Harris (pseud. Hope Ledyard), St. Clair McKelway, Oswald Ottendorfer, Franz Sigel, William Allen White); as well as clergymen (Thomas K. Beecher, Arthur C. Coxe, Theodore L. Cuyler, William C. Doane, John Hall, F.D. Huntington, John Ireland, Abram N. Littlejohn, Charles H. Parkhurst, H.C. Potter); educators (Nicholas M. Butler, Henry M. MacCracken, Jacob Schurman, Booker T. Washington, Alexander S. Webb); and financiers (Collis P. Huntington, Russell Sage, William C. Whitney). The bulk of the correspondence is from fellow politicians (William B. Allison, Cornelius N. Bliss, George S. Boutwell, Simon Cameron, Chauncey M. Depew, Roswell P. Flower, Frank W. Higgins, Elihu Root), including a number of state governors: R.A. Alger (Michigan), James A. Beaver (Pennsylvania), Charles A. Culberson (Texas), Charles W. Lippitt (Rhode Island), W.J. Stone (Missouri), and H.M. Wells (Utah).

Many of the letters (W.S. Bissell, William A. Butler, Joseph Choate, John Hall, MacCracken, Sage, Sigel, Benjamin F. Tracy) relate to particular pieces of legislation before the then-Governor, the largest number in reference to the Greater New York bill, an effort to consolidate Brooklyn and New York into one large metropolitan area (Abbott, Cuyler, C.P. Huntington, Littlejohn, Parkhurst, Potter, William C. Redfield). Also among the letters are several lengthy opinions (James C. Carter, Choate, Joseph Larocque, Root) which Morton solicited regarding the selection of appellate judges for the State Supreme Court. Among other issues discussed in the correspondence are public school reform (N.M. Butler, Doane, Root); separation of church and state (John Ireland); protection of the State forests (Gifford Pinchot, Nathan Straus); establishment of the State Veterinary College at Cornell University (Schurman); and prison reform (Beecher, F.D. Huntington). One of the most interesting of the incoming letters is an item from the Navy Department secretary M.A. Herbert, who upon learning of the State's plans to widen the Erie Canal, Suggests (3 Jan. 1896):

The moderate depth of water in the Erie Canal would prevent the passage of most naval vessels now in service, but with the width of locks increased to 23 feet it would be possible that a class of ships built especially for the defense of the lakes could be kept in New York, ready for service on the lakes in case of hostilities with Great Britain. Our treaty with that country limits its naval force on the lakes to one gunboat, but should the Erie Canal be available, the present advantage of Great Britain, the possession of a waterway through its own territory, would be counterbalanced and the defense of our Northern frontier simplified.

In addition there are a few letters of introduction (0.E. Babcock, Lucius Fairchild, Ottendorfer, Edward Thornton, M.R. Waite) and numerous recommendations for various appointments (J.W. De Peyster, S.B. Elkins, John G. Evans, F.M. Finch, Hamilton Fish, Flower, William P. Frye, Higgins, Frank Hiscock, Horatio C. King, Warner Miller, Sage, James W. Wadsworth, George L. Wellington, Stewart L. Woodford).

Arrangement of the Collection

Letters are arranged alphabetically by correspondent.


Access Restrictions:

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Use Restrictions:

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Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has many manuscript collections relating to New York State politics and history. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Abbey, Henry, 1842-1911.
Abbott, Lyman, 1835-1922.
Alger, R. A. (Russell Alexander), 1836-1907.
Allison, William B. (William Boyd), 1829-1908.
Arkell, W. J. (William J.), 1856-1930.
Babcock, Orville Elias, 1835-1884.
Baird, Absalom, 1824-1905.
Beaver, James A. (James Addams), 1837-1914.
Beecher, Thomas Kinnicut, 1824-1900.
Bissell, Wilson Shannon, 1847-1903.
Bliss, Cornelius Newton, 1833-1911.
Boutwell, George S. (George Sewall), 1818-1905.
Butler, Matthew Calbraith, 1836-1909.
Butler, Nicholas Murray, 1862-1947.
Butler, William Allen, 1825-1902.
Cameron, Simon, 1799-1889.
Carter, James C. (James Coolidge), 1827-1905.
Carter, Thomas Henry, 1854-1911.
Chandler, William E. (William Eaton), 1835-1917.
Childs, George William, 1829-1894.
Choate, Joseph Hodges, 1832-1917.
Clay, Cassius Marcellus, 1810-1903.
Cole, Ashley W., 1841-1920.
Coxe, A. Cleveland (Arthur Cleveland), 1818-1896.
Croes, J. J. R. (John James Robertson), 1834-1906.
Culberson, Charles A. (Charles Allen), 1855-1925.
Cuyler, Theodore L. (Theodore Ledyard), 1822-1909.
Davis, Cushman Kellogg, 1838-1900.
De Peyster, J. Watts (John Watts), 1821-1907.
Depew, Chauncey M. (Chauncey Mitchell), 1834-1928.
Doane, William Croswell, 1832-1913.
Doremus, Robert Ogden, 1824-1906.
Egan, Patrick, 1841-
Elkins, Stephen B. (Stephen Benton), 1841-1911.
Evans, John Gary, 1863-1942.
Fairchild, Lucius, 1831-1896.
Finch, Francis M. (Francis Miles), 1827-1907.
Flint, Austin, 1836-1915.
Flower, Roswell Pettibone, 1835-1899.
Frye, William P. (William Pierce), 1831-1911.
Godkin, Edwin Lawrence, 1831-1902.
Hale, Eugene, 1836-1918.
Hall, John, 1829-1898.
Harris, F. McCready (Frances McCready)
Herbert, Hilary A. (Hilary Abner), 1834-1919.
Higgins, Frank Wayland, 1856-1907.
Hunt, Richard Morris, 1828-1895.
Huntington, Collis P. (Collis Potter), 1821-1900.
Huntington, F. D. (Frederic Dan), 1819-1904.
Ireland, John, 1838-1918.
King, Horatio C. (Horatio Collins), 1837-1918.
Lamont, Daniel Scott, 1851-1905.
Lippitt, Charles Warren, 1846-1924.
Littlejohn, Abram Newkirk, 1824-1901.
MacCracken, Henry Mitchell, 1840-1918.
McKelway, St. Clair, 1905-1980.
Metcalf, Lorettus Sutton, 1837-1920.
Miller, Warner, 1838-1918.
Olney, Richard, 1835-1917.
Ottendorfer, Oswald, 1826-1900.
Parkhurst, Charles H. (Charles Henry), 1831-1889.
Pinchot, Gifford, 1865-1946.
Porter, Horace, 1837-1921.
Potter, Henry Codman, 1835-1908.
Redfield, William Cox, 1858-1932.
Reed, Thomas B. (Thomas Brackett), 1839-1902.
Rhodes, James Ford, 1848-1927.
Root, Elihu, 1845-1937.
Ruger, Thomas Howard, 1833-1907.
Sage, Russell, 1816-1906.
Schurman, Jacob Gould, 1854-1942.
Scribner, G. Hilton (Gilbert Hilton), 1831-1910.
Seward, Clarence A. (Clarence Armstrong), 1828-1897.
Seward, Frederick William, 1830-1915.
Sigel, Franz, 1824-1902.
Stone, William Joel, 1848-1918.
Straus, Nathan, 1848-1931.
Tracy, Benjamin F. (Benjamin Franklin), 1830-1915.
Waite, Morrison R. (Morrison Remick), 1816-1888.
Walcott, Charles D. (Charles Doolittle), 1850-1927.
Wanamaker, John, 1838-1922.
Waring, George E. (George Edwin), 1833-1898.
Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915.
Webb, Alexander S. (Alexander Stewart), 1835-1911.
Wellman, Francis L. (Francis Lewis), 1854-1942.
Weston, Edward Payson, 1839-1929.
Whitney, William C. (William Collins), 1841-1904.
Williams, Henry Shaler, 1847-1918.
Woodford, Stewart L. (Stewart Lyndon), 1835-1913.

Corporate Bodies

Republican Party (N.Y.)


Governors -- New York (State)
Patronage, Political -- New York (State)


New York (N.Y.) -- Politics and government -- To 1898.
New York (State) -- History -- 1865-
New York (State) -- Officials and employees -- Selection and appointment.
New York (State) -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Levi P. Morton Correspondence
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

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