Morgan Lewis
3rd Governor
1804–1807
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 in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. 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.
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 1820’s and 1830’s. 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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Lewis, Morgan (b New York City, 16 Oct 1754; d New York City, 7 Apr 1844). Governor.

The son of 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 ofNew 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.

Timeline of NY Governors

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