Levi P. Morton

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Levi Parsons Morton (May 16, 1824 – May 16, 1920) was a Representative from New York and the 22nd Vice President of the United States. He also later served as the 31st Governor of New York.



Morton was born in Shoreham, in Addison County, Vermont. His parents were the Rev. Daniel Oliver Morton (1788–1852), a Congregationalist minister of old New England stock, and Lucretia Parsons (1789–1862). His older brother, David Oliver Morton (1815–1859), was Mayor of Toledo, Ohio from 1849 to 1850.[1]

He left school early and worked as a clerk in a general store in Enfield, Massachusetts, taught school in Boscawen, New Hampshire, engaged in mercantile pursuits in Hanover, New Hampshire, moved to Boston, entered the dry-goods business in New York City, and engaged in banking there. He was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1876 to the 45th Congress, but he was appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes to be an honorary commissioner to the Paris Exhibition of 1878.

Morton was elected, as a Republican, to the 46th and 47th Congresses. He served from March 4, 1879, until his resignation, effective March 21, 1881. The presidential candidate, James A. Garfield, asked him to be his vice presidential candidate in 1880, but Morton refused the offer. If he had accepted and history continued on the same course, Morton would have become the twenty-first President, instead of Chester A. Arthur, after Garfield's assassination.

He asked to be appointed Minister to Britain or France instead. He was United States Minister to France from 1881 to 1885. (A deluded Charles J. Guiteau, reportedly decided to murder Garfield after he was "passed over" as minister to France.)

Morton was very popular in France. He helped commercial relations between the two countries run smoothly during his term, and, in Paris on October 24, 1881, he placed the first rivet in the construction of the Statue of Liberty. (It was driven into the big toe of Lady Liberty’s left foot.)

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