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This biography is from Landmarks of Albany County, New York, edited by Amasa J. Parker of Albany, N. Y., Syracuse, N. Y.; D. Mason & Co. Publishers, 1897.

Levi P. Morton

Hon. Levi Parsons Morton was born in Shoreham, Vt., May 16, 1824. Mr. Morton is a son of Rev. Daniel O. Morton, a Congregational minister, and is descended from George Morton, who came to America from England in the ship Ann in 1623. Mr. Morton's mother was Lucretia Parsons, whose father and grandfather were both clergymen, and he was named after her brother, who was the first American missionary to Palestine. Owing to the small salary paid Mr. Morton's father, only the elder son had a college education, Levi Parsons having to content himself with a common school education.

When Mr. Morton was about eight years old the family removed to Springfield, Vt., and four or five years later to Winchendon, Mass., where he first earned money by ringing the bell of the church in the town in which his father preached. At the age of fifteen he was employed in the country store of Ezra Casey at Enfield, Mass., where he remained two years. Then he taught a country school. When seventeen he entered the store of W. W. Esterbrook at Concord, N. H. In 1842 he was made manager of a branch store at Hanover, the seat of Dartmouth College. Two years later he was given an interest in the store. For six years Mr. Morton remained in Hanover, each year gaining in experience and knowledge. Mr. Esterbrook was forced to suspend shortly after Mr. Morton became a partner, and J. M. Heebe, of New York, the chief creditor, assumed charge and was so much pleased with Mr. Morton that he gave him his support.

In 1849 Mr. Morton went to Boston, where, as a partner of Mr. Beebe he carried on the dry goods business under the firm name of Beebe, Morgan & Co. In 1854 he removed to New York and founded the dry goods house of Morton, Grinnell & Co. Mr. Morton's partner in the firm of Morton & Grinnell was the son of Hon. George Grinnell, a member of Congress from Massachusetts. The later failure of the firm was largely due to the repudiation of Southern paper in 1861.

Near the close of 1863 Mr. Morton became a banker, the firm name being L. P. Morton & Co. One of the members of the firm, Charles W. McCune, withdrew in 1863. In 1868 George Bliss became a member of the firm, the name being changed to Morton, Bliss & Co. The same year a joint banking house was formed in London, that of Morton, Rose & Co., the leading partner being Sir John Rose, late finance minister of Canada. It was through the efforts of these two houses that a syndicate was formed to assist the United States in resuming specie payments, and by their floating five per cent bonds, it is estimated they saved the government $70,000,000. Mr. Morton's firms also exerted an influence in bringing about the removal of the ill feeling between Great Britain and the United States by settling the Alabama claims satisfactorily.

In 1878 Mr. Morton was elected to Congress and his influence in financial matters was very great. In 1880 President Garfield appointed him minister to France. Mr. Morton hammered the first nail in the construction of the Statue of Liberty and delivered a speech on June 15, 1884, accepting the statue on behalf of the American government. The commercial relations between France and the United States ran smoothly during Mr. Morton's term. June 25, 1888, Mr. Morton was nominated for vice-president on the Republican ticket and was elected the following November. After his term as vice-president Mr. Morton traveled and returned in the summer of 1894. September 18, 1894, Mr. Morton was nominated for governor upon the first ballot of the Republican State Convention at Saratoga, and was elected the following November.

Mr. Morton has been twice married. His first wife was Lucy Kimball, and they had no children. In 1875 Mr. Morton married the daughter of William J. Street, and they have five children, all girls. Mrs. Morton has been of great help to her husband during his political career and her sweet smile and cordial manner are lovingly remembered by all who have met her.

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