levi p morton

Levi P. Morton


Levi Parsons Morton (May 16, 1824 May 16, 1920) was a Representative from New York and the twenty-second Vice President of the United States. He also later served as Governor of New York.


Morton was born in Shoreham, 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). Older brother David Oliver Morton (1815-1859) was Mayor of Toledo, Ohio from 1849 to 1850. 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. He was appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes as honorary commissioner to the Paris Exhibition of 1878.

Morton was elected as a Republican to the 46th and 47th Congresses, serving from March 4, 1879, until his resignation, effective March 21, 1881. Presidential candidate James A. Garfield asked him to be his vice presidential candidate in 1880, but Morton turned down the offer. If he had accepted and history held true, this would have meant Morton would have become the twenty-first President after Garfield's assassination and not Chester A. Arthur. He asked to be 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, helping commercial relations run smoothly between the two countries during his term and he hammered the first rivet in the construction of the Statue of Liberty in Paris on October 24, 1881 (it was driven into the big toe of Lady Liberty’s left foot). Morton was elected Vice President of the United States on the Republican ticket with Benjamin Harrison, serving from March 4, 1889 to March 4, 1893.

Levi Morton was Governor of New York from 1895 to 1896. He was considered for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1896 which went to William McKinley. Following his public career, he became a real estate investor. He died in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York, on his 96th birthday, the only U.S. President or Vice President to have died on his birthday. He is interred in the Rhinebeck Cemetery.

The Village of Morton Grove, Illinois is named after Morton. He provided the funding necessary to allow Miller's Mill (now Lincoln Avenue) to pass through the upstart neighborhood, and provide goods to trade and sell. Morton Grove was incorporated in December 1895.

Morton owned property in Newport, Rhode Island and lived on tony Bellevue Avenue in "Fairlawn," currently owned by Salve Regina University and housing the Pell Center of International Relations and Public Policy. He left a parcel of nearby property to the city of Newport for use as a park. At the corners of Coggeshall and Morton Avenues (formerly Brenton Road) this land today bears his name, "Morton Park." Morton sold or donated property he owned in Hanover, N.H. to Dartmouth College, and the college built Webster Hall on the land. Morton was considered an honorary alumnus at alumni gatherings in New York.

Morton was the second longest-lived Vice President, living to be exactly 96 years old, beaten only by John Nance Garner. Morton also survived five of his successors in the vice presidency, Adlai E. Stevenson, Garret A. Hobart, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles W. Fairbanks, and James S. Sherman.


He married his first wife, Lucy Young Kimball (July 22, 1836-July 11, 1871), on October 15, 1856 in Flatlands, New York. They had one child together. After her death, he married Anna Livingston Reade Street in 1873. They had five daughters together.


  • National Contest, Containing Portraits and Biographies of Our National Favorites, Darling Bros. & Co., Detroit, Michigan, 1888.

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