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Declaration Signer’s Son Puts Off Love and Business as He Leaves to Join Nathanael Greene’s Southern Army
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LEWIS V. MORRIS. Autograph Letter Signed, to S. [Samuel?] White, November 1, 1780, Philadelphia. 2 pp., 6½ x 8¼ in.

Inventory #24193       Price: $2,950

Complete Transcript

                    Philadelphia Novr 1st 1780

Dr Sir

            I have received your favor of the 5th ultimo, and wish it was in my power to answer it more fully before I leave this, but I shall set out tomorrow for the Southern Army, and have a thousand little things to command my attention before I go. I need not assure you how much I am obliged to you for your letter. You have been informed of my attachment for our friend and may conceive how pleasing the subject was to me tho’ I am separated from her by a vast ocean and my profession <2> precludes me from following her, still, if fortune, in her kind moments, shold throw me in her way, nothing could be more favorable to my wishes than to convince her of the sincerity of my affection.

I am much obliged to you for your kind offer to interest me in trade if it should be in my power I will become a co-partner, but I believe my attention to military matters will prevent me. I wish to hear from you when you come to Virginia. Your letter will find me at the Head Quarters of the Southern Army. I shall write to our friend, and as you will probably see her from what you hint, will entrust you with the letter. My respects to Mrs N___.

                                                            and believe me / your friend

                                                            Lewis Morris

S. White Esqr

Historical Background

When General George Washington selected General Nathanael Greene to command the Southern Army in October 1780, Greene began preparations to rebuild the Army from Delaware to Georgia. He took command at Hillsborough, North Carolina, on December 3, 1780.  As Greene’s aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis V. Morris accompanied Greene to North Carolina. Under Greene’s leadership, components of the Southern Army went on to victory at the Battle of Cowpens (January 1781), a loss at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse (March 1781) that cost the British heavily in casualties, and a draw at the Battle of Eutaw Springs, South Carolina (September 1781), that forced the British to withdraw to the defenses of Charleston. One month later, Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.

Lewis V. Morris (1754-1824) was born in New York, the son of Lewis Morris III (1726-1798), who signed the Declaration of Independence. The younger Morris graduated from the College of New Jersey (Princeton University) in 1774.  His uncle was Gouverneur Morris, one of the key drafters of the Constitution. Lewis V. Morris served as aide-de-camp to General John Sullivan with the rank of major from 1776 to 1779. He narrowly escaped capture at the Battle of Long Island (August 1776) and was wounded at the Battle of Princeton (January 1777). Promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1778 for his actions in repulsing British forces in Rhode Island, he became aide to General Nathanael Greene in 1779. Late in 1780, when Greene assumed command of the southern army, Morris accompanied him to South Carolina, and later rose to the rank of colonel. He married Ann B. Elliott of Charleston, South Carolina in 1783, and they had eight children. Morris served five terms in the South Carolina General Assembly between 1789 and 1801, and was lieutenant governor from 1794 to 1796. Both he and his wife died at Morrisania, the family’s 2,000-acre estate in Westchester County, New York, and were buried in the churchyard of St. Michael’s in Charleston, South Carolina.


Short separations at folds with very minor loss to text, faint scattered staining.

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