Richard Valentine Morris

Richard Valentine Morris (March 8, 1768 – May 13, 1815) was a United States Navy officer and politician.[1]

Richard Valentine Morris
Member of the New York State Assembly from Westchester Co.
In office
July 1, 1813 – June 30, 1814
Preceded byDarius Crosby
Succeeded byWilliam Requa
Personal details
Born(1768-03-08)March 8, 1768
Morrisania, Province of New York, British America
DiedMay 13, 1815(1815-05-13) (aged 47)
New York City, New York, United States
Political partyFederalist
Anne Walton
(m. 1797)
Parent(s)Lewis Morris
Mary Walton
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1798–1804
First Barbary War

Early lifeEdit

He was born on March 8, 1768, in Morrisania, then a town in Westchester County, which became in 1898 a neighborhood in the borough of the Bronx, New York City. He was one of ten children born to Lewis Morris (1726–1798), a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Mary Walton (1727–1794), a member of a well-known merchant family.[2][3]

His uncles included Staats Long Morris, Richard Morris, the Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court, and Gouverneur Morris, a United States Senator from New York. His grand-uncle was Robert Hunter Morris, a Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and his great-grandfather was Colonial Governor Lewis Morris. His aunt, Helena Magdalena Morris (1762–1840), was married to John Rutherfurd (1760–1840), a United States Senator from New Jersey who served from 1791 to 1798.[3]


On June 7, 1798, he was appointed as Captain in command of Adams, during the Quasi-War with France and made several successful captures of French vessels. At the reduction of the US Navy after the war with France, Morris was retained as fifth in rank and recalled to command the Mediterranean Squadron in 1802 during the First Barbary War.[4]

In command of Chesapeake, Morris led an unsuccessful blockade of Tripoli, mostly remaining in Gibraltar for the better part of 1803.[5] Morris was relieved of duty and command of the squadron would turn over to Edward Preble in Constitution. Recalled to the United States, Morris faced a court of inquiry which decided that he had not "discovered due diligence and activity in annoying the enemy".[6]

On May 16, 1804, Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith, with the agreement of President Thomas Jefferson, revoked his captaincy in the U.S. Navy and dismissed him from the service.[6][7][8] Morris had brought his wife and young son on board with him and was accused of taking actions "more reflective of a concerned husband and father than a military commander in the midst of a war."[4] In 1804, he published A Defence of the Conduct of Commodore Morris During His Command in the Mediterranean, as a defense to the actions he took while in command of the Mediterranean.[9]

Political careerEdit

From July 1, 1813 until June 30, 1814, Morris was a Federalist member of the New York State Assembly (Westchester Co.), serving in the 37th New York State Legislature.[10]

Personal lifeEdit

On January 24, 1797, Morris was married to Anne Walton (1773–1858).[11] Together, they were the parents of:[12]

  • Lewis Morris (1797–1798), who died young.[13]
  • Gerard Walton Morris (1799–1865), who married Martha Pine in 1827.[12]
  • Richard Valentin Morris, Jr. (1803–1843), who died unmarried.[12]
  • Henry Morris (1805–1854), who married Mary Natalie Spencer (1810–1886), daughter of John Canfield Spencer, in 1831.[12][11]

Morris died in May 1815 in New York City.[12]


  1. ^ "Morris, Richard Valentine". Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Biography of Mary Walton Morris - Colonial Hall". Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Reynolds, Cuyler; Cutter, William Richard (1914). Genealogical and Family History of Southern New York and the Hudson River Valley: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Building of a Nation | Vol. III. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b Tucker, Spencer C. (2014). The Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Early American Republic, 1783–1812: A Political, Social, and Military History [3 volumes]: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. pp. 432–433. ISBN 9781598841572. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  5. ^ Kilmeade, Brian; Yaeger, Don (2015). Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History. Penguin. ISBN 9780698197411. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b The Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812: Or, Illustrations, by Pen and Pencil, of the History, Biography, Scenery, Relics, and Traditions of the Last War for American Independence. Harper & Brothers. 1869. p. 119. ISBN 9780659116796.
  7. ^ David Smethurst (2006). Tripoli: The United States' First War on Terror. Random House Publishing Group. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-89141-859-7.
  8. ^ Morris, Richard Valentine (1787). A Narrative of the Official Conduct of Valentine Morris: Late Captain ... Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  9. ^ Morris, Richard Valentine (1804). A Defence of the Conduct of Commodore Morris During His Command in the Mediterranean: With Strictures on The Report of the Court of Enquiry Held at Washington. New-York: I. Riley and Company. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  10. ^ Hough, Franklin (1858). The New York Civil List: Containing the names and origin of the civil divisions, and the names and dates of election or appointment of the principal state and county officers from the Revolution to the present time. Weed, Parsons and Co. p. 122. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  11. ^ a b Robison, Jeannie Floyd Jones; Bartlett, Henrietta Collins (1917). Genealogical Records: Manuscript Entries of Births, Deaths and Marriages Taken from Family Bibles, 1581-1917. Colonial Dames of the State of New York. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d e Bergen, Tunis Garret (1915). Genealogies of the State of New York: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation. Lewis Historical Publishing Company. p. 1144. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  13. ^ The American Historical Magazine. Publishing Society of New York. 1906. pp. 321-328. Retrieved 15 August 2017.