Abstract

This essay closely examines early American Founder, Gouverneur Morris's personal diaries that he kept while in Paris from 1789 to 1793. Morris's writings make him an obvious candidate for a case study that uses recent and developing literature on the histories of early American disability, sexuality, and masculinity to try to understand Morris's historical context and experiences. Historical memory of Morris depicts his mobility impairment as a personal challenge that he overcame. Although he experienced some negative responses from able-bodied individuals in both America and Europe, he lived in a world that had moved past viewing disability as a physical marker of Godlessness but that had not yet embraced the modern medicalized conceptualization of abnormality and accompanying institutional discrimination. Morris's diaries offer a rare glimpse at the experiences and identity of an eighteenth-century American with a disability.

Introduction

When French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon crafted his famous statue of George Washington, his subject was some three thousand miles away. Working in Paris, the sculptor called upon a man of similar height and build, who just happened to also be an American Founder in his own right, Gouverneur Morris.1 Morris was instrumental in the political development of New York State and later served as U.S. Senator. He also authored the famous "We the People" preamble to the United States Constitution. But few who gaze upon the heroic marble statue of George Washington in the rotunda of the Virginia State Capital today realize that the General's body was modeled from another man — one who was disabled. When Morris was in his twenties, a carriage accident resulted in the amputation of his left leg just below the knee.2 As a teenager he was also burned by scalding water in a manner that rendered his right arm "almost fleshless" and his "right side extensively scarred."3

Recent scholarship on the history of disability reminds us of the myriad ways that both visible and invisible disabilities have been rendered absent from the historical narrative. This essay contributes to the "new disability history," which as Paul K. Longmore and David Goldberger observe, "shows disability's pervasive presence in history and its conspicuous absence from historiography."4 One reason that disability has been under-recognized is that because it is often seen "as a product of nature has seemed to obviate the need or possibility of studying disability as an artifact or construct."5 For as these studies remind us, disability, like race, renders itself rooted in biology, but is always socially and culturally constructed — and therefore historically contingent. Thus disability studies stand in strong comparison to the history of sexuality in that both emerged only once scholars began to view such previously naturalized concepts, sexuality and disability, as socially constructed and therefore with their own histories.

This essay also contributes to a growing body of literature that demonstrates the historicity of manliness and disability. As Anthony Rotundo argues, the late nineteenth century saw an increased emphasis on the body as a site for masculinity — but he also notes, as is often overlooked, that the culture had long viewed the physical body as important for indicating manly vigor.6 Frances Clarke's conclusion that Civil War amputees mustered a masculine model of sacrifice, for example, is, as she argues, an important correction to a literature that often "anticipate[s] the literature on post-World War I war wounds, which interpret the loss of a limb as a mark of feminization or humiliation."7 This finding echoes what scholars have argued about other disabilities as well. Catherine Kudlick, for example, argues that a blind merchant in eighteenth-century Paris facing divorce defended himself by approaching the court in a way that "wrote against the feminized position in which it placed him." She finds that although in the nineteenth century he would have been limited him to portraying himself as an object to "pity," in the eighteenth century he was not "rendered unquestionably feminine" by his disability, and as such, he could "defend his manhood" successfully.8 Morris's case suggests that we should also not assume loss of a limb signaled weakness or emasculation in the late eighteenth century.

I. Shifting Portrayals

Popular sources today view Morris's disability as a hurdle he cleared and link it to his sexual life. (Morris was a bachelor who enjoyed sexual relationships with married and unmarried women for nearly his entire life, marrying at the age of 57.9 ) The ever-changing Wikipedia once included under "personal life and legacy" the following: "Unhampered by his wooden leg, he led a lively life with both married and unmarried women."10 The Philadelphia Constitution Center biographical sketch euphemistically gestures to his extensive romantic history, reading: "As a young man, Morris lost his leg in a freak carriage accident, but this did not appear to diminish his very active engagement with women."11 Finally, a recent popular biography psychologizes Morris and frames his disability as a motivating force in his personal interactions with women, writing: "whenever a married woman loved him, she proved thereby that he was better than some other man, even a man who was physically whole."12 Such characterizations do little to explore the historicizing of disability and run the risk of reinforcing the view of it as an individualized pathology.

Recent excellent academic studies of Morris self-consciously take as their goal securing public recognition of an overlooked Founding Father. It is noteworthy, therefore, that all echo the above popular depictions in their framing of his disability as a non-issue, rendering him virtually able-bodied — and presumably more appealing to readers. Melanie Miller, for example, reminds us that he "never expressed self-pity" and that "even with a wooden leg" he was physically impressive.13 James J. Kirschke emphasizes that Morris "never complained," was "fundamentally robust," "routinely walked nine miles a day" and once "had a stumble when he cursed the mud, but who has lived into his or her forties and has not?"14 Biographies also make use of the fact that Morris stood in as the body double for Washington to reinforce this able-bodied portrayal. "There could be no more indisputable evidence of the magnificence of the bearing of this man with the wooden leg," exclaims one author. "Paris must have been full of hungry models."15 Richard Brookhiser similarly remarks on his "impressive bearing," noting parenthetically that "Houdon used him as a body double for a statue of George Washington."16 Several biographies include an image of the completed sculpture — standing in for Morris's body in effect — the caption reading that Gouverneur Morris "posed for the body."17

This characterization has a long history, beginning in the nineteenth century with Jared Spark's earliest depiction of Morris as exhibiting "elasticity of spirits and cheerfulness of temper" after losing his leg.18 His twentieth-century biographers, Theodore Roosevelt among them, rendered the amputation as an obstacle for Morris to overcome and Morris was depicted as both a victim and the cause of it. Roosevelt remains the only biographer to blame Morris for the accident. "Occasionally he showed whimsical peculiarities, usually about very small things, that brought him into trouble; and one such freak cost him a serious injury," wrote Roosevelt. "In his capacity of young man of fashion, he used to drive about town in a phaeton with a pair of small, spirited horses; and because of some whim, he would not allow the groom to stand at their heads," he explained. "So one day they took fright, ran, threw him out, and broke his leg. The leg had to be amputated," remarked Roosevelt, thus finishing the scenario that places the blame for the accident squarely on Morris's neglect and personal "whim." Reflecting the modern social view of disability as an emasculating loss, he noted "and he was ever afterwards forced to wear a wooden one."19 [Emphasis Added]

In the nineteenth century, biographies of the men commonly referred to as Founding Fathers played a disproportionate role in teaching Americans about their history with the particular goal of cultivating moral, national character.20 His Victorian and early twentieth-century biographers omitted his extra-marital sexual life, casting him as a chaste bachelor, befitting of a Founding Father. While recent books have begun to acknowledge his intimate life, sometimes in a sensational manner, we have yet to come to terms with his mobility impairment.21

To be fair, Morris does seem to have handled the injury with strength and fortitude — from what we know — yet in simply repeating the same stories with their emphasis on overcoming the injury, they commit an erasure of this aspect of his identity and experiences. The effect of this emphasis is to render his disability invisible, and him able-bodied (much the way that Victorian biographers recast this sexually active unmarried man as a chaste bachelor). To view him as virtually-so or to over emphasize how he overcame his disability reinforces the view of disability as a "series of physiological, psychological, and functional pathologies originating within the bodies of individuals."22

Morris's life and legacy make him an obvious candidate for a case study that uses recent and developing literature on the histories of early American disability and masculinity to try to understand Morris's historical context and experiences.23 If we read his diaries closely, we can catch glimpses of moments that tell us something about his experiences and identity. Although it is impossible to extrapolate from one case, his writings suggest a nascent cultural construction that "othered" disabled individuals. As a disabled man, Morris's writings offer glimpses of identity prior to the nineteenth and twentieth-century medicalization and ostracization of those with disabilities.24 Although he experienced some negative responses from able-bodied individuals in both America and Europe, he seemed largely to operate in a world that had moved past viewing disability as a physical marker of Godlessness, but that had not yet embraced the modern medicalized conceptualization of abnormality and accompanying institutional discrimination.25 Nonetheless, his personal reflections also suggest the emerging cultural shift to normalizing bodies.

II. Salon Life

Morris's diaries begin on March 1, 1789. Morris went to France on largely personal business in January 1789. By 1792 he was appointed finance minister for the United States. After traveling in Europe and being abroad for nearly ten years, Morris returned to America in 1799. When he first arrived in Paris, France was still an absolute monarchy under King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Although his diaries and later writings reveal casual intimate encounters with several women, his main relationship before marriage was with a married woman, Adèlaide de Flahaut. Morris was hardly unique in his sexual expression, and such affairs were not unusual. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin both had romantic relationships with married women while in Paris.26 Urban Europe may have offered more opportunities for intimacy, but as recent scholarship on late eighteenth-century New York and Philadelphia has shown, there was, of course, no shortage of sexual outlets in early America.27

Shortly after arriving, Morris acclimated to the salon culture. By the outbreak of the French Revolution, salons moved from elite social culture to politicized public sphere for French aristocracy and intellectual elites. "Both salons and mondanité (society life) existed in close proximity to the worlds of politics, literature, art, fashion, and business, all of which preoccupied French elites."28 The salons were part of a broader culture that Morris appears to have enjoyed as he conducted his political and business engagements. Salons included eating, dancing, and were generally known for "a luxurious space, feminine governance, a select company, polite conversation" and heterosociability.29 As an American statesman, Morris would not have been out of place at the salons he frequented. As Steven Kale reminds us "politicians, diplomats, artists, and journalists frequented the same salons and participated in the same system of social networks."30 Salons, headed by women, were fully part of the emerging public sphere of the French Revolution.31

As a disabled American, he would have cut a doubly distinct figure in salon society. Scholars on the body and on disability specifically have shown the early modern period closely associated disability and deformity with signs from God that deviance had taken place. "The surface of the body," Mary Fissell reminds us, "was supposed to speak truth about aspects of an individual's innermost core."32 In the early modern period "deviance," Hal Gladfelder, argues "produces a bodily signature."33 In particular there were sexual associations with monstrous births and other marks of illness. Although the "relationship between sin and bodily marking was slow to disappear," it is clear that in Morris's circles older cultural associations between deviant sex and deformity blended with newer Enlightenment explanations based on reason and pointing to a "diagnosis" and a "cure."34 Recent scholarship has noted the increased medicalization and discrimination of those defined as disabled in the modern era.

Morris's disability at times elicited humor in both America and Europe — often with sexual overtones. As David M. Turner and Kevin Stagg point out, "in the early modern period, deformity carried moral stigma and could also be a source of laughter and contempt."35 This appears to be at work in Morris's world. Jokes are told about his losing his leg while escaping a jealous husband. He shuts down some jokes such as in a letter exchange with John Jay (who would later become first Chief Justice of the United States). Jay wrote that "a certain married woman after much use of your leg had occasioned your losing one." In a double-entendre that poked fun at his reputation for being a ladies' man, Jay wrote a friend that it would have been better if Gouverneur Morris had "lost something else."36 In reply to Jay, Gouverneur Morris reflected little of the intended humorous barb and wrote "Let it pass. The leg is gone, and there is an end of the matter."37 But insensitive stories continued. A decade later an Englishman wrote in his diary that he had met Gouverneur Morris and described him as a man who had lost his leg "in consequence of jumping from a window in an affair of gallantry."38 Such banter illustrates an Enlightenment distancing from an earlier era that had situated deformity and illness in a moral Godly framework; yet it retains vestiges of moral judgment. It also indicates a social and cultural construction of disability far removed from the medicalized model and harsh stigma of the twentieth century, yet one that still underscored personal difference stemming from bodily deviance.

The early modern conceptualization of his disability as a physical indicator of his interior self often manifested itself through erotics. In one diary entry Morris recounts a ribald exchange with a woman at a dinner party. "How I lost my leg?" She must have asked. "It was, unfortunately, not in the military service of my country." His answer suggests that he at times performed an explicit social comfort with not being able to wear his disability as a badge of honor — the missing limb from "service to his country" — a cavalier attitude he wore on his sleeve, perhaps in defense of her singling out his anatomy in such a way. It also establishes him as distinct from her current lover which he later notes is serving in the military. He noted that she was attracted to him: "'Monsieur, vous avez l'air tres imposant,' and this is accompanied with that look which, without being what Sir John Falstaff calls the 'leer of invitation' amounts to the same thing." However this goes nowhere raising the question of sincere interest, for

in the midst of the chat arrive letters, one of which is from her lover … now with his regiment. It brings her to a little recollection, which a little time will, I think, again banish, and, in all human probability, a few interviews would stimulate her curiosity to the experiment of what can be effected by the native of a new world who has left one of his legs behind. But, malheureusement, this curiosity cannot now be gratified, and therefore will, I presume, perish.

For Morris, himself perhaps bested in this situation by a man "with his regiment," his only recourse, he believes, is to play the role of "experiment" — to push her beyond a threshold and suggest that his disability makes him unique and specially designed for enjoyment. That it will "perish" because he can't move the conversation in this direction again suggests that he may have been fighting an uphill battle — one of bias against a man with one leg instead of two.39 In another diary entry he noted a similar experience that linked his physical body with his masculine and sexual salon presence: "Dress and go at four to Made Foucault's. Dine, & after Dinner, in chatting on one Side, among other Things it is a Question as to the Causes why Children have or have not the Talents and Beauty of those who produce them. I tell her that I wish she loved me enough to let me give her a Child." Her response suggests a hesitation, playfully based on his disability. "She asks if I think myself able. I reply that at least I could do my best."40 These entries suggest a sense of self in opposition to able-bodied individuals and their world. But we would be remiss to ignore the fact that Morris's physical impairment did not deny him the sexual banter typical of salon culture.

Morris's diaries show that his mobility impairment may have been acknowledged in salon banter, but did not entirely prevent his access to physical intimacy — and he was not the only man with a mobility-impairment who engaged in intimate relations with desirable women of the elite salon culture. Madame de Flahaut had a steady relationship also with Bishop Talleyrand who himself was disabled, having a congenital birth defect which left him with a pronounced limp, commonly referred to as a club foot. Although inconclusive, we might tease out of Morris's diaries Madame de Flahaut's attempts to play the two men off one another as they competed for her full attention. In one example October 14, 1789 Morris went to her place to dine. "She says we must be chaste which I agree to. After Dinner we chat and laugh but approach to a Breach of her Orders, when she receives a Note from the Bishop." The note informed them that Talleyrand was to arrive at 5:30, and so she told Morris that he should leave by 5pm. This spurning provoked him, and he in turn manipulated and took pride in it: "I put on a decent Share of Coldness and oblige her to solicit Embraces which I refuse." "This disconcerts her very much" he wrote. "However at last I confer the Joy repeatedly and promise to return to Supper."41 Here Morris used withholding and "conferring" as a strategy to deal with being second choice.

On another day he again expressed being acutely aware of Madame de Flahaut's relationship with Talleyrand and used sex to position himself in regards to their competition. He wrote "Go to the Palais royal; having just after the Bishop was gone performed certain Gesticulations which would have been a little awkward in his Presence. My friend received such Pleasure that I could not get away from her till after four."42 Here he combined wit, timing, and sexual skills to assert his position in relation to Talleyrand. In one final triumphant example, nearly a year later, he remarked, "After many sentimental Caresses we proceed with Energy to the last Act which is forcibly impressed and as a natural Consequence her Heart is opened. She declares that the Bishop shall not have her."43

III. Disability and Identity

Often his diary entries reflect this type of positioning himself in the community of men. As Mark Kann has shown, the founding generation viewed the new nation as a fraternal republic of men.44 For Morris, Talleyrand was a reference point for his masculine sexuality. He who had access to Madame de Flahaut's body was essentially the victor in these minor competitions. Morris fashioned himself as able to keep a rather cool demeanor throughout — leaving when not desired, and taking pleasure in the moments when he was selected over others. He jockeyed for attention and when he received it, often noted how it came at the expense of other men.

There are suggestions of a developing negative cultural context that viewed those with disabilities as distinct from those without disabilities — raising the question of unfettered access to that fraternity. In one instance, a friend of the man who Morris had replaced as minister to France used Morris's disability in a letter to Thomas Jefferson. Angry that her friend lost the position to Morris, she wrote that Morris would be "'better placed'" in Holland, "at least with respect to his physical handicaps; canals would fatigue him less than streets.'"45 Notably, she mobilized this feigned concern for him only out of irritation that he had been appointed to a position she believed her friend should hold. Pointing out his physical limitations may well have been a way to underscore his weakness as a man in such a position.

Morris's diaries indicate that he did view himself as "other" in both Europe and America. Morris's diary entries reveal recorded moments that suggest how he was perceived as a disabled man. The view of him as different is often marked by curiosity and a perception that his physical difference reflected his individual self. In one entry he recorded in his diary while traveling, an official looked at his passport, but "ma[de] no mention of my wooden leg;" presumably many did.46 In another diary entry Morris comments that "domestics" did not know "what to make of" him because of his "simplicity of dress" "wooden leg" and "tone of Republican equality." The disability, his demeanor and dress all would have contrasted with the aristocratic social setting of Parisian salon culture. The fact that servants did not know how to approach him clearly marks him as different — and although it is true that his diaries mention many more details about sex than disability, Morris notes that this hesitation on the part of servants and others "frequently happen[ed] at my first approach."47

We also see Morris viewing able-bodied individuals as unaware of his experience — reinforcing a gulf between himself and others. Morris's diaries detail the mechanical devices and technologies available to him — much of which he apparently found annoying. He tried a new style of cork leg while in Europe, only to reject it. He also wrote of the near incompetence of an able-bodied leg maker who had to make a plaster mold twice, much to Morris's annoyance. Morris complained that he had been "detained under these operations until after four o'clock," which made him nearly late for necessary dinner preparations. "By the awkwardness of the workman I am long detained, and obliged to have a second copy made; in fact, he has not one needful thing, which is a box for taking the model by." Because of his frustration he takes the time to make a model of the "stump" as well, "so as to prevent the necessity of frequent sittings to have the cushions fitted." For something that seems to be so important, it appears here as a genuine inconvenience and potential waste of time to him. "I am detained under these operations until after four o'clock." He had already been told by the man that the "machinery will be less solid than the simple stick" which he used. In the end, he found a wooden leg to be perhaps the most sensible, albeit imperfect prosthetic.48

Morris typically wrote of his body in positive terms. Unlike many early Americans, pain did not appear much in Morris's personal writings and did not inform his identity.49 But in a few places Morris noted physical discomfort. In one notable entry he recorded with frustration: "This morning walk and get a fall in the Street which barks my Stump a little."50 In another entry, Morris remarked on pain and irritation in both legs, which he attributed to the leg: "I am troubled with spasmodic affections of the nervous system which give great pain at times in the stump of my amputated leg, and, in the other leg, an anxious sensation which I conceive to arise from some derangement of the nervous system, and therefore I must expose myself more to the air and take exercise."51 Such complaints were rare and stand in contrast to his view of his body as a source of physical pleasure for himself and Adèlaide de Flahaut.

In one diary entry, Morris recorded an afternoon that involved dinner with a group of able-bodied friends he would describe as "beautiful" and "handsome." This afternoon also included a visit to a place that would cause him some discomfort: the Hótel Royal des Invalides, a hospital for old and injured soldiers.52 Here Morris noted many impressive features to the visit — "a most magnificent piece of architecture. The chapel and the dome are sublime." And while there, he noted the institutional aspects of the facility: "In the kitchen we are made to observe, among other things, a little kettle with 2,500 pounds of beef for tomorrow's soup; another, with a smaller quantity, for messieurs les officiers."

But for Morris, the architecture and the quantities of food were not the focal point of the day:

A spectacle which excited the greatest effect in my mind was a number of mutilated veterans on their knees in the chapel. The most sincere devotion. Poor wretches! they have no hope on this side of the grave. The women went on their knees when we came near the sacristy. At M. Millet's suggestion, I made a prayer for the two handsomest, which they liked quite as well as any in the Missal. M. Millet tells me that he heard a number of the "invalides" expressing their pity that so fine a man should have lost his leg. He did not perceive me give one of them a crown, or he would have known how to appreciate the compliment and the compassion.

For Morris the fact that the men lost their limbs in war (veterans) may have made their status all the more honorable, their poverty more compelling. His comment at the end of this passage emphasizes that the able-bodied man accompanying him clearly did not grasp the situation. M. Millet appears to be grouping Morris with the disabled veterans — he suggests Morris make the prayer. Millet assumes the veterans offer their "compassion" to Morris because of his own lost limb. Yet Morris describes positioning himself as not one of these men. He uses his wealth to do so, offering the prayer only to those he deems most worthy ("the two handsomest"), and notes that Millet is unaware that Morris is receiving pity from the men only because, as far as he's concerned, he showed them charity.

Conclusion

If in the twentieth century Morris's disability would have labeled him crippled — and potentially ostracized him both socially and legally from society, we see little of that status in the late eighteenth century.53 As an elite man, Morris clearly enjoyed fewer limitations than late eighteenth-century disabled men of lower status. His mobility and success in his own time suggest less restriction and stigma than would emerge in the twentieth century in both Europe and America. Nonetheless we do see places in his diary that indicate an emerging sense of difference — not just physical — but also linked to individual identity.

Morris's reflections on moments where his disability disrupt his daily life in Paris, reveal much about the social construction of disability prior to its medicalization — as well as offer glimpses of the experiences and the identity of a disabled man in the late eighteenth century. Future research on early America, in order to head the call of scholars and activists in the new disability studies, must indeed first acknowledge the historicity of disability and avoid the impulse to treat a variety of physical and mental conditions as individual hurdles to either clear or stumble over.

Unlike other "Founding Fathers" who, as Gordon Wood reminds us, self-consciously wrote personal papers with an eye to public memory, Morris seems to have paid too little attention to his legacy to have initially secured a place among the most remembered political leaders of the founding era.54 As others have remarked, Morris was "indifferent to posterity."55 Perhaps his unconventional body and private life prevented him from being able to fashion a model of manhood that he felt could be publicly remembered. Perhaps he didn't care.

Endnotes

  1. William Howard Adams, Gouverneur Morris: An Independent Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), xvi. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries only four full-length biographies were published. Max M. Mintz, Gouverneur Morris and the American Revolution (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970); Theodore Roosevelt, Gouverneur Morris (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1899); Jared Sparks, The life of Gouverneur Morris: with selections from his correspondence and miscellaneous papers; detailing events in the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and in the political history of the United States 3 vols. (Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1832); Howard Swiggett, The Extraordinary Mr. Morris (New York: Double Day, 1952). Morris's granddaughter and great granddaughter published selected letters and edited diaries. Beatrix Cary Davenport, ed., A Diary of the French Revolution by Gouverneur Morris, 1752-1816 2 vols. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1939); Anne Cary Morris, ed., The Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris, Minister of the United States to France; Member of the Constitutional Convention 2 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1888).

    Perhaps responding to "Founders chic," publishers put forth three academic works and one popular biography since 2003. Adams, Gouverneur Morris: An Independent Life; Richard Brookhiser: Gentleman Revolutionary: the Rake who Wrote the Constitution (New York: Free Press, 2003); James J. Kirschke, Gouverneur Morris: Author, Statesman, and Man of the World (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2005); and Melanie Randolph Miller, Envoy to the Terror: Gouverneur Morris and the French Revolution (Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books, 2006).


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  2. Although a recent biographer offers that the "simple answer" to nearly two centuries of neglect is because of a "persistent problem of mistaken identity," confusing him with the (unrelated) Robert Morris, two aspects of his life, his sexuality and disability, may have made him a difficult subject for American memorializing. Adams, Gouverneur Morris, xi.

    Popular biographies of the so-called Founding Fathers have long heralded that cadre as an extraordinary group of individuals whom Americans should emulate, yet whom we could never match in greatness. For a recent example see Gordon Wood, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founding Fathers Different (New York: Penguin Press, 2006). For an overview of the controversy over what some see as a renewed hagiography of the Founding Fathers see David Waldstreicher, "Founders Chic as Culture War," Radical History Review 84 (Fall 2002): 185-94.

    Morris's non-normative body and sexuality hardly made him suited to serve as a model of American manhood, which has long emphasized both normative bodies and sexuality contained by marital monogamy. Thomas A. Foster, Sex and the Eighteenth-Century Man: Massachusetts and the History of Sexuality in America (Boston: Beacon, 2006); Christopher Looby, "Republican Bachelorhood: Sex and Citizenship in the Early United States," Historical Reflections/Reflexions Historiques 33 (Spring 2007): 89-100; Laura Mandell, "What's Sex Got to Do with It? Marriage versus Circulation in the Pennsylvania Magazine, 1775-76," in Foster, ed., Long Before Stonewall: Histories of Same-Sex Sexuality in Early America (New York: New York University Press, 2007), 331-56; Dana D. Nelson, National Manhood: Capitalist Citizenship and the Imagined Fraternity of White Men (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998); Anthony Rotundo, American Manhood: Transformations in American Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era (New York: Basic, 1994); Bryce Traister, "The Wandering Bachelor: Irving, Masculinity, and Authorship," American Literature 74 (2002): 111-37; Scott Slawinski, Validating Bachelorhood: Audience, Patriarchy and Charles Brockden Brown's Editorship of the Monthly Magazine and American Review (New York: Routledge, 2005).

    On bachelors in American culture, see for example, Howard P. Chudacoff, The Age of the Bachelor: Creating an American Subculture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999); Barbara Ehrenreich, The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment (New York: Anchor, 1987).


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  3. His injury is described in Max Farrand, ed., The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1937) as cited by Kirschke, Gouverneur Morris, 13, fn. 31, 283.


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  4. Paul K. Longmore and David Goldberger, "The League of the Physically Handicapped and the Great Depression: A Case Study in the New Disability History," The Journal of American History, Vol. 87, No. 3, (Dec., 2000), 889.


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  5. Longmore and David Goldberger, "The League of the Physically Handicapped," 891.


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  6. See Rotundo, Manhood in America, 222-23.


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  7. Frances Clarke, "'Honorable Scars': Northern Amputees and the Meaning of Civil War Injuries," in Paula A. Cimbala and Randall M. Miller, eds., Union Soldiers and the Northern Home Front: Wartime Experiences, Postwar Adjustments (New York: Fordham University Press, 2002), 363. See also, Daniel J. Wilson, "Fighting Polio Like a Man: Intersections of Masculinity, Disability, and Aging," in Smith and Hutchinson, eds., Gendering Disability, 119-33.


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  8. Kudlick, "'Disability' and 'Divorce,'" 142.


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  9. Even when Morris married, he continued to cross boundaries. His spouse, Ann Cary Randolph, had a checkered reputation -- having been accused of having a child with her brother-in-law, who was tried and later acquitted for murdering the newborn to cover up the scandal. See Alan Crawford, Unwise Passions - A True Story of a Remarkable Woman - and the First Great Scandal of Eighteenth-Century America (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005). See also, Christopher L. Doyle, "The Randolph Scandal in Early National Virginia, 1792-1815: New Voices in the "Court of Honour," Journal of Southern History 69 (2003): 283-318.


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  10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gouverneur_Morris January 17, 2007.


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  11. http://www.constitutioncenter.org/explore/FoundingFathers/Pennsylvania.shtml Accessed July 8, 2008 at 8:56pm.


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  12. Brookhiser, Gentleman Revolutionary, 63.


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  13. Miller, Envoy to the Terror, 5, 21.


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  14. Kirschke, Gouverneur Morris, 186, 117.


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  15. Swiggett, Extraordinary Mr. Morris, 166.


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  16. Brookhiser, Gentleman Revolutionary, xiii.


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  17. Mintz, Gouverneur Morris and the American Revolution.


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  18. Sparks, The Life of Gouverneur Morris, 223.


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  19. Roosevelt, Gouverneur Morris, 109-110.


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  20. John H. Summers, "What Happened to Sex Scandals? Politics and Peccadilloes, Jefferson to Kennedy," Journal of American History 87 (December 2000), 825-854. On biography see Scott E. Casper, Constructing American Lives: Biography and Culture in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1999). On print culture and national identity in the early Republic see for example, Jay Fliegelman, Declaring Independence: Jefferson, Natural Language, and the Culture of Performance (Stanford University Press, 1993); Christopher Looby, Voicing America: Language, Literary Form, and the Origins of the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998); and Michael Warner, The Letters of the Republic: Publication and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century America (Cambridge: Harvard reprint edition, 2006).


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  21. The scholarship on disability studies suggests that there are good reasons to study sexuality and disability in tandem. In his essay on the modern cultural construction of masculinity and disability through a focus on amputees and military heteronormativity, David Serlin's conclusions are especially apt in regards to public memory of Morris: "We see how the compulsive focus on bodily norms expresses a particular pathology in American culture that valorizes heteronormative masculinity at the exclusion of other possibilities of human experience." David Serlin, "Crippling Masculinity: Queerness and Disability in U.S. Military Culture, 1800-1945," GLQ 9:1-2 (2003), 173. See also, Ann M. Fox, "'But, Mother - I'm - crippled!' Tennessee Williams, Queering Disability, and Dis/Membered Bodies in Performance," in Smith and Hutchinson, eds., Gendering Disability, 233-50.

    By exploring the sexual life and identity of a disabled man, this essay also begins to address the tendency, both among today's scholars and historical popular conception, of seeing disability as essential de-sexualizing. Russel P. Shuttleworth and Linda Mona note that "sexual access" to cultural representations of erotics has consistently been denied individuals with disabilities and calls for more positive sexual representations of disabled people. Russel P. Shuttleworth and Linda Mona, "Introduction to the Symposium: Disability and Sexuality, Toward a Focus on Sexual Access," Disability Studies Quarterly 22 (Fall 2002), 3. Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, vol. 1: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage, 1978).


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  22. Paul K. Longmore, Why I Burned My Book And Other Essays on Disability (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003), 1.


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  23. On the history of disability see for example, Paul K. Longmore, "The Life of Randolph Bourne and the Need for a History of Disabled People," Reviews in American History 13 (December 1985): 581-87; Longmore, "Uncovering the Hidden History of Disabled People," Reviews in American History 15 (September 1987): 355-64; Paul Longmore and David Goldberger, "The League of the Physically Handicapped and the Great Depression: A Case Study in the New Disability History," Journal of American History 87:3 (December 2000): 888-922; Paul K. Longmore and Lauri Umansky, The New Disability History: American Perspectives (New York: New York University Press, 2001); David Serlin, "Crippling Masculinity: Queerness and Disability in U.S. Military Culture, 1800-1945," GLQ 9:1-2 (2003), 173; and Bonnie G. Smith and Beth Hutchinson, eds., Gendering Disability (New York: Rutgers University Press, 2004).

    On the history of sexuality in early America see for example Sharon Block, Rape and Sexual Power in Early America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2006); Cornelia Dayton, Women before the Bar: Gender, Law, and Society in Connecticut, 1639-1789 (Chapel Hill: UNC Press for the OIEAHC, 1995); Kirsten Fischer, Suspect Relations: Sex, Race, and Resistance in Colonial North Carolina (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002); Thomas A. Foster, Sex and the Eighteenth-Century Man: Massachusetts and the History of Sexuality in America (Boston: Beacon, 2006); Richard Godbeer, Sexual Revolution in Early America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002); Clare A. Lyons, Sex Among the Rabble: An Intimate History of Gender and Power in the Age of Revolution, Philadelphia, 1730-1830 (Chapel Hill: UNC Press for the OIEAHC, 2006); Merril D. Smith, ed., Sex and Sexuality in Early America (New York: NYU Press, 1998); Roger Thompson, Sex in Middlesex: Popular Mores in a Massachusetts County, 1649-1699 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1986).

    On early American masculinity see for example, Toby L. Ditz, "Shipwrecked; or Masculinity Imperiled: Mercantile Representations of Failure and the Gendered Self in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia," Journal of American History 81 (1994): 51-80; Thomas A. Foster, ed., New Men: Manliness in Early America (New York: New York University Press, 2011); Thomas A. Foster, Sex and the Eighteenth-Century Man: Massachusetts and the History of Sexuality in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 2006); Jane Kamensky, "Talk Like a Man: Speech, Power, and Masculinity in Early New England," Gender and History 8 (1996): 22-47; Mark E. Kann, A Republic of Men: The American Founders, Gendered Language, and Patriarchal Politics (New York: New York University Press, 1998); Ann M. Little, Abraham in Arms: War and Gender in Colonial New England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2007); Anne S. Lombard, Making Manhood: Growing Up Male in Colonial New England (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003); and Lisa Wilson, Ye Heart of a Man: The Domestic Life of Men in Colonial New England (New Haven: Yale University, 1999).


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  24. The history of the body itself is relatively new in the historiography of early America. See, for example, Janet Moore Lindman and Michele Lise Tarter, eds., A Centre of Wonders: The Body in Early America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001).


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  25. On disability in eighteenth-century France see for example, Catherine J. Kudlick, "'Disability' and 'Divorce': A Blind Parisian Cloth Merchant Contemplates his Options in 1756," in Smith and Hutchinson, eds., Gendering Disability, 134-44; and Harlan Lane, A Deaf Artist in Early America: The Worlds of John Brewster Jr. (Boston: Beacon Press, 2004), esp. ch. 12 "The French Roots of the American Deaf-World," 56-58.


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  26. See for example, William L. Chew, III, "'Straight' Sam Meets 'Lewd' Louis: American Perceptions of French Sexuality, 1775-1815," in W. M. Verhoeven and Beth Dolan Kautz, eds., Revolutions & Watersheds: Transatlantic Dialogues, 1775-1815 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1999), 61-86.


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  27. Morris had a reputation for being a ladies' man even in his early 20s in America. See for example, Adams, Gouverneur Morris, 29. On late eighteenth-century urban centers, see for example, Timothy J. Gilfoyle, City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790-1920 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1992); Godbeer, Sexual Revolution in America; and Lyons, Sex Among the Rabble. See also, Nancy Isenberg, Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr (New York: Viking, 2007), 233-35.


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  28. Steven Kale, French Salons: High Society and Political Sociability from the Old Regime to the Revolution of 1848 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), 2. Lynn Hunt, Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004); On connections between politics and sexuality see for example Hunt, ed., Eroticism and the Body Politic (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991).


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  29. Kale, French Salons, 3.


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  30. Kale, French Salons, 7.


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  31. On women, salons, and the development of the public sphere in France see for example, Roger Chartier, ed., The Cultural Origins of the French Revolution translated by Lydia G. Cochrane (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991); Robert Darnton, The Literary Underground of the Old Regime (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982); Dena Goodman, The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994); Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society translated by Thomas Burger (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989); Joan B. Landes, Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988); and Sarah Maza, Private Lives and Public Affairs: The Causes Cé lèbres of Prerevolutionary France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993).


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  32. Mary E. Fissell, "Hairy Women and Naked Truths: Gender and the Politics of Knowledge in Aristotle's Masterpiece," William and Mary Quarterly 60 (January 2003), 60. See also, Crane, "'I Have Suffer'd Much Today'; and David Waldstreicher, "The Long Arm of Benjamin Franklin," in Katherine Ott, David Serlin, and Stephen Mihm, eds., Artificial Parts, Practical Lives: Modern Histories of Prosthetics (New York: New York University Press, 2002), 300-326.


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  33. Hal Gladfelder, "Plague Spots," in David M. Turner and Kevin Stagg, eds., Social Histories of Disability and Deformity (London: Routledge, 2006), 56.


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  34. Turner and Stagg, eds., Social Histories of Disability and Deformity, 4-8, 57.


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  35. Turner and Stagg, eds., Social Histories of Disability and Deformity, 57.


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  36. Kirschke, Gouverneur Morris, 119.


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  37. Mintz, Gouverneur Morris, 141.


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  38. Davenport, ed., A Diary of the French Revolution, 2: 247.


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  39. Morris, Diary and Letters, 1: 165.


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  40. The Papers of Gouverneur Morris, original diary entry for March 19, 1791, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC (hereafter Diary, LOC). March 19, 1791.


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  41. Diary, LOC October 14, 1789.


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  42. Diary, LOC December 14, 1789.


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  43. Diary, LOC November 13, 1790.


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  44. Kann, A Republic of Men.


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  45. Miller, Envoy to the Terror, fn. 44, 256.


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  46. Morris, Diary and Letters, 2: 72.


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  47. Morris, Diary and Letters, 1: 358.


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  48. Morris, Diary and Letters, 1: 316-18. On the history of prosthetics see for example, Ott, Serlin, and Mihm, eds., Artificial Parts, Practical Lives.


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  49. Elaine Forman Crane, "'I Have Suffer'd Much Today': The Defining Force of Pain in Early America," in Ronald Hoffman, Mechal Sobel, and Fredrika J. Teute, eds., Through a Glass Darkly: Reflections on Personal Identity in Early America, 370-403.


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  50. Diary, LOC March 29, 1791.


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  51. Morris, Diary and Letters, 1: 299.


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  52. Morris, Diary and Letters, 1: 62-63.


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  53. Paul Longmore, Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003), 20. Disability scholars remind us, for example, that places like Chicago in the twentieth century passed ordinances restricting the movement of disabled individuals in public, most notably the poor and homeless.


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  54. Wood, Revolutionary Characters.


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  55. Miller, Envoy to the Terror, 243.


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Copyright (c) 2012 Thomas A. Foster



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