Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MORRIS, George P., journalist, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 10 October, 1802; died in New York city, 6 July, 1864. In early life he removed to New York city, and at fifteen years of age wrote for the "New York Gazette" and the "American." In conjunction with Samuel Woodworth he established in 1823 the " New York Mirror," in which Nathaniel P. Willis and Theodore S. Fay were afterward associated, but which was discontinued in 1842 In 1843 Morris and Willis began the publication of " the "New Mirror," which extended to three volumes, and the next year they established the "Evening Mirror," a daily paper. At the close of 1845 Morris founded the "National Press," changing it in November of the following year to the "Home Journal," which he edited with Mr. Willis until a short time before his death He resided for many years at "Undereliff," a beautifully situated country-seat in the Hudson river highlands. He was usually addressed as General Morris, deriving the title from his commission as brigadier-general of the New York militia. He was a versathe and graceful writer, and published " Briarcliff," founded on the events of the American Revolution (New York, 1825) ; a volume of prose sketches called " The Little Frenchman and his Water-Lots " (Philadelphia, 1839); the libretto of Charles E. Horn's " Maid of Saxony " (New York, 1842); and a variety of miscellanies in prose and verse. The last complete edition of his poems appeared in 1860. He also edited a volume of "American Melodies," and with Nathaniel P. Willis " The Prose and Poetry of America" (1845) But it is as a song-writer that he will be best remembered. It is related that for more than twenty years he could any day exchange one of his songs unread for a 850 check when none of the other poets of New York could sell one for the fifth part of that sum. Of these the most popular are the lyrics " Near the Lake where drooped the Willow," " We were Boys together," " Land ho! Long Time Ago," " My Mother's Bible," "Whip-poor-Will," and "Woodman, spare that Tree." The last was founded on the fact that on one occasion a friend took him into the woods not far from Bloomingdale, New York, and pointed out an old elm under which he had played in his youth. While they were examining the tree a man approached and was about to cut it down when Morris's friend offered the workman ten dollars to spare it. The three then went into the woodman's cottage, and Morris drew up a bond to the effect that the tree should be preserved during his friend's lifetime.
So strong was the impression that the incident made on Morris's mind that he commemorated it in verse. A compliment that greatly delighted the author was paid this poem by a member of the British house of commons, who concluded a long speech in favor of protection by quoting it, the tree, according to the speaker, being the constitution, and Sir Robert Peel the woodman about to cut it down. See "Bryant and his Friends," by James Grant Wilson (New York, 1886).--His son, William Hopkins, soldier, born in New York, 22 April, 1826, was graduated at the United States military academy in 1851, but resigned from the army in 1854, and engaged in literary pursuits in 1855-'61. He was commissioned as staff captain and assistant adjutant-general of the United States volunteers in 1861, served in the peninsular campaign of 1862, on 1 September of that year resigned, and became colonel of the 135th New York regiment of infantry, which was changed into the 6th New York artillery. He was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers, 29 November, 1862, served in the Pennsylvania and Rapidan and Richmond campaigns, and was wounded near Spottsylvania. In March, 1865, he was brevetted major-general of volunteers for gallant and meritorious services in the battle of the Wilderness, Nay, 1864. He invented a repeating carbine in 1869, and is the author of "A System of Infantry Tactics" (New York, 1865) and "Tactics for Infantry, armed with Breech-loading or Magazine Rifles" (1882).
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