This Place in History: Levi P. Morton

Local News

SHOREHAM, Vt.

At ‘This Place in History’, we stop in Shoreham with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins, who introduced us to native Levi Morton, born in 1824.

“He’s one of those classic, self-made guys. He was born to a reverend, who was a reverend at the church here behind us in 1824 and grew up in Shoreham. Then, later he moved to Springfield, Vermont. His parents couldn’t really afford to send him to college, so he learned a trade. He started working in country stores. He worked his way up from a clerk to a manager to, let’s call it a branch manager, for a store in Hanover, New Hampshire,” explained Perkins.

“He ended up owning a series of stores, then he started trading in dry goods and textiles, even across the Atlantic Ocean. That turned into such a large enterprise, that he founded an investment bank. Now, all of this is happening around the time of the American Civil War and shortly after. This transatlantic banking made a ton of money for a lot of people. Morton was one of them. Another guy you made have heard of was J. Pierpont Morgan and his father, the House of Morgan. They were huge bankers. We called these guys ‘robber barons’ of the day. Morton was one of them. He ended up living in Manhattan. He had a beautiful home in Rhinebeck and a cottage in Newport.”

“He decided to shift his eyes towards politics. He was a congressman first from New York, representing Manhattan. He was a ‘big wig’ in the Republican Party. He ended up becoming Harrison’s running mate. So he was elected in 1888 and became Vice President in 1889, serving for one term. Then, he came back to New York and ended up running for governor and served a term, as well. He also in there served as Ambassador to France and then lived out the rest of his life as a country gentleman,” said Perkins.

“I did do a little digging in the Historical Society Archives and I thought this was safe enough to bring out on a snowy day. This is an election medal for when Harrison and Morton were elected President and Vice President. They would hand these out. So it has Washington D.C. on one side, and then this really cool double portrait of both Harrison and Morton on the other side. A little bit of presidential politics right here in Vermont!” concluded Perkins.

At ‘This Place in History’!

For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.

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