Books: Merrymaking Forefather

THE EXTRAORDINARY MR. MORRIS (483 pp.)—Howard Swiggett—Doubleday ($5).

On the night of Dec. 16, 1773, while zealous Massachusetts patriots were heaving tea into Boston Harbor, one young patriot-to-be was, by his own admission, "up all night making merry" on his private account. The circumstance was symbolic if nothing else, for 21-year-old Gouverneur Morris of New York was never to lose his offhand knack for mixing pleasure with the business of the republic.

Deplored by straitlaced contemporaries as "an irreligious and profane man," and largely ignored by historians, Morris has dangled like a flippant footnote...

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