Certainly one of the lesser known of the founding fathers, Gouverneur Morris’s contributions to the Constitution were considerable. Morris chaired the committee which addressed the style in which the Constitution was written, including the phrasing, and wrote the Preamble. Before and during the French Revolution he served in France as one of the American Minister to France, replacing Thomas Jefferson. While there he kept diaries which described his sex life in detail, including identifying the many French ladies whom he seduced during his stay.
During the Revolutionary era the famous Paris Museum called the Louvre was a residence for members of the Royal Court of Louis XVI, their servants and staffs, and other guests. They resided there when the King was in Paris, when he went to the Palace at Versailles they accompanied him there. Morris had a mistress there, a married woman named Madame de Flahaut. Madame was younger than her husband by some 35 years. When Morris first met her he confided to his diary, “If I might judge from Appearances she is not a sworn Enemy to Intrigue.”
Morris was correct. Madame soon requested the notoriously randy Morris to visit her in her apartments in the Louvre. There Morris met Madame’s six year old son, who was not the son of her husband, but of Talleyrand, who happened to have been the priest who had married her to her husband. Talleyrand was still engaged in an affair with Madame when Morris entered the picture. When she suggested an affair he responded in true diplomatic fashion. He said that he would think about it and let her know. When he did let her know, in the affirmative, it was with the terms that the affair would be merely physical and she agreed.
At one point during their affair Morris suggested that they meet in a public room in the Louvre, one floor above the room in which her husband would be at the time, with all of the doors to the room in which the tryst would take place left open. In his diary he recorded the event as “â¦we take the chance of interruption and celebrate in the passageâ¦” He also noted that “Visitors are hourly expected,” and that, “The husband is below.” Their affair continued until 1794, when the French Revolution devolved into the Reign of Terror and Madame fled from Paris.
There were several other affairs conducted by Morris in Paris and when he returned to the United States. Morris had lost his leg as the result of a carriage accident leading John Jay to comment that he wished he had lost something else. Eventually Morris likely agreed with him. Morris contracted an infection from an attempt to use a piece of whalebone as a catheter to remove a urinary tract obstruction, and died from it in 1816, passing away in the same room of the house in which he had been born. Though Morris eventually married – at the age of 57 – he continued to pursue and seduce married women throughout his political career.