Newbold Morris

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Newbold Morris
Parks Commissioner of New York City
In office
May 24, 1960 – January 15, 1966
Appointed byRobert F. Wagner Jr.
Preceded byRobert Moses
Succeeded byThomas Hoving
President of the New York City Council
In office
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byVincent R. Impellitteri
Personal details
Augustus Newbold Morris

(1902-02-02)February 2, 1902
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedMarch 30, 1966(1966-03-30) (aged 64)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Margaret Copley Thaw
(m. 1925; div. 1940)
Constance Hand
(m. 1942)
Children4, Richard (stepson)
RelativesGeorge Morris (brother)
Learned Hand (father-in-law)
Augustus Newbold Morris (grandfather)
EducationYale University (BA, LLB)

Augustus Newbold Morris or Newbold Morris (February 2, 1902 – March 30, 1966) was an American politician, lawyer, president of the New York City Council, and two-time candidate for mayor of New York City.[1]

Early life[edit]

Morris, who never used his first name, was born in New York City. His parents were Augustus Newbold Morris (1868–1928)[2] and Helen Schermerhorn Kingsland (1876–1956), who were married in 1896.[2] He had two younger brothers, George Lovett Kingsland Morris (1905–1975),[3] a painter,[4] and Stephen Van Cortlandt Morris (1909–1984),[2][5] a diplomat.[6]

Lenox Valley Estate of Newbold Morris

His father, a cousin of the author Edith Wharton, and mother built Brookhurst in Lenox, Massachusetts, on land bought in 1906.[5] In 1986, when the home was sold by his relatives, "it was the first single-family home in town to be sold for $1 million and it was one of the last Gilded Age cottages still occupied by the family that built it."[5]

His paternal grandfather was Augustus Newbold Morris (1838–1906) and Eleanor Colford Jones (1841–1906). His grandmother's parents were General James I. Jones (1786–1858) and Elizabeth (née Schermerhorn) Jones (1817–1874),[7] the older sister of Caroline Schermerhorn Astor (1830–1908), also known as "The Mrs. Astor." He was descended from the prominent Colonial-era Morris family of the Morrisania section of the Bronx.[5]

He was educated at Groton School and at Yale,[8] where he was a member of the Scroll and Key Society.[1]


Morris was a member of the New York City Planning Commission and served as President of the New York City Council from 1938 to 1945 under Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.

In September, 1938 he served as acting mayor of New York City, while La Guardia was out on a 3 week trip through the east & west coast. During which the 1938 New York City truckers strike started.[9]

Morris ran for New York City Mayor in 1945 and in 1949. He was instrumental in founding City Center Theater in 1943 and the New York City Opera in 1944. He served as board chairman of the New York City Center until his death.[10]

Special prosecutor[edit]

On February 1, 1952,[11] Morris was appointed special assistant to the Attorney General by Attorney General J. Howard McGrath to investigate possible corruption in the Department of Justice.[12] After Morris distributed a questionnaire to senior justice officials[13] and called for unlimited access to all of McGrath's personal records, McGrath fired Morris on April 3, 1952.[14] Morris had spent a mere 63 days in the job.[15] A few days later Howard McGrath was forced to resign his position by President Harry Truman.[16]

Park Commissioner[edit]

Morris was appointed Parks Commissioner of New York City by Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr. on May 24, 1960, succeeding Robert Moses, who had served as Commissioner for an unprecedented 26 years.[1][17][18] In this role, Morris sought to save the famous Doric columns that adorned the main entrance to Penn Station.[19] While Morris, in this respect, served as one of the few dissenting voices during the early planning of the destruction of the first Pennsylvania Station, widely considered to have been in terms of architectural substance an irreversible and traumatic loss to the city, he ultimately failed at preventing the columns from being slated for their ultimate destruction and discarding in the New Jersey Meadowlands.[20][21]

Sunday folk music was regularly played in Washington Square Park on Sundays until April 9, 1961, when Morris rejected the folkies' application for a permit with no explanation.[22] A riot ensued with many of the folk singers being arrested by police and placed into paddy wagons.[23] Some people suspected that local real estate interests were involved, wanting to rid the park of beatniks and other "undesirables," as some called them. But whether Morris had been influenced by such interests was never determined. The riot and arrests themselves got plenty of newspaper coverage, with one headline proclaiming "3,000 Beatniks Riot in Village." But the hysteria faded quickly.[24]

Morris served as Commissioner until January 15, 1966, when he retired.[25] He was replaced by Thomas P. F. Hoving.[26]

Personal life[edit]

In September 1925,[27] Morris was married to Margaret Copley Thaw (1905–1980).[8] She was the daughter of Josiah Copley Thaw (1874–1944) and granddaughter of William Thaw Sr. and Mary Sibbet Copley.[8] Before their divorce in 1940, they had two sons together:[28]

  • Peter Van Courtlandt Morris (b. 1931), who married Carlotta Marie Noel, daughter of Auguste L. Noel (d. 1964) and Theodora (née Winslow) Noel,[29] in 1960.[30] He is a pianist and composer.[31]
  • Newbold Morris (b. 1933), a member of the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966.[10]

After their divorce in 1940, his first wife remarried in 1949 to Harry William Seckel.[32]

On August 1, 1942,[33] Morris married Constance (née Hand) Jordan (1909–2008),[34] youngest daughter of renowned American judge Learned Hand. She was divorced from Lt. Robert Jordan and the mother to actor Robert Anson Jordan (1937–1993) and Constance Jordan.[35] The wedding ceremony was performed by Mayor La Guardia in Gracie Mansion.[36] Together, they were the parents of:

He died on March 30, 1966, in New York City two months after his term as Commissioner ended.[10] He left an estate worth more than $1,000,000.[39]


Through his son Peter, he was the grandfather of Theodora Winslow Morris, a doctoral candidate at Yeshiva University, who married Jack Francis Marran, who worked for his family's oil distribution company in Patchogue, New York, in 1991.[31]


  1. ^ a b c Morris, Augustus Newbold (19 April 1960). "Ivy Leaguer in Park Job". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "NEWBOLD MORRIS DIES IN HIS SLEEP; President of Metropolitan Club, Trustee of Columbia and Lawyer. WITH PERSHING IN THE WAR Lieutenant Colonel on General Staff --Family One of Most Illustrious in United States". The New York Times. December 21, 1928. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  3. ^ "GEORGE L. K. MORRIS ENGAGED TO MARRY; Son of Mrs. Newbold Morris Affianced to Miss Estelle Condit Frelinghuysen DESCENDANT OF SIGNER His Fiancee is Member of Noted New Jersey Family, Daughter of Late Insurance Leader". The New York Times. January 17, 1935. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  4. ^ "George L. K. Morris Is Dead; Abstract Artist and Sculptor". The New York Times. 27 June 1975. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d Huberdeau, Jennifer (July 21, 2016). "The Cottager | Brookhurst: Modern art finds a home on former estate's property". The Berkshire Eagle. Archived from the original on 29 September 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Stephen V. Morris, 74, Dead; U.S. Diplomat for 25 Years". The New York Times. 29 February 1984. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  7. ^ The American Historical Magazine. Publishing Society of New York. 1908. pp. 674–675. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "MISS MARGARET THAW TO WED A. N. MORRIS; Date for Wedding Not Set". The New York Times. 16 June 1925. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  9. ^ "MAYOR HOME, ACTSAT ONCE ON STRIKE; After Fast Flight From. Coast, He Starts Telephoning in an Effort to End Truck Row DISAPPOINTED BY EVENTS But Is Happy to See Family Safe After Their Peril in Long Island Storm". The New York Times. September 26, 1938. Retrieved 2023-06-08.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Newbold Morris, 64, Is Dead of Cancer". The New York Times. 1 April 1966. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  11. ^ Kennedy, Paul P. (2 February 1952). "NEWBOLD MORRIS NAMED TO CLEAN UP FEDERAL SCANDALS; Former City Council President Stresses He Is Investigator and Not a Prosecutor TO HAVE SUBPOENA POWER Associate of La Guardia Calls Himself Lincoln Republican, Foe of Spoils System NEWBOLD MORRIS HEADS U. S. INQUIRY". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  12. ^ "NEWBOLD MORRIS COUNCIL'S EX-HEAD; Federal Scandal Investigator a Republican Often Allied With Liberals and Fusion". The New York Times. 2 February 1952. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  13. ^ Dugan, George (17 March 1952). "BIG QUESTIONNAIRE BY MORRIS READY; Will Take 5 or 6 Hours to Fill Out, He Says -- Samuel Becker Is Named Chief Counsel". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  14. ^ "Text of Morris Statement on Ouster as Investigator". The New York Times. 4 April 1952. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  15. ^ "MORRIS AND M'GRATH". The New York Times. 4 April 1952. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  16. ^ Krock, Arthur (9 April 1952). "M'GRATH CLEARED OUSTER OF MORRIS; Phoned President and Received Encouraging Reply -- Own Dismissal Laid to Politics". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  17. ^ "Morris Sworn In as City Park Chief". The New York Times. 20 May 1960. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  18. ^ "WAGNER CONFIRMS MORRIS FOR PARKS; Gives Formal Nod to Former City Council Head but Date Is Not Yet Settled". The New York Times. 19 April 1960. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  19. ^ see The New York Times, 20 Feb 1962: "Plan to Save Columns Is Offered"
  20. ^ "CITY ACTS TO SAVE HISTORICAL SITES; Wagner Names 12 to New Agency--Architects Decry Razing of Penn Station CITY ACTS TO SAVE HISTORICAL SITES Morris Plans Parley". The New York Times. 22 April 1962. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  21. ^ "Morris Approves Plan to Move Penn Station Columns to Battery". The New York Times. 10 September 1962. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  22. ^ "MORRIS YIELDING ON PARK SINGING; In Wake of Riot, He Says He Will Survey 'Villagers' on Sunday Gatherings MORRIS YIELDING ON PARK SINGING". The New York Times. 11 April 1961. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  23. ^ "Revolt in Washington Square". The New York Times. 11 April 1961. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  24. ^ "MAYOR BACKS BAN ON PARKS SINGING; Favors Shift of Songfests to Amphitheatre -- Suit Against Morris Planned". The New York Times. 12 April 1961. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  25. ^ "New City Parks Chief; Thomas Pearsall Field Hoving". The New York Times. 2 December 1965. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  26. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (January 11, 1966). "CITY FINDS IT HAS 2 CHIEFS OF PARKS; Morris to Retire on the 15th --Hoving Busy Reevaluating". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  27. ^ "MISS THAW WEDS A. NEWBOLD MORRIS; A Bride in Picturesque Little St. Andrew's Dune Church in Southampton. BRILLIANT SOCIETY ARRAY Reception for 500 Guests at Windbreak, Summer Home of Mr. and Mrs. Josiah Copley Thaw". The New York Times. 6 September 1925. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  28. ^ "MORRIS IS DIVORCED BY WYOMING DECREE; City Council Head's Wife Gets Freedom on 'Mental Cruelty'". The New York Times. 21 August 1940. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  29. ^ "Obituary 1 -- No Title". The New York Times. 16 March 1964. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  30. ^ "Peter Morris Marries Miss Carlotta M. Noel". The New York Times. 28 August 1960. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  31. ^ a b "Jack F. Marran Weds Theodora Morris". The New York Times. 28 April 1991. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  32. ^ "MRS. MORRIS IS MARRIED; Former Margaret Thaw Bride of Harry William". The New York Times. 25 September 1949. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  33. ^ "MORRIS MARRIES MRS. C. H. JORDAN; Council Head and Daughter of Judge Learned Hand Wed by Mayor at Gracie Mansion PRECEDENT IN THE EVENT Wedding First at La Guardia's Official Home -- Bride Active in Social Welfare Work". The New York Times. 2 August 1942. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  34. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths MORRIS, CONSTANCE HAND". The New York Times. 20 February 2008. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  35. ^ "Richard Jordan, Actor, Director, Producer and Writer, 56, Is Dead". The New York Times. 1 September 1993. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  36. ^ "Son Born to Newbold Morrises" The New York Times, May 12, 1944
  37. ^ "Son Born to Newbold Morrises". The New York Times. 12 May 1944. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  38. ^ "NEWBOLD MORRIS HURT; He and Family Are Injured in Auto Collision in Pawling". The New York Times. 10 December 1957. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  39. ^ "$1-MILLION IS LEFT BY NEWBOLD MORRIS". The New York Times. 16 April 1966. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
Political offices
New office President of the New York City Council
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Mayor of New York City
Succeeded by