Governor Anson Peaslee Morrill
As found in REPRESENTATIVE MEN OF MAINE
A Collection of Biographical Sketches of all the Governors since the formation of the State.
Prepaired under the direction of Henry Chase
Portland, ME.
The Lakeside Press, Publisher
1893

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ANSON PEASLEE MORRILL was born June 10, 1803, in the town of Belgrade. Me., in a picturesque old house still standing in that beautiful little village called North Belgrade, but a short distance from the little stream that turned the wheels of his father's mill, and on which in boyhood he fished, hunted, and trapped. There he made the most of the short and infrequent term5 of the district school; there, from the time he had grown to sufficient strength until he attained his majority, he assisted his father, Peaslee Morrill, in operating the latter's combined grist-mill, carding-mill, and saw-mill; there he first engaged in business for himself, on attaining his majority, buying a stock of goods and keeping a general store, and there he married Rowena W. Richardson, who lived to a ripe old age to enjoy with him the fruits of his honorable and successful career.

Being one of the elder children of a large family, at an early age his services were required to contribute to the support of his brothers and sisters; and this he did most cheerfully and effectively, soon establishing such a reputation for integrity and ability that even during his minority his name upon his father's notes enabled the latter, when in straightened circumstances, to borrow money necessary to carry on his business.

While yet a young man Mr. Morrill was appointed Postmaster, and held several offices of importance in his town. A few years later he moved to Belgrade Hill and there engaged in the same line of trade At that time spirituous liquor was kept for sale in every country store and was one of the most important articles in stock. Of course Mr. Morrill's store could be no exception in this particular, although personally he was then, as always, a total abstainer. His early experience as a dealer impressed him with such a strong sense of the evil effects upon the people wrought by the use of alcoholic liquors, that he enthusiastically assumed the leadership of the first organized temperance movement in the State and continued, life-long, an ardent and staunch advocate and supporter of enforced prohibition. A few years later he moved to Madison, where he also kept store, and afterward served one term as Sheriff of Somerset County, declining a re-appointment which was tendered him. He next moved to Mount Vernon, where he continued in trade until 1844, when he moved to Readfield to take charge of the woolen mill at that place, which through bad management had been brought to the verge of ruin. From the very start he made it a success, and manifested his interest and confidence in the enterprise by investing all his savings in the stock of the company until eventually, at about the time of the breaking out of the war, he owned the entire factory. It was in operating this woolen factory that Mr. Morrill accumulated the most of his property.

Mr. Morrill had held the office of Land Agent from 1850 to 1853, was Governor in 1855, and in 1860 was elected to Congress. He took his seat as a member of that ever memorable Congress which assembled in extra session on July 4, 1861, at Lincoln's call to provide means to preserve the Union and suppress the southern rebellion. After serving one term in Congress, Mr. Morrill declined a re-nomination, which was tendered him by his party, because in those troublous days the duties of a Congressman consumed the greater part of his time to the serious detriment of business interests, which in his circumstances at that time he could not afford to neglect. Hon. James G. Blame succeeded him in Congress, and thus commenced the national career of that brilliant statesman. A friendship most cordial and life-long existed between Mr. Morrill and Mr. Blame. They were pioneers together in the work of founding the Republican party, -- together they had participated in that first Republican National Convention, which nominated Fremont as its candidate for the presidency.

In 1853 Anson P. Morrill led off from the ranks of the Democratic party a revolt on the Anti-Slavery, Maine Law, and Know Nothing issues, which aided in the formation of the Republican party in Maine, during the summer of 1854, and which resulted in his election to the chief magistracy of the State, he being the first Republican Governor of Maine. In the movement for the formation of this new party Maine was the pioneer State, as it was born and christened at Strong, August 7, 1854.

As President of the Maine Central Railroad Company, Mr. Morrill exhibited marked business tact and ability in bringing about the consolidation of the corporation and in steering it safely through the financial difficulties which so thickly beset it at that time.

In 1879, some years after Mr. Morrill had retired from business, he moved to Augusta and there resided the remainder of his life. In 1880, even after he had passed his seventy-seventh birthday, his friends insisted on nominating and electing him Representative to the Legislature. Mr. Morrill died at his home in Augusta, on July 4, 1887, of paralysis, after an illness of only one week. Mr. Morrill's intellectual activity showed no impairment even to the last, and the progress of old age in no degree abated his interest in public affairs.

Although Mr. Morrill held a number of important public offices and was actively engaged or interested in politics all his life, he always subordinated office seeking and office holding to party principle and the interest of the cause. Uncompromising in matters involving principle, he was magnanimous to a fault in forgiving personal wrongs; his well-known kind-heartedness and charity not infrequently were imposed upon, and the liberal financial support which he accorded his unfortunate friends in their business enterprises cost him dearly, but he expressed no unkindness toward those through whose fault he had sustained heavy losses. Although best known as a leader of reform in politics and temperance, he was equally interested in all the great reform movements of his time. Liberal and progressive in his views on all subjects, he delighted to read and discuss the results of modern research. Though not a professor of religion in the outward sense, he was a devoted Universalist in faith, very regular in his attendance and liberal in his support of the church of that denomination.



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