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Martin Ferdinand Morris

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Lawyer and jurist, b. 3 December, 1834, at Washington, D.C.; d. 12 September, 1909, at Washington, D. C. Descended from an Irish Catholic family, he was educated at Georgetown University, from which he was graduated in 1854. On leaving Georgetown, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Frederick, Md., to prepare himself for the priesthood, from which high calling his inclinations from early youth had impelled him, and for which, by reason of his studious habits, scholarly taste, and moral standards, he was in every way fitted. His ambition, however, could not be realized, as the death of his father left him the sole support of his mother and sisters. In 1863, he began the practice of law in Baltimore, Maryland, and in 1867 removed to Washington to enter into partnership with the late Richard T. Merrick. He continued a member of the firm Merrick and Morris until the death of Mr. Merrick (1885), when he formed a partnership with George E. Hamilton, and continued actively to practice his profession, being connected with important litigation both in the local courts and in the Supreme Court, until appointed by President Cleveland an associate Justice of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia upon the establishment of that Court in 1893. Modest, unassuming, almost diffident in manner, he was best adapted to office practice, and yet, when occasion required it, was forceful and successful in the trial of cases. A skilled lawyer, standing high in his profession, judicial labours did not prevent him from taking an active interest in civic and social conditions, or from broadening the scope of his researches into the fields of science, of literature, and of art. Actively interested in his Alma Mater, and in the growth and development of Catholic education, he was one of the founders of Georgetown Law School (1871), then under the direction of the late P. F. Healy, S.J., today one of the largest and most successively conducted law schools in the country. In 1877, he received from Georgetown, in recognition of his nobility of character, his broad scholarship, and achievements as a lawyer and judge, the degree of LL.D. He wrote "Lectures on the History of the Development of Constitutional and Civil Liberty" (1808); also numerous monographs and addresses.

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