Once the United States won its independence, it lost the protection of the British Royal Navy. The fledgling country had to take on the task of protecting its own ships and interests at sea. A strong Naval force was essential in protecting independence and establishing strategic allies. One instrumental figure in the natal stages of the U.S. Navy, was Commodore Charles Morris. Morris was William Eustis’ maternal great-grandfather.
Born in Woodstock, Connecticut, in 1784, Morris joined the Navy at the age of 15, during the Quasi-War with France. His Naval career spanned 57 years and marked many key points in U.S. Navy military history. In 1804, Morris is said to have been at Stephen Decatur’s side during the fabled burning of the captured Philadelphia in Tripoli Harbor.
During the War of 1812, he was second in command to Isaac Hull when the USS Constitution defeated HMS Guerriere.
Once promoted to commodore, Morris served twice in the South Atlantic, flying his flag in the frigate Constellation in 1819-1820, and ship of the line Delaware in 1841-44. He served in many key posts, including Navy Commissioner between 1823-1827, Chief of the Bureau of Construction Equipment and Repairs from 1844-1847. He died in Washington D.C. on January 27, 1856.
Today, the Morris name is remembered through ships, such as the USS Morris and USS Commodore Morris, as well as the Charles Morris Court within the Washington Navy Yard.
The Oatlands Connection Explained
In 1835, his daughter Louise elopes and marries William Wilson Corcoran, a philanthropist and banker who co-founded Riggs Bank. Louise and William had three children, of which only one survived into adulthood. This child is Louise Morris Corcoran, who later marries George Eustis Jr.
Louise and George had two sons and one daughter. One of their sons, William Corcoran Eustis, married Edith Livingston Morton and together they modernized the Oatlands mansion.