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J. Sterling Morton

In office
March 7, 1893 – March 5, 1897
Preceded by Jeremiah M. Rusk
Succeeded by James Wilson

Born April 22, 1832(1832-04-22)
Adams, New York, U.S.
Died April 27, 1902 (aged 70)
Lake Forest, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Michigan
Profession Politician
Religion Episcopalian

Julius Sterling Morton (April 22, 1832 – April 27, 1902) was President Grover Cleveland's Secretary of Agriculture. He was a prominent Bourbon Democrat.

Julius Sterling Morton in 1858.

Morton was born in Adams, Jefferson County, New York. He was raised in Detroit and attended the University of Michigan. He was a member of Chi Psi Fraternity at Michigan. After receiving his diploma in 1854, he moved with his bride, Caroline Joy French, to Nebraska, which was not yet organized as a territory, and staked a claim in Nebraska City. Soon after arriving at Nebraska City, Morton became the editor of the local newspaper, the Nebraska City News. He was appointed Secretary of Nebraska Territory by President James Buchanan on July 12, 1858, which he served as until 1861. He also served as Acting Governor from December 5, 1858, to May 2, 1859.

Respected as an agriculturalist, Morton sought to instruct people in the modern techniques of farming and forestry. Among his most significant achievements was the founding of Arbor Day. He became well known in Nebraska for his political, agricultural, and literary activities and from there was appointed as Secretary of Agriculture by President Cleveland. He is credited with helping change that department into a coordinated service to farmers, and he supported Cleveland in setting up national forest reservations.

In 1897 Morton planned and began to edit the multivolume Illustrated History of Nebraska. He also published a weekly periodical, The Conservative. He died on April 27, 1902, in Lake Forest, Illinois, where he was seeking health treatment. Morton's wife Caroline died in June of 1881. The Morton home in Nebraska City is now a state park, the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and Arboretum.

In 1937, the state of Nebraska donated a bronze statue of Morton to the National Statuary Hall Collection at the United States Capitol. Morton is a member of the Nebraska Hall of Fame. The J. Sterling Morton Beltway, a highway near Nebraska City, Nebraska, which is made up from U.S. Route 75 and Nebraska Highway 2, is named for him. J. Sterling Morton Magnet Middle School in Omaha, Nebraska also bears his name.

The house in Monroe, Michigan where J. Sterling Morton lived from 1834–1854[1]

His son Joy Morton was the founder of the Morton Salt Company in Chicago, Illinois, and created The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, in 1922. Joy Morton's original 400-acre (1.6 km2) Thornhill Estate, began in 1910, has been transformed into a 1,700-acre (6.9 km2) living history museum of over 4,000 different types of trees, shrubs and other woody plants, with the mission to encourage the planting of trees as well as promoting nature as a source of inspiration, wonder and joy, especially for children.

Though Morton was a "Bourbon" (i.e. conservative) Democrat, his son, Paul Morton, served as Secretary of the Navy under President Theodore Roosevelt from 1904 to 1905 as a Progressive Republican. It is worth noting that this shift is paralleled by that of Henry Cantwell Wallace, who served as a Progressive Republican Secretary of Agriculture under Harding and Coolidge, and his son Henry A. Wallace who served in the same office as a Democrat under Roosevelt.


External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Jeremiah M. Rusk
United States Secretary of Agriculture
March 7, 1893 – March 5, 1897
Succeeded by
James Wilson


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Julius Sterling Morton (April 22, 1832April 27, 1902) was born in Adams, New York. His family migrated west; Morton was raised in Detroit and attended the University of Michigan. After receiving his diploma in 1854, he moved with his bride to Nebraska Territory and staked a claim in Nebraska City. There he edited a newspaper, became a successful farmer, helped survey the city, and was active in territorial politics. He served in the territorial legislature from 1855 to 1856 and from 1856 to 1858, and he was appointed secretary of the territory from 1858 to 1861.


  • The cultivation of trees is the cultivation of the good, the beautiful, and the ennobling in man.
  • Arbor Day is not like other holidays. Each of those reposes on the past, while Arbor Day proposes for the future.
  • Each generation takes the earth as trustees. We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed.
  • The cultivation of trees is the cultivation of the good, the beautiful, and the ennobling in man, and for one, I wish to see it become universal.

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