Oral History

Morrisville is named for one-time resident Robert Morris, financier of the American Revolution and signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution. The town lies directly across the Delaware River from Trenton, New Jersey. Hundreds of years ago, the Morrisville area was known to the Lenape Indians as the “Falls of the Delaware” because of a long set of rapids formed there by a change in the geological composition of the land. It is at Morrisville that fresh water ends and the tidal, saltwater portion of the Delaware River begins.

In colonial days, Morrisville was on the major road between New York and Philadelphia. Because of this, several ferries operated in the area, the first of which was Colvin’s Ferry, opened by Patrick Colvin in 1722. Morrisville was first known as Colvin’s Ferry.

During America’s War for Independence with Great Britain, Morrisville was an ideal location for George Washington to plan his historic crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas night. Washington’s surprise attack on a large Hessian force in Trenton became a great American victory and a turning point in the war for the young country.

Following the end of the Revolution in 1783, Robert Morris attempted to establish the nation’s capital at the “Falls of the Delaware.” Morris, the country’s Superintendent of Finance and manager of the economy, invested a tremendous amount of energy in his effort, enlisted a considerable number of supporters, and almost succeeded, losing only when President George Washington was given the power to choose the location as a result of the Residence Act of 1790. Washington chose a site along the Potomac River in Virginia which became the District of Columbia.