NEWS | Feb. 1, 2022

Brigadier General Jackson Morris, 29th Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky, 1920-1923.

By John Trowbridge, Contributor

NOTE: This is a guest article from SFC(R) John Trowbridge. He's a Kentucky Guardsman and former Command Historian that has compiled information on this topic from a variety of sources which aren't cited here. For more information on where this information has originated, please contact Mr. Trowbridge at the following: john.m.trowbridge.nfg@mail.mil

Jackson Morris, lawyer, politician, sportsman and soldier was born February 1st, 1875, at Crockettsville, Breathitt County, Kentucky.  One of seven children born to Nacy W. and Louise Spicer Morris.  The Morris family was of the Baptist Church faith, which he followed throughout his life.  As a teenager, he became a Mason.  He was fraternally affiliated with Pineville Lodge, A. F. and A. M.; Pineville Chapter, R. A. M.; London Commandery, K. T.; Kosair Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Louisville, and the Lodge of Odd Fellows at Frankfort.
 
Jackson received his early education in local schools, graduating from Lees Collegiate Institute (today Lees College) in Jackson, Kentucky.  He would go on to complete his education at the George Washington University Department of Law and Jurisprudence, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) in 1906; and Master of Laws (LL.M.) in 1907.
 
A lifelong Republican, in 1899, he served the party as Secretary in the Eleventh Congressional District, Jackson County, becoming the chairman in 1901.  Morris was elected to the State Legislature from the 71st Legislative District in 1902 as Representative of Clay, Jackson and Owsley Counties. Known for his oratory skills, he earned the nickname, “the mountain orator.” Morris resigned as a member of the Kentucky House on April 18th, 1902 to accept a position with the Law Department of the Internal Revenue Bureau, in Washington.
 
During his time at the nation’s capital, Morris was extremely busy, between continuing his education, work, political aspirations and military service.  While attending George Washington University he was a well-known sportsman and competitive rifle and pistol marksman.  He played tackle on the university’s football team.  He is credited for the university’s rifle club win at the National Rifle Shooting Matches, at Sea Girt, New Jersey, in 1907. Morris was instrumental in equipping and training the university’s team.
 
At the same time, Morris was employed in the Law Division of the Internal Revenue Service from 1903 to 1908.  From 1904 to 1905, he served as the President of Kentucky’s Republican Club, in D. C. 
 
Morris began his military career while in Washington, joining the District of Columbia National Guard as a Private, with the First D. C. Infantry on April 1st, 1903.  He would attain the ranks of Corporal, Sergeant and Sergeant Major.  He was honorably discharged on May 14th, 1907, to accept a commission as Second Lieutenant.  July 6th, 1907, he was promoted to the rank of Captain of Engineers.  He became a member of the District of Columbia Rifle Team attended the National Rifle Matches, 1904 to 1908.  In 1906, Morris won the individual rifle championship.
 
In 1908, Jackson Morris returned home to Kentucky, to serve as the Assistant Secretary of State.  Additionally, on February 12th, 1908, he married Mona Christian, of Newark, New Jersey.  To this union, seven children would be born.
 
Morris resigned from the office of Assistant Secretary of State on May 17th, 1910, on the same day he was appointed private secretary of Governor August E. Willson, serving in the position until 1914.
 
Prior to returning to Kentucky, Captain Morris became a member of the Kentucky National Guard.  One of his jobs with the Guard was to organize a rifle team.  He served as the team captain of Kentucky National Guard’s first rifle team to compete in a national match in 1907.  For many years he was recognized as one of Kentucky’s experts with both the rifle and revolver.  A long-time member of the National Rifle Association he served as State Secretary of the NRA during this time.  In 1909, he was elected an honorary member of the Louisville Rifle and Revolver Club, and was a member of the Juniper Hunting Club of Louisville.  Morris was an all-round sportsman who liked nothing better in his spare time to hunt and fish. 
 
In 1911, Morris was nominated for Railroad Commissioner, on the Republican ticket, however, while on the campaign trail he became ill with malarial fever and had to drop out of the race.  On March 30th, 1911, he was promoted to Major in the Quartermaster Corps of the Kentucky National Guard.
 
During the Mexican Border Service Major Morris was in charge of the camp commissary at Fort Thomas, Kentucky.  Major Morris and the Kentucky Guard trained at Fort Thomas until August 1916 and then moved to El Paso, Texas, Camp Owen Bierne.  The Kentuckians were attached to the 10th U. S. Provisional Division under Brigadier General Charles G. Morton.  They were assigned to patrol a sixty-mile stretch of the border along the Rio Grande River.  In February 1917, the Kentuckians were ordered back to Kentucky. 
 
May 18th, 1917, Congress passed the Selective Service Act, under this legislation, Governor A. O. Stanley appointed Morris Kentucky’s Supervisor of Registration.  This position lasted for two months, with America’s entrance into the World War in June 1917, which had been raging in Europe since 1914.  Major Morris was called to active duty as a quartermaster July 13th, 1917, initially at Lexington’s Camp Stanley, then going with the Guard to Camp Shelby, Mississippi.  While at Shelby, Morris was assigned as assistant construction quartermaster in building the post.  He and Major William J. Howard of Boston, Massachusetts directed the construction work, and following its completion, Morris had supervision of the construction of the extensive rifle, artillery and machine gun ranges for the Thirty-eight Division (Cyclone).  After this work was completed, he remained as paymaster for the division in France until after the armistice.  He was then appointed Chief Disbursing Quartermaster at General Pershing’s Advanced General Headquarters in Germany with the Army of Occupation.  He returned to the U.S. following his discharge on September 13th, 1919. 
 
While Morris was stationed in France, The American Legion was first formed on March 15th, 1919, in Paris, France.  Morris was one of the thousand officers and men present at the organization’s first meeting.  He would later serve as a member of the Kentucky Chapter of the American Legion and member of the state executive committee representing the Eleventh Congressional District.
 
Returning to Kentucky following his discharge from active duty, Morris became the first person to enlist in the newly reorganized Kentucky National Guard.  He joined the organization as a Private and in January 1920 he was commissioned a Major in the Inspector General’s Department of the Kentucky Guard by Governor Edwin P. Morrow and assigned to the governor’s staff.  Morris served as one of the marshals in Governor Morrow’s inaugural parade.
 
During the 1920 presidential campaign, Morris was a speaker for the Republican National Committee, making a 25,000-mile speaking tour of 36 states.  On November 5th, 1920, Governor Edwin P. Morrow appointed Major Jackson Morris as Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky, filling the vacancy caused by the resignation of James M. DeWeese.  The order to take effect Monday, the first day of November, 1920.  At the time of his appointment to the position of Adjutant General, Morris was working as an attorney in Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky.  One of the state newspapers expressed the general sentiment when it said: “His appointment by the governor will meet with the general approval of persons connected with the military affairs of the state as well as with soldiers of the World War, many of whom saw service with Major Morris both on the Mexican border and overseas.”  Morris entered the office of Adjutant General with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, August 16th, 1921, and he was promoted to Colonel and on April 26th, 1922, Brigadier General in the Adjutant General’s Department.
 
During his time his time as the Adjutant General Morris was involved in the post-war reorganization and rebuilding of the Kentucky Guard.  Prior to taking the office the Guard consisted of seven officers; 142 enlisted, as of June 30th, 1920.  By June 30th, 1923, the numbers were 162 officers; 2,494 enlisted.  Also, his administration had to implement the new enacted National Defense Act of 1920, and its amendment in 1923.  This act was a continued effort to bring the States’ Guard in-line with the U.S. Army.  A major project was begun by the Army War College in the early 1920’s, with the development of publishing of the Lineage and Honors and of the National Guard, along with the official coat of arms for the major commands in the state.
 
From December 1920 to December 1923, when Morris left office, the Kentucky National Guard was activated for state duty numerous times, during labor troubles involving strikes and lawlessness in the coal mine regions in eastern and western Kentucky, and various sessions of county courts in preserving order and protecting life and property.  In December 1921 to March 31st, 1922, part of the Kentucky Guard was on duty at Newport, Kentucky, during the Rolling Mill strike.   
  
Morris resigned as Kentucky’s Adjutant General on December 10th, 1923, having been replaced by Jouett Henry, who would serve in the position during the William J. Fields administration.  During his tenure, General Morris and his staff established a positive and strong military policy which supported the Commonwealth through the inter-war years.  Morris continued serving in the Kentucky Guard, initially as a Lieutenant Colonel, Executive Officer for the 149th Infantry Regiment and later as Colonel, commanding the regiment.  He would graduate from the Infantry School National Guard Officers’ Course in 1926.  He was assigned to the Officer Reserve Corps, Infantry, as a Colonel on January 5th, 1927.
 
Following his service as the Adjutant General Morris returned to the practice of law in Louisville, Jefferson County, until his death.
 
Brigadier General Jackson Morris died August 17th, 1943, in the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital at Hines, Illinois, following a long illness at the age of 67.  His remains were brought back to Louisville for burial in Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.
 
Sources:
 
Annual Report of the Chief of the Militia Bureau, 1921, 1922, 1923 and 1924.
George Washington University Bulletin, vols. 4-6.
Kentucky Governor Edwin P. Morrow Executive Journal, v. I-III.
Kentucky Governor Augustus E. Willson Executive Journal, v. I-II.
Legislative History and Capital Souvenir of Kentucky, v. 1.
1939 Military History of Kentucky
Newspapers.com:
                        The Citizen (Berea, KY)
                        The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
                        The Daily Leader (Lexington, KY)
                        Interior Journal (Stanford, KY)
                        Jackson Times (Jackson, KY)
                        Kentucky Advocate (Danville, KY)
Official National Guard Register: 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930,
1931 and 1935.
Perrin, History of Kentucky.
 

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