a 1919 biography for then State Senator Harris in The History of Fresno County
MORRIS B. HARRIS. A citizen of whom any community might well be proud, and a distinguished representative of the California Bar to whom Fresno City and County have frequently looked for the performance of difficult and responsible public service, is the Hon. Morris B. Harris, State Senator of California, long identified with most important educational interests.
He was born at Albion, Edwards County, Ill., on September 10, 1866, the son of Lucius Harris, also a native of Albion, who traced his ancestry back to old, heroic English days, the founder of the family in America coming to Massachusetts in 1620. Senator Harris's forebears were represented in every war from the French and Indian to the Civil War; his grandparents came west to Illinois from Connecticut in 1830, and Lucius Harris served as sergeant in an Illinois regiment during the Civil War. When the war was over, he became a merchant at Albion, but in 1887. during the great boom in California realty, he located in Fresno County and purchased a ranch near Oleander, where he farmed until his death. He had married Miss Constance B. Thompson, a native of Illinois, and also a member of an old Massachusetts family, of Scotch descent, an accomplished lady, who lived her life of usefulness to a wide circle and passed away on the ranch. She was the mother of three children: Morris B.. the subject of our review, is the eldest'; Ronald is farming at the old homestead ; and E. M. is an attorney who is practicing law with the Senator.
Morris B. Harris was educated at the public schools, after which he attended the University of Indiana at Bloomington for two years. In 1887 he went to Springfield, Ohio, and spent a year at Wittenberg College, where he became a leader in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. After that he was employed on the "New Era" of that city for another year.
While at Springfield he met the lady who consented to be his wife, and on Washington's Birthday, 1889, he was united in marriage with Miss Jessie Boggs, a native of that city, by whom he has had two children: Marjorie Muenter and Ronald B. The same year, Mr. and Mrs. Harris came to California: and arriving in Fresno, he engaged in teaching school in the county, continuing in that field of desirable endeavor for four years. At the same time, Mr. Harris studied law; and upon examination in 1895, he was admitted to the bar. He practiced law in Fresno, and was later a partner with Judge M. K. Harris, but in 1907 they dissolved the partnership and then Mr. Harris made his brother, E. M. Harris, his partner. The two gentlemen made an exceptionally good team, and it is doubtful if any members of their profession in the county both merited and received a more flattering patronage.
One of the honors coming to Mr. Harris at this time was the presidency of the Fresno County Bar Association. Mr. Harris has taken an active and prominent part in politics, and has been privileged to serve his fellowmen in manners and at times not accorded even all the ambitious, and as a Progressive Republican in particular he has also been highly honored.
In 1904 he was chosen a Republican elector on the Roosevelt ticket, and in 1912 he was again selected a Progressive Republican on the same ticket. He was appointed by Governor Johnson a member cf the State Board of Education, but after holding the post a year, he found that he had too much to do, and could not give the duties the required attention, and he resigned. He was president of the Board of Trustees of the Fresno State Normal from its inception until January, 1919, and resigned only on taking his seat as State Senator.
In 1918, Mr. Harris was a candidate for State Senator from Fresno County, and at the primary he received the nomination by the Republican, the Democratic and the Prohibition parties ; in consequence of which at the November election he had no opposition. He has thus far served ably and conscientiously, and will no doubt continue to give his best efforts to his office during the coming session. As evidence of what he has done to justify the confidence of his constituency, it may be pointed out that Senator Harris introduced what is called the Harris Enforcement Bill, a measure to enforce the National Prohibition Amendment in California, which was passed and signed by the Governor. He also introduced the California Irrigation Act, which became a law and is now about to be used in the plans for the Pine Flat Reservoir. He also introduced and secured the passage of other needed legislation of a high character. He was a member of the Free Conference Committee that framed the community propertv bill, which was passed and signed by the Governor. He was a member and chairman of the onstitutional Committee which passed out an amendment for calling a constitutional convention for framing a new constitution for California. He is now a member of an educational committee for the purpose of revising the educational laws of the State, and reporting revised laws and an educational system to the next State legislature. During the World War he was chairman of the Fresno County Four Minute Men, and was associate State Director of the Four Minute Men of the State of California.
From the foregoing it will be seen that few names are more inseparably associated with the history of Fresno County than that of Morris B. Harris, State Senator and one of the most scholarly, versatile and influential attorneys not only in Central California but along the Pacific Coast.
Jessie Boggs Harris
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