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Historical Biography

Perry W. Morton

Perry W. Morton, AAG, Lands Division
Perry W. Morton
16th Assistant Attorney General, Lands Division, -

Early History/Schooling:  Perry W. Morton was born in 1908 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  He received his bachelor’s and his law degrees from the University of Nebraska, in 1929 and 1932, respectively.  In 1935, Morton became assistant manager of the Lincoln Farm Loan branch of the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co. where he remained until he became Assistant Attorney General in 1953.

Tenure as AAG:  In 1953, President Eisenhower appointed Morton as Assistant Attorney General of the Lands Division.  Early in Morton’s tenure as AAG, the Lands Division was reorganized to improve the efficiency of the Division.  At this time, many of the Lands Division field offices were being abolished.  A major change was the consolidation of Indian litigation in an Indian Claims Section to handle a growing number of cases, with substantial monetary amounts at stake, brought under the Indians Claims Act.  A Water Resources Section was established in 1953 to handle the increasing number of water rights cases.  Morton also was influential in several water rights cases, particularly in those that addressed issues of state versus federal governance.  The Division also intervened in the major water rights case, Arizona v. California, during Morton’s time.  Morton later consolidated the Water Resources Section and the Trial Section into the General Litigation Section in 1960.  During this period, many of the Division’s land acquisition efforts were for national defense (and modern defense installations), navigation easements, and interstate highways; for example, in 1954, half of the land acquired by the Division was for national defense.  In 1958, the Division was responsible for land acquisition for Washington Dulles International Airport.

Career:  After his tenure as AAG, Morton joined the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.  In 1963, he was elected vice president and general counsel.

Personal:  Morton was married to Marie Morton and they had one son and one daughter.  He was an elder of the National Presbyterian Church and a member of the Permanent Judicial Committee of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.  Morton died on January 15, 1967 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

This material is based on the review of a variety of historical sources, and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.  If you have any corrections or additional information about this individual or about the history of the Division, please contact ENRD.

Updated June 8, 2023