Morgan Horses

Did Justin Morgan really have a horse?

The first Morgan horse was a horse named Figure. Figure was born around the year 1789 in Massachusetts. Justin Morgan, a singing and writing teacher, purchased the horse in 1792. Justin Morgan moved to Randolph, Vermont with his family. He brought the horse with him. Figure was a strong and fast horse. He was the father of many horses who were also strong and fast. This breed(a type of animal that comes from a selected group of parents) of horse became known as the Morgan horse, named after Justin Morgan, himself. Justin Morgan died in 1798, but his name is still remembered because of his famous horse.

Morgan horses are very popular in Vermont. The Morgan horse is so popular, it became the Vermont state animal in 1961. There are many books written about Morgan horses, and even a film too. In 1945, Marguerite Henry wrote a book called Justin Morgan Had a Horse. The book is based on the true story of Justin Morgan and Figure. The author didn’t know everything about the story though. She had to imagine some of the events from the past. Instead of a biography(an account of someone’s life written by someone else), the book’s genre is historical fiction(a story set in a real time and place, but with real and imaginary events).

The breed of horse can pull plows and carriages. They are usually smart and obedient(follows instructions well) horses too. During the Civil War, the cavalry(soldiers who fight while riding horses) used many Morgan horses. When Vermonters moved out west, they brought their Morgan horses with them. Today, The Morgan Horse Farm breeds Morgan horses. They preserve(maintain in its existing state) the horse through educational programs. You can visit the farm in Weybridge, Vermont to learn more about this famous breed of horse.

Thinking About History

Historians ask questions to think deeply about history.

Historians do not know all the details about Justin Morgan's life or Figure's life. Why is it important to know that the book Justin Morgan Had a Horse is historical fiction and not a biography?

Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.

Vermont Historical Society. "Morgan Horses." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed July 19, 2024.

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