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Title: A Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, and of Washington and Patrick Henry - With an appendix, containing the Constitution of the United - States and other documents
Author: Judson, L. Carroll (Levi Carroll)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, and of Washington and Patrick Henry - With an appendix, containing the Constitution of the United - States and other documents" ***

Transcriber’s Note: Italic text is indicated by _underscores_, boldface
text by =equals signs=.



  Constitution of the United States


  “The proper study of mankind is man.”


Entered according to the Act of Congress, A. D. 1839, by TIMOTHY
CALDWELL, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania.



  Declaration of Independence,                                         9
  Thomas Jefferson,                                                   13
  John Hancock,                                                       25
  Benjamin Franklin,                                                  30
  Roger Sherman,                                                      38
  Edward Rutledge,                                                    45
  Thomas M’Kean,                                                      49
  Philip Livingston,                                                  55
  George Wythe,                                                       58
  Abraham Clark,                                                      61
  Francis Lewis,                                                      64
  Richard Stockton,                                                   66
  Samuel Adams,                                                       70
  Dr. Benjamin Rush,                                                  78
  Oliver Wolcott,                                                     83
  George Read,                                                        85
  Thomas Heyward,                                                     88
  Robert Morris,                                                      92
  John Witherspoon,                                                   97
  Thomas Lynch, Jr.                                                  102
  Matthew Thornton,                                                  105
  William Floyd,                                                     108
  William Whipple,                                                   112
  Francis Hopkinson, Esq.                                            115
  Josiah Bartlett,                                                   117
  Arthur Middleton,                                                  122
  James Wilson,                                                      126
  Charles Carroll, of Carrollton,                                    132
  William Williams,                                                  136
  Samuel Huntington,                                                 139
  George Walton,                                                     142
  George Clymer,                                                     146
  Carter Braxton,                                                    152
  John Morton,                                                       155
  Richard Henry Lee,                                                 158
  Stephen Hopkins,                                                   164
  Robert Treat Paine,                                                170
  George Taylor,                                                     174
  Francis Lightfoot Lee,                                             177
  Thomas Stone,                                                      181
  Lewis Morris,                                                      184
  John Hart,                                                         188
  Button Gwinnett,                                                   191
  William Ellery,                                                    195
  Lyman Hall,                                                        200
  John Penn,                                                         203
  Elbridge Gerry,                                                    208
  William Paca,                                                      215
  George Ross,                                                       219
  Benjamin Harrison,                                                 223
  Cæsar Rodney,                                                      230
  Samuel Chase,                                                      236
  William Hooper,                                                    248
  Thomas Nelson,                                                     253
  James Smith,                                                       260
  Joseph Hewes,                                                      267
  John Adams,                                                        273
  George Washington,                                                 292
  Patrick Henry,                                                     303


  Washington’s Farewell Address to the People of the United States,  313

  A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of
      North America, setting forth the causes and necessity of
      their taking up arms,                                          325

  Articles of Confederation,                                         330

  Constitution of the United States,                                 337

  Amendments to the Constitution,                                    348

  The Declaration of Independence as originally written by Thomas
      Jefferson,                                                     350


The proprietor of this book, now verging on four score years, presents
it to the public with an anxious hope that it will be instrumental in
doing much good. To place within the reach of all classes of persons
who desire it, the history of the venerable sages who wisely conceived,
nobly planned and boldly achieved the independence of these United
States, is believed to be a matter of great importance, especially to
the rising generation.

Of those who signed the Declaration penned by Jefferson—the Articles
of Confederation adopted by the Continental Congress, and the Federal
Constitution—not one survives to aid in directing the destinies of our
country. Like leaves in autumn they have descended to the earth—the
winter of death has shut them from this world for ever. But they have
left their bright examples, their shining lights, their luminous
beacons, to guide their successors in the path of duty and of safety.

Having had the pleasure of seeing all the signers of the declaration
before they made their last bow and retired from the stage of action,
and having had the satisfaction of a personal acquaintance with many of
them, the proprietor has long felt a strong desire to have the history
of the prominent traits of their lives and characters reduced to a
single portable and cheap volume, that should not be an onerous tax
upon the purse or the memory. Such a volume is now presented to the
American public, carefully and impartially prepared—plain in style,
simple in arrangement and republican in its features.

If all obey the precepts suggested, and imitate the examples delineated
upon the following pages, our republic will continue to rise sublimely,
until it reaches an eminence of power and grandeur before unknown among
the nations of the earth.

That this may be the happy lot of our country, and that our free
government may be preserved in its native purity, is the sincere and
ardent wish of the proprietor.


_Philadelphia, February 22, 1839._


The present is emphatically an era of books. The march of mind is
onward and upward, bold and expanding. The soaring intellect of man,
rising on the wings of investigation and experiment, is seizing upon
the elements in all their varied forms, threatening to unveil and
reduce to subjection the whole _arcana_ of nature. The flood gates of
science are opened, and its translucent stream, rushing through the
magic channel of the press, is illuminating the world with rays of
light, as multiform in their hues as a rainbow. Like that beautiful
phenomenon, some of them attract the delighted gaze of many for a brief
period, then vanish from view for want of reflectives, or dissolve in
thin air for want of stamina—an ominous hint to the present writer.

He, however, has not aimed at brilliancy or high refinement in
composition, nor has he attempted to create a literary GEM to induce
admiration. He has aimed at brevity in the impartial statement of plain
matters of fact, avoiding verbiage and extracting the essence of the
history of the sages of ’76. His work is not designed for the diffusive
crucible of the critic, or the empirical hauteur of the cynic. To make
a _useful_ book has been the ultimatum of his efforts. It has been his
constant purpose to incite a love for moral rectitude, a veneration for
unsophisticated religion and pure patriotism, and a lively interest
in the perpetuity of our union as a free people, by reflecting the
precepts and examples of the revolutionary patriots upon the mind
of the reader, from the truth-telling mirror of their history. To
preserve, in its pristine purity, the liberty they purchased with years
of toil, streams of blood and millions of treasure, is a duty imposed
upon us by the law of nature, and by the great Jehovah. To imprint this
deeply and strongly upon the heart of every reader, the author has
interspersed many practical remarks, and, in some instances, compared
the past with the present time.

If the amputating knife, the scalpel and the probe have occasionally
been used, a sincere desire to do good has prompted their application.
To remove the unsound parts of the body politic—should be a desideratum
with every freeman. By shrinking from this duty, we jeopardize our
elective franchise and court the domination of designing men, who smile
that they may betray, and flatter that they may destroy.

The author has laboured to be concise without being obscure, to inform
the understanding without burdening the memory. He has introduced
many apothegms, intending to improve the mind and mend the heart. The
causes that led to the revolution, its interesting progress, its happy
termination and the formation of our federal government, are all amply
delineated. The character of each of the individuals who signed the
declaration, and of the illustrious Washington and the bold Patrick
Henry, is fully portrayed. The most prominent acts of their lives are
also clearly exhibited. But few of the biographettes are encumbered
with documentary extracts, although they will be found sufficiently
full for all ordinary purposes.

To write the biography of fifty-eight individuals, all engaged in the
accomplishment of a single object, although that object may be shrouded
in refulgent glory—and preserve an interesting variety without being
prolix or verbose, is a task no one can realize without attempting it—a
task that the author does not claim the credit of having performed.
To compensate for any want of diversity, the reader will find all the
important facts contained in more expensive, ponderous and voluminous
works, placed in so small a compass, that they may be referred to with
greater facility than in them.

In the order of the names, it seems most appropriate to place the
author of the Declaration of Independence first. In some instances, a
character of high classic attainments has been placed by the side of
one whose literary advantages were extremely limited, that the reader,
when admiring the dazzling splendour of the former, may contemplate the
equal patriotism and substantial usefulness of the latter. The names
of Messrs. Gwinnett and Ellery, are placed by the side of each other
because of the contrast in their demise.

The Appendix is considered an important affixion, and renders the work
more full and complete. The Farewell Address of Washington is one of
the happiest productions ever penned by mortal man. It should be read
often, not only by the young, but by _all_—the rich and the poor—the
public officer and the private citizen. It should be rehearsed in every
school and declaimed in every lyceum.

The Constitution of the United States should also be better known; it
should be familiar to every farmer and mechanic, that it may be better
understood and more faithfully adhered to.

Finally, to carry the reader back to first principles, and point
plainly and clearly to the land marks of ’76, as fixed by the signers
of the declaration of our independence, and to rouse the patriot to
a just sense of our blood-bought privileges and the necessity of
preserving them pure and undefiled, has been the constant aim of the

If his humble, but honest and earnest efforts shall prove instrumental
in adding one inch of time—one happy hour to our political existence,
or in strengthening one single link of the golden chain of the glorious
UNION of these United States, he will deem the months of severe labour
devoted to the preparation of this work—AS TIME WELL SPENT.

            L. CARROLL JUDSON.

_Philadelphia, February 22, 1839._

Declaration of Independence,




“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one
people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with
another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and
equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle
them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they
should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident:—that all men are created
equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable
rights; that amongst these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted
among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;
that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these
ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to
institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles,
and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most
likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will
dictate that governments long established should not be changed for
light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shown,
that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable,
than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are
accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing
invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under
absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off
such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies, and such is now
the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of

“The history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of
repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the
establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this,
let facts be submitted to a candid world.

“He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and necessary for
the public good.

“He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing
importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should
be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend
to them.

“He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large
districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of
representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them, and
formidable to tyrants only.

“He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual,
uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records,
for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his

“He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly for opposing, with
manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.

“He has refused, for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause
others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of
annihilation, have returned to the people at large, for their exercise;
the state remaining, in the meantime, exposed to all the dangers of
invasion from without and convulsions within.

“He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these states; for that
purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing
to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the
conditions of new appropriations of lands.

“He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his
assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

“He has made judges dependent on his will alone for the tenure of their
offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

“He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of
officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

“He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the
consent of our legislatures.

“He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior
to, the civil power.

“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to
our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to
their acts of pretended legislation.

“For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

“For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders
which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

“For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

“For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

“For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

“For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences.

“For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighbouring
province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging
its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit
instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies:

“For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and
altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

“For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested
with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

“He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his
protection, and waging war against us.

“He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and
destroyed the lives of our people.

“He is, at this time, transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries
to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun,
with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the
most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized

“He has constrained our fellow-citizens, taken captive on the high
seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of
their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

“He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured
to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian
savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction
of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

“In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for redress,
in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered
only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by
every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free

“Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We
have warned them, from time to time, of attempts by their legislature
to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them
of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have
appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured
them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations,
which would inevitably interrupt our connexions and correspondence.
They, too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.
We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our
separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind—enemies in
war—in peace, friends.

“We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America,
in general Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the
world for the rectitude of our intentions, Do, in the name, and by
authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and
declare, that these United Colonies are, and of right, ought to be,
free and independent States:—that they are absolved from all allegiance
to the British crown, and that all political connexion between them
and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be, totally dissolved;
and that, as free and independent States, they have full power to levy
war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do
all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.
And, for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the
protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our
lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.”



  _Josiah Bartlett_,
  _William Whipple_,
  _Matthew Thornton_.


  _Samuel Adams_,
  _John Adams_,
  _Robert Treat Paine_,
  _Elbridge Gerry_.


  _Stephen Hopkins_,
  _William Ellery_.


  _Roger Sherman_,
  _Samuel Huntingdon_,
  _William Williams_,
  _Oliver Wolcott_.


  _William Floyd_,
  _Philip Livingston_,
  _Francis Lewis_,
  _Lewis Morris_.


  _Richard Stockton_,
  _John Witherspoon_,
  _Francis Hopkinson_,
  _John Hart_,
  _Abraham Clark_.


  _Robert Morris_,
  _Benjamin Rush_,
  _Benjamin Franklin_,
  _John Morton_,
  _George Clymer_,
  _James Smith_,
  _George Taylor_,
  _James Wilson_,
  _George Ross_.


  _Cæsar Rodney_,
  _George Read_,
  _Thomas M’Kean_.


  _Samuel Chase_,
  _Thomas Stone_,
  _Charles Carroll_, of Carrollton.


  _George Wythe_,
  _Richard Henry Lee_,
  _Thomas Jefferson_,
  _Benjamin Harrison_,
  _Thomas Nelson, Jr._
  _Francis Lightfoot Lee_,
  _Carter Braxton_.


  _William Hooper_,
  _Joseph Hewes_,
  _John Penn_.


  _Edward Rutledge_,
  _Thomas Heywood, Jr._
  _Thomas Lynch, Jr._
  _Arthur Middleton_.


  _Button Gwinnett_,
  _Lyman Hall_,
  _George Walton_.



When the Great Ruler of the universe resolved to set his people free
from Egyptian bondage, he raised up able and mighty men, to effect his
glorious purposes. These he endowed with wisdom to plan, and energy
to execute his noble designs. There is a most striking similarity
between the history of the Israelites, bursting the chains of slavery
riveted upon them by Pharaoh; and that of the American colonies, in
disenthralling themselves, by the aid of Heaven, from the oppressions
of the British king. Like Moses, Washington led his countrymen through
the wilderness of the revolution, and planted them, when the journey
was terminated, upon the promised land of freedom and independence.
Like Moses, he placed his trust in the God of Hosts, and like him, he
was aided and sustained by a band of sages and heroes, unrivalled in
the history of the world.

In the front of this band stood THOMAS JEFFERSON, who was born at
Shadwell, Albemarle county, Virginia, on the 24th of April, 1743. His
ancestors were highly respectable, and among the early emigrants to the
Old Dominion. They were true republicans, in affluent circumstances,
and exercised an influence that radiated to a considerable extent.
Thomas was the son of Peter Jefferson, a man much esteemed in public
and private life. The feelings imbibed from him by this son, were
conspicuous at an early age, and decidedly of a liberal character. From
his childhood, the mind of Thomas Jefferson assumed a high elevation,
and took a broad and expansive view of men and things. He was educated
at the college of William and Mary, at Williamsburg; and was always
found at the head of his class. For assiduity and untiring industry
in the exploration of the fields of science, he had no superior. He
analyzed every subject that came under his investigation, closely and
carefully; passing through the opening avenues of literature with an
astonishing celerity. His mind became enraptured with the history of
classic Greece and republican Rome, and, in early youth, his political
opinions appear to have been distinctly formed, and opposed to every
kind of government, tinctured with a shade of monarchy or aristocracy.

After having completed his collegiate course, he commenced the study
of law under chancellor Wythe, whose liberal views were well calculated
to strengthen and mature those already preponderating in the mind of
Jefferson. With regard to the oppressions of the mother country, and
the justice and necessity of resistance by the colonies, their kindred
bosoms were in unison. By a thorough investigation of the science of
law and government, Jefferson soon became prepared to enter upon the
great theatre of public action, and into the service of his injured
country. Planting himself upon the broad basis of Magna Charta,
encircling himself within the pale of the British constitution, he
demonstrated most clearly, that the ministry of the crown had long been
advancing, with rapid strides, beyond the bounds of their legitimate
authority, by exercising a tyrannical power over the American colonies,
not delegated to them by the monarchy they corruptly represented. So
conclusive and luminous were his expositions of chartered rights on
the one hand, and of accumulating wrongs on the other, that he soon
became the nucleus of a band of patriots, resolved on deeds of noble
daring—_on liberty or death_.

At the age of twenty-two, he was elected to the provincial legislature,
and commissioned a justice of the peace, which gave him an opportunity
of disseminating his liberal principles to a considerable extent. He
proclaimed himself the unyielding advocate of equal rights, and had
engraved upon his watch seal as his motto, “Resistance to tyrants is
obedience to God.”

By his eloquence and unanswerable reasoning, he soon kindled the flame
of opposition in old Virginia, which increased as tyranny advanced;
and, in 1769, assumed the shape of a resolution, offered and advocated
by Mr. Jefferson in the legislature, _not to import a single article
from Great Britain_. The boldness and firmness with which he maintained
his position, astonished the adherents of the crown, and gave a fresh
impetus to the glorious cause then in embryo. With ample pecuniary
means, with talents unsurpassed, his soul illumined with the fire of
patriotism, his indignation roused against the hirelings of the king,
his sympathies excited by the sufferings of his country, Mr. Jefferson
was well calculated to become one of the master spirits of the
revolution; one of the giant champions of universal freedom; a pillar
of fire in the cause of liberty, flashing terror and dismay into the
ranks of his enemies.

The plan of organizing committees of correspondence throughout the
colonies, was devised by him in the early part of 1773, and proved
eminently useful in producing unity of sentiment and concert of action
among the patriots. About that time, he wrote and published “A Summary
View of the Rights of British America,” which also set forth the wrongs
inflicted upon his countrymen, in bold and glowing colours. This he
addressed to the king in respectful, but plain and impressive language,
in the following eloquent strain. “Open your breast, Sire, to liberal
and expanded thought. It behooves you to think and act for your people.
The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader: to
peruse them, needs not the aid of many counsellors. The whole art of
government consists in the art of being honest,” etc.

So exasperated was Lord Duninore on perusing this article, that he
threatened to arrest its author for high treason. Written and published
during the session of the legislature of which Mr. Jefferson was an
influential member, and finding that resolutions had been passed by
the representatives, quite as treasonable in their character as the
publication in question, his lordship immediately dissolved the farther
action of that body.

The following year, the British ministry, in answer to petitions for
redress of grievances, sent to the assembly of the Old Dominion, a
series of propositions that _they_ termed conciliatory, but which,
in truth, added insult to injury. Their hypocrisy and fallacy were
unmasked and exposed by Mr. Jefferson, in a masterly strain of
eloquent and withering logic and sarcasm, that carried conviction to a
large majority of his colleagues. They were referred to a committee,
which reported an answer, drawn by the author of the declaration of
independence, similar, in its main features, to that much admired
document, which was immediately adopted. The ball of resistance was put
in motion, the electric fluid of patriotism commenced its insulating
powers in the north and in the south; and, extending from sire to son,
from heart to heart, the two streams met in the centre, and rising
in grandeur, formed the beautiful and luminous arch of FREEDOM, with
its chord extending from Maine to Georgia, its versed sine resting
upon the city of Penn. Under its zenith, at the city of Philadelphia,
the continental congress convened, in which Thomas Jefferson took his
seat on the 21st of June, 1775. Although one of the youngest members
of that venerated assemblage of sages and patriots, he was hailed as
one of its main pillars. Known as a man of superior intelligence,
of liberal sentiments, of strict integrity, of stern republicanism,
and of unbending patriotism, his influence was strongly felt and
judiciously exercised. From the beginning, he advocated a separation
from the mother country, and met, at the threshold, every argument
that was urged against it. He considered that allegiance to the crown
had been dissolved by oppression, and the original contract cancelled
by American blood. Submission was no longer a virtue; the measure
of wrongs was filled and overflowing; public sentiment demanded the
dissolution of the gordian knot; and a voice from heaven proclaimed,
“_let my people go_.”

The following year, the declaration of independence was proposed, and
Mr. Jefferson appointed chairman of the committee to draft a form. He
was requested, by his colleagues, to prepare the important document. He
performed the task with a boldness of design, and beauty of execution,
before unknown and yet unrivalled. The result of his labour is before
the world. Admiring nations have united in applauding the declaration
of our rights, penned by Jefferson, and sanctioned by the continental
congress on the 4th of July, 1776. As a master piece of composition,
as a clear and lucid exposition of the rights of man, the principles
of free government, the sufferings of an oppressed people, the abuses
of a corrupt ministry, and the effects of monarchy upon the destinies
of man, it stands unequalled. Pure in its origin, graphic in its
delineations, noble in its features, glorious in its career, benign in
its influence, and salutary in its results, it has become the chart of
patriots throughout the civilized world. It is the _ne plus ultra_[A]
of a gigantic mind, elevated to a lofty eminence by the finest touches
of Creative Power; displaying its boldest efforts, its brightest
conceptions, its holiest zeal, its purest desires, and its happiest
conclusions. It combines the attributes of justice, the flowers of
eloquence, the force of logic, and the soul of wisdom. It is the grand
palladium of equal RIGHTS, the polar star of rational LIBERTY, the
Magna Charta of universal FREEDOM, and has crowned the name of its
author with laurels of immortal fame.

    [A] Nothing beyond—the utmost point.

In the autumn of 1776, Mr. Jefferson, in conjunction with Dr. Franklin
and Dr. Deane, was appointed a commissioner to the court of France, for
the purpose of forming a treaty of alliance. Ill health of himself and
family, and an urgent necessity for his services in his native state,
induced him to decline the proffered honour, and also to resign his
seat in congress.

He was immediately elected a member of the first legislature of
Virginia convened under its new constitution, and was looked upon as
one of the main bulwarks of her future safety. After taking his seat
in that body, his first business was, to demolish the superstructure
of the judicial code, that had been reared, either by, or under the
supervision of the British parliament. Although sustained and aided
by able and willing colleagues, the great work of revision fell most
heavily upon him. The first bill he introduced was aimed at the
slave trade, and prohibited the farther importation of negroes into
Virginia. This act alone is a triumphant confutation of the accusation
often reiterated against Mr. Jefferson, _that he was an advocate of
slavery_. To its _principles_ he was always opposed, and submitted
to it _practically_ only by entail. That he struck the first blow at
the unhallowed trade of importing human beings for the purpose of
consigning them to bondage, is a fact beyond dispute. That this was the
first grand step towards a correction of the most cruel features of
the _traffic_, will not be denied. To transfer those born in America,
from one state to another, bears no comparison to the heart-rending
barbarity of dragging the African from his native home.

He next introduced and effected the passage of bills destroying
entails, the rights of primogeniture, the church as established by the
English law; and also various others, calculated to assimilate the
entire system of jurisprudence in the state, to its new and republican
form of government; amounting, in all, to one hundred and twenty-six,
most of which were passed, and form the present much admired statutory
code of Virginia.

In 1779, he was called to the gubernatorial chair of the Old Dominion,
surrounded by dangers and perils on every side. The British troops,
headed by the proud Tarleton and the traitor Arnold, were spreading
death and destruction over the state, and contemplated the capture of
Jefferson, to cap the climax of their triumphant victories. Terror and
dismay were depicted on the faces of the more timid patriots, whilst
many of the bolder spirits were much alarmed at the approach of these
merciless foes. But the energy and vigilance of the governor were
found equal to every emergency. He rallied the bone and sinew of old
Virginia, who “with hearts of oak and nerves of steel,” checked the
enemy in their bold career of indiscriminate slaughter. He imparted
confidence and vigour to the desponding, and roused them to bold and
noble action. He dispersed the dark and gloomy clouds that hung over
his bleeding state, and inspired the friends of liberty with fresh
and cheering hopes of ultimate success. So highly were his services
appreciated during the eventful period of his administration, that the
members of the legislature entered upon their records an _unanimous_
vote of thanks to him, for the able and efficient manner he had
performed his public duties, expressing their high opinion of his
superior talents, strict rectitude, and stern integrity.

In 1783, Thomas Jefferson again took his seat in congress, and became
one of its brightest ornaments. The chaste and moving address from
that body to Washington, when he surrendered his commission, was from
the soul-stirring pen of Jefferson. He was chairman of the committee
appointed to form a plan of territorial government for the extensive
regions of the then “far west.” True to his favourite principle
of finally emancipating the sable African, he introduced a clause
prohibiting slavery after the year 1800, in any of the territories, or
states that should be formed from them.

In May, 1784, Mr. Jefferson was appointed a minister plenipotentiary,
to aid Messrs. Adams and Franklin, in the important duties of
negotiating treaties of commerce with several European nations. He
embarked in July following for France, and arrived there on the 6th
of August. During his stay he visited several of the foreign courts,
but spent the largest portion of his time in Paris. He commanded the
highest respect and esteem wherever he went. He was made a welcome
guest in the halls of literature, legislation, and jurisprudence.
He was received with marked distinction by courtiers and kings, and
effected much towards the promotion of the commercial interests of the
infant Republic he so ably represented.

He was at Paris when the French revolution commenced, and was
often consulted by the leading members of the national convention,
relative to the best course to be pursued, in order to establish
their government upon the firm basis of republicanism. So far as was
consistent with his situation, he gave his opinion freely in favour of
rational liberty.

On the 23d of November, 1789, he returned to his native land, and was
received with great enthusiasm and affection by his fellow citizens.
Soon after his arrival, he was induced to resign his commission as
minister to France, and accept the responsible situation of Secretary
of State under President Washington. The appointment showed the
sagacity of the chief magistrate, and proved a lasting blessing to our
country. Familiar with every principle of government; comprehending,
at one bold view, the requisites necessary to perfect and perpetuate
the new confederation, he was enabled to propose amendments to the
constitution that were subsequently adopted, with some suggested by
others; and to do much to beautify and reduce to harmonious system,
the new order of things. Well versed in the usages of diplomacy,
international law, and the policy of European courts, he was prepared
to plant the permanent landmarks of foreign intercourse that have
guided our nation to the present time in safety, and raised her
to a degree of greatness before unknown, in so short a period. A
reciprocity of commerce and honourable peace with foreigners, and a
rigid neutrality with belligerents, carefully avoiding ambiguous or
entangling alliances, were some of his leading principles. To submit
to nothing that was clearly _wrong_, and to ask for nothing but what
was unquestionably _right_, was a doctrine of Jefferson, forcibly
inculcated in his able correspondence with the French ministers, during
the brief period of their republic. The motto is still nailed to the
flag staff of the star spangled banner, and is handed down from sire to
son in its native purity.

To the domestic concerns of his country he devoted a laborious and
laudable attention. He insisted upon the adoption of a uniform system
of currency and of weights and measures, and suggested many other
improvements, predicated upon plain and enlightened premises, and
all designed to advance the best interests of the American system.
He pointed to the importance of securing and protecting fisheries,
and of encouraging enterprise in all the branches of industry. He
demonstrated the advantages of every species of commerce, and the
necessity of preventing others from monopolizing such sources as
legitimately belonged to the United States. He showed, in a masterly
exposition of existing facts, the increasing policy of European
courts, in restricting the intercourse of America, and their evident
designs of engrossing trade. He submitted to congress an able and
elaborate report, showing great foresight, close observation, and deep
investigation, relative to the privileges and restrictions of the
commercial intercourse of this with other countries. It received great
attention, was a subject of long and animated discussion in congress,
and became the foundation of a series of resolutions introduced by Mr.
Madison, embracing the doctrines it contained, and forming the great
line of demarcation between the _old_ school federal and republican

Having served his country long and faithfully, and having contributed
largely in placing her on the high road of prosperity and freedom, Mr.
Jefferson retired from public life on the 31st of December, 1793, and,
for a season, enjoyed the more substantial comforts of the domestic
circle at Monticello. He took especial care to impart comfort to all
around him, and treated his slaves in the kindest manner, thus reducing
to practice the mode of treatment towards them he had so often alluded
to in theory. The education of his children, the cultivation and
improvement of his estate, and the resumption of scientific research,
gave to him an exhilarating consolation he had long desired, and which
is never found in the arena of public business and political bustle.

His manner of life at the period alluded to, is happily described by
the Duke de Liancourt, a distinguished French gentleman who visited
him at Monticello, and who wrote a narrative of his tour in the United

“His conversation is of the most agreeable kind, and he possesses a
stock of information, not inferior to any other man. In Europe, he
would hold a distinguished rank among men of letters, and as such he
has already appeared there. At present he is employed with activity
and perseverance in the management of his farms and buildings, and he
orders, directs, and pursues, in the minutest detail, every branch of
business relating to them. I found him in the midst of harvest, from
which the scorching heat of the sun does not prevent his attendance.
His negroes are nourished, clothed, and treated as well as white
servants could be. Every article is made on his farm; his negroes being
cabinet makers, carpenters, and masons. The children he employs in a
nail manufactory, and the young and old negresses spin for the clothing
of the rest. He animates them all by rewards and distinctions. In fine,
his superior mind directs the management of his domestic concerns, with
the same ability, activity, and regularity, which he evinced in the
conduct of public affairs, and which he is calculated to display in
every situation of life.”

During his recess from the toils of public life, Mr. Jefferson was
unanimously elected president of the American Philosophical Society,
a circumstance that was highly gratifying to him. It afforded him
much pleasure to occupy the chair that had been long and ably filled
by his revered friends, the illustrious Franklin and the philosophic
Rittenhouse. He proved himself, in every way, worthy of the honour
conferred. After a repose of three years, Mr. Jefferson was again
called upon by his fellow citizens to mount the theatre of public
action. President Washington had proclaimed his determination to retire
to the peaceful shades of Mount Vernon, and leave the presidential
chair to a new incumbent. The people had become divided politically,
and each party determined to nominate a candidate for the high
and responsible station about to become vacant. Mr. Jefferson was
selected by the democrats, and Mr. Adams by the federalists. The
election resulted in the choice of Mr. Adams for President, and of Mr.
Jefferson for Vice President. As the presiding officer of the Senate,
he discharged his duty with dignity and impartiality. Familiar with
parliamentary rules, he was uniformly prepared to decide such questions
as came before him, promptly, and generally to the satisfaction of the

At the next presidential election, he was again a candidate in
opposition to Mr. Adams. The mountain waves of party spirit rolled over
the United States like a mighty torrent. Each party presented a bold
front regardless of danger, pressed on by a rear rushing to conflict.
The political campaign terminated in favour of the democrats, who
returned an equal number of votes for Mr. Jefferson as President, and
Aaron Burr as Vice President. This singular circumstance imposed the
election of the chief magistrate upon the House of Representatives.
To defeat the election of the great leader of the popular party, some
of his opponents voted for Mr. Burr. A most spirited contest ensued,
and thirty-five ineffectual ballotings were made. The ambition of the
latter gentleman for promotion, at last so much subsided, as to induce
him to withdraw from a farther contest with the man of the people’s
choice; and, on the thirty-sixth ballot, Mr. Jefferson was duly elected
President, and Mr. Burr Vice President; the former by a majority of
eight votes.

The following extract from his inaugural address will show with what
sentiments he entered upon the performance of his arduous duties.

“Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion,
religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with
all nations; entangling alliances with none; the support of the state
governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations
for our domestic concerns, and the surest bulwarks against
anti-republican tendencies; the preservation of the general government
in its whole constitutional vigour, as the sheet anchor of our peace at
home and safety abroad; a zealous care of the right of election by the
people, a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the
sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute
acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principles
of republics, from which there is no appeal but to force, the vital
principle and immediate parent of despotism; a well disciplined militia
our best reliance in peace, and for the first moments of war till
regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military
authority; economy in the public expense, that labour may be lightly
burthened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of
the public faith; encouragement of agriculture and of commerce as its
handmaid; the diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses
at the bar of public reason; freedom of religion, freedom of the
press, and freedom of the person under the protection of the habeas
corpus; and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles
form the bright constellation which has gone before us, and guided our
steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our
sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment.
They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic
instruction, the touchstone by which to try the service of those we
trust, and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm,
let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone
leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”

Here is a statesman’s chart, drawn by one of the ablest navigators that
ever stood at the helm of government. His soundings were frequent;
his observations were made with mathematical exactness; he combined
experience with science, and traced his lines with boldness and
precision. To follow its directions is to ensure safety.

Based upon these principles, practically carried out, the
administration of Jefferson became popular, peaceful, and prosperous.
He knew the reasonable desires of the people, and exerted his
noblest energies to provide for them. He knew that the art of
governing harmoniously, consisted in an enlightened honesty, and
acted accordingly. He anticipated the future wants of the rising and
expanding republic over which he presided, and proposed, in his annual
and special messages to congress, wise and politic measures to meet
them. So satisfactory was his course to his fellow citizens, that
he was re-elected to a second term, by a majority of one hundred and

His inaugural address, on that occasion, enforced the same principles
contained in his first, and manifested a deep and growing interest in
the welfare and prosperity of his country. As his belief in a Supreme
Power has been questioned by some, the following extract, containing
the same sentiment found in all his writings where this subject is
alluded to, may correct those who are labouring under an error on this
important point. Hear him, after invoking the aid of congress in the
affairs of the nation: “I shall need, too, the favour of that Being in
whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old, from
their native land, and planted them in a country flowing with all the
necessaries of life; who has covered our infancy with his providence,
and our riper years with his wisdom and power.”

If all who profess the religion of the cross, discarded sectarianism
and honoured unsophisticated _practical_ piety as much as did Thomas
Jefferson, the prospect of christianizing the world would soon burst
upon us with refulgent brightness. The partition walls of various
creeds, drawn from the same pure fountain, and coloured by fancy
and construction, would be dissolved by heaven-born charity, and
the superstructure of the Redeemer’s kingdom would rise from their
mouldering ruins in majesty sublime.

Soon after Mr. Jefferson entered upon the duties of his second term,
a portentous storm darkened the horizon of his country, charged with
the forked lightning of discord. In consequence of being disappointed
in obtaining the presidential chair amidst the confusion he created
when Mr. Jefferson was first elected, and superseded by Mr. Clinton
as vice president at the expiration of four years, Aaron Burr mounted
upon the whirlwind of his wild ambition, and attempted the formation
of a new republic in the Spanish provinces on the Mississippi;
apparently aiming at an ultimate division, if not dissolution of the
United States. Although he was acquitted, after being tried for high
treason, owing to his deep cunning in not committing the _overt_ acts
necessary to convict, yet the dark stigma of a traitor is marked upon
the splendour of his brilliant talents, in traces so deep, that time,
nor angels’ tears, can never remove it. Like a comet, propelled by its
own centrifugal force from its constitutional orbit, he fell to rise no
more, and our country was preserved from his Catiline grasp.

About the same time, France and Great Britain were at war, both of
which, and more especially the latter, had repeatedly insulted the
American flag under various but unwarranted pretences. Redress was
promptly demanded, and measures pursued to obtain it. Anxious to
preserve the peace of his country, but determined to vindicate her
rights and maintain her dignity, Mr. Jefferson, whilst he prosecuted
a vigorous negociation for the arrangement of a friendly intercourse
and the adjustment of existing differences, prepared for the final
alternative of war. He knew well the importance to England of the
importing and exporting trade, and as a means of bringing her to
honourable terms, recommended to congress the embargo law, which was
passed on the 22nd of December, 1807. This measure was violently
assailed by the opponents of the administration. It, however,
had a salutary effect upon the British government, and caused a
relinquishment of the most odious features of the assumptions of power
that had been set up, followed by more conciliatory propositions on
the part of England, for a final settlement of all difficulties and
wrongs. Thus situated were the foreign relations of the United States
when the second term of Mr. Jefferson expired, at which time he bid a
final farewell to public life, and left the destinies of his beloved
country in other hands. He had been an efficient and faithful labourer
in the vineyard of American liberty for nearly forty years; he left it
richly covered with foliage and fruit; in the full bloom of its vigour
and health; enclosed by the palisades of honesty and truth; and adorned
with the crowning glory of patriotism and philanthropy.

On the 3d of March, 1809, Thomas Jefferson surrendered the
responsibilities of chief magistrate, ceased to be the active
statesman, withdrew from the political arena, and again became a
private citizen, surrounded by the halo of his country’s gratitude,
consoled by the approbation of a pure conscience, and cheered by the
plaudits of admiring millions.

From that time forward, he declined all public honours, and remained
in peaceful retirement till the day of his death, seldom leaving his
favourite Monticello. But he did not enter upon a life of inglorious
ease. The same innate activity that had marked his brilliant career
from his youth, the same nobleness of mind and energy of character
that had raised him to the loftiest pinnacle fame could rear, still
prompted him to action. He immediately reduced his time to a harmonious
arrangement, and his whole business to the most perfect system. He
uniformly rose before the sun, and held a supervision over all the
concerns of his plantation. The various publications from his pen,
during the period of his retirement, show that he laboured arduously in
the fields of science and philosophy. For the promotion of literature
and general intelligence he opened an extensive correspondence with men
of letters, in this country and in Europe. He considered the diffusion
of knowledge, among the great mass of the human family, the greatest
safeguard against tyranny and oppression, the purest source of earthly
bliss, and the surest passport to freedom and happiness.

Acting from this impulse, he submitted the plan of a University to
the legislature of Virginia, to be erected at Charlottesville, a town
situated at the foot of the mountain that reared its romantic scenery
in front of his mansion. It was to be built with funds raised by
donations from individuals and from the state, himself to be a liberal
contributor. The plan of the buildings, the course of instruction, the
mode of discipline, the duties and accountabilities of the officers
and instructors, were all devised and drawn by Mr. Jefferson, and were
so much admired and approved by the members of that legislative body,
that they passed an act authorizing its adoption, and appointed its
author Rector, to carry the design into effect. Upon the completion
of that object he then devoted all necessary time, and _more_ money
than strict prudence called for. It became the doating object of his
old age, and his strongest efforts were exerted in its accomplishment.
These were crowned with success, and he had the happiness to live and
see the University completed and filled with students. The course
of instruction was designed to prepare the scholars for the general
routine of business, both public and private, without being strictly
classical. The library was selected by him with great judgment and
care, and was confined to what may be termed _useful_ books, treating
upon subjects necessary to be understood by every citizen, to
prepare him to discharge properly the duties he owes to himself, his
family, his country, and his God. A catalogue, written by the hand
of Jefferson, is still there, and carefully preserved. He exercised
a parental care over this institution as long as his physical powers
would permit; and was often seen viewing it with an exquisite pleasure
and an honest pride. Much of his time was devoted to visiters, to whom
his hospitality was liberally and kindly extended. Thousands of his
own countrymen paid their grateful respects to him, and Europeans of
distinction thought their tour in the United States incomplete, until
they took by the hand the PATRIOT, the SAGE, the PHILOSOPHER, and the
PHILANTHROPIST of Monticello. To delight, to instruct, and to please,
he was peculiarly calculated. He was familiar with every subject;
his mind united the vigour of youth with the experience of age; the
strength of a giant with the innocence of a babe. The broad expanse of
the universe, the stupendous works of nature, the Pierian fields of
science, the deep recesses of philosophy, and the labyrinthian avenues
of the intellect of man, seemed spread before him like a map of the
world. He was an encyclopedia of the age he adorned, a lexicon of the
times he enlightened, and one of the brightest diadems in the crown of
his country’s glory.

With calm dignity and peaceful quietude, Mr. Jefferson glided down
the stream of time towards the ocean of eternity, until he reached
the eighty-fourth year of his age. Forty-four years had rolled over
his head, since his amiable companion, the daughter of Mr. Wayles, an
eminent lawyer of Virginia, had slumbered beneath the clods of the
valley. One of two interesting daughters, the only children he ever
had, was also resting in the silent grave. The charms of earth began
to fade before him, and he felt sensibly that he was fast approaching
the confines of another and a better world. The physical powers and
mechanical structure of his frame were fast decaying; the canker worm
of disease was doing its final work; and the angel of death stood over
him with a keen blade, awaiting Jehovah’s signal to cut the thread
of life, and set the prisoner free. Early in the spring of 1826, his
bodily infirmities increased, and from the 26th of June to the time
of his decease, he was confined to his bed. He then remarked to his
physician, “my machine is worn out and can go no longer.” His friends
who attended him, flattered themselves that he would again recover, but
_he_ was convinced that his voyage of life was about to close, and that
he would soon cast his anchor in the haven of rest. To those around
him he said, “do not imagine that I feel the smallest solicitude as
to the result. I do not indeed _wish_ to die, but I do not _fear_ to
die.” To his last moments, he manifested a peculiar anxiety for the
future prosperity of the university which he had founded, regarding it
as the youngest child of his old age. Assured that it would receive
the fostering care of the state, he could say, now Lord, dismiss
me. On the 2nd day of July, his body became extremely weak, but his
mental powers remained as clear as a crystal fountain. He called his
family and friends around him, and, with a cheerful countenance and
calm dignity gave directions for his funeral obsequies. He requested
that he might be interred at Monticello, without pomp or show, and
that the inscription upon his tomb should only refer to him as “The
author of the Declaration of Independence, of the Statutes of Virginia
securing religious freedom, and as the father of the University.” He
then conversed separately with each of his family: to his surviving
daughter, Mrs. Randolph, he presented a small morocco case, which he
requested her not to open until after his death, and when opened, was
found to contain a beautiful and affectionate poetic tribute to her

The next day, being told it was the 3d of July, he expressed a desire
that he might be permitted to inhale the atmosphere of the 50th
anniversary of our national freedom. His prayer was granted, the
glorious 4th of July, 1826, dawned upon him, he took an affectionate
leave of those around him, and then raising his eyes upward,
articulated distinctly, “I resign myself to God, and my child to my
country,” and expired as calmly as an infant sleeps in its mother’s
arms, without a murmur or a sigh. Thus lived and thus died THOMAS
JEFFERSON, universally esteemed in life, and deeply mourned in death by
a nation of freemen; deeply lamented by every patriot in the civilized

In person, he was slender and erect, six feet two inches in height;
light and intelligent eyes; noble and open countenance; fair
complexion; yellowish-red hair, and commanding in his whole appearance.
In all the relations of public and private life, he was a model of
human talent and rigid integrity, rarely equalled and never surpassed.
His whole career was calm and dignified. Under all circumstances his
coolness, deliberation, and equanimity of mind, placed him on a lofty
eminence, and enabled him to preserve a perfect equilibrium, amidst all
the changing vicissitudes and multiform ills that flesh is heir to. He
kept his passions under complete control, and cultivated richly the
refined qualities of his nature. His philanthropy was as broad as the
human family; his sympathies were co-extensive with the afflictions of
Adam’s race. He was born to be useful; he nobly fulfilled the design of
his creation.


Biography is a subject of such thrilling interest, that the memory
of most men, in every age and nation, who have rendered themselves
eminent, either in the cause of virtue or vice, glory or infamy,
has been handed down on the pages of history. Among the unlettered
nations of the earth, we find the exploits of their heroes and sages
recorded with hieroglyphics, in wild simplicity; or find their names
interwoven in the wild and more romantic tales of mysterious tradition.
When graced with truth and impartiality, the subject is not only
interesting, but calculated to enrich our minds, by producing a desire
to emulate the examples of the great and good, and by pointing out to
us the paths of error, that lead us to disgrace and ruin. The interest
felt in the history of an individual, depends much upon the manner
the biographer performs his important and responsible duty, but more
upon the sphere of action and the magnitude of the cause in which the
individual has been engaged. The _cause_ in which JOHN HANCOCK, the
subject of this brief sketch, was engaged, is one deeply interesting to
every philanthropist, and more especially to every American. It was the
cause of humanity and equal rights, opposed to cruelty and oppression;
the cause of American Independence, opposed to British tyranny. The
_part_ he acted, was alike creditable to his head and heart; his fame
is enrolled on the bright list of the illustrious patriots of the

He was a native of Massachusetts, born near Quincy, in 1737. His
father, of the same name, was a clergyman, eminent for his piety,
and highly esteemed by the parishioners under his charge. He died
during the infancy of his son, and left him under the guardianship
of his paternal uncle, who treated him with all the tenderness of a
father, and continued him at school until he graduated at Harvard
College in 1754. His uncle was a merchant of immense wealth, and, on
the completion of his studies, placed him in his counting-house, that
he might add to his science a knowledge of business, of men, and of
things. In 1760, he visited England, saw the mortal remains of George
II. laid in the silent tomb, and the crown placed upon the head of his
successor. He continued in the business of his uncle until the age of
twenty-seven, when his patron and benefactor died, leaving him his vast
estate, supposed to be the largest of any one in the province.

He was, for many years, one of the select men of Boston; and, in 1766,
was elected a member of the General Assembly of Massachusetts. He there
exhibited talents of a superior order, which attracted the attention,
excited the admiration, and gained the esteem of his colleagues. They
also excited the jealousy and irony of his enemies, who soon put him in
the crucible of slander and persecution; but, after a long trial, he
came out like gold seven times tried; he was weighed in the scale of
justice, and not found wanting.

As a proof of the high estimation in which he was held when in the
assembly, he was placed on the most important committees of that body,
and was uniformly chairman. He was also elected speaker, but the
governor, who was jealous of his liberal principles, put a veto upon
his appointment.

His intelligence had led him to investigate the laws of nature, of God,
and of man; he arrived at the conclusion, that men are endowed by their
Creator with certain inherent privileges, that they are born equal, and
they of right are and should be free. He drank deep from the fountain
of liberal principles, and was among the first to repel the blind and
cruel policy of the mother country, and rouse his fellow men to a sense
of impending danger.

Although deeply interested in commercial business, and more exposed
to the wrath of kingly power than any individual in the province, he
boldly placed himself at the head of associations for prohibiting the
importation of goods from Great Britain. The other provinces caught the
fire from these examples; and, to these associations may be traced the
preliminaries of the tragic scene, that resulted in the emancipation of
the enslaved colonies of the pilgrim fathers.

As an evidence that John Hancock was a leading patriot at that time,
the first seizure that was made by the revenue officers, under pretence
of some trivial violation of the laws, was that of one of his vessels.
The excitement produced by this transaction was so great, that a large
number collected to rescue the property. It was moved under the guns
of an armed ship, ready charged, to repel any attack. But the popular
fury rose like a thunder gust from the western horizon; they rushed to
the onset; brought away the vessel, razed to the ground some of the
houses occupied by the custom-house officers, and burnt, in triumph,
the boat of the collector. This fire was, for a time, smothered by the
mantle of authority, but it was never extinguished; it was the fire of
Liberty. It only required to be fanned by the impolitic oppression that
eventually blew it into curling flames.

To prevent the recurrence of a similar scene, several regiments of
British troops, with all their loathsome vices fresh upon them, were
quartered amongst the inhabitants. This was like pouring pitch on a
fire to extinguish it. The stubborn and independent spirits of Boston
were not to be _awed_ into subjection. The consequences were tragical.
On the evening of the 5th of March, 1770, a party of these soldiers
fired upon, and killed a number of the citizens, who had collected
to manifest their indignation against those they _hated_ more than
they _feared_. Had an earthquake shook the town to its very centre,
the agitation could not have been greater. Had it been melting before
devouring flames, the commotion could not have increased.

The tolling of bells; the groans of the wounded and dying; the shrieks
of widows, mothers, and orphans; the flight of soldiers; the rush of
the inhabitants; the cry of vengeance, urged on by popular fury; all
combined to render it a scene of confusion and horror, upon which
imagination dwells and sickens; beneath which, description quails and
trembles; at the sight of which, humanity bleeds at every pore. It is
a commentary, strong and eloquent, upon the impropriety of quartering
soldiers amongst citizens, of maintaining civil law by military force,
and of intruding upon the _sanctum sanctorum_[B] of private and
domestic peace.

    [B] Holy or sacred place.

On the following day, a meeting of the inhabitants was held; a
committee was appointed, at the head of which were Hancock and Samuel
Adams, instructed to request the governor to remove the troops from the
town. He at first refused, but finding, under existing circumstances,
that discretion was the better part of valour, he ordered their
removal. This, with promises that the offenders should be brought to
condign punishment, prevented further hostilities at that time.

The awful and imposing solemnities of interring those who were killed,
was then attended to. Their bodies were deposited in the same tomb;
tears of sorrow, sympathy, and a just indignation, were mingled with
the clods as they descended upon the butchered victims; and the event
was, for many years, annually commemorated with deep and mournful
solemnity. A _te deum_ and _requiem_ were chanted to their memory, and
the torch of liberty was replenished at their tomb.

At one of these celebrations, in the midst of the revolution, John
Hancock delivered the address. A few brief extracts will give the
reader some idea of the feelings and sentiments that pervaded his
bosom, and of his powers as an orator and a statesman.

“Security to the persons and property of the governed, is so evidently
the design and end of civil government, that to attempt a logical
demonstration of it, would be like burning a taper at noon day, to
assist the sun in enlightening the world. It cannot be either virtuous
or honourable to attempt to support institutions of which this is not
the great and principal basis.”

“Some boast of being friends to government: I also am a friend to
government, to a righteous government, founded upon the principles
of reason and justice; but I glory in avowing my eternal enmity to

He then proceeded to portray, in vivid colours, the wrongs inflicted by
the mother country, and urged his fellow citizens to vindicate their
injured rights.

In speaking of the Boston massacre, his language shows the emotions of
his heaving bosom, the feelings of his indignant soul.

“I come reluctantly to the transactions of that dismal night, when, in
such quick succession, we felt the extremes of grief, astonishment,
and rage; when Heaven, in anger, suffered hell to take the reins; when
Satan, with his chosen band, opened the sluices of New England’s blood,
and sacrilegiously polluted her land with the bodies of her guiltless

“Let this sad tale never be told without a tear; let not the heaving
bosom cease to burn with a manly indignation at the relation of it
through the long tracts of future time; let every parent tell the story
to his listening children, till the tears of pity glisten in their
eyes, or boiling passion shakes their tender frames.

“Dark and designing knaves, murderous parricides! how dare you tread
upon the earth which has drunk the blood of slaughtered innocence shed
by your hands? How dare you breathe that air, which wafted to the ear
of heaven the groans of those who fell a sacrifice to your accursed
ambition? But if the labouring earth doth not expand her jaws; if the
air you breathe is not commissioned to be the minister of death; yet,
hear it and tremble! the eye of heaven penetrates the darkest chambers
of the soul, and you, though screened from human observation, must be
arraigned, must lift your hands, red with the blood of those whose
death you have procured, at the tremendous bar of God.”

His boldness greatly exasperated the adherents of the crown, and every
artifice was put in requisition to injure his growing popularity.
Amongst them, was his nomination by the governor, who had uniformly
been his enemy, to the council, hoping, by this stratagem, that
he would, by his acceptance, turn the populace against him. By a
prompt refusal he defeated the intrigues of his enemies, and riveted
himself more strongly on the affections of those who favoured liberal
principles, rendering himself more obnoxious to the king’s officers. He
was at this time captain of the governor’s guard, and was immediately
removed. As a testimony of respect to him, his company; composed of the
first citizens of Boston, dissolved themselves at once.

The tocsin of the revolution was now sounded from the heights of
Lexington; American blood had again been shed by British soldiers;
the people heard the dread clarion of revolution; thousands rushed to
the rescue; the hireling troops fled; in their flight, they found the
messengers of death stationed on their whole route; retribution met
them at every corner; the trees and fences were illumined by streams
of fire from the rusty muskets of the native yeomanry; and many of
Briton’s proud sons slumbered in the arms of death on that memorable,
that eventful day.

The governor, on the reception of this news, issued his proclamation
in the name of his most Christian Majesty, George the III., declaring
the province in a state of rebellion, but graciously offering pardon to
all returning penitents, excepting John Hancock and Samuel Adams, who
had also rendered himself obnoxious by his patriotic and independent
course. A secret attempt was made to arrest them, but was foiled.
These two philanthropists were preserved to aid in the glorious cause
they had boldly and nobly espoused, and to become shining lights in
the blue arch of liberty, and bright examples of patriotism to future
generations. Their proscription by the governor only served to endear
them still more to their friends and their bleeding country. In 1774,
John Hancock was unanimously elected President of the Provincial
Congress of Massachusetts; and, in 1775, he was called to preside over
the Continental Congress. He accepted this appointment with diffidence,
there being many of its number much his senior, and of eminent talents.
He, however, succeeded in discharging the arduous duties assigned
him, with fidelity and great ability, and to the satisfaction of his
colleagues and his country.

His was the only name affixed to the Declaration of Independence when
it was first published and presented to the fearless patriots for
their approval; and it stands first in bold relievo, on a thousand
facsimiles, scattered through the world. It stands at the head of a
list of sages, whose names are enrolled in unfading glory, and will be
handed down to the remotest ages of time, unsullied and untarnished.

Impaired in his health and worn down by fatigue, Mr. Hancock resigned
his station in Congress in October, 1777, having presided over that
august body for two years and a half, with a credit to himself,
gratifying to his friends, and advantageous to the cause of human

Soon after he returned home, he was elected to a convention of his
native state to form a constitution for its government. His experience
and talents were of great service in producing a truly republican
instrument. In 1780, he was elected the first governor under the new
constitution, and continued to fill the gubernatorial chair for five
years, when he resigned. After two years he was again elected, and
continued to fill this station, with dignity and usefulness, during the
remainder of his life. During his administration over the destinies of
his dear native state, there were many difficulties to overcome, many
evils to suppress. The devastations of the war had paralyzed every kind
of business; reduced thousands from affluence to poverty; polluted
the morals of society; and left a heavy debt to be liquidated. Many
conflicting interests were to be reconciled; many restless spirits
were to be subdued; and many visionary theories were to be exploded.
Insubordination, arrayed in a faction of 12,000 men, threatening to
annihilate the government, was the most prominent evil to be removed.
Abuses and riots were of frequent occurrence; the civil authorities
were disregarded; and it was found necessary to call out the militia to
preserve order. By the prudent management of Governor Hancock, these
difficulties were adjusted, the clamour of the people hushed, their
complaints silenced, order restored, and but few lives sacrificed at
the shrine of treason.

For a time, the governor, by his firm and determined course, incurred
the displeasure and enmity of many prominent men; but when reason
resumed her station, and prosperity began to alleviate the burdens that
had been so strongly felt, their ire was appeased, the sour feelings
of party spirit lost their rancour, and admiration and esteem for his
sterling virtues and talents, and the long and arduous services he
had rendered his country and his state, disarmed his enemies of their
resentment, and produced uniform love and esteem.

He used his best exertions in favour of the adoption of the federal
constitution, and, to cap the climax of his well earned fame, he left a
sick bed on the last week of the session of the Assembly of his state,
and, by his vote and influence, induced them to accept and sanction
that important instrument of confederation, that has thus far held us
in the bonds of union, strength, and power.

Governor Hancock now had the satisfaction of seeing prosperity
spread its benign influence over the whole infant republic, and her
institutions, laws, trade, manufactures, commerce, and agriculture,
based on the firm pillars of freedom and eternal justice. His long
nursed vision was reduced to a happy reality; he felt that he could
die in peace; and, on the 8th of October, 1793, his soul took its
flight suddenly and unexpectedly, to join the kindred spirits that had
gone before, to enter upon the untried scenes of the eternal world.
He continued to serve his country to the last, and, if a particle
of malice against him lingered in the dark bosom of any man, it was
buried with him in the tomb. Governor Hancock was amiable in his
private character; highly honourable in his feelings; gentlemanly in
his deportment; fashionable in his style of living; fond of innocent
amusements, but free from corrupting vices; liberal and charitable;
a friend to the poor, the oppressed, and the distressed; diligent in
business; open and frank in his disposition; a faithful companion; a
public spirited citizen, and a consistent man.


The name of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, conspicuous upon the pages of European
and American biography, ever commands peculiar respect and veneration.
It is surrounded with a rich variety, as rare as it is instructive and

Franklin was born at Boston, on the 17th of January, 1706, exactly
ninety years before my humble self. His father was among the puritans
who fled before persecution, and sought repose in the wilds of
Massachusetts. His parents were poor, but honest and esteemed. Poverty
is ever inconvenient, but has not always been a disgrace. Honesty and
industry were formerly the brightest stars on the escutcheon of fame.

Franklin manifested a taste for improvement at an early age, and
exhibited talents of a superior order. His pious parents encouraged
his education as far as their limited means would permit, and were
anxious to see him prepared for the pulpit; but necessity compelled his
father to take him from school at the age of ten years, and place him
in his shop, to aid him in the prosecution of the chandler business.
But this did not paralyze his native genius. Original in every trait
of his character, eccentric in his manner, and the child of nature and
experiment, he commenced the study of practical philosophy, amidst
candle wicks, tallow, and soap. He went through the experiments of
ascertaining the precise quantity of sleep and food requisite to supply
the wants of nature, and the kind most conducive to health. At this
early age, he adopted rules of temperance, frugality, and economy,
worthy of imitation, and adorned with all the system of mature age.
He also accustomed himself to meet and bear disappointments with
philosophic fortitude. He continued to improve his mind by reading, for
which he had an insatiable thirst. Nothing passed by him unnoticed,
and his expanding genius drew philosophy from nature, from things,
and from men. He reasoned, analyzed, moralized, and improved, from
every thing he saw. Hence the vast expansion of his gigantic genius,
comprehending at one bold view, through after life, the philosophy of
mind, of nature, of science, of art, of government, of society, and all
the relations of creation, from the dust under his feet, through the
myriads of animalculæ in a drop of water, up to the bright seraphs of
the skies. A mind like his could not long be confined in a chandler’s
shop. Open and honest in his disposition, he communicated his wish of
moving in some other sphere, to his father. After an examination of the
various trades, and working a short time with a cutler, he was bound
to his brother, to learn the art of a printer. He soon became master
of his profession, and left a shining example for all apprentices, by
adding to his industry in business the improvement of his mind during
every leisure hour—a happy prelude to his glorious and useful career
through future life.

So intensely bent on the acquisition of knowledge was Franklin, that
he often preferred his book to his meal, and studied whole nights, in
defiance of the commands and entreaties of Morpheus. As he was paid a
weekly sum for his board, he adopted a course of simple vegetable diet,
by which he saved money to purchase books. He manifested a correct
taste and a sound judgment in the selection of authors and subjects.
Among them, he studied with admiration and attention the Memorabilia
of Xenophon, and became one of the closest imitators of Socrates, in
his mode of reasoning and habits of life, to be found on record. Before
he became versed in the rules of propriety, he often gave offence by
the bold and obstinate manner in which he advanced and maintained his

He now commenced his literary career; and, as is most usually the case
with young authors, he offered his first sacrifice to Calliope, in a
strain of rhyming ideas. His poetry was applauded, but his father, who
was a man of sound judgment, cured him of his poetic mania, by turning
his verses into ridicule; at the same time encouraging him to improve
his talents by writing prose. Suspicious of his own ability, fearing
the shafts of criticism, he managed to have several of his productions
published in the paper edited by his brother, in so clandestine a
manner, that no one could know the author. When he found they met with
general admiration, his vanity, as he says, did not let the world long
remain ignorant of the writer.

Being flattered by praise and attention from others, he began to feel
his importance, which resulted in an open rupture between him and
his brother, to whom he was an apprentice. For some time, he endured
a course of harsh treatment, but at length resolved to free himself
from the chains of bondage. He soon found an opportunity of embarking
for New York, where he arrived in safety. Not being able to obtain
business there, he bent his course towards the city of Philadelphia, on
foot, and alone. On his arrival there, he had but one solitary dollar
left; was a stranger, and only seventeen years of age; and, without
business, must soon be dependent on the cold charities of the world for
his bed and board. On entering Market street, his eccentric appearance
excited the gaze of the multitude, as much as his towering talents
subsequently did the gaze of the world. He had a roll of bread under
each arm, and, approaching the Delaware, he sat down and feasted upon
his bread and the pure water from the river. His pockets were projected
to an enormous size with the various articles of his wardrobe, and, on
the whole, his corpulent appearance was not in bad keeping with old

Although there were but two printing offices in Philadelphia, he
succeeded in obtaining employment in one, as compositor. He now reduced
all his theories of economy to successful practice, maintaining himself
at a trifling expense, pursuing a correct and industrious career, which
gained for him the esteem of all his acquaintances. Among others, his
talents attracted the attention of Sir William Keith, then Governor of
the province, who invited him to his house and treated him with great

The governor was a man whose liberality in _promises_, often went
beyond the means of his _purse_. Anxious to see his young friend placed
in more auspicious circumstances by his benefaction, he proposed to
set him up in business, and sent him to London, with letters of high
commendation, to obtain the necessary materials for his new enterprise.
On his arrival there, he was much chagrined to find that no pecuniary
arrangements were made by his new benefactor, and he found himself in a
strange land without money to enable him to return. But this was only
another lesson of experience, in whose school he delighted to study;
and, instead of sitting down under the weight of disappointment and
dejection, he soon obtained employment, and, by his skill and industry,
gained the confidence and esteem of all his new acquaintances. After
residing there for eighteen months he took passage for Philadelphia on
the 22nd of July, 1726. On his way home he concocted a set of rules to
govern his actions through future life, of the following substance:

I resolve to be frugal; to speak truth at all times; never to raise
expectations not to be realized; to be sincere; to be industrious; to
be stable; to speak ill of no man; to cover, rather than expose the
faults of others; and to do all the good I can to my fellow men.

Upon this foundation of native granite he built a superstructure, as
beautiful and enduring as the proudest memorials of Greece and Rome.

He arrived at Philadelphia on the 11th of October, and engaged with
the merchant, who owned the goods brought in by the ship in which he
came, as a clerk. The same industry and success attended him in the
counting-house that cheered him at the press, showing clearly that his
talents were of a rare and rich variety. His future prospects in this
new department brightened before him, but were suddenly prostrated
by the death of his employer, which threw him back into his former
trade. For a few months he worked for his old master, but finding a
partner who had more money than skill, they commenced business on
their own account. His industry and exertions were now put in full
requisition: he manned his own wheelbarrow in collecting materials for
business, and put nature on short allowance, until he should acquire
enough to be free from debt. His industry, punctuality, and correct
deportment, gained him many valuable and influential friends, through
whose patronage he was enabled to extend his business, and shake off
his partner, who had become worse than worthless, by embarrassing
and retarding the business of the firm. Up to this era in his life,
Franklin had been emphatically fortune’s foot-ball. His life had been
a complete checker-board of changing vicissitudes, blasted hopes,
and keen disappointments. But, amidst all the stormy trials that had
tossed his youthful bark to and fro, surrounded by the foaming torrents
of vice, he never became tarnished by corruption, or degraded by the
commission of a base or mean action. The moral principles deeply
planted in his bosom by parental instruction during his childhood, were
as lasting as his life; a happy illustration of the good effects of
faithfulness in parents towards their children.

Having now become liberated from his partner in business, he began
to feel the necessity and propriety of choosing another, to fill up
the vacuum in his side, and share with him the joys and sorrows that
awaited him on this mundane sphere of action. Accordingly, in 1730, he
entered into a partnership for life with a widow lady, whose maiden
name was Read, and for whom he had contracted an attachment previous
to her first marriage. In him she found a kind husband, and in her he
found a much more agreeable partner than his former one.

Philanthropy predominated in the heart of Franklin; to better
the condition of his fellow men, was pleasure to his soul. The
rules governing the “Junto,” formed by him, and now merged in the
Philosophical Society, show a superior knowledge of human nature, and
of the duty men owe to the creature and the Creator. They breathe
universal charity, kindness, benevolence, and good will to all mankind.
Among them is one for the suppression of intemperance, a prophetic
prelude to the exertions of the present day in this cause.

Franklin had profited by the experience of the past, and was now
enabled to steer clear of the numerous rocks and quicksands of error,
on which so many are ruined and lost. Although he rode in many a storm,
prosperity beamed upon him from this time onward, through a long life
of usefulness. His new partner smiled upon him, his friends esteemed
him, and in the pleasures of the present, past pains were forgotten.

In 1732, he commenced the publication of “Poor Richard’s Almanac,”
which he continued until 1737, circulating 10,000 copies annually.
Although under an humble title, it was a work of great merit, being
replete with maxims and rules calculated for every day use in the
various relations of life. It gained great celebrity in Europe, and was
translated into various languages.

About this time he commenced the publication of a newspaper, which
was conducted with great ability, free from all scurrility, and a
messenger of truth. Would to God the same could be said of _all_ the
public prints of the present day.

He continued to pursue his studies, until he added to general science
a knowledge of the French, Italian, Spanish, and Latin languages. By
the “Junto” a small library was commenced, which formed the first
stepping stone to the present city collection. He wrote and published
a highly interesting pamphlet on the necessity of a paper currency,
and added much to his literary fame by the production of various
essays, written in his truly original style. He filled, successively
and successfully, the situation of state printer, clerk of the General
Assembly, and post-master of Philadelphia. He used unwearied exertions
to increase municipal improvement in the city, by the organization
of fire companies, lighting and improving the streets, regulating
the watch, and reducing every thing to that system, order, and
harmony, so congenial to his mind. He was the patron and father of the
Philosophical Society, the Pennsylvania University and Hospital; and
contributed, in every way he could, to advance the glory and prosperity
of his adopted home, and the happiness and peace of his fellow
citizens. All the important enterprises, both in the city and province,
during these days of his towering fame, were either originated by him,
or were more rapidly advanced by his wisdom and counsel; and scarcely
any project was undertaken without his approving sanction.

In 1741, he commenced the publication of a “General Magazine,” which
contained much useful matter, but was less acceptable than his previous
writings, being in part devoted to the litigated points of divinity.

The mechanic arts were also much improved by him. He brought to their
aid philosophy and chemistry, and combined them with science, economy,
and nature. He improved the chimneys, constructed a stove, and proposed
many useful and economical corrections in domestic concerns, from the
garret to the cellar, from the plough to the mill. Science acknowledged
his master spirit, the arts hailed him as their patron, the lightning
bowed in subjection to his magic rod, and nature claimed him as her
favourite son.

In 1744, he was elected a member of the provincial assembly, where he
was continued for ten successive years. Although not a popular speaker,
his clear head and sound judgment, as a legislator and a statesman,
gave him an influence over that body before unknown.

During the years he was serving his country in the assembly, he also
served in the fields of experimental philosophy, and explained many
of the mysterious phenomena of nature, that spread his fame to the
remotest bounds of the civilized world. His discoveries in electricity
alone, were sufficient to have immortalized his name. He was the first
man on record who imparted magnetism to steel—melted metals, killed
animals, and fired gunpowder by means of electricity; and the first who
conceived and reduced to practice, the method of conducting lightning
from the clouds to the points of steel rods, and, by them, harmless
to the ground. All the elements and fluids, the air, sea, and land,
underwent the close investigation of his vast, his philosophic mind.

In 1758, he was sent to Carlisle to conclude a treaty with the
Indians; and in the following year, to Albany, to meet a congress of
commissioners, to arrange means of defence against the threatened
hostilities of the French and savages. He there submitted a plan that
met with the unanimous approbation of the commissioners, but was so
republican in its features, as to be rejected by those who had at heart
the interests of their king more than the happiness of the colonists.

On the decease of the deputy post-master general of America, Franklin
succeeded him, and raised the department from a state of embarrassment
and expense, to a fruitful source of revenue to the crown.

About this time difficulties arose between the proprietors and
government in the province of Pennsylvania, which were finally
referred to the mother country for adjustment, and Franklin was sent
to England in June, 1757, as advocate for the province. With his
usual industry and address, he performed the duties of his mission,
the difficulties were adjusted, and in 1762, he returned, received a
vote of thanks from the assembly, and a compensation of five hundred
pounds. He was now variously employed in regulating the post-office
department, making treaties with the Indians, and devising means of
defence on the frontiers: every department of government feeling his
beneficial influence. New difficulties arose between the assembly and
the proprietors, and, in 1764, Franklin again sailed for England,
with instructions to obtain the entire abolishment of proprietary
authority. On his arrival there, he was called upon to perform more
important and perilous duties. The plan for taxing the colonies had
been long agitated, and was now matured by the British ministry.
This project Franklin had opposed from the beginning, and he was now
arraigned to answer numerous accusations brought against him by the
enemies of liberty. On the 3d of February, 1766, he appeared before
the House of Commons to undergo a public examination. He was found
equal to the task; his enemies were astounded at his logic, boldness,
dignity, and skill; and his friends were filled with admiration at the
able manner he confuted every accusation, and defended the rights and
interests of his native country. Amidst the attacks of artifice and
insolence of power, he stood unmoved, and firm as a marble statue. He
remained in England eleven years as the agent of the colonies, opposing
the encroachments of the crown upon the rights of Americans; and,
during the whole time, all the combined efforts of malice, flattery,
and intrigue, were unable to ensnare or intimidate him. He became
acquainted with the etiquette, corruptions, and devices of diplomacy;
but never bent his knee to Baal, or kissed the hand of a crowned head.

Matters had now arrived at a crisis that induced his departure for
his long neglected home. His personal safety in England, and the need
of his public services in his own country, admonished him to return.
He accordingly embarked, and arrived at Philadelphia in the beginning
of May, 1775. He was received with marked attention and esteem, and
immediately elected to the continental congress, adding new lustre and
dignity to that august body, and enrolling his name among the signers
of the Declaration of Independence. Notwithstanding he had used every
exertion to reconcile difficulties with Great Britain, and believed
his country was yet too weak to achieve its independence, his course
was now onward, resolved, with his patriotic colleagues, on liberty or

The talents of Franklin were now had in constant requisition, both by
his own state and in the general congress. He was always selected to
meet the agents of the crown, who were at various times commissioned
to offer terms of inglorious peace. They always found in him the firm
uncompromising advocate of liberty; the shrewd and wary politician; the
bold and zealous defender of the rights of his bleeding country. The
disasters of the American army during the campaign of 1778, induced
congress to apply to France for assistance. All eyes were turned
on Franklin to perform this important mission. In October, 1776,
he embarked upon this delicate embassy, and, after a most vigilant
intercession, succeeded in concluding a treaty of alliance with that
nation, on the 6th of February, 1778, to the great joy of himself
and his suffering countrymen. When the news of this alliance reached
England, the ministry were much alarmed, and despatched messengers
to Paris to endeavour to induce Franklin to enter into a compromise.
All was in vain. To Mr. Hutton and others, who came to him with the
olive branch of peace, he replied: “I never think of your ministry
and their abettors, but with the image strongly painted in my view of
their hands red and dropping with the blood of my countrymen, friends
and relations. No peace can be signed by those hands, unless you drop
all pretensions to govern us, meet us on equal terms, and avoid all
occasions of future discord.”

He met all their intrigues at the threshold, and they became convinced
that the hardy yeomanry of America were not to be dragooned, flattered,
or driven from the bold position they had assumed. During the numerous
interviews he had with these emissaries, (I can call them by no milder
term,) Franklin was cautioned by Mr. Heartley to beware of his personal
safety, which had been repeatedly threatened. He thanked his friend
and assured him he felt no alarm, that he had nearly finished a long
life, and that the short remainder was of no great value. He ironically
remarked: “Perhaps the best use such an old fellow can be put to, is to
make a martyr of him.”

If it required much skill and perseverance to _negociate_ an alliance
with France, it required more to _preserve_ it. A republican form
of government is ever repugnant to kingly power. That the French in
America would imbibe liberal principles, was a matter of course.
That the thrones of Europe would be endangered on their return, was
truly predicted. By this course of ingenious reasoning, the British
ministers exerted a powerful influence against the continuation of
the alliance. But the eagle eye of Franklin penetrated, anticipated,
and frustrated all their dark schemes of intrigue; and, in the event,
they were compelled to comply with his terms of peace, acknowledge the
independence of the colonies, and retire, defeated, disgraced, and
humbled. In the arduous duties of settling definitive preliminaries of
peace, Franklin was aided by Messrs. Adams, Jay, and Laurens. These
duties were closed, and a definitive treaty concluded with Great
Britain and the United States at Paris on the 3d of September, 1783.

Although anxious to be discharged from further public service, it was
not until 1785, that Franklin was permitted to return to his beloved
country, where he could breathe the pure air of republican freedom,
no longer polluted by kingly power. During this time he had concluded
treaties between the United States and the kings of Sweden and Prussia.
On his departure from Europe every mark of respect was paid to him by
kings, by courts, by the literati, and by all classes of society that
the most towering ambition could desire. He was clothed with the mantle
of love and unfading glory. His reputation was perched sublimely on the
loftiest pinnacle fame could rear. He had been a pillow of fire to the
American cause, and a pillar of smoke to the enemies of human rights.

At the age of eighty years, borne down by fatigue and disease, he
returned to Philadelphia. He was hailed with enthusiastic joy, esteem,
and respect by all the friends of liberty, from the humblest citizen up
to the illustrious Washington.

Notwithstanding his advanced age, and his great anxiety to retire from
the public gaze, he was soon appointed Governor of Pennsylvania—and
subsequently, in 1787, elected a delegate to the convention that
framed the federal constitution. Many of the bright traits of that
matchless instrument received their finishing stroke from his master
hand. Early in 1790, his infirmities of body confined him to his room,
but his immortal mind remained unimpaired. When approaching rapidly
the confines of eternity, he still looked with anxious solicitude upon
the interests of the young republic. He still continued to benefit
mankind by his writings and counsels. Some of the strongest and most
vivid productions from his pen were written during his confinement. His
diseases continued to increase, and on the 17th of April, 1790, calm
and resigned, cool and collected, peaceful and happy, he resigned his
spirit into the hands of his Creator—quitted this vale of tears, and
slumbered, quietly and sweetly, in the arms of death—in the full faith
of rising to a glorious immortality in realms of bliss beyond the skies.

By his will he prohibited all pomp and parade at his funeral. He was
anxious that the plain republican manner of his long and useful life,
should be strictly observed in the mournful obsequies of his interment.
He was buried on the 21st of April, in the north-west corner of Christ
Church yard, where a plain marble slab, even with the surface of the
earth, points to where he lies. With his, moulders the dust of his
wife, with whom he had lived in harmony and peace. No other inscription
is upon the tomb except his and her name.

His death was deeply lamented throughout the civilized world. Congress
ordered mourning to be observed throughout the United States one month.
The event was solemnized, and many eulogies pronounced in France. The
National Assembly decreed that each of its members should wear a badge
of mourning on the occasion for three days. The sensations produced
there by his death, were as imposing and interesting, and celebrated
with as much devotion as those recently witnessed in our own country on
the death of La Fayette.

In reviewing the life of this great benefactor of mankind, we find
a richer variety to admire than in that of any individual upon the
historic page. In whatever station he moved he was a luminary of the
first magnitude. He entered upon the stage of action at a time when the
world needed just such a man; and continued upon it just long enough
to finish all he had begun. He was found just equal to every work he
undertook, and always stopped at the golden point of the finishing
stroke—a modest hint for me to close. You who profess to admire his
virtues, talents, and usefulness, prove your sincerity by imitating his


The man who has been rocked in the cradle of letters from his
childhood; who has become familiar with general science, the classics,
and philosophy; who has had a father to aid, and friends to caress him;
whose path has been smoothed by uninterrupted prosperity—and does not
ascend the ladder of fame, is either untrue to himself, or destitute of
native talent. With all the advantages of an education lavished upon
him, he sinks into obscurity, and the fond anticipations and future
hopes of a doting parent, set in gloom.

When, on the other hand, we see a man, whose opportunities for
acquiring an education during childhood and youth carried him not far
beyond the confines of the spelling book; a man, who had no father or
guardian to warn him against the quicksands of error or point him to
the temple of science; his intellect enveloped in the rude attire of
nature’s quarry at the age of twenty; when we see such a man bursting
the chains that bind his mental powers—divesting himself of the dark
mantle of ignorance—unveiling his native talents, and shining in all
the beauty of intelligence and greatness—we are filled with admiration
and delight.

Such a man was ROGER SHERMAN, the great-grandson of Captain John
Sherman, who came from England to Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1635.
Roger was born in Newton, Massachusetts, on the 19th of April, 1721.
His father, William Sherman, was a respectable farmer, with means
too limited to educate his son, and, at an early age, bound him to a
shoemaker. Like Franklin, at the age of nineteen, he wandered from his
master to seek his fortune, and like him, he had a genius that no shop
could confine, no obstacle intimidate, or difficulty paralyze. The
course of his mind was onward, upward; like a new and blazing star,
illuminating the horizon as it rose. Nature designed him to be great
and good; he obeyed her dictates.

He went to New Milford, in Connecticut, where he followed shoe-making
three years, living within the strictest rules of economy, contributing
from his earnings to the support of a widowed mother, with a family
of small children. The education of his young brothers and sisters,
also received his attention. Every leisure moment he devoted to books,
often having one open before him when using his lap stone. With each
succeeding day, his mind expanded, unfolding beauties rich and rare.
Every obstacle to the pursuit of knowledge, melted before his untiring
industry; he ascended the hill of science with a firm and steady pace.

In June, 1743, he removed his mother and her family to New Milford,
and entered into the mercantile business with an elder brother—still
pursuing his studies as opportunities permitted. He soon stored his
capacious memory with a fund of rich and useful information, that
ultimately placed him on the pinnacle of public esteem and usefulness.
About that time, he made a public profession of religion, which he
adorned through subsequent life. In 1745, he was appointed surveyor
of Litchfield county, having made himself familiar with mathematics.
Like his contemporary and friend, Benjamin Franklin, he made the
calculations of an almanac several years, for a publisher in New York.

At the age of twenty-eight, he married Miss Elizabeth Hartwell, of
Staughton, Massachusetts, who died in 1780, leaving seven children. He
subsequently married Miss Rebecca Prescott, who lived to have eight
children, all of whom, with those by his first wife, he carefully
trained in the ways of wisdom and virtue. He also supported his mother,
and a maiden sister whose health was poor, until death relieved them,
at an advanced age, from the toils of life.

In the prosecution of his literary pursuits, he turned his attention to
the study of law, in which he made astonishing proficiency. In 1754, he
was admitted to the bar, better prepared to act well his part and do
justice to his clients, than many who are ushered into notice under the
high floating banners of a collegiate diploma.

The following year he was appointed a justice of the peace and elected
a member of the colonial assembly; an honour that was conferred upon
him during the remainder of his residence at that place. He was highly
esteemed by his fellow citizens. His reputation as a lawyer and
statesman stood high, and his private worth enabled him to exercise a
salutary influence upon those around him. For industry, sound logic,
prudence, and discretion, he stood unrivalled in the colony. Strong
common sense, the true helm of human action, marked his whole career;
rendering him substantially and extensively useful to his fellow men
and his country. He was a philanthropist of the highest order, a
patriot of the purest water.

In 1759, he was appointed a judge of the county court of Litchfield,
and discharged his official duties with great faithfulness and
impartiality, correcting vice and promoting virtue.

Two years after, he removed to New Haven, where he was appointed
justice of the peace, elected to the assembly, and, in 1765, was placed
upon the judicial bench of the county court. He received the degree of
master of arts from Yale College, of which he was treasurer for many
years, fulfilling the trust with scrupulous honesty and fidelity.

In 1766, he was elected a member of the executive council, which was
hailed as an auspicious event by the friends of liberal principles. The
mother country had manifested a disposition to impose unjust taxation
upon the Americans. It required discernment, experience, nerve and
decision, to comprehend and oppose the corrupt plans of an avaricious
ministry. The colonies had borne the main burden of the French war,
in which they had sacrificed large sums of money and fountains of
their richest blood. After years of incessant toil, the foe had been
conquered, an honourable peace for England obtained, the frontier
settlements in a measure relieved from danger, and the soldier again
became the citizen.

Whilst their rejoicings on that occasion were yet on the wings of echo,
oppression from the crown threatened to blast their fond anticipations
of happiness and repose, and bind them in chains, more to be dreaded
than the tomahawk and scalping knife.

This colony had furnished more money and men, and lost more of her
bravest sons in the French war than any other with the same population.
Mr. Sherman had been an active member of the assembly during the period
of its prosecution, and remembered well the sacrifices that had been
made to gratify the king. He understood perfectly the rights of his own
country and those of the crown. He was eminently prepared to discover
approaching danger and sound the alarm. He was well calculated to probe
the intrigues and venality of designing men, although the Atlantic
rolled between him and them.

Mr. Grenville, who was at the head of the British ministry, determined
to reduce his long-nursed theory of taxing the American colonies,
to immediate practice. The alarm was immediately spread. Appeals
for redress, petitions, and remonstrances, numerously signed, were
forwarded to parliament; but all in vain. Reason and justice were
dethroned and mercy banished from her seat. The car of oppression moved
onward; the stamp act was passed; the indignation of the colonists was
roused. After much exertion and excitement, _this_ law was repealed,
to the great joy of the Americans; but they soon found that the storm
was only lulled to gather new strength, and pour down its wrath upon
their devoted heads with tenfold fury. The year following a duty was
laid upon tea, glass, paper, and paints. High toned chords were then
touched, and their reverberation reached the heart of every freeman.
The tea was hurled into the ocean and the law set at open defiance.
This spirited opposition induced a repeal of these duties, except on
the first named article. This exception was death to the colonial
power of England; to America, freedom. Popular fury increased;
kindred spirits united to repel the injury, determined to defend
their liberty, regardless of consequences. Amidst these commotions,
Mr. Sherman remained undaunted at his post, watching, with a calm and
prophetic mind, the moving elements. Although elevated to the bench
of the superior court, he remained in the executive council, a firm
and consistent advocate of his country’s rights; a lucid delineator
of Britain’s wrongs. He viewed the gathering clouds as they rolled in
fury; he saw the lightning of revenge streaming fearfully, without
the tremor of a muscle, coolly awaiting the event, relying on Heaven,
trusting in God.

High handed and tyrannical measures were now adopted by Parliament.
Laws were passed, violating the chartered rights of the colonists,
subversive of reason, humanity, and justice. A volcanic storm gathered;
the British lion prowled in anger: the Albion Goliah buckled on his
armour; the shining steel dazzled in the sun; the sword of vengeance
was drawn; colonial blood was spilt; popular fury was roused;
allegiance was dissolved; America was free.

At this momentous, this thrilling crisis, a band of sages and
patriots assembled at Philadelphia, to devise means for the safety
of their bleeding country. In the front rank stood Roger Sherman,
in all the dignity of his native greatness. He was a member of the
first continental Congress, and remained firm and unwavering at his
post, during the trying scenes of the revolution, the formation of
the new government, and the adoption of the federal constitution.
With a gigantic mind, improved and enlarged by a rich fund of useful
knowledge, inured to all the toils and intricacies of legislation,
the history of his country and of nations spread upon his memory, the
ingratitude and insults of a foreign monarch preying upon his soul, he
was prepared to render his country services, equalled by few, exceeded
by none.

His capacity was equal to every emergency: he shrunk from no duty;
discharged every responsibility assumed; moving, with the mathematical
precision of a planet, within the orbit of sound discretion. He
was familiar with men and things, acquainted with the _minutiæ_
of human nature, traced causes and results to their true source,
and viewed, with a philosophic eye, the secret springs of human
action; the _arcana_ of economies was open before him; he solved
problems, demonstrated principles, placing them in the full blaze of
illustration, as irresistible as the pages of Euclid. Such was the
self-taught Roger Sherman.

The session of 1775 was one of great labour, anxiety, and
embarrassment. None but “hearts of oak, and nerves of steel,” could
have sustained the tremendous shock, the fearful onset. An army was
to be raised and organized, military stores provided, fortifications
erected, rules of government adopted, plans of operation matured,
internal enemies encountered, and legions of Britain’s bravest veterans
to be repelled. To meet these emergencies, the members of Congress
had hearts full of courage, but a treasury empty and bare. A forlorn
hope was before them—a revenging foe on their shores. But they had
resolved on liberty or death. Nor did they “split on the rock of
resolves, where thousands live and die the same.” They met the fury of
the king, encountering his vials of wrath with a firmness, wisdom, and
patriotism, before unknown; placing them above all Greek, all Roman
fame. Their course was onward towards the goal of FREEDOM. No threats
of vengeance dismayed them—the shafts of terror fell harmless at their

In 1776, with the colonies bleeding at every pore; a picture of sad
reverses before them; a conquering enemy sweeping over their land like
a destructive torrent; the streams purpled with the blood of their
brethren; the cries of widows and orphans ringing in their ears; the
sky illuminated by the streaming blaze of their towns; this band of
patriots conceived the bold and towering plan of independence—a plan
that stamped their heads, their hearts, their names, with immortal fame.

Early in the summer, Messrs. Sherman, Adams, Franklin, Livingston
and Jefferson, were appointed a committee to draft a declaration of
rights. After much deliberation, it was prepared, reported, and, on
the memorable 4th of July, 1776, received the hearty sanction of the
Continental Congress, amidst the transporting joys of freemen, who
hailed it as the bright, the morning star; to them, a prelude of future
bliss; to tyrants, a burning meteor, threatening to devour them.

Illustrious in all their actions, the signers of the declaration were
eminently so, when, assuming their native dignity, they rose, in all
the majesty of greatness, bursting their servile chains; cutting
asunder the cords of oppressive allegiance; sublimely passing the
grand Rubicon; and, in view of an approving Heaven and an admiring
world, declared their country free and independent. The era was one
of resplendent glory, sacred to the cause of human rights, enduring
as the tablet of time, brilliant as the meridian sun. The sages whose
signatures grace the chart of our liberty placed themselves on the
loftiest spire fame could rear. By their own consciences, by their
countrymen, by Heaven, and in view of gazing millions, they stood
approved, applauded, and admired.

No member of the Continental Congress had studied more closely and
comprehended more clearly finance and political economy than Judge
Sherman. His mind was moulded in system, his plans were judicious,
and his habits frugal. He was a practical man and conversant with
every department of government. He was an efficient member of the
board of war, ordnance, and the treasury. In short, he was placed on
the most important committees during the long and bloody struggle of
the revolution. His plans for replenishing the treasury, regulating
expenditures, and disbursing moneys, were based on rules of economy and
frugality, corresponding with the emergency of the times. Fraudulent
contractors shrunk before his penetrating scrutiny; speculations upon
government were often paralyzed by his torpedo touch; and he guarded,
with an eagle eye and a father’s care, the interests of the young

In the estimation of Washington, the members of Congress, and of
the nation, the talents of Roger Sherman, for sterling integrity
and substantial usefulness, were second to none among the bright
constellations that illuminated the memorable era of ’76. In those
days the ladder of fame was firmly based on honest merit and modest
worth. It required no stump speeches or bar-room harangues to gain
popular favour. The tree was judged by its fruit; _principles_ and not
_men_, were the political land marks. It was also a time of labour.
Inglorious ease was not known in the legislative halls; long written
speeches were not read to the speaker and walls of the house: the
business of the nation was the order of the day; that business was done
faithfully, promptly, and effectually. Posts of honour were then posts
of duty; profit was out of the question. The motives and actions of the
revolutionary sages and heroes were not based on the seven principles
of five loaves and two fishes, but on love of country, social order,
and human rights.

By the citizens of his own state the virtues and talents of Mr. Sherman
were held in high estimation. In addition to his congressional honours,
they continued him a member of council during the war. In 1784, when
New Haven received a city charter, he was elected mayor, filling the
office with dignity and usefulness to the close of his life, when not
absent on more important public duties.

At the termination of the war, he, in conjunction with Judge Law, was
appointed to revise the judicial code of Connecticut, which duty was
performed with great ability, and to the satisfaction of all concerned.
He was a member of the general convention that framed the federal
constitution. From a manuscript found amongst his papers, it appears
that this instrument of union received many of its original features
from Mr. Sherman. To his conceptive mind and practical wisdom, we are
much indebted for the towering greatness and unparalleled prosperity we
so eminently enjoy, and which will endure so long as we are faithful
to ourselves. With all the local and conflicting interests of the
colonies spread open to his view, he was enabled to exercise a salutary
influence in reconciling difficulties between the members, that, for a
time, threatened to hurl back the elements of government into original
chaos, and prostrate the fair fabric of liberty.

By examining the profound discussions, the variety of opinions, the
multifarious interests, the intense anxiety, the agony of soul, and
sacrifices of private views that characterized the formation of the
federal constitution, we discover wisdom, discretion and patriotism of
the purest, loftiest kind, shining in all the grandeur of bold relievo.

Based upon the declaration of rights, it forms a superstructure
towering in sublimity above all others, radiating its heart-cheering
influence over sixteen millions of freemen, revered at home, respected
abroad, and without a rival in the annals of legislation.

Judge Sherman did much to remove the objections made against this
important document by the people of his own and adjoining states. He
showed them clearly, and convinced them fully, that to effect and
perpetuate the union, private feeling and interest must yield to public
policy and public good; and that each state should strive to produce an
equilibrium in the government of the whole. The wisdom of the sages who
framed, and by their continued exertion and salutary influence effected
the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, deserves our
admiration quite as much as when they guided our nation through the
storms of the revolution. It is often easier to acquire a particular
object than to properly enjoy and preserve it.

Judge Sherman was elected a member of the first congress under the
new government, and resigned his judicial station that he might take
a seat in that body. His influence had great weight in the national
legislature. His exertions to promote the interests of his country were
unremitting. Traces of his magnanimity and prophetic policy are upon
the journals, and in many of the early laws of our country.

Upon many subjects members differed, and, in some instances, much
warmth and acrimony were exhibited. On such occasions, Mr. Sherman was
peculiarly happy in his exertions to produce reconciliation. He was
emphatically a peace maker.

At the expiration of his representative term, he was elected to the
United States Senate, of which he was a member when he closed his
useful career, and bade a long adieu, a final farewell, to earth and
its toils. He died on the 23d of July, 1793, in the full enjoyment
of that religion he had honoured and practised in all the changing
scenes of his eventful pilgrimage. He had lived the life of a good man,
his closing scene was calm, happy, and serene. He could triumph over
death and the grave, reaching forward to receive the enduring prize
of immortal glory. He could approach the dread tribunal of the great
Jehovah, smiling and smiled upon; and enter into pure and unalloyed
bliss, lasting as the rolling ages of eternity.

Thus closed the valuable and useful life of Roger Sherman. He had been
a faithful public servant nearly forty years. He had participated
in all the trying scenes of the revolution; he had seen his country
burst into being, a nation of freemen. He had aided in effecting
a consolidation of the government; he had seen the dawnings of
prosperity. In all the important measures of the state of his adoption,
and of the American nation, he had taken an active and important part,
from the commencement of the French war to the time of his death.

As a Christian, he was esteemed by all denominations, for his
consistent piety and liberal charity. With him, sectarianism was not
religion; for him it had no charms. His philanthropy was as broad as
creation; it reached from earth to Heaven. He made himself acquainted
with the abstrusest branches of theology, and was an esteemed
correspondent of several celebrated divines.

In the history of Roger Sherman, we behold one of nature’s fairest
sheets of purest white, covered with all the sublime delineations
that dignify a man, and assimilate him to his Creator. His life was
crowned with unfading laurels, plucked from the rich soil of genuine
worth and substantial merit. No ephemeral flowers decked his venerable
brow. A chaplet of amaranthine roses surmounts his well-earned fame.
The mementos of his examples are a rich boon to posterity, and, whilst
religion and social order survive, the virtues of this great and good
man will shine in all the majesty of light. His private character was
as pure as his public career was illustrious. He buried none of his
talents; he fulfilled the design of his creation.

By his example it is plainly demonstrated, that man is the architect
of his own fortune. By industry and perseverance, with the aid of
books, now accessible to all, young apprentices and mechanics may
surmount the Alpine summit of science, and take their stations, with
superior advantages, by the side of those who have become enervated
within the walls of a college. No one in our land of intelligence is
excusable for growing up under the dark shades of ignorance. The sun
of science has risen, and all who will, may bask in its genial rays.
The field of knowledge and path to glory are open to all. The means
of acquiring information are far superior to those enjoyed by Sherman
and Franklin. Let their bright and shining examples be imitated by
Columbia’s sons, and our happy republic will live for centuries. Let
ignorance, corruption, and fanaticism predominate, and the fair fabric
of our freedom, reared by the valour, and cemented by the blood of the
revolutionary patriots, will tremble, totter, and fall. Chaos will
mount the car of discord, sound the dread clarion of death, and LIBERTY
will expire amidst the smoking ruins of her own citadel. Remember that
“knowledge is power,” wealth “the sinews of power,” and that honesty,
virtue, and integrity are the regulators of them both. Remember that
intrigue, fanaticism, and faction may prostrate, at one bold stroke,
the fairest, noblest work of years.


The thrilling subject of American Independence is ever welcome to
the patriot and philanthropist. The annual celebration of the event
is calculated to perpetuate a kindred feeling and a kindred love of
liberty. The time _may_ arrive when the _day_ may not be celebrated,
but to the end of time the _event_, and the names of those who achieved
it, will be handed down on the historic page with pride and veneration.
The names of the Signers of the Declaration, like those of the twelve
Apostles, are surrounded by a wreath of glory unfading and untarnished.
Among them we find that of EDWARD RUTLEDGE, who was born in Charleston,
S. C., in November, 1749. His father, Dr. John Rutledge, was a native
of Ireland, who married Sarah Hert, a lady of high accomplishments,
piety and good sense. Edward lost his father at an early age, and,
like those of many great and good men, his mind was moulded by his
mother. After passing through the usual routine of an education, he
commenced the study of law with an elder brother, who stood high at
the Charleston bar. Whilst he stored his mind with Coke and Bacon, he
paid great attention to elocution. In 1769 he went to England, became
a student at the temple, made himself familiar with the practice of
courts, with the rules of parliament, with the policy, designs and
feelings of the British ministry, and cultivated an acquaintance with
the celebrated orators and statesmen Chatham, Mansfield and others. In
1773, he returned, richly laden with stock for future use. He commenced
a successful practice, uniting an expressive countenance, a good voice,
a rich imagination, elegance of action, an honourable mind, and a good
heart, with strong native talent, improved by superior advantages and
untiring industry.

He soon acquired a merited eminence as a bold, discreet and able
advocate. He was peculiarly happy in his exertions excited by the spur
of the moment, a talent always useful to a lawyer, and eminently useful
to a statesman during a revolutionary struggle. His lamp was always
trimmed and burning, and with true Irish zeal and eloquence, he was
always ready to enter the arena where duty called him. He had a warm
heart for the weak and oppressed.

It was self-evident that talents like his were well calculated to
promote the cause of emancipation, and Mr. Rutledge was among the first
selected members to the continental congress in 1774. This alone was
sufficient to place him on the list of imperishable fame; for none but
men of superior merit, known fortitude, and of pure patriotism, were
selected to represent their country’s rights and repel a monarch’s
wrongs. Such a man was Edward Rutledge. With the ardour of an Emmet,
he united great prudence and discretion. By his open frankness of
expression he incurred the displeasure of the crown adherents, but
imparted the holy flame of patriotism to the friends of liberty in a
pre-eminent degree.

With all his ardour and zeal he was a friend to order and opposed to
mobocracy. He acted from enlightened and liberal principles, aiming to
build every superstructure on the firm basis of reason and justice.
To this nobleness of design, conceived and adhered to by all of the
signers of the declaration, may be attributed the lofty dignity that
pervaded that august body. Revolution is a tornado where prudence
seldom enters to neutralize its baneful effects; but when such men
as those who constituted the first American congress in Philadelphia
combine, men who could command the whirlwind of passion, and conduct
the lightning of revenge by the silken cords of reason, and the steel
rods of unbending patriotism to a desired and useful destination,
revolution is stripped of its bane and is crowned with unfading
glory. Such were the signers of the declaration—such was the American
revolution. We find Mr. Rutledge associated with several important
committees of the continental congress, and among them he was appointed
with John Adams and Benjamin Franklin to meet Lord Howe, when he
came clothed with authority to offer humiliating terms of peace. No
three men could have been selected whose combined talents were better
calculated to inspire awe and respect. They were received and treated
with marked attention by his lordship, who became convinced, that under
the direction of such spirits as these, the rebels would conquer or
die. They detested his offers of pardon, for who had they injured? They
disclaimed all right of the crown to their allegiance; it had been
sacrificed at the shrine of an ambitious ministry. Freedom was their
motto—Liberty their watchword, and their terms _Independence or death_.
They had resolved “to do or die.”

As a sound, judicious and able statesman, Mr. Rutledge stood high; his
brow was also decked by laurels in the field. He had long commanded
a company in the ancient battalion of artillery. When the British
landed at Port Royal in 1779, he led his company to the attack with
the skill and courage of a veteran. At no battle during the revolution
was more personal bravery displayed than at this, nor was the enemy,
at any time, more chagrined at a total defeat by raw militia. It was
a mystery to them to find in the same man, the statesman, the soldier
and the hero. He was at a subsequent period elected colonel. During
the investment of Charleston by the enemy in 1780, he was again in the
field, but was unfortunately taken prisoner, sent to St. Augustine,
and not exchanged for nearly a year. Before his return the dark clouds
began to recede, and the horizon of liberty was slowly illuminated by
the rays of hope.

He returned to his native state and aided in restoring the civil
government that had been paralyzed by the cruel conquering arm
of the crown. He was a member of the enraged assembly who met at
Jacksonborough in 1782, and with his recent injuries and those of his
friends bleeding fresh before him, he sanctioned the bill of pains and
penalties, that, under other circumstances, would not have received
his approval, and which, during the time it remained in force, he used
every exertion to meliorate.

Among those who had been tortured by persecution was his venerable
mother, who had been taken from her peaceful home in the country and
confined in Charleston, then occupied by the British; a high compliment
to her talents and patriotism, placing her on the list of fame with the
matrons of Greece and Rome.

During the whole of the doubtful and protracted struggle of the
revolution, Mr. Rutledge remained its steady and zealous advocate, and
gave his best exertions in its behalf. After its termination, he again
returned to the bosom of his friends and the labours of his profession.
His private worth took deep root in the affections of the community,
and he had the confidence and esteem of a large circle of acquaintances.

In organizing the new government of his native state, he acted a useful
and consistent part. Many difficulties were to be overcome, many
clashing local interests to be reconciled, and many measures and laws
adopted, to restore an equilibrium in private and public concerns. A
great commotion existed between debtors and creditors; specie was out
of the question; the paper currency was nearly annihilated, and many
who felt that they had shaken off the British yoke, were about to fall
into the hands of relentless creditors, who, when prompted by avarice,
are as destitute of mercy as the pirate is of compassion. Instances are
on record in our own country, (I blush as I write,) where some of those
very veterans who bled for our boasted freedom, have been incarcerated
in a prison by the cold inquisitorial creditor, for sums so trifling
that shame would hide its face to name them.

In this dilemma, Mr. Rutledge was among those who proposed and passed
a law, making property a lawful tender for debts; a law purely
republican, but so obnoxious to avarice, that most men, who are
aristocrats just in proportion to the amount of wealth they acquire
above the wants of life, oppose it.

He also favoured the instalment law, and used his best exertions
to meliorate the condition of the poor as well as the rich, by the
enactment of laws based upon humanity and justice. He took an active
part in most of the legislation of the state, and when the federal
constitution was presented for consideration, he was, taking it as a
whole, its warm and zealous advocate. Purely republican in principle,
he was always opposed to slavery, deeming it a national curse. He was
untiring in his labour—emphatically a working man. Dr. Ramsay remarks
of him, “For the good obtained and the evil prevented, his memory will
be long respected by his countrymen.”

As I have before remarked, he was a friend to order and law, and when
any measure was consummated by legislative action, or by any public
functionary duly authorized to act, he delighted in seeing it fulfilled
to the letter. Although he was in feeling with the French when
difficulties arose between them and England, he reprobated strongly the
conduct of M. Genet and the French Directory. He was not a party man,
but was always actuated by a sense of duty, and a pure desire for the
prosperity of his country. His was the stern, unflinching moderation,
calculated to awe a mob, paralyze a faction, and preserve, pure and
undefiled, that lofty patriotism which commands esteem and respect.

In 1798 he was elected governor of his native state. Soon after,
disease fastened its relentless hands upon him, and handed him over
to the king of terrors in the mid career of his term. During the
legislative session of 1800, his illness increased so rapidly that he
felt an assurance that his dissolution was rapidly approaching, and was
desirous of returning to Charleston, that he might yield up his breath
where he first inhaled the atmosphere. The constitution required the
presence of the governor during the sitting of the legislature, and so
scrupulous was he to fulfil its letter, that he determined to remain
unless both branches passed a resolution sanctioning his absence. The
subject was submitted, but on some debate arising from the partisan
feeling then prevalent, the application was immediately withdrawn, and
he remained until the legislature adjourned. He was barely able to
reach his home, when he laid down upon the bed of death and yielded to
the only tyrant that could conquer his patriotic spirit, on the 23d
of January, 1800. The same fortitude that had characterized his whole
life, was strongly exhibited during his last illness, and did not
forsake him in his dying hours. His loss was severely felt and deeply
lamented by his mourning fellow-citizens. In the death of this good
man, his native state lost one of its brightest ornaments, one of its
noblest sons.

Governor Rutledge stood high as an orator. He appears to have
understood well the machinery of human nature, and knew well when to
address the _judgment_ and when the _passions_ of his audience. In
exciting the sympathy of a jury, he had no equal at the Charleston
bar. He also knew how, where, and when to be logical; and, what is
all-important in every man, either in the public or private walks
of life, he knew _how_, _when_, and _where_ to speak, and _what_ to
say. His private worth and public services were highly honourable to
himself, consoling to his friends and beneficial to his country. His
usefulness only ended with his life; his fame is untarnished with
error; his examples are worthy of imitation, and his life without a

By his first wife, Harriet, daughter of Henry Middleton, one of his
colleagues in congress, he had a son and daughter, the latter of whom
remained in Charleston, the former, Major Henry M. Rutledge, became
one of the pioneers of Tennessee. God grant that he may imitate the
virtues of his venerable father, and fill the blank our country
experienced in the death of the wise, the judicious, the benevolent,
the philanthropic, the patriotic, and the high minded EDWARD RUTLEDGE.


But few men have contributed more to fill the measure of the glory and
prosperity of their country, than the subject of this brief sketch.
He was a native of Chester county, Pennsylvania, and born on the 19th
day of March, 1734. He was the son of William M’Kean, who immigrated
from Ireland when quite young. He placed Thomas, at an early age,
under the tuition of the Rev. Francis Allison, then principal of one
of the most celebrated Seminaries of the Province, and a gentleman
of profound science and erudition. The talents of Thomas soon budded
and blossomed like the early rose of spring. His mind was moulded for
close application to study; his proficiency was truly gratifying to his
teachers and friends, and gave high promise of unusual attainments.
He became a thorough linguist, a practical mathematician, and a moral
philosopher. He was a faithful student, and left the seminary, a
finished scholar and an accomplished gentleman, esteemed and respected
by his numerous acquaintances.

He then commenced the study of law under David Kinney, Esquire, at
New Castle, Delaware. He explored the vast field of this science with
astonishing and unusual success, and was admitted to the bar under the
most favourable auspices. He commenced practice at the same place, and
soon acquired a lucrative business and a proud reputation. He extended
his operations into the province of his nativity, and was admitted
in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in 1757. His strict attention
to business and his superior legal acquirements, obtained for him an
extensive and just celebrity. Although he had become the eloquent
advocate and able lawyer, he was still a close and industrious student.
He continued to add to his large stock of knowledge, with the same
avidity and to greater advantage, than when he commenced his scientific
career. He did not fall into the error that has prevented some lawyers
of strong native talent from rising above mediocrity: _that when their
practice begins their studies end_. This is a rock on which many have
been shipwrecked in all the learned professions. The laws of nature
demand a constant supply of food in the intellectual as well as in
the physical world. The corroding rust of forgetfulness will mar the
most brilliant acquirements, of literature, unless kept bright by use;
and much study is requisite to keep pace with the march of mind and
the ever varying changes in the field of science, constantly under the
cultivation of the soaring intellect of man. It maybe said, that the
grand basis of the law is as unchanging as the rock of adamant. To this
I answer: its superstructure is an increasing labyrinth, and, unless
the progress of the work is kept constantly in view, those who enter,
strangers to its meanderings, will find themselves in a perplexing

In 1762, Mr. M’Kean was elected a member of the Delaware assembly
from New Castle county, and was continued in that station for eleven
successive years, when he removed to the city of Philadelphia. So much
attached to him were the people of that county, that they continued
to elect him for six succeeding years after his removal, although he
necessarily declined the honour of serving. He was claimed by Delaware
and Pennsylvania as a favourite son of each, under the old regimen, and
did, in fact, serve both after changing his residence, by being elected
to the continental congress from the state of Delaware, being then
Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, the former state claiming him, probably,
because he still retained his mansion, furnished by himself, in New
Castle, where his business frequently called him.

In 1779, he attempted to take final leave of his constituents in
Delaware, and on that occasion, as a large meeting was convened for
the purpose, made a most animating, patriotic and thrilling speech;
portraying, in glowing colours, the bright prospects that were dawning
upon the infant republic, and the certainty of being able to maintain
the independence of the United States. After he retired, a committee
waited upon him, with the novel request, that he would name seven
gentlemen, suitable to be elected to the assembly. He desired them to
report his thanks for the confidence they expressed in his judgment,
and assured them there were not only _seven_ but _seventy_ then in the
meeting, fully qualified to represent the people, and begged to be
excused from _naming_ any gentlemen, lest he should give offence. A
second time the committee called and insisted on the selection by him,
with the full assurance that he would give no offence. He then named
seven candidates, and had the gratification to learn that they were all
elected. An unlimited confidence in his abilities and integrity, was
strongly felt by his constituents, he continued to represent them in
congress during the eventful period of the war.

In 1765, he was a member of the Congress of New York, sent from
Delaware. He was one of the committee that drafted the memorable
address to the House of Commons of Great Britain. His patriotism, love
of liberty, and unbending firmness of purpose; were fully demonstrated
in that instrument, as well as in the acts of his subsequent life. He
was a republican to the core, and despised the chains of political
slavery, the baubles of monarchy, and the trappings of a crown. He was
for LIBERTY or death, and scorned to be a slave.

On his return, the same year, he was appointed judge of the court
of common pleas, quarter sessions, and orphans’ court, of New Castle
county. The stamp act was then in full _life_, but not in full _force_:
Judge M’Kean directed the officers of the courts over which he presided
not to use stamped paper, as had been ordered by the hirelings of the
British ministers. He set their authority at utter defiance, and was
the first Judge, in any of the colonies, who took this bold stand. That
circumstance alone, trifling as it may now seem to some readers, was
big with events, and was an important entering wedge to the revolution,
and stamped his name, in bold relievo, on the tablet of enduring fame.
He had talent to design and energy to execute. From that time forward,
in all the leading measures of the struggle for liberty, he was among
the leading patriots.

He was a prominent member of the congress of 1774, that convened at
Philadelphia. From that time to the peace of 1783, he was a member of
the continental congress, and the only one who served during the whole
time. He was a strong advocate for the declaration of independence,
and most willingly affixed his signature to that sacred instrument.
When it came up for final action, so anxious was he that it should
pass _unanimously_, that he sent an express after Cæsar Rodney, one of
his colleagues, the other, Mr. Read, having manifested a disposition
to vote against it. Mr. Rodney arrived on the 4th of July, just in
time to give his vote in favour of the important measure, and thus
secured its unanimous adoption. Notwithstanding the arduous duties
that devolved on Mr. M’Kean, as member of congress, member of several
committees, and chief justice of Pennsylvania, all of which he
discharged satisfactorily—so ardent was his patriotism, so devoted
was he to promote the cause he had nobly espoused, that he accepted a
colonel’s commission, and was appointed to the command of a regiment
of associators, raised in the city of Philadelphia, and marched to the
support of Gen. Washington, with whom he remained until a supply of
new recruits was raised. During his absence, his Delaware constituents
had elected him a member of the convention to form a constitution.
On his return he proceeded to New Castle, and, in a tavern, without
premeditation or consulting men or books, he hastily penned the
constitution that was adopted by the delegates. Understanding the wants
and feelings of the people, well versed in law and the principles of
republicanism, and a ready writer, he was enabled to perform, in a
few hours, a work that, in modern times, requires the labours of an
expensive assembly for nearly a year. How changed are men and things
since the glorious era of ’76! How different the motives that now impel
to action, and how different the amount of labour performed in the
same time and for the same money. Then all were anxious to listen! now
nearly all are anxious to speak. Then, legislators loved their country
_more_, and the loaves and fishes _less_, than at the present day.

On the 10th of July, 1781, Judge M’Kean was elected president of
congress, which honour he was compelled to decline, because his duties
as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania would necessarily
require his absence some part of the time during the session. He was
then urged to occupy the chair until the first Monday of November,
when the court was to commence. To this he assented, and presided until
that time, with great credit to himself and to the satisfaction of
the members of that august body. On his retiring from the chair, the
following resolution was unanimously passed on the 7th of November,

“Resolved, That the thanks of congress be given to the Honourable
Thomas M’Kean, late president of congress, in testimony of their
approbation of his conduct in the chair, and in the execution of public

His duties upon the bench of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which
commenced in 1777, were often of the most responsible and arduous
character. He did not recognise the power of the crown, and held
himself amenable, in the discharge of his official functions, only to
his country and his God. An able jurist and an unyielding patriot,
he punished, at the hazard of his own life, all who were brought
before him and convicted of violating the laws of the _new_ dynasty.
No threats could intimidate or influence reach him, when designed to
divert him from the independent discharge of his duty. His profound
legal acquirements, his ardent zeal, his equal justice, his vigorous
energy and his noble patriotism, enabled him to outride every storm,
and calm the raging billows that often surrounded him. He marched on
triumphantly to the goal of LIBERTY, and hailed with joy the star
spangled banner, as it waved in grandeur from the lofty spires of the
temple of FREEDOM. He beheld, with the eye of a sage, a philosopher,
and a philanthropist, the rising glory of Columbia’s new world. He
viewed, with emotions of pleasing confidence, the American eagle
descend from etherial regions, beyond the altitude of a tyrant’s
breath, and pounce upon the British lion. With increasing vigour and
redoubled fury, the mighty bird continued the awful conflict, until the
king of beasts retreated to his lair, and proclaimed to a gazing and
admiring world, AMERICA IS FREE!! Angels rejoiced, monarchs trembled,
and patriots shouted aloud—AMEN!! The grand Rubicon was passed, the
torch of England’s power over the colonies had expired in its socket,
and the birth of a new nation was celebrated by happy millions,
basking beneath the luminous rays and refulgent glories of LIBERTY
and FREEDOM! The harvest was past, the summer ended, and our country
saved. The mighty work of political regeneration was accomplished, the
independence of the United States acknowledged, and an honourable peace

Judge M’Kean, in common with his fellow patriots, heroes and sages,
then sat down under his own fig tree, to enjoy the full fruition
of his long and faithful labours in the cause of equal rights. He
continued to discharge the important duties of chief justice until
1799, illuminating his judicial path with profound learning, impartial
decision, and sound discretion. His legal opinions, based as they
generally are, upon the firm pillars of equal justice, strict equity,
and correct law; given, as they were, when our form of government was
changing, the laws unsettled, our state constitution but just formed,
and the federal constitution bursting from embryo—are monuments of
fame, enduring as social order, revered, respected, and canonized.

He was a member of the convention that formed the constitution of
Pennsylvania adopted in 1790, and exercised an influence in that body
that was of the most salutary kind. In 1799 he was elected governor of
the key-stone state, and contributed largely in adding new strength and
beauty to the grand arch of our union. For nine successive years he
wielded the destinies of the land of Penn, commencing at a period when
the mountain waves of party spirit were rolling over the United States
with a fury before unknown. But amidst the foaming and conflicting
elements, Governor M’Kean stood at the helm of state, calm as a summer
morning, firm as a mountain of granite, and guided his noble ship
through the raging storm, unscathed and unharmed. His annual messages
to the legislature for elegance and force of language, correct and
liberal views of policy, and a luminous exposition of law and rules
of government, stand unrivalled and unsurpassed. The clamours of his
political enemies he passed by as the idle wind; the suggestions of
his friends he scanned with the most rigid scrutiny. Neither flattery
or censure could drive him from the strong citadel of his own matured
judgment. The good of his country and the glory of the American
character, formed the grand basis of his actions.

The fawning sycophant and the brawling demagogue, he spurned with
contempt. By honest means alone he desired the advancement of the party
that had elevated him. Open and avowed principles, fully proclaimed
and strictly carried out, were by him submitted to the people, frankly
and cordially, without prevarication or disguise. He was a politician
of the old school, when each party had plain and visible landmarks,
distinctive names, and fixed principles. Political chemists had not
then introduced the modern process of amalgamation, producing a
heterogenous mass, that defies the power of analyzation, scientific
arrangement, or classical separation.

Governor M’Kean respected those of his political opponents who opposed
him from an honest difference of opinion, and numbered among them many
personal friends. He was free from that narrow-minded policy, based
upon self, that actuates too many of those of the present day, who
assume the high responsibility of becoming the arbiters of the minds
of their fellow men. His views were expansive and liberal, broad and
charitable. He aimed at distributing equal justice to all, the rich and
poor, the public officer and private citizen. He was free from that
contracted selfishness that prefers present aggrandizement to future
good. To lay deep the foundations of lasting and increasing prosperity
for his own state and for our nation, was the object of this pure
patriot, enlightened statesman, and able jurist. Her vast resources,
her wide spread territory, her majestic rivers, her silvery lakes, her
mineral mountains, her rich valleys, her rolling uplands, her beautiful
prairies, her extensive seaboard, her enterprising sons and virtuous
daughters, were arrayed before his gigantic mind, and passed him in
grand review. He was firmly convinced that she had only to be wise and
good to be great and happy. To this end he embraced every opportunity,
both in public and private life, to inculcate, by precept and example,
those great principles of moral rectitude, inflexible virtue, purity of
motive, and nobleness of action, that alone can permanently preserve
a nation. He cast a withering frown upon vice in all its borrowed and
alluring forms, and exerted his strongest powers to arrest the bold
career of crime and corruption. He was a terror to evil doers, and
inspired confidence in those who did well. His administration was
prosperous and enlightened, and when he closed his public duties, the
bitterness of his political opponents was lost in the admiration of his
patriotism, virtue, impartiality, consistency, and candour.

In 1808 he retired from the ponderous weight of public business,
that he had so long and honourably borne. He had devoted a long
life to the faithful service of his country, and was covered with
laurels of imperishable fame. He stood approved at the bar of his own
conscience, his country, and his God. He had acted well his part, and
had contributed largely in raising the American character to a proud
elevation among the nations of the earth. Thus highly stood Governor
M’KEAN, when he bid a final adieu, a last farewell to the public arena,
and retired to the peaceful city of Penn, to breathe his life out
sweetly there. He outlived all the animosities that a faithful minister
of the laws unavoidably creates for a time, and on the 24th of June,
1817, at his residence in Philadelphia, resigned his spirit to Him who
gave it, and entered upon the untried scenes of a boundless eternity,
to reap the rich reward of a life well spent.

His private character was beyond reproach, unsullied as the virgin
sheet. His person was tall and erect, his countenance bold,
intelligent, and commanding; his manners urbane, gentlemanly, and
affable; his feelings noble, generous, and humane; and his conduct
open, frank, and republican. He never shrunk from what he deemed
duty, and was always actuated by a desire to promote the interest of
the human family and the general good of mankind. He was a refined
philanthropist, an acute philosopher, an enlightened statesman, an
impartial judge, an able magistrate, and a truly great and good man.


Men often engage in transactions and designs, that produce results in
direct opposition to those anticipated. Thus, religious persecution
scattered the primitive Christians into various parts of the earth,
and, instead of annihilating the doctrines of the Cross, they were
more widely spread and diffused through the world. For the enjoyment
of the liberty of conscience, the emigrants to New England left their
native homes; for the same reason, the Huguenots of France fled before
the withering blasts of the revolution of the edict of Nantes in 1685,
many of them settling in the city of New York. To the persecuted and
oppressed, America was represented as a land of rest, and emigrants
poured in upon our shores from France, Holland, Germany, England,
Ireland, and Scotland; among whom were many eminent for piety,
intelligence, and liberal principles. To the latter place, we trace the
ancestor of the subject of this brief sketch. The great grandfather of
Philip Livingston was an eminent divine in the church of Scotland, and,
in 1663, emigrated to Rotterdam, a city of the Netherlands, in South
Holland, where he died nine years after. His son Robert emigrated to
America, and obtained a grant for the manor along the Hudson river,
which is remarkable for the beauty of its location and the richness of
its soil.

He had three sons, Philip, the father of the present subject, Robert,
grandfather of Chancellor Livingston, and Gilbert, the grandfather
of the Rev. Dr. John H. Livingston, who stood high as a scholar and
divine. The subject of this memoir was his fourth son, born at Albany,
15th of January, 1716.

Mr. Livingston was among the few, who, in those days, received a
college education. After his preparatory studies, he entered Yale
College, and graduated in 1737. In common with most of the descendants
of that celebrated family, he was blessed with strong native talent,
which he improved by an excellent education. With principles firmly
based on religion and moral rectitude, he was eminently prepared
to commence a career of usefulness. In those days of republican
simplicity, graduates from college, instead of riding rough shod over
those whose literary advantages were less, believing themselves forever
exonerated from the field, the shop, and the counting-house, thought
it no disparagement to apply themselves to agricultural, mechanical,
and commercial pursuits. Among them, we find Mr. Livingston extensively
and successfully engaged in mercantile business, in the city of New
York. Reposing full confidence in his integrity, which was then a
necessary passport to public favour, his fellow citizens elected him
to the office of Alderman in 1754, in which he continued during nine
successive years, contributing largely to the peace and prosperity of
the city. In 1759, he was a member of the colonial assembly, which had
important duties to perform; Great Britain being at war with France,
which brought the colonists in contact with the Canadian French and
Indians. Twenty-thousand men were to be raised by the colonists to
guard the frontier settlements, and, if practicable, to carry the war
into the territory of the enemy.

The province of New York furnished 2680 men, and 250,000 pounds, to aid
in the proposed object.

Mr. Livingston took an active and judicious part in these
deliberations, and also introduced laws for the advancement of
commerce, agriculture, and various improvements; manifesting a sound
judgment and liberal views. He was an active member of the committee
on foreign relations, who wisely selected the celebrated Edmund Burke,
to represent their interests in the British parliament. From the
lucid communications of Mr. Livingston, that celebrated statesman and
friend to America, was made thoroughly acquainted with the situation,
feelings, and interests of the colonists.

After the dissolution of the general assembly by the decease of George
II., Mr. Livingston was again elected in 1761, a member of the one
under the new dynasty. In 1764, he wrote an answer to the message of
lieutenant-governor Colden, pointing out, in respectful, but bold and
convincing language, the oppressions and infringements of the British
ministry upon the rights of the Americans.

He soon became a nucleus, around which a band of patriots gathered,
and eventually formed a nut too hard to be cracked by all the hammers
of the crown. The consequence of the bold stand taken by many of the
members, in defence of their dear bought privileges, was the sudden
dissolution of the assembly by the governor, whenever he discovered a
majority in favour of liberal principles.

In 1768, the assembly consisted of the brightest luminaries of talent
then in the colony, who elevated Mr. Livingston to the honourable and
distinguished station of Speaker. Discovering that a majority of the
new assembly were unwilling to be slaves and tools, the governor, Sir
Henry Moore, dissolved them, and ordered a new election. He succeeded
in obtaining a majority of creatures like himself, but a sufficient
number of whigs were elected to watch the interests of the people,
and hold the minions of the crown in check and awe. Although Mr.
Livingston, from disgust at the procedure of the governor and his
adherents, had declined being a candidate in the city of New York, he
was returned from the manor, and, on mature deliberation, took his seat
as a member, although opposed, at first unsuccessfully, because he was
not a resident of the district that elected him, in which predicament
a large majority of the members were found involved: they therefore
concluded not to run the risk of having their own glass houses broken,
for the sake of demolishing that of Mr. Livingston. During this
session, he offered a resolution setting forth the grievances of his
countrymen, which gave great umbrage to the adherents of the crown.
This determined them to expel him on the ground at first assumed,
which was effected by a vote of 17 to 6; twenty-one of the twenty-four
members being similarly situated, not residents of the districts they

A wider field was now opened before him. He was elected to the
first Congress at Philadelphia, and became a brilliant star in that
enlightened and patriotic body. He was one of the committee that
prepared the spirited address to the British nation, that roused
from their lethargy those whose attention had not been called to the
all-important subjects then in agitation, involving a nation’s rights
and a nation’s wrongs.

He was continued a member of Congress, and, when the grand birthday of
our independence arrived, Mr. Livingston aided in the thrilling duties
of the occasion, invoked the smiles of Heaven upon the new born infant,
and gave the sanction of his name to the magna charta that secured to
it a towering majesty and grandeur before unknown.

He was also a member of the association that recommended and
adopted a non-intercourse with the mother country; president of the
provincial Congress assembled at New York, to devise measures for
their protection, and was one of those who framed the Constitution
of his native State, which was adopted in 1777. Under that he was
chosen a Senator, and attended the first session of the legislature of
the empire State. The same year he was elected to Congress, then in
session at York, Pennsylvania, having retired before their conquering
foe. Deeply afflicted with a hydro-thorax, (dropsy of the chest,) he
felt that his mortal career was fast drawing to a close. It was in the
Spring of 1778, when the dark mantle of gloom and misfortune hung over
the bleeding colonies.

Under these circumstances, he was willing to devote his last expiring
breath, as he had much of his estate, to the service of his beloved
country. He addressed a valedictory letter to his friends at Albany,
bade them a last farewell, urged them to remain firm in the cause of
liberty, and trust in God for deliverance; clasped his lovely wife and
children to his bosom, commended them to Heaven for protection, and
looked upon them with a heart full of tenderness for the last time on
this side of eternity. They were then at Kingston, where they had fled
for safety and protection from a brutal soldiery.

On the 5th of May he took his seat in Congress, and, on the 12th of
June, he yielded to the only monarch that could subdue his patriotic
heart—relentless death. He was buried the same day under all the
mournful honours due to his great worth and merit, deeply lamented by
every friend to the American cause. Although he was deprived of the
kind offices of his own family in his last moments, he had a friend
who had been his stay and support in every hour of trial, and now
smoothed the pillow of death. Religion had been his companion through
life; in the hour of dissolution, it was his support; angels waited
for the transit of his immortal soul; Heaven opened wide its gates
to let the patriot in; the king of glory decked him with laurels of
bliss; enrolled his name on the book of life; and crowned him with that
peaceful rest which is the reward of a pure heart and a virtuous life.

His private character was a continued eulogy upon virtue, philanthropy,
benevolence, urbanity, integrity, nobleness, honesty, patriotism,
consistency, and all the leading qualities that render man dignified on
earth, and fit for Heaven.


The name of every patriot who aided in gaining the liberty we now so
permanently enjoy, is remembered and repeated with veneration and
respect. A particular regard is felt for those whose names are enrolled
on that bold and noble production, the Declaration of Independence.
Their names, with many others who espoused the cause of freedom, will
glide down the stream of time on the gentle waves of admiration and
gratitude, until merged in the ocean of eternity. This single act has
placed them on the list of immortal fame.

Among them was GEORGE WYTHE, a native of Elizabeth city in Virginia,
born in 1728, of respectable parents. His father was a thriving farmer,
and his mother a woman of unusual worth, talents and learning. His
school education was limited, and, like Washington, Lafayette, and a
large proportion of great men, he was indebted to his mother for the
most of his learning and the early impressions of noble and correct

From her he acquired the Latin and Greek languages; by her he was led
to the pure fountains of science, and to her he was indebted for the
formation of his youthful mind.

Unfortunately for him death snatched away, nearly at the same time,
both his parents, leaving him still in his minority without a hand to
guide or a voice to warn him against the allurements of pleasure and
the seductions of vice.

His father left him a fortune, which, by prudence and frugality, was
sufficient to render his circumstances easy and comfortable. But like
too many _only_ sons, his father had not inured him to business habits;
he was soon led astray—he was captivated by amusements—and from that
time until the age of thirty, his time was spent in pursuit of the
phantoms of pleasurable diversions, and in idle company, neglecting
both study and business.

Like the prodigal, he then came to himself—returned to the paths of
virtue, studied the profession of the law, was admitted to the bar, and
soon became one of its brightest luminaries—one of its most eminent
members. During the remainder of his life, he pursued the paths of
wisdom most scrupulously, and showed to his friends and the world
that a young man, although led astray by the prowling wolves of vice,
_can_ burst the chains that bind him—redeem his character—correct his
habits—and become a useful and virtuous member of society. So did
George Wythe; go thou and do likewise. He felt most keenly, regretted
most sincerely, but redeemed most nobly the misspent time of his
younger days. If this should chance to meet the eyes of any man under
similar circumstances, let me say to him—imitate the striking example
of George Wythe. Perhaps no man ever maintained the professional
dignity of the bar better than him, or was more highly esteemed by
his most intimate acquaintances. He was scrupulously honest, and would
never proceed in a case until convinced justice required his services.
If, by any deception, a client induced him to embark in a suit that he
subsequently discovered was unjust, he refunded his fee, and abandoned
his cause.

His virtuous habits, extreme fidelity, judicial acquirements, and
extensive knowledge, gained for him public confidence and esteem. He
was for a long time a member of the House of Burgesses, and under the
new government he received the appointment of Chancellor of Virginia,
which office he filled with honour to himself and usefulness to his
native state until the day of his death. As a legislator he was highly
esteemed for talent, integrity and independence. He was not the tool
of party, he stood upon his own bottom, and depended upon his own
judgment. In 1764, on the 14th of November, he was appointed a member
of the committee to prepare a petition to the King, a memorial to the
House of Lords, and a remonstrance to the House of Commons on the
impropriety and injustice of the proposed stamp act.

The remonstrance was from the able pen of Mr. Wythe, and was drawn in
language so bold and strong, that it alarmed many of his colleagues,
and underwent considerable modification to divest it of what they
deemed a tincture of treason. He understood and properly appreciated
the true dignity of man, and was not born to succumb or quail beneath
the tyranny of a haughty monarch or an aspiring ministry. He was a
prominent and active member of the House of Burgesses in 1768, when
Virginia blood and Virginia patriotism were roused, and passed the
memorable resolutions asserting their exclusive right to levy their
own taxes; accused ministers and parliament of violating the British
constitution; and denied the right of the crown to transport and try
persons in England for crimes committed in the colonies.

In passing these resolutions parliamentary rules were dispensed
with—they went through with the onward course of an avalanche, the
members anticipating the proroguing power of the governor, who, on
hearing of their tenor, immediately dissolved the house. But he was
half an hour too late, they had passed their final reading and were
entered upon the records, and beyond his power to veto or expunge.

This step of the governor was unfavourable to the interests of
the crown, and the people proudly and boldly returned all the old
_patriotic_ members to the next session, with several new ones of
the same stamp. During the recess, the love of liberty and liberal
principles had increased in their bosoms, and they had imparted the
same sentiments to their constituents.

Among the new members was Thomas Jefferson, who had been the pupil of
Mr. Wythe—had imbibed his principles, and now stood forth a bold and
prominent champion of liberty and equal rights.

From this time onward Mr. Wythe continued to oppose parliamentary
oppression and vindicate the rights of his country. At the commencement
of the revolutionary movements he joined a volunteer corps, shouldered
his musket, determined to vindicate in the field the principles he had
inculcated in the legislative hall. But his talents as a statesman did
not permit him to move long in this sphere of action, and in August,
1775, he was called to take a seat in that congress which, in less than
a year from that time, proclaimed to the astonished Britons and to the
world, the freedom and emancipation of the colonies, affixed their
names to the Declaration of Independence, resolved that it should prove
either the chart of liberty or the warrant of death—appealing to heaven
for the justice of their cause.

In 1776, in November, Messrs. Wythe, Pendleton, and Jefferson were
appointed to revise the laws of Virginia, and although much other
business devolved upon them, they prepared and reported to the
general assembly one hundred and twenty-six bills by the 18th of
June, 1779. The new code commenced the revision at the time of the
revolution in England, and brought it down to the establishment of
the new government. It underwent the revision of Mr. Wythe, was truly
republican, and does great honour to the heads, hearts and learning of
the committee.

In 1777 he was chosen speaker of the House of Delegates; the same year
a judge of the High Court of Chancery, and subsequently, under a new
organization of the judiciary, sole chancellor. A more impartial judge
never graced the bench than George Wythe. Nothing could induce him to
swerve from the strictest rules of justice, and as a profound jurist
and expounder of the law, he stood pre-eminent. He was elected to the
professorship of the law in the college of William and Mary, where he
continued with success until his increasing duties compelled him to
resign. He was one of the members of the Virginia legislature at the
adoption of the Federal Constitution.

He put in full practice his principles of liberty by emancipating his
slaves, and providing them with the means of support. One of them, who
died prematurely, he had not only given a common education, but had
taught him Latin and Greek, determined upon a developement of African

In his private character Mr. Wythe was amiable, modest, charitable and
humane. He sought to improve the society in which he moved, and used
great exertions to guard young men against the purlieus of vice. He was
industrious, temperate, practically a christian, and above reproach.
He died suddenly from the effects of poison on the 8th of June, 1806,
universally esteemed, beloved and regretted. It is believed the poison
was administered by _George Wythe Sweny_, a grandson of his sister, who
expected to arrive sooner by his death at the enjoyment of a part of
his estate, but which fortunately was prevented by a codicil made just
before his decease. Although the ungrateful wretch could not be reached
by the laws of his country, the circumstances were so strong against
him that he was stamped by the public mind with the black, the awful,
the enduring stigma of a _murderer_.

Jefferson in delineating the character of the instructor of his youth,
remarks: “No man ever left behind him a character more venerated
than George Wythe. His virtue was of the purest kind; his integrity
inflexible, and his justice exact; of warm patriotism, and devoted as
he was to liberty and the natural and equal rights of men, he might be
truly called the Cato of his country, without the avarice of a Roman;
for a more disinterested person never lived. Such was GEORGE WYTHE, the
honour of his own and a model of future times.”


Many of the most useful men who have at various periods of time figured
upon the great theatre of human affairs, have ascended the ladder of
fame without the aid of a collegiate education. A clear head, a strong
mind, a matured judgment, and a good heart are the grand requisites to
prepare a man for substantial usefulness. Without these, you pour upon
him the classic stream in vain; it is like water poured upon the sand,
it moistens and invigorates for the moment, then sinks and leaves the
surface dry and unproductive. The advantages of a liberal education I
most cheerfully acknowledge; that a man may become eminently useful
without it, is a fact beyond dispute. To the long list of names
conspicuous upon the pages of history for patriotism, philanthropy and
eminent usefulness, and not recorded on the books of any of the high
places of learning, that of ABRAHAM CLARK may be justly added.

He was born at Elizabethtown, Essex county, N.J., on the 15th of
February, 1726, of respectable parents. He was the only son of
Thomas Clark, who held the office of Alderman, at that time usually
bestowed upon men of merit and distinction. He was a farmer, a man
of good sense, and instilled into the mind of his son the enduring
principles of moral rectitude that governed his actions and framed
his character in after life. Abraham received what is termed a good
English education, and was designed by his father for the pursuit of
agriculture. Of a slender frame and of a delicate constitution, he was
never able to endure hard labour, but continued to superintend the
business on the farm which his father left him, when not absent on
public duty. He made himself familiar with mathematics, and attended
to the business of surveying and conveyancing. He also made himself
acquainted with the elementary principles of law, and became a safe
counsellor, imparting his legal advice gratuitously, often saving his
friends from entering into the vexatious labyrinth of litigation,
acting the part of a peace maker between the contending parties. He
was called “the poor man’s counsellor,” and did much to allay disputes
and produce harmony in his neighbourhood. He was often selected as
arbitrator in different counties to settle disputed titles of land.
His decisions were uniformly based on correct legal principles and
impartial justice. His knowledge and judgment became so much respected
that he was appointed by the General Assembly to settle the claims to
undivided commons. He filled the office of sheriff and was appointed
clerk of the assembly, acquitting himself with ability and credit in
both stations. As he became known to the public his talents were highly
appreciated, not because they kindled to a blaze calculated to excite
the huzzas of the multitude, but because they were surrounded by the
halo of pure patriotism, strict justice, moral worth, and undeviating

When the storm of oppression was poured upon his native land by the
mother country, Mr. Clark was among the first who openly contended for
equal rights and liberal principles. Cool, reflecting, and deliberate,
he had the confidence of his fellow citizens, and exercised over them a
wise and salutary influence. His actions flowed from the pure fountain
of a good heart, guided by a clear head and a matured judgment. The
subject of British injustice towards the American colonies he weighed
impartially, and felt most keenly. He was an active and bold leader in
the primary meetings of his native colony, opposing coolly but firmly,
the audacious and unreasonable claims of the crown. He was a prominent
member of the Committee of Safety, and contributed largely, by precept
and example, to the consolidation of that phalanx of sages and veterans
who resolved on liberty or death. He had a peculiar tact in rousing his
fellow citizens to proper action, always moving within the orbit of
reason and sound discretion.

He richly merited and freely received the confidence of the friends
of equal rights. In June, 1776, he was appointed a member of the
Continental Congress, where he nobly sustained the high reputation he
had already acquired for good sense and unalloyed patriotism. To such
men as Mr. Clark the cause of American independence owed its ultimate
success. Revolution is too often the offspring of faction, and although
successful in annihilating the powers assailed, leaves its ambitious
actors to sink in a tenfold corruption. Demagogues may kindle to a
flame the angry passions of the multitude, but it requires such men
as Franklin, Clark, Sherman, Washington, &c., to guide these streams
of mental fire, and conduct them harmless in their course. Although
the American revolution did not originate in faction, the zeal of many
of its able advocates naturally carried them beyond the safe line
prescribed by prudence and wisdom. Upon such men the salutary influence
of Mr. Clark was happily exercised, and in a manner which gained for
him their esteem and conferred lasting benefits on our common country.
To those who have discernment and skill to guide the ship of state
clear from the rocks and shoals of error, and avoid the breakers of
rashness, intrigue and corruption, although they cannot make a flowery
speech that will cost our nation thousands of dollars,—to such men, I
say, we owe our political safety and existence. These are they who will
preserve, to the utmost of their powers, the silken cords of our union.
They are the neutralizers of the inflammatory gases that proceed from
the fiery craniums of many of our legislators, who are more classical
than discreet, more in the forum than in the committee rooms, more
anxious to promote _their party_ than the _glory of our country_.

On the memorable Fourth of July, 1776, Mr. Clark fearlessly enrolled
his name with that patriotic band of sages who pledged “their lives,
their fortunes, and their sacred honours,” to support the bleeding
cause of liberty, and defend their country from tyranny and oppression.
For this strong and important measure he had long been prepared, from
a firm conviction that no reasonable or honourable terms would be
sanctioned by the ambitious and haughty ministry of Great Britain. He
was fully convinced, that chains and fetters awaited his native land,
unless the cords of allegiance were severed at one bold stroke. He
therefore sanctioned the Declaration of Independence by his vote and
signature, and was rewarded by an approving conscience and the plaudits
of his fellow citizens, who elected him to the national legislature
during seven successive years, except 1779, when he was in the state
legislature. Having a retentive memory, and being a practical man, of
untiring industry, he was acknowledged by all to be one of the most
useful members of the Continental Congress. From 1783 to 1788, he was
a member of the legislature of his own state, and so great was his
influence that every act which excited public attention was attributed
to him. An act to regulate the practice of lawyers, curtailing their
fees in some measure, was emphatically called “_Clark’s Law_.” As a
matter of course those opposed to particular measures emanating from
him became his political enemies.

Mr. Clark was a warm advocate for the Convention that framed our
National Constitution, and was appointed one of its members, but was
prevented from attending by sickness. In 1788, he was again elected to
Congress, but the following year his political enemies succeeded, for
the first time, in defeating him. He was then called to the important
station of commissioner to settle the accounts of his native state with
the general government. At the ensuing election he was again elected
to Congress, of which he remained a member until his death, which
was caused by a _coup de soleil_, (stroke of the sun,) in the autumn
of 1794, closing his career in two hours after the commencement of
the attack, in the 69th year of his age. MR. CLARK was a consistent
christian, a pure patriot, and an honest man. He was a faithful public
sentinel, a kind and charitable friend, an honourable and generous
enemy, and died esteemed and regretted by all who knew him. His
character is worthy of the highest encomiums, his examples of the
closest imitation.


The patriots, sages and heroes of the American revolution, were
composed of men from different countries and of various pursuits. One
feeling seems to have pervaded the bosom and influenced the actions
of all—the love of LIBERTY. This mainspring to action was confined to
no business or profession; all classes who loved their country and
hated chains, flew to the rescue. Self-interest, to a greater extent
than is usual, lost its potent charms, and thousands upon thousands
pledged their lives and fortunes to defend their bleeding country
against the merciless attacks and exorbitant demands of an unyielding
and uncompromising foe. No class of men better understood the injustice
of the mother country towards her infant colonies than those engaged
in commerce. Many bold, daring and intelligent spirits left the
counting-house for the field or the legislative hall. Among them was
FRANCIS LEWIS, who was born at Landaff, in the shire of Glamorgan, in
South Wales, in March, 1713. His father was an Episcopal clergyman;
his mother was the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Pettingal, of the same
religion, who officiated at Caernarvonshire, in North Wales.

Francis was an only child, and left an orphan at the age of five years.
A maternal aunt named Llawelling, who resided at Caernarven, became
his guardian. She had him early instructed in her native language, the
Cymraeg, which he retained through life. He was then sent to Scotland
to reside with a relative, where he obtained the ancient and pure
Celtic. From there he was transferred to the Westminster school in
London, where he made great proficiency and became a good classical
scholar. He then entered the counting-house and became familiar with
the whole routine of commercial transactions, which prepared him to
pursue his business successfully through a long, active, and useful
life. When he arrived at the age of twenty-one he inherited a small
fortune, which he laid out in merchandise, and in the spring of 1735
arrived with it at New York. He found his stock too large for that
city, entered into partnership with Edward Annesley, leaving with him a
part of the goods, proceeding himself with the residue to Philadelphia.
At the end of two years he settled permanently in New York, and married
Elizabeth Annesley, the sister of his partner. To these ancestors, we
trace the numerous and respectable families now residing in the state
of New York of the same name.

The commercial transactions of Mr. Lewis frequently called him to
Europe, the principal ports of which he visited. He also visited the
Shetland and Orkney Islands, and was twice shipwrecked on the coast of

At the commencement of the French war he was the agent for supplying
the British army with clothing. At the sanguinary attack and reduction
of Oswego by the French troops under General Dieskau, Mr. Lewis was
standing by the side of Colonel Mersey, who had command of the fort,
when he was killed. He became a prisoner and was held a long time by
the Indians, enduring every hardship they could impose short of death.
As a small compensation for his sufferings and losses the British
government, on his return, granted him five thousand acres of land.

He was among the early and determined opposers to the pretensions of
the crown in their mad career of taxation and oppression. He was a
distinguished and active member of the colonial congress that assembled
at New York in the autumn of 1765, to devise and mature measures to
effectuate a redress of injuries and grievances. They prepared a
petition to the King and House of Commons, and a memorial to the House
of Lords. Their language was respectful, but every line breathed a firm
determination no longer to yield to injury and insult. The chrysalis of
the revolution was formed at that time. The eruptions of the volcano
occasionally subsided, but as the crater again sent forth the lava of
insubordination, its volume increased until the whole country became
inundated by the terrific flood of war, tinged by the purple current
from the veins of thousands.

In 1771, Mr. Lewis visited England and made himself familiar with the
feelings and designs of the British ministry. From that time forward
he was fully convinced that the infant colonies in America could never
enjoy their inalienable rights until they severed the parental ties
that bound them to the mother country. On all proper occasions he
communicated his views to the friends of liberty, and did much on his
return to rouse his fellow citizens to a just sense of impending danger.

When it was determined to convene the Continental Congress at
Philadelphia, the minds of his friends were fixed upon Mr. Lewis as a
man eminently qualified to represent their interests in that august
body. On the 22nd of April, 1775, he was unanimously elected a member
by the delegates convened for the purpose, and immediately repaired
to the key stone city and entered upon the important duties assigned
him. The following year he was continued in that proud station, and
affixed his name to the chart of American Independence. His long
experience in commercial and other business, united with a clear head,
a patriotic heart, a matured and reflecting mind, richly stored with
general intelligence, rendered him an influential and useful member of
the Continental Congress. As an active and judicious man on business
committees, he stood pre-eminent. As a warm and zealous advocate of his
country’s rights, he stood unrivalled. He was continued a member of the
national legislature until he obtained leave of absence in April, 1779,
except a short interval in 1777.

He suffered much in loss of property, which was wantonly destroyed by
the conquering foe. Not satisfied with this, the British seized the
unprotected wife of Mr. Lewis and placed her in close confinement,
without even a bed on which to repose her delicate frame—without a
change of clothes, almost without food, and exposed to the unmanly
and disgraceful insults of more than barbarian wretches. In this
painful situation she remained for several months, when she was
finally exchanged through the exertions of General Washington, under
the direction of Congress, for a Mrs. Barrow, the wife of a British
pay-master. The consequence of this base imprisonment, was the
premature death of Mrs. Lewis.

At the close of the war, Mr. Lewis was reduced from affluence to
poverty. He had devoted his talents and property in the cause of
liberty, and what was more, the partner of his youth, the mother
of his children, had been sacrificed at the shrine of oppression.
Notwithstanding these misfortunes, the evening of his life was made
comfortable by his enterprising children, and on the 30th day of
December, 1803, calm and resigned, he closed his eventful and useful
life in the 90th year of his age. He left a well earned fame that will
survive, unimpaired, the revolutions of time. His private character was
a fair unsullied sheet, as pure and amiable as his public career was
useful and illustrious. As a man of business he stood in the foremost
rank, and was the first merchant who made a shipment of wheat to
Europe, he was indeed a pioneer in the transporting trade. His examples
in private and public life are worthy of imitation, and justly deserve
our high admiration.


Among the great variety of characters who signed that master piece of
composition, the Declaration of Independence, were men of the highest
literary attainments, ornamented by the most refined manners, the
strictest virtue, and the noblest patriotism. Amidst these stars, the
man of whom I now write, shone with peculiar lustre and brightness. He
was the son of John Stockton, born in October, 1730, near Princeton,
in New Jersey. His great grandfather, of the same name, came from
England in 1670, purchased near 7000 acres of land within two miles of
Princeton, and, in 1682, effected the first European settlement made in
that part of the State. On this estate, the Stockton family continued
to reside and prosper, until driven off by the British army under Lord
Howe, forming the nucleus to a large circle of the most worthy and
valuable citizens.

Under the instruction of the celebrated principal of the West
Nottingham Academy in Maryland, Rev. Doctor Samuel Finley, the talents
of young Richard budded, blossomed, and unfolded their beauty; to the
great satisfaction of his teacher, and admiration of his parents and
friends. From early youth, he manifested a comprehensive and powerful
mind. From this Seminary, he was transferred to the College at Newark,
where he completed his education, and received the merited honours
of the first annual commencement at Nassau Hall, in 1748, under its
highly talented and pious President, the Rev. Mr. Burr. At the early
age of eighteen, he commenced the study of law under David Ogden, who
then stood at the head of his profession in the province. He applied
himself closely to his studies for six years, when he was admitted as
an Attorney, and two years after, advanced to the grade of Counsellor
at Law. He then established himself at his paternal seat, and soon rose
to the highest rank, and stood unrivalled at the New Jersey bar. His
fame as an advocate and counsellor rose, expanded, and spread; and he
was frequently called from his native state, to manage suits of high
importance. In 1763, he was honoured with the degree of sergeant at
law. In 1766, he closed his professional business, crowned with the
fair laurels of his brilliant career, and richly rewarded for his toil
and labours. He committed it to his brother-in-law, Alias Boudinot,
Esq., who was then on the flood tide of a successful practice.

In June of that year, anxious to further enrich his mind, he embarked
for London, and was safely wafted across the Atlantic, to the great
European metropolis. His fame had been previously spread through that
country, his visit had been anticipated, and he was received by the
high dignitaries of Great Britain with the most flattering and marked
attention. He was presented at the Court of St. James by one of the
cabinet members, and delivered to the King an address from the trustees
of the College of New Jersey, expressive of their joy at the repeal of
the stamp act.

During his stay, he rendered material services to this college, among
which, was his influence inducing Doctor Witherspoon to accept of its
presidential chair, to which he had been elected, and which he had
declined; thus adding another to the list of high minded and talented
patriots, who nobly conceived, boldly prosecuted, and gloriously
consummated the emancipation of the colonies.

During his visit, he communicated freely with the statesmen of England
who were friendly to their brethren in America, and confirmed them
more strongly in their opinions of the impolitic course pursued by the
ministry towards the colonies.

In February following he visited Edinburgh, where he received the
most flattering attentions from those in power, being complimented
by a public dinner and the freedom of the city. On this occasion, he
delivered an eloquent and appropriate speech, fully sustaining his
reported fame, fully answering their fondest and highest anticipations.
His company was courted by the most scientific gentlemen of that seat
of learning, and he was made a welcome and honoured guest at the tables
of every nobleman upon whom he could call.

During his stay in the United Kingdom, he visited Dublin, where he
received the hearty Irish welcome so characteristic of that warm
hearted nation, and every attention that could render his reception
flattering and agreeable. The oppressed situation of that unfortunate
nation, convinced him more strongly of the tyranny of the British
ministry, and the fate that awaited his native country, by yielding to
their imperious and humiliating demands. This visit prepared him for
future action.

Mr. Stockton was astonished to find so few in England who understood
the situation or character of the colonists in America; and the
English were equally astonished to find so great a man from the
western wilderness. Misapprehension often produces the most fatal
consequences, both to individuals and nations. The comprehensive
mind of this discerning philanthropist readily predicted the result
of this ignorance, and he accordingly embraced every opportunity for
dispelling this dark mist that hung over the land of his ancestors.
With many, he succeeded in opening their eyes to the true and relative
situation of the two countries; but when the powers that stand at the
helm of a nation are wading in corruption, breathing the atmosphere of
tyranny, charged with sordid avarice, thirsting for an extension of
power, delighting in slavery and oppression, they dethrone reason, bid
defiance to justice, trample law under their feet, and, if possible,
would dethrone the great Jehovah to accomplish their designs. Thus
infatuated were the British ministry when they turned a deaf ear to the
petitions and remonstrances of the American colonists, and the wise
counsels of the ablest statesmen that then illuminated their parliament.

Having been more than a year absent from “sweet home,” Mr. Stockton
began to make arrangements for his return. His mind had become greatly
enriched and embellished by the numerous advantages of his varied
intercourse with men of science and eminence. He had listened to the
forensic eloquence and powerful arguments of Blackstone, and the other
celebrated pleaders at Westminster Hall. He had treasured in his
capacious mind, the clear and erudite decisions of the learned and
profound judges, who then graced the judicial bench. He had witnessed
the enrapturing powers of Chatham, and the logical genius of Burke. He
had become familiar with the highly polished and fascinating manners
of Chesterfield, and had seen Garrick in the zenith of his glory.
Thus richly laden, he spread his sails to the gentle breeze, and, in
twenty-six days, he was wafted to the shores of his native land, where
he arrived in September, 1767. He was received with demonstrations of
the liveliest joy by his fellow citizens, and of the kindest affection
by his immediate friends and connections.

Two years after he was elevated to a seat in the supreme judiciary and
executive council, in consequence of the high opinion entertained of
his talents by the King.

In 1774 he was appointed a judge of the supreme court, being associated
with his old friend and preceptor, David Ogden. During this time he
greatly improved and embellished his plantation, and was surrounded by
all the comforts and enjoyments this world can give. But how uncertain
are the joys of this mundane sphere. The revolutionary storm was
gathering. The dark clouds were rolling on the winds of fury. An awful
crisis had arrived. He was a favourite of the crown. The flames of
revenge were concentrating like the raging fire on a prairie, and it
became necessary for him to choose whom he would serve. The influence
he wielded made the decision one of high importance to his king and
his country. In view of the prospect as presented to human eyes, all
that is based on self, urged him to maintain allegiance to the mother
country. But he knew that country well. He knew and loved his own
better. The pomp of courts had no charms for him; he was a republican,
a patriot, a friend to liberty; in her cause he enlisted; under her
banners he took his stand, willing to sacrifice his property, kingly
favour, and his life, in defending the sacred rights of his bleeding,
his injured fellow citizens.

He carried with him his friend, the Rev. Dr. Witherspoon, both of
whom were elected, in June, 1776, to the Continental Congress at
Philadelphia, vested with full power to unite in such measures as
that body might deem necessary and expedient to adopt under existing
circumstances. Mr. Stockton, after listening to the arguments several
days, stood forth, an eloquent and bold advocate, for the declaration
of independence, brandishing the amputating knife fearlessly in public
and in private.

Nor did he stand alone. The members of that august body soon acquired
the art of cutting _five_ and _six_. They forged and finished a blade,
pure as damask steel, and placed it in the hands of their venerable
President, John Hancock. _Liberty_ dipped her golden pen in the font
of FREEDOM, and recorded the names of the memorable fifty-six upon
the shining tablet of enduring fame. At one bold stroke the cords of
parental authority were cut asunder. America was redeemed, regenerated,
and free. Heaven smiled its approbation, angels shouted their joy,
nations gazed with admiring wonder, and every patriot responded a

The extensive information, matured experience, soaring talent, and
powerful eloquence of Mr. Stockton, rendered him one of the most
useful and efficient members of that Congress. His knowledge of law
and political economy, of human nature, human rights, and of men and
things, enabled him to command the respect and admiration of all his
colleagues. He performed every duty assigned him with zeal, industry,
and dignity. In the autumn of 1776, Mr. Stockton and George Clymer, of
Pennsylvania, were sent to inspect the northern army, with full power
to provide for its wants and correct any abuses that might exist. This
duty they discharged in the most satisfactory manner, both to the
officers of the army and to Congress.

Soon after his return he was under the necessity of removing his family
to save them from the brutality of the approaching enemy. Whilst
performing this important duty he was taken prisoner by the British,
dragged from his bed, and, in the most brutal manner, conveyed to New
York, consigned to the common prison, deprived of every comfort, left
twenty-four hours without any provisions, and then received but a very
small and coarse supply; in direct violation of the laws of nations
and humanity, and of all the rules of civilized warfare. This base
treatment impaired his health, and laid the foundation of disease that
terminated in death. His capture was effected by the information of a
tory, who was subsequently indicted and punished for the act.

This abuse of one of their members, roused the indignation of Congress.
General Washington was directed to send a flag of truce to General
Howe, and ultimately obtained the release of Mr. Stockton. Simultaneous
with this event, his property was devastated by a merciless soldiery,
his papers and extensive library burnt, and his plantation left a
desolate waste.

Thus oppressed by want and disease, he was unable to again take his
seat in Congress, but was ever ready to give counsel and advice, and
was often consulted. His opinions had great weight, and in this way his
country continued to be benefitted long after disease had fastened its
iron hand upon him. Among his complicated afflictions he had a cancer
upon the neck, which rendered his situation painful in the extreme.
He endured his sufferings with christian fortitude until the 28th of
February, 1781, when death relieved him from his burden of afflictions,
and assigned him a place amongst the peaceful dead. He died at his
native residence, near Princeton, in the 51st year of his age, mourned,
_deeply_ mourned, by all his numerous acquaintances and by his country.

Thus prematurely ended the brilliant career of one of Columbia’s
noblest sons. He was a man of general science and universal knowledge.
He was the first chief justice of his native state under the new
constitution. As a lawyer he stood pre-eminent; as a judge he was
impartial, sound, and lucid; as a statesman, able, discreet, and
wise; as a patriot, firm, fearless, and devoted; as a gentleman,
polished, urbane, and graceful; as a citizen, liberal, peaceful, and
generous; as a friend, true, sympathetic, and charitable; as a husband,
kind, affectionate, and provident; as a father, faithful, tender,
and instructive; as a christian, open, frank, and consistent; as a
man, honest, noble, and brave; and as a whole, he was an ornament in
society, an honour to his country, and a blessing to mankind.


It is a fact worthy of remark, that many of the most eminent sages
of the American revolution were devoted and consistent professors of
christianity, and some of them ministers of the cross. They all seem
to have been actuated by motives pure as Heaven, and influenced alone
by the demands of imperious duty, based upon the inalienable rights of
man. They were not prompted to action from a love of conquest or of
military glory. Their pilgrim fathers fled from the clanking chains of
servile oppression, and planted the standard of civilization in the new
world, that they might enjoy FREEDOM in its native purity, and transmit
the rich behest to their offspring. The principles of rational liberty
were enforced upon the minds of each rising generation, and when
tyranny reared its hydra head, they readily recognised the monster, and
resolved, nobly resolved, to drive from their shores the invading foe.

Among the revolutionary sages who boldly espoused the cause of equal
rights, was SAMUEL ADAMS, who was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on
the 22nd of September, 1722. He was a man of middle size, well formed,
with a countenance beaming with intelligence, indicating firmness of
purpose and energy of action. His parents were highly respectable, and
descended from ancestors who had always moved in the first rank of
society, and were among the early emigrants to this western world. His
father was for many years a member of the Assembly of Massachusetts,
and by him, this, his eldest son, was early taught those liberal
principles that he so fearlessly and triumphantly vindicated during his
subsequent career.

When but a child, Samuel Adams exhibited the index of a strong and
enquiring mind, and talents of a high order. Under the guidance and
instruction of Mr. Lovell, an eminent teacher of that day, he was
prepared to enter upon his collegiate studies. He was remarkable for
his close application, and rapid progress in the exploration of the
field of science. He soared above the allurements that too often lead
the juvenile mind astray, and made his books his highest pleasure. His
powers of intellect unfolded their variegated hues like a blooming
amaranth, and shed a pleasing lustre around him, gratifying to his
friends and creditable to himself.

Being of a serious turn, his father placed him in Harvard College,
believing him destined for the gospel ministry. He ascended the hill
of science with a steady and rapid pace, and gained the esteem and
admiration of all around him. During his whole course, he subjected
himself to reproof but once, and that for remaining too late in
the arms of Morpheus, by reason of which he did not arrive in time
to attend morning prayers. At the age of eighteen, he received the
degree of bachelor of arts; and, three years after, that of master of
arts, although much of his time had been devoted to the investigation
of theology, which apparently had been the absorbing topic of his
thoughts during the last years he was in college: the subject of his
discourse, when he took his final degree, showed that other ideas had
also received his attention. It was this: “_Is it lawful to resist
the supreme magistrate, if the commonwealth cannot otherwise be
preserved._” In a masterly manner he maintained the affirmative of this
proposition, and with enrapturing eloquence and unanswerable logic,
unfolded the beauties of that liberty for which he subsequently pledged
his life, his fortune and his sacred honour. From that time he seems
to have abandoned the idea of clerical orders, and to have turned all
the powers of his gigantic mind to the disenthralment of his country.
From that time forward he became a bold and constant advocate of equal
rights, and a valiant opposer of British wrongs. By rigid economy he
had saved a sum of money from the stipend allowed him by his father
when in college; this he devoted to the publication of a pamphlet from
his own pen, entitled “The Englishman’s Rights.” This was one of the
entering wedges of the revolution, and awakened a spirit of enquiry
that eventually kindled the flame of opposition to the increasing
oppressions of the crown that consumed the power of monarchy over
Columbia’s soil.

Anxious that his son should embark in some permanent business,
the father of Samuel Adams obtained for him a situation in the
counting-house of Thomas Cushing, an eminent merchant of that period,
preparatory to his engaging in commercial affairs; but for that sphere
of action nature had not designed him; his mind became absorbed in the
pursuit of political knowledge, international law, and the rights of

About the time he entered the counting-house, he formed a club of
kindred spirits, for the purpose of political discussion and enquiry.
Mr. Adams and some of the other members furnished political essays for
a newspaper called the Independent Advertiser, which were so severe
in their strictures upon the conduct of the creatures of the crown,
that the association obtained the name of the “Whipping Post Club.”
The hirelings of the king treated these essays with derision, and
passed them by as idle wind; upon the great mass of the people they
had a different influence. Stamped upon their face with plain truth,
sound reasoning and uncontroverted facts, they operated upon British
power like the sea-worm upon a vessel, silently and slowly, but with
sure destruction. They contributed largely in perforating each plank
of the proud ship of monarchy, then riding over the American colonies,
until she sank to rise no more. They served as the kindling material of
that blazing fire that ultimately illumined the horizon of liberty and
lighted the pilgrim patriots to the goal of freedom. “Behold how great
a matter a little fire kindleth.”

During the administration of Shirley, Mr. Adams wrote several spirited
essays against his course and policy, and portrayed, in glowing
colours, the dangers of concentrating civil and military power in the
same individual.

After remaining for a time with Mr. Cushing, his father furnished
him with a liberal capital, and he commenced business for himself.
By losses, arising from the pernicious credit system, he was soon
stripped of all his stock in trade. By the death of his father he
was left, at the age of twenty-five, to take charge of the paternal
estate and family. In the discharge of that duty, he proved that he
was _competent_ to manage pecuniary matters, by bringing his mind to
bear upon the subject. The estate was considerably involved and under
an attachment when he undertook his trust, from which he entirely
relieved it. This accomplished he again bestowed his attention almost
entirely upon politics. He became celebrated as a keen, sarcastic,
and ready writer, and laid deep the foundations of his fame as a
statesman. He analyzed every point at issue between his own and the
mother country, and exposed the corruptions of the British ministry to
public gaze in all their pristine deformity. He soon became one of the
most popular whigs in his native state, and was hailed as one of their
boldest leaders. From his boyhood he had advocated their cause, and
despised the chains of slavery. So strongly did the whig party become
attached to him, that many of its members who were not personally
acquainted with him contributed liberally to relieve him from pecuniary
embarrassments, which arose from devoting his time exclusively to
political matters. No man had examined more closely, or understood
better, the relative situation of Great Britain and her American
colonies. He measured every circumstance upon the scale of reason, and
based his every action upon the sure foundation of immutable justice.
He was not rash and inflammatory—always appealing to the judgment and
understanding—endeavouring to allay rather than excite the passions
of men. He was a friend to order, opposed to sudden bursts of popular
fury, and to every thing calculated to produce riotous and tumultuous
proceedings. He took a philosophic view of the chartered rights
guarantied to his country, and of the infringements upon them.

Organized and systematic opposition against the unwarranted
encroachments of the crown, emanating from the great majority of the
sovereign people, was the plan he proposed; to be manifested first
by petition and remonstrance, and, in the last resort, by an appeal
to arms. Upon the expansive basis of republican principles he took
his stand; calm and undismayed he maintained his position. When the
offensive stamp act was promulged, he exposed its odious features;
and when the climax of oppression was capped by the imposition of
taxes upon various articles of daily consumption, for the support of
a corrupt and corrupting foreign ministry, which denied the right
of representation to the colonies, Samuel Adams proclaimed to his
countrymen, that the time had arrived when forbearance was no longer
a virtue, and that forcible resistance had become their imperious
duty. He showed conclusively that the parliament of Great Britain had
violated the constitution that should have guided their deliberations.
Americans had in vain claimed protection under its banner, its sacred
covering was snatched from over their heads, they were left exposed to
the insults of foreign officers who were throwing the coils of tyranny
around them. To be slaves or freemen was the important question. Being
a member of the general assembly and clerk of the house, he was enabled
to exercise a salutary and extensive influence. With great ardour
and zeal, he united prudence and discretion. From the time he was
elected in 1765, he remained in the assembly of his native state until
he was chosen a member of the Continental Congress. He exerted the
noblest powers of his mind to prepare the people for the approaching
crisis, and kindled a flame of patriotic fire that increased in
volume as time rolled on. He was the first man who proposed to the
people of Massachusetts the non-importation act, the committees of
correspondence, and the congress that assembled at Philadelphia in
1774. Nor did he confine his exertions or limit his influence to
New England alone; he corresponded with the eminent patriots of the
middle and southern states, and contributed largely in producing unity
of sentiment and concert of action in the glorious cause of liberty
throughout the colonies. Over his own constituents he held a magic
influence. At the sound of his voice the fury of a Boston mob would
instantly cease; he could lead the lion of faction with a single hair.
The people knew well he would maintain what was clearly right, and
submit to nothing, willingly, that was clearly wrong.

When the affray of the first of March, 1770, between the British
soldiers and some of the citizens of Boston occurred, the influence
of Mr. Adams prevented the further effusion of blood, _after_ the
populace had been roused to vengeance by the death of several of their
companions. He addressed the assembled multitude, and proposed the
appointment of a committee to wait upon Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson,
and request the immediate removal of the soldiers, then quartered upon
the town. The plan was approved, and Mr. Adams was made the chairman of
the committee. His excellency at first refused the request, but found
that fatal results would follow if he persisted. The chairman met all
his objections fearlessly, and confuted them triumphantly, and told him
plainly, that an immediate compliance with the request of the people
would alone prevent the most disastrous consequences, and that the
Lieutenant Governor would be held responsible for the further waste of
human life. The troops were removed to the castle, and peace restored.

Every exertion was used by the adherents of the crown to induce Mr.
Adams to relinquish his whig principles, and accept of golden honours
under the King. Governor Gage sent a special messenger, Colonel Fenton,
to him, to induce him to bow his knee to the throne. After finding
that England was not rich enough to buy him, he threatened to have him
arrested and sent beyond the seas to be tried for high treason. He
listened with more apparent attention to this last suggestion, and,
after a pause, asked Colonel Fenton if he would truly deliver his reply
to Governor Gage. On receiving an affirmative assurance, he rose from
his chair, and assuming an air of withering contempt, he said “I trust
I have long since made my peace with the KING OF KINGS. No personal
consideration shall induce me to abandon the righteous cause of my
country. Tell Governor Gage, it is the advice of Samuel Adams to him,
_no longer to exasperate the feelings of an insulted people_.”

This reply roused the ire of the royal governor, and when he
subsequently issued his proclamation, offering a free pardon to such of
the rebels as would return to what _he_ termed their duty, he excepted
Samuel Adams and John Hancock. The two patriots received this mark
of distinction as a high commission from the throne, directing their
future course. They received it as a _carte blanche_, that left them as
free as mountain air in all their actions. No bribe could seduce, or
threat divert Mr. Adams from the patriotic path he had marked out. He
placed his trust in the Rock of Ages, and enjoyed the rich consolations
of an approving conscience, and the unlimited confidence and cheering
approbation of the friends of equal rights. These were more dearly
prized by him than all the royal honours within the gift of kings.

Mr. Adams was from that time forward marked out as an object of
vengeance by the British authorities. He was one of the causes that
hastened on the final commencement of open hostilities. The object
of the king’s troops in proceeding to Lexington on the memorable
19th of April, 1775, was to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock,
and obtain their papers. Apprised of their business, General Joseph
Warren despatched an express late in the evening to the two patriots,
warning them of the approaching danger. In a few moments after they
received the information, the British troops entered the house in which
they were, from whom they narrowly escaped. In a few short hours the
dark curtain rose, and the revolutionary tragedy commenced. The last
maternal cord was severed, the great seal of the original compact was
dissolved in blood, and the covenants of the two parties were fully

Mr. Adams remained in the neighbourhood; and the next morning, as
the day dawned, and the sun rose without a cloud to dim its rays, he
remarked to a friend, “this is a glorious day for America.” He viewed
the sacrifice as an earnest of future blessings and ultimate happiness.

To rouse the people to action, now became the sole business of this
devoted friend of his bleeding country. Having been a member of the
Congress that met at Philadelphia the previous year, he was well
convinced, from the feelings then expressed by the members from all
the colonies, that the simultaneous efforts of those opposed to the
usurpations of the crown, would be exerted in the common cause against
the common enemy. They only waited for the grand signal to action; this
had now been given; the tocsin of war had been sounded; the requium of
battle had been sung; its heart piercing notes were wafted far and wide
on the wings of echo, and were responded to by millions of patriotic
souls, resolved on liberty or death, victory or the grave. Mr. Adams
mourned deeply the death of his friends who were the martyrs of that
tragical, yet glorious day; but rejoiced that their funeral knell
would shake to its very centre the temple of British power in America,
and that their blood would cry to Heaven for vengeance, and incite to
vigorous and triumphant action, the hardy sons of the new world. The
event gave to his own mind new powers of propulsion, and nerved him
with fresh vigour to meet the fiery trials that were in reserve for
him. As dangers increased he became more bold in his propositions to
the people to maintain their rights; as the wrath of his enemies grew
hotter against him, he became more highly appreciated by the populace,
and was uniformly styled, _Samuel Adams the Patriot_. His fame and his
influence expanded with each revolving day; his friends were animated
by his counsels and eloquence; his foes were astounded and chagrined
at the boldness of his career. In the assembly of his own state, he
effected the passage of a series of resolutions deemed treasonable by
the royal governor, by locking the door and keeping the key himself to
prevent the proceedings of the house from being known in time for the
adherents of the crown to defeat them. In the Congress of 1776, he was
among the first to propose and strongly advocate the declaration of
independence; and always contended it should have followed immediately
after the battle of Lexington. He demonstrated all his propositions in
a clear, calm, dignified and logical manner; and always planted himself
upon the firm basis of reason and justice. He was extremely zealous,
but not rash; he was ardent and decisive, but wise and judicious. When
the Declaration of Rights was adopted by the Continental Congress,
on the 4th of July, 1776, he most cheerfully affixed his name to
that sacred instrument without the least hesitation. He had been an
able and eloquent advocate of the measure; he had long cherished and
fondly nursed the project of an unequivocal separation from the mother
country, and rejoiced at the final consummation of his ardent desires.

During the darkest periods of the revolution, he was calm and cheerful,
and did much to banish despair from the minds of the desponding. In
1777, when Congress was obliged to fly to Lancaster, and a dismal gloom
was spread over the cause of the patriots like the mantle of night,
several of the leading members were convened, in company with Mr.
Adams, and were conversing upon the disasters of the American arms,
and concluded the chance for ultimate success was desperate. Mr. Adams
replied, “If this be _our_ language, it is so indeed. If _we_ wear long
faces, they will become fashionable. Let us banish such feelings, and
show a spirit that will keep alive the confidence of the people. Better
tidings will soon arrive. Our cause is just and righteous, and we shall
never be abandoned by Heaven, while we show ourselves worthy of its aid
and protection.” At that time there were but twenty-eight members in
Congress, and Mr. Adams remarked, “it was the _smallest_, but _truest_
Congress they ever had.”

Shortly after that trying period, the rays of hope dawned upon them,
the news of the surrender of Burgoyne removed the long faces, and put
a new aspect upon the American cause. The friends of liberty were
reanimated; their hearts were enlivened by fresh courage; the anchor
of hope held them more firmly to their moorings. The arrival of Lord
Howe, the Earl of Carlisle, and Mr. Eden, with what _they_ termed the
olive branch of peace from Lord North, also created a new excitement.
Mr. Adams was on the committee appointed to treat with these messengers
of the king. On examining the terms proposed, the committee found
that the pretended olive branch had been plucked from the Bohon
Upas of an overbearing and corrupt ministry, and promptly replied,
through Mr. Adams, “Congress will attend to no terms of peace that are
inconsistent with the honour of an independent nation.” This answer was
as unexpected to the royal trio, as it was laconic and patriotic. The
grand Rubicon had been passed, the city of chains had been abandoned,
and nothing could induce the sages of ’76 to look back, or tarry on the
plain of monarchy.

In 1779, Samuel Adams and John Adams were appointed by the committee
of which they were members, to draft a constitution for the state of
Massachusetts, under the new form of government. They ably performed
the duty assigned them—the convention sanctioned the document they
submitted with but few amendments, and adopted it for the future
government of the state. The same gentlemen also prepared for the
convention an address to the people on that occasion, which also met
the approval of that body, and was responded to, with high approbation,
by the hardy yeomanry of that state.

Mr. Adams was also a member of the convention of his native state,
convened in 1787, to act upon the Constitution of the United States,
then submitted for consideration. Some of its features appeared
objectionable to him, but he cautiously avoided any opposition, lest
he should endanger its final adoption, which he considered the best
policy, securing for it future amendments. He was most particularly
opposed to the article that rendered the states amenable to the
national courts. After listening to the arguments for and against it,
he submitted certain amendments, which were approved by the convention,
and when it was finally sanctioned by a majority of the members, these
amendments were submitted with it, and recommended for the future
consideration of Congress, and some of them have since been adopted.

From 1789 to 1794 Mr. Adams was lieutenant-governor of Massachusetts,
and from that time to 1797 was governor of that state. He performed
the executive duties with great ability, and contributed largely in
raising his native domain to a flourishing condition and dignified
standing. He watched over all her interests with a parental care, and
viewed her rising greatness with an honest pride. He had seen her sons
writhing under the lash of oppression, and the bones of her daughters
bleaching in the wind. He now beheld the people independent and happy,
prosperous and virtuous. He could now depart in peace. His infirmities
and age admonished him to retire from the great theatre of public
action, on which he had so long been a prominent actor, and having
filled the gubernatorial chair for three years, he bid a final farewell
to political life, approved by his country, his conscience and his
God. His health continued to decrease gradually with each returning
autumn, and on the 3d of October, 1803, his immortal spirit left its
tenement of clay, and soared aloft, on wings of faith, to mansions of
bliss beyond the skies, where flow rivers of joy for evermore. He died,
rejoicing in the merits of his glorified Redeemer, who had triumphed
over death and the grave. He had fought the good fight of faith, as
well as that of LIBERTY; and felt a full assurance of receiving a crown
of glory at the hands of King Immanuel.

Amidst all the turmoils of political and revolutionary strife, Mr.
Adams never neglected religious duties. When at home, he was faithful
to the family altar, and uniformly attended public worship when
practicable. He was a consistent every-day Christian, free from bigotry
and fanaticism, not subject to sudden contractions and expansions of
mind, rather puritanical in his views, yet charitable in his feelings,
and not disposed to persecute any one for the sake of opinion. He
adorned his profession of Christianity by pure moral conduct, and
the most scrupulous honesty, during his whole life. As a public man
and a private citizen, he was highly esteemed, and richly earned a
place in the front rank of the fathers of the American revolution.
He placed a low value upon riches, and died poor, but not the less
esteemed because of his poverty. He placed a high value upon common
school education, and a _proper_ estimate upon the higher branches of
science. He was strongly in favour of teaching the great mass of the
people the rudiments of an English education, even should it be at the
expense of the classics. General intelligence, widely and thoroughly
disseminated, he considered one of the strongest bulwarks to preserve
the independence of a nation against the innovations of intriguing and
designing men, who regard _self_ more than the glory of their country.
He took a liberal, expansive, and philosophic view of every subject he
investigated, and formed his conclusions only from a close conviction
that they were based upon correct premises and sound common sense. In
the cause of freedom he laboured incessantly, from his youth through
a long life, and was ever ready to throw himself in every breach made
by the creatures of the crown upon the rights of his country. At town
meetings, in the formation of independent societies, in the columns
of a newspaper, in the assembly of his own state, and in the national
legislature, he always filled a broad space and moved in a large
circumference. He was pure in his motives, bold in his plans, open
and frank in his sentiments, firm in his purposes, energetic in his
actions, and honourable in his course. He wielded an able pen, varying
his style to suit every occasion. But few of his productions have been
preserved. His answer to Thomas Paine’s writings against Christianity,
is perhaps superior to any thing that has been written on the subject.
His four letters on government, published in 1800, show a clear head,
a good heart, and a gigantic mind. His political essays, penned before
and during the revolution, were soul-stirring appeals, and contributed
largely in rousing the people to a defence of their inalienable rights.

As an orator, he was eloquent, chaste, and logical, always rising with
the magnitude of his subject. It was only on great occasions that his
powers were _fully_ developed; but on _all_ occasions he was listened
to with profound attention. He always spoke sensibly and to the point,
addressing the understanding rather than the passions.

His manners were urbane, plain, and unaffected; his mode of living
frugal and temperate; his attachments strong, sincere, and uniform; his
whole life was one continued chain of usefulness, devoted to the good
of his fellow men, the liberty and prosperity of his country, and the
happiness of the human family. Let his example be imitated, and our
Union may long be preserved from the iron grasp of ambitious partisans
and the fatal snares of designing demagogues: let them be discarded,
and it will prove a rope of sand, the temple of our LIBERTY will
crumble and moulder with the dust of SAMUEL ADAMS.


A sacred halo surrounds this name, as imperishable as the pages of
history. In the service of his country, and in the pursuit of his
profession, BENJAMIN RUSH filled the measure of his glory. His revered
memory is cherished by many surviving friends; his fame will be
chaunted by millions yet unborn.

He was a native of Bristol, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, born on the
24th of December, 1745. His ancestors immigrated to this country under
the auspices of William Penn, as early as 1683. His father was a
highly respectable agriculturalist, and died when this son was but a
child. At the age of nine years, Benjamin was placed under the tuition
of his maternal uncle, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Finley, whose literary
attainments were of a high order, and who was subsequently elected
president of the college at Princeton, New Jersey. Young Rush continued
under the instruction of this accomplished teacher until he was
fourteen, when he entered Princeton college, then under the direction
of President Davis. Like an expanding flower courting the genial
warmth of spring, the talents of this young freshman rapidly unfolded
their rich lustre beneath the shining rays of the sun of science. So
astonishing was his proficiency, that in one year after he commenced
his collegiate course, he received the degree of bachelor of arts; a
high compliment to his former instructor, a merited tribute to his own
industry, acquirements and genius. During his brief stay at Princeton,
he gained the friendship of all around him, and was esteemed one of the
most eloquent public speakers among the students. With the best wishes
of the professors and his classmates, he left them the following year,
and commenced the study of medicine with Dr. John Redman, then one of
the most eminent practitioners in the city of Penn. The same industry
that had marked his previous course, made him a favourite son of
Æsculapius. The same urbanity and modesty that had made him a welcome
guest in every circle in which he had previously moved, constantly
gained for him new and influential friends. After pursuing his study
with great assiduity for six years under the instruction of Dr. Redman,
he entered the medical university of Edinburgh, in Scotland, where he
reaped the full benefit of the lectures of the celebrated professors
Munro, Cullen, Black and Gregory; and received the degree of doctor
of medicine in 1768. Although then laden with an unusual store of
knowledge in the healing art, his investigating mind led him to explore
still farther the important field of science before him, and reduce to
practice, under the superintendence of able practitioners, his vast
stock of theory. He accordingly went to London, where he was admitted
to practice in the hospitals of that city. He soon became eminent as a
bold and successful operator, a skilful and judicious physician. After
remaining there nearly a year, he visited Paris, and, in the spring of
1769, returned to the warm embrace of his connections and friends, and
commenced his useful career in the city of Philadelphia.

His professional fame had preceded him, and his superior acquirements
were immediately called into action. In addition to an extensive
practice, he was elected one of the professors of the medical school
that had recently been organized by Drs. Bond, Kuhn, Morgan and
Shippen. This mark of distinction was conferred upon him within a few
months after his return. Upon a substantial basis he continued to build
an honest and enduring fame, participating in all the passing events
that concerned his country’s good and his country’s glory; at the same
time discharging his professional duties promptly and faithfully.

Although he had apparently been absorbed in the study of medicine, it
was soon discovered that he had made himself familiar with the relative
situation of the mother country and the American colonies. He had
closely examined the unwarranted pretensions of the former, and the
aggravated grievances of the latter. His noble soul was touched by the
sufferings of oppressed humanity, and warmed by the patriotic fire of
FREEDOM. He became a bold and able advocate in the cause of liberty,
a firm and decided opposer of British tyranny, a strong and energetic
supporter of equal rights. Mingling with all classes through the medium
of his profession, his influence was as extensive and multiform, as
it was useful and salutary. The independence of his country was the
desire of his heart; to see her regenerated and free, was his anxious
wish. So conspicuous a part did he act in the passing scenes of that
eventful period, that he was chosen a member of the Congress of 1776,
and sanctioned the declaration of independence, by affixing his name to
that sacred instrument.

The year following, he was appointed physician-general of the military
hospital for the middle department, and rendered himself extensively
useful during the whole of the revolution. He was ever ready to go
where duty called, and exerted his noblest powers in the glorious cause
he had espoused, until he saw the star spangled banner wave in triumph
over his native land, and the incense of LIBERTY ascending to Heaven,
in sappharine clouds, from the altar of FREEDOM.

This great work accomplished, he desired to be occupied only by his
profession. For a time, his services were diverted from this channel,
by his being elected a member of the convention of Pennsylvania to take
into consideration the adoption of the federal constitution. Having
examined the arguments as they progressed in the national convention
that formed it, he was fully prepared to enter warmly and fully into
the advocacy of that instrument. When it received the sanction of a
majority of the States, the measure of the political ambition of Dr.
Rush was filled. He retired from that kind of public life, crowned with
laurels of immortal fame, that will bloom and survive, until patriotism
shall be lost in anarchy, and the last vestige of liberty is destroyed
by the tornado of faction. The only station he ever consented to fill
under government subsequently was that of cashier of the United States

From that period forward, he devoted his time and talents to the
business of his profession, to the improvement of medical science, and
the melioration of the ills that flesh is heir to.

In 1789, he was elected professor of the theory and practice of physic,
as the successor of Dr. Morgan, and in 1791 he was appointed to the
professorship of the institutes of medicine and clinical practice,
and upon the resignation of Dr. Kuhn, in 1806, he was honoured by the
united professorships of the theory and practice of physic and of
clinical medicine, which stations he ably filled until death closed his
useful career.

Besides those already mentioned he performed many duties in various
associations formed for benevolent purposes. He was president of the
American Society for the Abolition of Slavery, vice president of the
Philadelphia Bible Society, president of the Philadelphia Medical
Society, one of the vice presidents of the American Philosophical
Society, and a member of several other philanthropic institutions
both in this country and in Europe. For many years he was one of the
physicians of the Pennsylvania Hospital, and took a deep interest in
its prosperity and welfare. Wherever he could be useful by counsel,
influence, or action, he was sure to be found. To soothe the troubled
bosom heaving with anguish, to alleviate the suffering patient writhing
under pain, to supply the pinching wants of the poor and needy sinking
under adversity, afforded Dr. Rush more pleasure than to have been
placed on the loftiest pinnacle of political fame; a richer joy than to
have been the triumphant chieftain of a conquered world.

Amidst his multifarious duties he arranged his time with so much
system and order as to produce a routine of harmonious action. His
professional duties, his books, and his pen, were all attended to in
proper time. He wrote numerous literary, moral, and philosophical
essays, and several volumes on medical science, among which were his
“Medical Inquiries and Observations,” and a “History of the Yellow
Fever.” He spent much time in the investigation of that fatal disease,
and in endeavouring to arrive at the best mode of treatment. In this,
as well as in many other cases, the lancet was his anchor of hope.
During the prevalence of any disease his exertions to alleviate
distress and arrest its progress, were unremitting and indefatigable.
He obeyed the calls of the poor and needy as promptly as those of the
rich and affluent. He was particularly attentive to those who had
employed him when prosperity cheered their onward course, and were
subsequently prostrated by adversity. He was not a sunshine friend.

    He was the man whose liberal mind
    Wished general good to all mankind;
    Who, when his friend by fortune’s wound,
    Fell tumbling headlong to the ground,
    Could meet him with a warm embrace,
    And wipe the tears from off his face.

A pious and exemplary Christian, he poured the balm of consolation into
the wounds of the desponding heart as freely as he administered to
alleviate the pains of the body. His counsels were full of wisdom and
benevolence, and rescued many a frail bark from total shipwreck. His
soul-cheering advice and enlivening presence drove despair from many an
agonized mind, imparting fresh vigour by administering the elixir of
hope and the tonic of perseverance.

Blessed with a vigorous constitution, Dr. Rush was able to discharge
his numerous duties until a short time previous to his death, which
occurred on the 19th of April, 1813. Although advanced in years new
honours continued to gather around him; new fields of usefulness
were constantly opening before him; the lustre of his fame had
scarcely arrived at its high meridian; the zenith of his glory would
unquestionably have reached a loftier summit had his life and health
been spared a few years longer.

As the news of his death spread, a universal sorrow pervaded all
classes; funeral sermons were preached, eulogies pronounced, and
processions formed throughout the United States, as a faint tribute to
the memory of the departed sage, patriot, scholar, and philanthropist.
When the sad tidings reached England and France, the same
demonstrations of respect were manifested there; the tears of sympathy
and mourning for departed worth stood trembling in many European eyes.
In the halls of science on both sides of the Atlantic, Dr. Rush was
well known, and held in the highest estimation. By our own country his
loss was most keenly felt; by the civilized world, deeply lamented. The
graves of but few men have been moistened by as many tears from the
high and the low, the rich and the poor, as that of Dr. BENJAMIN RUSH.
His fame is based upon substantial merit; his name is engraven in deep
and indelible traces upon the hearts of his countrymen; his reputation
is written on the tablet of history in letters of gold by the finger of
justice, dipped in the font of gratitude, and will endure, unscathed
and unimpaired, until the last trump shall proclaim to the astonished

The private character of this great and worthy man, was as unsullied
and pure as his public career was brilliant and useful. His heart
was richly stored with the milk of human kindness; his benevolence
sometimes carried him beyond his professional income in donations to
the poor, to churches, seminaries of learning, and to other objects
calculated to benefit mankind.

He was temperate in his habits, neat in his apparel and person, social
and gentlemanly in his intercourse with society, urbane and courteous
in his manners, interesting and instructive in his conversation, modest
and unassuming in his deportment. He was a warm and affectionate
companion, the widow’s friend, and the orphan’s father.

In size he was above the middle stature, rather slender, but well
proportioned. His mouth and chin were well formed, his nose aqueline,
his eyes blue and animated, with a high and prominent forehead. The
diameter of his head, from back to front, was unusually great. His
combined features were commanding and prepossessing, his countenance
indicated a powerful and gigantic intellect.

When attacked by the disease which terminated in death, he was aware
that a rapid dissolution awaited him. He was fully prepared to enter
upon the untried scenes of another and a brighter world; he could look
back upon a life, well spent; he had run a noble race, and was then
ready to finish his course, resign his tabernacle of clay to its mother
dust, and his immortal soul to Him who gave it.


The unqualified and unrestrained oppressions emanating from crowned
heads and exercised with impunity in former times, have been shorn of
half their terrors by modern light and intelligence. As the genial
rays of liberty illuminate the minds of the human family, thrones will
be held by a more slender tenure, and monarchies will become more
limited if not completely annihilated. In Europe, kingly power has
been vibrating for the last century, as if shaken by an earthquake.
The love of freedom has never been extinguished in the old world; the
same feelings that prompted the pilgrim fathers to tempt the dangers of
this western hemisphere, still pervade the bosoms of millions who are
writhing under the goring lash of potent sceptres.

When our forefathers planted themselves upon the shores of America
many of them appear to have understood clearly the principles of a
republican government, as appears from the articles of association
entered into by several and distinct settlements. Among those who
commenced their superstructure upon the foundation of equal rights, the
name of Wolcott stands conspicuous. It is closely associated with the
history of New England for the last two centuries. Henry Wolcott, the
patriarch ancestor of this eminent family, was a native of England, and
settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts, as early as 1630. In 1636, he,
with several others, founded the town of Windsor, in Connecticut, and
established a commonwealth, based on republican principles, consisting
of Windsor, Hartford, and Weathersfield.

The revised constitution of Connecticut is substantially the same as
the one penned by Roger Ludlow, and adopted by this infant colony; a
high compliment to the pilgrim fathers—a proud memorial of their virtue
and intelligence.

During the perils of the Indian wars, during the difficulties with
the Canadian French, and through all the various vicissitudes that
have pervaded New England down to the present time, the descendants of
Henry Wolcott have acted a conspicuous part in the field and in the
legislative hall.

OLIVER WOLCOTT, the subject of this brief sketch, was the youngest
son of Roger Wolcott, who was appointed governor of Connecticut in
1751. Oliver was born the 26th of November, 1726, and graduated at
Yale College at the age of twenty-one years. The same year he was
commissioned to command a company which he raised and marched to the
defence of the northern frontier, where he remained until the peace
of Aix-la-Chapelle. He then returned, applied himself to the study
of medicine, until he was appointed the first sheriff of the county
of Litchfield, formed in 1751. In 1755 he married Laura Collins, an
amiable and discreet woman of great merit. In 1774 he was appointed
counsellor, which station he filled for twelve successive years. He
was also chief judge of the common plea court, and, for a long time,
a judge of the court of probate. As a military officer he rose from
the grade of captain to that of major-general. In the summer of 1776,
he commanded the fourteen regiments raised by Governor Trumbull to
act with the army in New York. He headed his brigade at the memorable
battle that resulted in the capture of Burgoyne and revived the
drooping cause of the bleeding colonies. He was uniformly consulted on
important military movements, and was listened to with great confidence
and respect. From its commencement he was a zealous and ardent
supporter of the revolution.

In 1775 he was appointed by congress a commissioner of Indian affairs
for the northern department, a trust of high importance at that time.
During the same year his influence was happily exerted in reconciling
disputes between the neighbouring colonies relative to their respective
boundaries. Amiable and persuasive in his manners, aided by a sound
discretion and a correct sense of justice, he was well calculated to be
a mediator between contending parties.

In 1776 he took his seat in congress, and remained until he affixed
his signature to that Declaration which burst the chains of slavery,
gave birth to a nation in a day, astonished gazing millions, made
the British king tremble on his throne, and stamped the names of its
signers with a fame that will endure, unimpaired, through the rolling
ages of time.

He then returned and took his station in the field, and on all
occasions proved himself a brave, skilful, and prudent officer. When he
deemed his services more useful in congress, he occasionally took his
seat in that body until 1783.

In 1785 he was associated with Arthur Lee and Richard Butler to
conclude a peace with the Six Nations. The year following he was
elected lieutenant-governor, which station he filled for ten years,
when he was chosen governor, the dignified duties of which station
he performed until death closed his mortal career on the first of
December, 1797, in the seventy-first year of his age, regretted by all,
and most by those who knew him best.

In addition to his numerous public services, always performed without
pomp or noise, his private character shone with peculiar lustre.
He possessed all the sterling virtues, was a devout and consistent
Christian, an honourable and honest man.


When an individual is placed upon the horns of a dilemma, involving
personal liberty, property or safety, his intellectual and physical
powers are at once roused to action. He does not stop to explore
the regions of obtuse metaphysics, speculative philosophy, or of
fastidious etiquette. He flies to first principles, and strains his
reason and understanding to their utmost tension to aid him. He puts
forth his mightiest efforts, his boldest exertions, and his strongest
energies, in order to extricate himself from surrounding difficulties
and impending dangers. In this way he performs astonishing feats, and
surmounts the cloud capt summit of an Alpine barrier, that, under
ordinary circumstances, he would never reach.

The same course is pursued by a nation when placed in a similar
situation. The history of the American revolution demonstrates, most
clearly, the position here laid down. The colonists were placed
upon the piercing points of the horns of an awful dilemma, and were
apparently doomed to slavery or death: yet by their unparalleled
efforts, aided by Heaven, they were ultimately delivered from their
perilous situation, and, although badly gored, survived their wounds.
This was effected by men of strong intellect, clear heads, good hearts,
and sound judgments; men who could reason, plan and execute. The
_flowers_ of literature were not culled for use; plain common sense,
sterling worth, useful and practical knowledge, honesty of purpose, and
persevering energy of action, all based upon pure patriotism and love
of liberty, were the grand requisites to ensure popular favour.

All these were possessed by GEORGE READ, whose public career I will
briefly trace. He was the eldest son of John Read, a wealthy and
respectable planter, who emigrated from Dublin, Ireland, and located in
Cecil county, Maryland, where George Read was born, in 1734. John Read
subsequently removed to Newcastle county, Delaware, and placed this son
in a respectable school at Chester, Pennsylvania, where he made good
proficiency in the first rudiments of his education. From there he was
transferred to the seminary of the Rev. Dr. Allison, at New London,
who was eminently qualified to mould the young mind for usefulness,
by imparting correct principles, practical knowledge, and general
intelligence, fit for every day use, combined with refined classics
and polite literature. Under this accomplished teacher, Mr. Read
completed his education, preparatory to his professional studies. At
the age of seventeen, he commenced reading law with John Moland Esq.,
a distinguished member of the Philadelphia bar. His proficiency was so
great that in two years he was admitted to the practical honours of his
profession. He was well qualified to enter the field of competition,
having taken the entire charge of the docket of Mr. Moland for some
time previous to his admission.

He commenced business in Newcastle, in 1754, and at once grappled
successfully with the old and experienced counsellors around him,
whose number and talents were neither few nor small. By his acuteness
in pleading, and thorough knowledge of the primary principles of his
profession, he soon gained the esteem of the courts, the admiration
of his senior brethren, the confidence of the community, and obtained
a lucrative practice. His forte consisted not in flowery show, but
in that deep toned and grave forensic eloquence, that informs the
understanding and carries conviction to the mind. He seldom appealed to
the passions of the court or jury, preferring to stand upon the firm
basis of the law and testimony, clearly expounded and truly exhibited.

On the 13th of April, 1763, he was appointed attorney-general for the
three lower counties of Delaware, and continued in that office until he
was called to the higher duties of legislation. The same year he led
to the hymeneal altar, an amiable, pious, and accomplished daughter of
the Rev. George Ross, of Newcastle: thus adding largely to the stake
he held in the welfare of his country, enhancing his earthly joys, and
giving him an influence and rank in society never acquired by lonely
bachelors. She fully supplied the vacuum abhorred by nature, and proved
a valuable partner of his toils and perils, his pains and pleasures,
through subsequent life.

Mr. Read was a republican to the core, and from the commencement to
the close of the revolution, was a bold and unyielding advocate of
equal rights and liberal principles. When the question of rights and
wrongs became a subject of investigation between the two countries, he
resigned the commission of attorney-general held under the crown, that
he might enter the arena of discussion free and unshackled. In 1765
he was elected a member of the Assembly of the state of Delaware, and
was instrumental in laying deep the foundations of the superstructure
of liberty. He was prudent, calm, and discreet in all his actions;
but firm, bold and resolute. He was a member of the Committee of the
Delaware Assembly that so ably addressed the king upon the subject of
grievances and redress. He was in favour of exhausting the magazine
of petition and remonstrance, and if to no purpose, then to replenish
with powder and ball. He did not, nor did any of the signers of the
declaration, at the commencement of British oppression, contemplate a
dissolution of the ties that bound the colonies to the mother country.
But he understood well the rights secured to them by magna charta
and the constitution of Great Britain; and he knew that those rights
were trampled upon by the hirelings of the crown. To vindicate them
he was firmly resolved. He opposed the principle of taxation without
representation, and of raising a revenue in America to pamper royalty
in England. He knew and weighed well the superior physical powers of
his opposers; but he believed the majesty of eternal justice and the
kind aid of Heaven, would sustain the patriots in their glorious cause.
Nor did he reckon in vain. His written appeal to his constituents of
the 17th of August, 1769, calling upon them to resist the encroachments
of tyranny, was couched in bold and forcible language, portraying, in
colours deep and strong, their rights and their wrongs, making the path
of duty plain before them.

He sanctioned the various non-importation resolutions, passed by his
own and other colonies; the first prominent mode adopted to thwart
the designs and impositions of the British ministry after finding
that petitions and remonstrances were treated with contumely. He was
chairman of the committee of the Delaware patriots, appointed for the
purpose of carrying these resolutions into effect. He was also chairman
of the committee of twelve, appointed by the people of Newcastle,
on the 29th of June, 1774, to obtain subscriptions for the Boston
sufferers, who were writhing under the lash of the infamous port bill,
passed by parliament, for the purpose of properly chastising the
refractory inhabitants of that patriotic city. In February following,
he remitted to the Boston committee, nine hundred dollars, money
received from his constituents, which was eloquently acknowledged by
Samuel Adams, who was one of his faithful correspondents.

Mr. Read was a member of the congress of 1774, and retained that
elevated station during the revolution. He was also president of the
convention that formed the first constitution of Delaware in 1776, and
a member of her assembly constantly for twelve successive years, after
his first election. A part of this time he was also vice president of
his state, and in the autumn of 1777, when president M’Kinley fell into
the hands of the enemy, Mr. Read was called from congress to perform
the more arduous, because undivided duties of a chief magistrate. On
his way home with his family, he was compelled to pass through Jersey,
and in crossing the Delaware from Salem, his boat was discovered by
the British fleet then lying just below. An armed barge was sent in
pursuit. Mr. Read’s boat stuck fast in the mud, and was soon come up
to. By effacing the marks upon his baggage during a few brief moments
before he was boarded, and having with him his wife and children, he
convinced those from the fleet that he was a country gentleman on his
way to his farm, and solicited their assistance to put him and his
family on shore. They promptly afforded their aid, took his boat out of
the mud, and landed him and his precious charge safety on the Delaware
side of the river. The perfect calmness of himself and lady, and their
open frankness, saved them from the horrors of a prison ship, and
probably him from an exhibition upon the yard arm of a man-of-war.

His duties now assumed an onerous character. Internal dissentions
among his own people were to be reconciled; an intercourse by many of
the inhabitants with the British fleet was to be broken up; ways and
means for his own and the general government claimed his attention; his
mind was burdened by an extreme anxiety to procure the exchange of the
president; and a conquering foe was triumphing in victory in almost
every direction. In the midst of all these perils, he stood firmly at
the helm and rode out every storm. He proved equal to every emergency,
and added new lustre to his growing fame. When the Declaration of
Independence was under discussion, he believed the measure premature;
but when it was adopted, he most cheerfully enrolled his name with
his colleagues. In 1779 ill health compelled him to withdraw from
public life for a year, when he again resumed his legislative duties.
In 1782 he was appointed by congress a judge of appeals in the court
of admiralty. In 1785 he was one of the commissioners to settle the
boundary line between New York and Massachusetts. The next year he was
a delegate of the convention of the states, convened at Annapolis, for
the purpose of regulating the commerce of the union. In 1787 he was
one of that talented convention that framed the federal constitution.
He was a United States senator of the first congress under that
constitution, and served six years. He was also chief justice of
Delaware from 1793 to the time of his death. In the performance of
all these responsible and multiform duties, he acquitted himself
nobly, and did honour to his character, his country, and the cause
of rational liberty. As a civilian, a statesman, a magistrate, a
patriot, a philanthropist, a gentleman, a husband, a father, a private
citizen, and a public benefactor, GEORGE READ was a model worthy of
imitation. He was scrupulously honest and rigidly just. When he arrived
at his majority, he assigned his portion of the paternal estate to
his brothers, deeming the expenses of his education equivalent to his
equitable share. He was opposed to chaos in the smallest concerns of
life, and abhorred vice of every kind. He enjoyed good health in his
old age, until the autumn of 1798, when, after a sudden and short
illness, he closed his eyes on terrestrial scenes, and resigned his
spirit into the hands of the wise Disposer of all events.

The person of Mr. Read was above the middle size, well formed, with a
commanding and agreeable deportment. He was a talented, virtuous, and
amiable man.


To understand, and estimate correctly, the magnitude and design of
his creation, man must become familiar with the thousand springs and
qualities of the undying spirit within him. The labyrinthian mazes of
the immortal mind must be explored, and traced from earth to native
Heaven. The depths of human nature must be sounded, and its channels
clearly marked.

Upon the axis of reason, revolving thought performs its endless circuit
with mathematical precision, guided by the centripetal force of a sound
judgment, or it is projected from its proper orbit by the centrifugal
momentum of random folly into the regions of senseless vacuity, or of
wild and visionary sophistry. Its ceaseless motion is as perpetual as
the purple stream of our arteries; its rapid flight is bounded only by
eternity. It travels through space with more celerity than lightning;
its earthly career can be arrested only by the hand of death.

To reflect, to investigate, to reason, and to analyze, is the province
of our intellectual functions. To comprehend the grand and harmonious
organic structure of nature, the wisdom of the great Architect of
universal worlds, and the relation man bears to man, is to learn that
human beings are endowed with equal and inherent rights, and that they
are in duty bound to maintain them. Justice marks out the golden path,
reason leads the way, and patriotism impels to action.

The man whose mind is cast in the mould of wisdom by the mighty hand
of his Creator, if he brings into proper exercise the combined powers
of intellectual and physical force, can never be made a willing slave.
As his soul is expanded by the genial rays of intelligence, he duly
appreciates his native dignity, becomes enraptured with the glories
of liberty, and resolves to be free. If he is groaning under the
oppressions of tyranny and wears the galling chains of servility, as
light shines upon him he will be roused to a mighty effort to burst the
ignominious thongs that bind him, assert his inalienable rights, and
assume his legitimate station in the scale of being.

Thus acted the patriots of the American revolution—thus acted THOMAS
HEYWARD, the subject of this brief sketch. He was the eldest son of
Col. Daniel Heyward, a wealthy and highly respected planter, and
was born in the parish of St. Luke, South Carolina, in 1746. His
opportunities for obtaining a liberal education were freely afforded by
his father, and were faithfully improved by the son. He became ardently
attached to the Greek and Roman classics, and dwelt with rapture upon
the history of republican freedom. The principles of rational liberty
became deeply rooted in his mind at an early age, and when manhood
dawned upon him they were thoroughly matured.

After completing his elemental education he commenced the study of
law with Mr. Parsons, who stood high as a member of the bar. The
proficiency of Mr. Heyward in that intricate science was creditable
to himself and gratifying to his numerous friends. He possessed an
investigating and analyzing mind, and never passed over a subject
superficially. He was a close student, and explored the opening
fields of civil and common law with a zeal and rapidity seldom known.
When he became familiar with the principles laid down by Sir William
Blackstone, and understood fully the rights secured to persons and
property by Magna Charta and the British constitution, and compared
them with the iron rod of restrictions held over the colonists by the
mother country, he was roused to a just indignation.

After having completed his course with Mr. Parsons, he repaired to
England, and entered the middle temple, where he became a finished
lawyer and an accomplished gentleman. Although amply supplied with
money, he was not led astray by the allurements of fascinating
pleasures, that first flatter and please, then ruin and destroy. To
enrich his mind with science and useful knowledge, was the ultimatum of
his soul.

He mingled with what was termed refined society in London, which formed
a striking contrast with the republican simplicity of that of the same
grade in his own country. The fastidious hauteur of English etiquette
was far from being congenial to his mind, and did not accord with his
ideas of social life. He there met claims of superiority over native
Americans that he knew were based alone upon pride and ignorance. His
feelings were often wounded by indignities cast upon the colonial
character. All these things combined to rivet his affections more
strongly upon the land of his birth. They operated as fuel for the
livid flame of patriotism, already glowing in his bosom. The pomp of
royalty and the splendour of kingly courts had no charms for him. The
awful distance between the haughty prince and the honest peasant, the
towering throne and the worthy yeomanry, operated upon his mind like
a talisman, and gave his soul a new impetus towards the goal of equal
rights. The more he saw of practical monarchy, often the automaton of
corrupt and corrupting advisers, the more he became opposed to its
potent sway.

After closing his course in the law temple, he made the tour of
Europe, and then returned to the warm embrace of his relatives and
friends, richly laden with the treasures of classic science and useful
knowledge. He had become familiar with the theories of European
governments, and had seen their principles practically demonstrated. He
understood well the feelings and policy of the mother country relative
to her American colonies. He had witnessed her political artificers at
the forge of despotism, preparing chains for his beloved country. He
had seen her coffers yawning wide, to receive the ill gotten treasures,
wrested from his fellow citizens by hireling tax gatherers, in
violation of chartered rights, legal justice, and the claims of mercy.
His own estate had been laid under contribution to swell the unholy
fund. His neighbours around him were groaning under the lash of British
oppression. To enlighten their minds, and make them understand fully
their danger, their interest, and their duty, became the business of
this zealous patriot. Possessed of a bold and fearless mind, directed
by a clear head, an honest heart, a sound judgment, and a rich fund of
useful intelligence, his exertions were crowned with glorious success.
His salutary influence was extensively felt—his sterling worth was duly
appreciated. He was a member of the first assembly of South Carolina
that set British power at defiance, and was also a member of the
council of safety. He discharged his duties with firmness, prudence,
and zeal. No fugitive fear disturbed his mind, no threatened vengeance
moved his purposes. His eyes were fixed on the temple of freedom, his
soul was insulated by the fluid of patriotism, his heart was resolved
on liberty or death. His life, his property, and his sacred honour,
were pledged in the noble cause. He was elected to the Continental
Congress in 1775, but at first declined serving, in consequence of his
young age. A large delegation of citizens subsequently waited upon him,
and, at their urgent request, he took his seat in that august assembly
of sages in 1776, and became a warm advocate for that memorable
instrument, that proclaimed the birth of our nation to an astonished
world, and shed fresh lustre on the intellect of man. His voice and his
signature sanctioned its adoption—his conscience, his country, and his
God, approved the act.

In two years after he was called to perform more painful duties. He was
appointed a judge of the civil and criminal courts of his native state,
under the new order of things. Several persons were arraigned before
him, charged with a treasonable correspondence with the enemy—they were
found guilty, and condemned to be hung in sight of the British lines
at Charleston. With feelings of humanity, but with the firmness of a
Roman, he performed his duty, and pronounced upon them the penalty of
the law.

Judge HEYWARD also participated in the military perils of “the times
that tried men’s souls.” He commanded a company of artillery at the
battle of Beaufort, and was severely wounded. At the attack upon
Savannah he was also actively engaged. At the siege of Charleston he
commanded a battalion, and was one of the unfortunate prisoners who
were transferred to St. Augustine. During his absence his property
was pillaged, and his amiable and accomplished wife, the daughter of
Mr. Matthews, whom he had married in 1773, was laid in the grave. The
tidings of these heart-rending afflictions did not reach him until he
was exchanged and returned to Philadelphia. With the calm and dignified
fortitude of a christian, a philosopher, and a hero, he met the shafts
of afflictive fate. He mourned deeply, but submissively, the premature
exit of the companion of his bosom. His physical sufferings and loss of
property he freely offered at the altar of liberty, without a murmur or
a sigh.

He again resumed his judicial duties upon the bench, and discharged
them ably and faithfully until 1798. He was an influential member of
the convention that framed the Constitution of South Carolina in 1790.
Old age and infirmity finally admonished him that his mission on earth
was fast drawing to a close, and he retired from the public arena,
covered with epic and civic honours, lasting as the pages of history.
In the full fruition of a nation’s gratitude and of a nation’s freedom
he spent his last years, and in March, 1809, went to his final rest,
leaving his second wife, Miss E. Savage, and his children, to mourn the
loss of a kind husband and tender father; and his country to regret the
loss of a devoted patriot, an able judge, and an honest man.


Men, whose motives inducing them to action are free from self, aiming
exclusively at public good, are like angels’ visits, few and far
between. Perhaps no era recorded on the pages of ancient or modern
history, presents as many examples of disinterested patriotism as that
of the American revolution. The sages who conceived, planned, and
consummated the declaration of our independence, pledged their LIVES,
THEIR FORTUNES, AND THEIR SACRED HONOURS, to carry out the principles
promulgated by that sacred instrument. Never did men perform their
vows more faithfully; never did men redeem their pledges more nobly.
Many of them not only placed all their available means in the public
treasury, but extended their private credit to its utmost tension, to
obtain supplies for the infant Republic, then bursting from embryo.—No
one rendered more efficient pecuniary aid in the advancement of the
cause of equal rights and American liberty than ROBERT MORRIS. He was
an Englishman by birth, born at Liverpool, Lancashire, England, on
the 20th day of January, 1734. His father was a respectable merchant,
and immigrated to this country in 1746, and settled at Oxford, on the
eastern shore of Maryland. He then sent for his son, whom he had left
behind, who arrived when he was thirteen years of age. He received a
good commercial education, but not classical.

At the age of fifteen, he was deprived of his father by death. He
had previously entered the counting-house of Charles Willing, then
one of the most thorough and enterprising merchants of the city of
Philadelphia. After having acquired a knowledge of commercial concerns,
Mr. Willing established him in business, and remained his constant
friend and adviser. For several years he prospered alone, but finding
the cares of time pressing upon him, he concluded to take a partner,
to aid him in the journey of life. That partner was the amiable and
accomplished Mary, daughter of Col. White, and sister to the late
venerable and learned Bishop White of Philadelphia. She possessed every
quality calculated to adorn her sex and render connubial felicity
complete; and withal, was rich—a desideratum with some, but a miserable
substitute for genuine esteem, sincere affection and true friendship.
No man or woman, with a clear head, a good heart, and sound discretion
ever married for the sake of riches alone.

   “Can gold buy FRIENDSHIP? Impudence of hope!
    As well mere man an angel might beget.”

Fortunately for Mr. Morris and his partner, their highest treasure
was mutual affection, flowing from the pure fountain of their kindred
hearts, anxious to promote the reciprocal happiness of each other, and
the felicity of all around them.

Nothing occurred to mar their prosperity until the revolutionary storm
burst upon the colonies. Had self interest been consulted so far as
pecuniary matters were concerned, Mr. Morris would have adhered to the
crown. His interests, in point of property, were entirely commercial:
and, in case of an opposition by him to the mother country, his wealth
was very much exposed. But he had inhaled the atmosphere of freedom;
his soul was fired with patriotism; he resolved to pledge his ALL in
the cause of liberty. His influence was extensive; he was a cool,
reflecting and high minded man, and arrived at conclusions only from
mature deliberation. This being his character, his examples had great

He was elected a member of the congress of 1774, and took a decided
stand against British oppression. Being an able financier, he was
looked up to as the most efficient manager of monetary matters, and,
so far as providing ways and means were concerned, he was authorized
to act. Most nobly did he acquit himself in the performance of
this important trust. As no office of finance was then created,
unfortunately for his country, he could not control the disbursements,
but continued to provide money, often from his own resources. When
Congress adjourned from Philadelphia to Baltimore on the approach
of the conquering British army in 1776, after the declaration of
independence, then called by many the death warrant of the signers,
Robert Morris, who had affixed his name to that bold instrument,
remained at the former city some time after his colleagues left,
periling his personal safety in order to make arrangements to raise
funds for the prosecution of the glorious cause he had espoused.
During his stay, it became necessary that congress should raise a
specific sum in specie for the use of the American army. Information
was immediately communicated to Mr. Morris of the imperious wants of
the commander-in-chief. Not a solitary dollar was in the government
treasury. In a few hours after he received the intelligence, he met a
member of the society of Friends whose confidence he possessed, who
enquired of him “what news?” “The news is,” replied Mr. Morris, “that
I am in immediate want of —— dollars of hard money, and that you are
the man to obtain it for me. Your security is to be my note of hand and
my honour.” The reply was as laconic as the appeal: “Robert thou shalt
have it.” The money was promptly forwarded to the commander-in-chief
and placed at his disposal, and enabled Washington to meet the enemy at
Trenton with signal success.

Mr. Morris made no parade or vain show in the performance of his
duties, and often furnished funds through agents under the injunction
of secrecy, who, at the time, had the credit of affording relief on
their own account. One instance will suffice for an example.

When General Green took the command of the troops in South Carolina,
their destitute situation was deplorable. They were only partially
covered with tattered garments; their food was of the coarsest kind,
and but a scanty supply of that; their quantity of ammunition was
small, and nothing but certain destruction seemed to hover around
them. At that alarming crisis, Mr. Hall, of that state, advanced the
necessary funds to supply the immediate wants of the army, and enable
General Green to commence vigorous operations.

After the war had closed, and an account of the disbursements was
exhibited, it was found that Mr. Hall had acted under the direction of
Robert Morris, who had furnished the needful at the very time it was
necessary to save the southern army from dissolution. General Green,
on being made acquainted with the fact on his final settlement at the
office of finance, was at first displeased with the measure, but upon
reflection, greatly applauded and admired the wisdom of this secrecy,
“because,” said he, “if I had known that I might have drawn upon Robert
Morris, I should have demanded larger sums, and effected no more than
was accomplished with the means placed in my hands.” The advances of
Mr. Morris to the southern army were near accomplishing his pecuniary

As a financier his genius was of the most prolific kind. When he found
one resource after another exhausted; the American troops writhing
under the keenest privations; the credit of the infant Republic
paralyzed, and her treasury drained of the last dollar, had his mind
been cast in an ordinary mould, he must have fainted by the way. But
amidst the embarrassments that surrounded him, he stood calm and
undismayed upon the firm basis of his own resources. When he found
that they were becoming crippled, he submitted to congress the plan of
chartering the Bank of North America, which, after much discussion, was
approved and adopted on the 7th of January, 1782.

The year preceding, the office of finance had been established, and Mr.
Morris appointed financier. Previous to that, it appears he had not,
at any time, been the disbursing agent of the public monies; and that
no system had been adopted by Congress that gave any one individual
the control, under them, of this important department. The consequence
was, that the monies raised for the supplies of the army often fell
into the hands of irresponsible agents and never reached their pristine

After Mr. Morris was placed in authority over this vital branch of
government, he reduced the expenditures for military operations from
eighteen millions of dollars a year, to about five millions; and thus
enabled the continental congress to prosecute the war successfully,
when, without this retrenchment, its means would have been inadequate
to meet the increasing demands, and the cause of liberty, to all human
appearance, must have been abandoned. Like a Roman Curtius, he pledged
his own fortune to save his country, and disenthral her from the
chains of tyranny. To demonstrate this, I will mention one of the many
instances of supplies being obtained upon his private credit.

When the expedition was planned by Washington against Cornwallis at
Yorktown, the government treasury was empty, and her credit shivering
in the wind. The army was in a destitute situation: the means of
prosecuting a siege were to be provided, and Mr. Morris informed the
commander-in-chief that unless he arrived at the conclusion that the
necessary supplies could be raised on his (Mr. Morris,) credit, the
expedition must fail. Washington expressed his entire confidence in the
ability of the financier, and immediately took up the line of march.

In the short space of four weeks, Mr. Morris, aided by the patriotic
Richard Peters, furnished near eighty pieces of battering cannon and
one hundred pieces of field artillery, and all other necessary supplies
not furnished from other sources, and became personally responsible to
notes, which were promptly paid at maturity. This, united with aid
from Virginia and some of the other states, enabled the American army
to give the finishing stroke to the revolution, and triumph, in victory
complete, over a proud and merciless foe.

Under cover of the firm of Willing, Morris & Co., of which our
financier was a partner, many important and advantageous transactions
were made for government, but ostensibly, at the time, for the firm.
Being accomplished in this manner, a great saving was secured for
the public, in the profits of which the firm did not participate one
dollar, as was conclusively shown by an investigation instituted by Mr.
Laurens, in Congress, at the instance of Mr. Morris, in order to repel
the base slanders that were circulated against this pure and honest
patriot. All the accusations that have been brought against Robert
Morris, before and since his death, charging him with peculation or
speculation in government funds, or of any improper conduct towards his
country as a public agent, I pronounce to be _basely false_; they have
no foundation in truth or in fact. Judging from the numerous documents
that I have carefully examined, Robert Morris was not only one of the
most disinterested patriots of the American revolution, but was one
of the most substantial instruments in consummating that glorious
enterprise. He was so considered by the illustrious Washington, the
Continental Congress, and by all those who were correctly informed
of his proceedings. Even general Greene was one of his most ardent
admirers, whose biographer, long after the SAGE and the HERO had
mouldered beneath the clods of the valley, published a tirade of
abuse against Mr. Morris that has sunk Judge Johnson so far below the
true dignity of an impartial writer, as to render the efforts of his
envy abortive, and of his malice, powerless. His extracts from public
documents are garbled, his conclusions are based upon false premises,
his innuendoes are ungenerous—his attack is gratuitous and uncalled
for, and has justly recoiled upon the proud escutcheon of his own fame.
The shafts of slander can never indent the fair reputation of Robert
Morris, although hurled like thunderbolts from the whole artillery of
malice and revenge. Upon the enduring records of our nation his actions
stand in bold relievo, bright as the moon, clear as the sun, and as
withering to the opposition of his enemies as the burning sands of
Sahara. His honest fame will endure, unimpaired, the revolutions of

From the day he assumed the high charge of superintendent of finance,
his duties were onerous and multifarious. It was some time after
the strong solicitations of Congress were urged upon him before he
consented to undertake the delicate and difficult task of managing
this department, to which he was elected on the 20th of February,
1781, a dark and dismal period of the revolution. A deep sense of
public duty finally induced him to undertake the gigantic work, and
in a masterly manner did he execute it. He immediately instituted
an examination of the public debts, revenue, and expenditures; he
reduced to an economical system the mode of regulating the finances,
and of disbursing the public funds; he executed the plans of Congress
relating to all monetary matters; he superintended the action of all
persons employed in obtaining and distributing supplies for the army;
he attended to the collection of all monies due to the United States,
either by loans from Europe, from the states, or otherwise; he held a
supervision over all the contractors for military supplies; he provided
for the civil list; he corresponded with the executive of each state,
and with the ministers of the United States, then in Europe for the
purpose of obtaining aid, urging upon them the necessity of raising
money, and necessarily transacted much business with every department
of the government. At the same time he was an active member of the
legislature of Pennsylvania. The effects of his powerful financial mind
soon invigorated the desponding cause of liberty. Through the agency of
the bank of North America, united with his personal responsibility, he
improved the national credit, and introduced a rigid economy through
all the avenues of public operations. He found himself in an Augean
stable, but was the Hercules that could effectually cleanse it. Corrupt
agents and corrupting speculators fled before his searching scrutiny,
hissing like serpents retiring to their dens.

In all things he acquitted himself nobly, and stood approved by
Congress, by his country, his conscience and his God. It is a lasting
eulogium upon his name, that he reduced all his transactions to so
perfect a system, committing them all to writing, that he was able to
produce a satisfactory voucher for each and every public act during is
whole career—a circumstance worthy of remark and of imitation. System
is the helm, ballast, and mainmast of business.

At the final close of the war, Mr. Morris, fatigued in mind and body,
tendered his resignation, which was not accepted by Congress until
November, 1784. A large amount of his own notes, given on account of
supplies for the government, were then out. To impart confidence to
those who held them, he issued a circular, pledging himself to meet
them all at maturity, which pledge he faithfully redeemed. At the time
of his resignation, he placed himself in the crucible of an examining
committee appointed by Congress, before whom he exhibited a perfect map
of all his public acts. After the investigation closed, the report of
the committee placed him on a lofty eminence, as an able financier and
an honest man.

He was solicited by President Washington to accept of the appointment
of secretary of the treasury, which he respectfully declined.

Mr. Morris was a member of the convention that framed the federal
constitution, and was elected to the first national senate that
convened after its adoption. He seldom entered into debate, but when
he did, he was truly eloquent, chaste, and logical. He was always
heard with great attention, and exercised a powerful influence in the
legislative body. His speech in the Pennsylvania legislature against
the continental currency, was a specimen of eloquence and conclusive
reasoning, seldom surpassed, He also wrote with great facility and
strength of language. Although not a classical scholar, he possessed
an inexhaustible store of useful and practical information, derived
from the richest sources, and applicable to all the public and private
relations of life.

When the peace of 1783 proclaimed his country free from further
invasion, Mr. Morris again entered largely into commercial
speculations. In 1784 he sent a ship to Canton, which was the first
that displayed the star spangled banner in that port. He was also the
first who attempted the “out of season” passage to China, by doubling
the south cape of New Holland, and astonished the English navigators
by the arrival of his ship at a season of the year before deemed
impracticable. He was the first man who introduced hot and ice houses
in this country. He was a friend to every kind of improvement, and did
all in his power to promote the interests of his fellow men and of
his country. After spending a long life in managing, most skilfully,
millions upon millions of capital, he at last split upon the fatal rock
of land speculation, and closed his eventful career in poverty, on the
8th of May, 1806, at the city of Philadelphia, sincerely mourned by
his country and deeply regretted by his numerous and devoted friends.
He had long been afflicted with the asthma, and suffered much during
the last years of his useful life. He met the grim messenger of death
with fortitude and resignation, and bid a final adieu to earth and its
toils, without a murmur or a sigh.

The private character of this public benefactor was, in all respects,
amiable, pure, and consistent. He was a large man, with an open, frank,
and pleasing countenance, gentlemanly in his manners, and agreeable in
all his associations. He was most highly esteemed by those who knew him
best. Although no proud monument of marble is reared over his ashes,
his name is deeply engraved upon the tablet of enduring fame, and will
be revered by every true American and patriot until the historic page
shall cease to be read, and civilization shall be lost in chaos.


The man who places his confidence in the Supreme Ruler of revolving
worlds, leans upon a sure support, that earth can neither give nor
take away. When we can appeal to Heaven with clean hands for aid in
our undertakings, faith bids us fear no danger. A large portion of
the patriots of the revolution were pious men; and I am not apprised
that one among them, who became conspicuous, was a disbeliever in an
overruling Providence. Several of them were devoted ministers of the
Gospel, among whom was JOHN WITHERSPOON, a native of the parish of
Yester, near Edinburgh, Scotland, born on the 5th of February, 1722.
He was a lineal descendant of the celebrated John Knox, the heroic
reformer of Scotland. The father of John Witherspoon was the minister
of the above named parish, and was instrumental in moulding the mind of
his son in the paths of wisdom, virtue and science. He placed him at
an early age in the Haddington school, where his young mind unfolded
its rich beauties, with all the fragrance of a spring flower. He soared
above the trifles and allurements that too often lead childhood and
youth astray, and made his studies his chief delight. He manifested
a maturity of judgment, a clearness of conception, and a depth of
thought rarely exhibited in juvenile life. At the age of fourteen
years he entered the university of Edinburgh, where he fully sustained
the high anticipations of his friends, and gained the esteem and
admiration of his fellow students and the professors. His acquirements
in the theological department were of a superior order. At the age of
twenty-one, he passed the ordeal of his final examination, and received
a license to proclaim to the world the glad tidings of the everlasting

He immediately became the assistant of his revered father, and gained
the affection and confidence of his parishioners, and the admiration of
all who heard him and delighted in plain practical piety.

In 1746, on the 17th of January, he was a “looker on in Venice” at
the battle of Falkirk, and was seized by the victorious rebels, with
many others whose curiosity had led them to the scene of action, and
imprisoned in the castle of Doune. After he was released from this
confinement, he resided a few years at Beith, and subsequently at
Paisly, rendering himself highly useful as a faithful and exemplary
preacher. During his residence at the latter place, he received urgent
calls from the people of Dublin, Rotterdam and Dundee, in Europe; and
an invitation to accept of the presidential chair of the college of New
Jersey, in America, to which, at the suggestion of Richard Stockton,
then in London, he was elected on the 19th of November, 1766. A general
demurrer was entered against his acceptance by his numerous relations
and friends, with whom his wife at first participated. The delights of
his native home and the horrors of the American wilderness, were held
up before him in fearful contrast. A bachelor relation of his, who was
very wealthy, offered to will to him his large fortune if he would
decline the solicitation of the trustees of the college. For more than
a year he refused to accept of the invitation. During that time, his
lady caught what was called “the missionary fever,” and not only freely
consented to embark for the new world, but exerted herself to remove
every impeding obstacle. On the 9th of December of the following year,
Mr. Stockton had the pleasure of communicating to the board of trustees
the acceptance of Dr. Witherspoon, which was most joyfully received.

He arrived with his family in the early part of the ensuing August, and
on the 17th of that month was inaugurated at Princeton. His literary
fame, which had been previously spread through the colonies, gained
an immediate accession of students to the institution, and gave a new
impetus to its action, although it had been ably conducted by his
worthy predecessors. The high reputation of the new president gave
him an extensive influence, of which he prudently availed himself
to resuscitate and replenish the empty treasury of the college by
obtaining donations from private and public sources. He also introduced
the most thorough and harmonious system throughout all its departments,
and fully answered the most sanguine anticipations of his warmest
friends. His mode of instruction was calculated to expand the ideas
of his students, and launch them upon the sea of reflection and
investigation. He dispelled the dogmatical and bewildering clouds of
metaphysical fatality and contingency, and of unmeaning and abstruse
physiology, that hung like an incubus over the old schools. He
illumined their understandings with the rays of scientific truth,
founded upon enlightened philosophy, sound reason, plain common
sense, and liberal principles. He taught his pupils to explore the
labyrinthian mazes of human nature, and the revolving circuit of their
own immortal minds. He raised before them the curtain of the material,
moral, physical and intellectual world; and delineated, by lucid
demonstration, their harmonious connection and unity, perfected by the
grand architect of this mighty machinery made for man. He pointed out
to them the duties they owed to themselves, their fellow men, their
country, and their God. He imbued their souls with charity, the golden
chain that reaches from earth to Heaven: He taught them how to live and
be useful, and how to throw off their mortal coil, when called to “that
country from whose bourne no traveller returns.” His instructions were
luminous and enriching; his precepts were fertilizing to every mind on
which they fell, capable of receiving an impression.

On the flood tide of a high and merited literary and theological fame,
Dr. Witherspoon floated peacefully along, until the revolutionary
storm drove him from his citadel of classics and the pulpit of his
church to a different sphere of action. Before he immigrated to
America he understood well the relations between the mother country
and the colonies. He was master of civilian philosophy, international
law, monarchial policy, and the principles of rational freedom. The
enrapturing beauties of liberty, and the hideous deformities of
tyranny, passed in review before his gigantic mind. In the designs
of creative wisdom he saw the equal rights of man and determined to
vindicate them. He at once took a bold stand in favour of his adopted
country. With an eagle’s flight he mounted the pinnacle of political
fame; with a statesman’s eye he calmly surveyed the mighty work to be
performed by Columbia’s sons. The plan of political regeneration and
independence stood approved by Heaven, and he resolved to lend his aid
in the glorious cause. Most nobly did he perform his part.

From the commencement of the revolution he was a member of various
committees and conventions formed for the purpose of seeking redress
from the king, by _peaceable_ means if possible, by _forcible_ means if
it became necessary. He was a member of the Convention of New Jersey
that formed its republican constitution of 1776. On the 20th of June
of the same year, he was elected to the Continental Congress, and
advocated, by his powerful and eloquent reasoning, the declaration of
our rights, to which he affixed his name, appealing to his God for the
approval of the act, and to the world for the justice of the cause he
espoused. He was continued a member of that august body until 1782,
with the exception of one year, and contributed largely in shedding
lustre over its deliberations. With a mind and intelligence able to
grasp, comprehend, and expound the whole minutiæ of legislation
and government, he combined a patriotic devotion and holy zeal for
the interests of his bleeding country. His labours were incessant,
his industry was untiring, his perseverance was unyielding, and his
patriotism was as pure as the crystal fountain or pellucid stream.

During the time he served in the legislative halls, he did not neglect
the higher honours of the vineyard of his Lord and Master. He was often
at the family altar, in the closet and in the pulpit; and was esteemed
as one of the most able, eloquent, and profound preachers of that
eventful period. He was one of the brightest ornaments of the religion
of Christ, and one of the strongest advocates of the cause of liberty.
As a speaker, he was listened to with deep interest; as a logical and
systematic debater he had few equals. His arguments were aposteriori,
apriori and afortiori; leading the mind from effect to cause, from
cause to effect, and deducing the stronger reasons. His memory was
remarkably retentive, his judgment acute, and his perceptions clear.
He was a member of the secret committee of Congress, the duties of
which were arduous and delicate. He was a member of the committee
appointed to co-operate with general Washington in replenishing and
regulating the army; of the committee of finance, and of various other
and important committees. Several eloquent appeals to the people from
Congress recommending special days to be set apart for public fasting
and prayer, were from his nervous and vigorous pen. The melting and
burning manifesto, protesting against the inhuman and barbarous
treatment of the American prisoners confined on board the filthy prison
ships at New York, was supposed to have been written by him. From
his mode of reflecting and reasoning, Dr. Witherspoon was prophetic
in pointing out the results of propositions laid before Congress,
and opposed all those that he believed would terminate unfavourably.
Against the emission of continental paper money he strongly
remonstrated. His predictions of its depreciation were soon verified.
In March, 1778, one dollar and three quarters of paper money were worth
but one silver dollar; one year from that time the rate was two for
one; in five months after it was eighteen for one; the next year it was
forty for one; shortly after, seventy-five for one; and in a few more
months, one hundred and fifty for one; and finally became worthless.

Most of the measures he proposed when he commenced his career in
Congress were either then or subsequently adopted with success,
and those that he opposed unsuccessfully, terminated unfortunately
in almost every instance. So closely and deeply did he investigate
and probe every subject that came before him, that his powers of
penetration became proverbial.

Whether in the halls of classic literature, the ecclesiastical courts,
or upon the floor of Congress, he was a shining light to those around
him. His literary, political, and theological writings was numerous,
of a high order, and are justly celebrated in Europe as well as in
this country. They exhibit a pleasing and rich variety of thought; a
strong and brilliant imagination; a luminous and flowing fancy; a keen
and sarcastic wit; a chaste and fascinating style; broad and liberal
views; philosophic and reasonable propositions; clear and convincing
conclusions; all softened and embalmed by heaven-born charity and
universal philanthropy.

At the close of the session of Congress in 1779, he was induced to
resign his seat in consequence of his ill health, and a serious
affection of the nerves, producing dizziness, that sometimes suddenly
prostrated him. Being relieved from the more arduous duties of
superintending the college at Princeton by the vice president, the
Rev. Dr. Samuel Smith, his son-in-law, he sought the enjoyments of
retirement. These were allowed to him but a brief period. In a little
more than a year he was again elected to Congress, and when he finally
resigned in 1782, he was shortly after persuaded by the trustees of the
college, at the age of sixty, to embark for England for the purpose
of obtaining funds to aid the seminary over which he presided. His
exertions were laudable, but his mission unsuccessful. He opposed the
project as visionary before he started; he demonstrated the correctness
of his opinion when he returned in 1784.

He then retired to his country seat about one mile from Princeton,
there to participate in the blessings of peace, of liberty, of
independence, and of fame, the golden fruits that had been richly
earned by years of peril and of toil. Surrounded by fond relatives
and devoted friends; enjoying the gratitude and praise of a nation of
freemen; his name immortalized as a civilian, a statesman, a patriot, a
scholar, and a divine, he could sit down beneath the bright mantle of a
pure conscience and an approving Heaven; and, through the bright vista
of the future, gaze upon a crown of enduring glory, prepared for him in
realms of bliss beyond the skies. He was peaceful and happy.

In this manner he glided down the stream of life until the 15th of
November, 1794, when he fell asleep in the arms of his Lord and Master,
calm as a summer morning, serene as the etherial sky, welcoming the
messenger of death with a seraphic smile. His remains rest in the
church yard at Princeton.

A review of the life of this great and good man, affords an instructive
lesson worthy to be engraven upon the heart of every reader. He was
endowed with all the qualities calculated to ennoble and dignify the
creature, and assimilate him to the Creator. His superior virtues
completely eclipsed his human frailties, and placed him on a lofty
eminence beyond the reach of envy, malice, or slander. His fame, in
all its varied and refulgent hues, spreads a lustre over his name that
will brighten and shine until the last death knell of liberty shall be
sounded, and social order shall be lost in the devouring whirlpool of

In all the relations of private and public life, he stood approved,
admired, and revered. Let us all endeavour to imitate his examples of
virtue, the crowning glory of talent, that our lives may be useful in
time, and our final exit tranquil and happy.


Revolutionary struggles, predicated solely upon political ambition and
partisan principles, often produce the most bitter persecution between
those whose ties of consanguinity and friendship are seldom severed
by other incidents. To the credit of our nation, instances of this
kind were very rare during the struggle for American independence. In
the field of battle, sire and son fought shoulder to shoulder; in the
public assemblies, they united their eloquence in rousing the people to

A pleasing illustration of the mutual devotion of father and son to
the same glorious object, is found in the history of THOMAS LYNCH,
Jr., and his venerable parent. Their paternal ancestors were of
Austrian descent, and highly respectable. The branch of the family
from which the subject of the present sketch descended, removed to
Kent in England, from thence to Ireland, a son of which, Jonack Lynch,
emigrated from Connaught to South Carolina, in the early part of its
settlement. He was the great grandfather of Thomas Lynch, Jr., and
was a man of liberal views and of pure morality. Thomas Lynch, the
father of the subject of this brief narrative, was his youngest son,
and imbibed, at an early age, the patriotic feelings that rendered him
conspicuous at the commencement of the revolution. By his industry and
enterprise in agricultural pursuits he amassed a large fortune, and was
able and disposed to give this, his only son, a superior education.

Thomas Lynch, Jr., was born upon the plantation of his father on
the bank of the North Santa river, in the parish of Prince George,
South Carolina, on the 5th of August, 1749. In early childhood he was
deprived of the maternal care of his fond mother, who was the daughter
of Mr. Alston, by relentless death. At a proper age he was placed at
the Indigo Society School, then in successful operation at Georgetown
in his native state, where some of the most eminent sages of the
southern colonies received their education.

Warmed by the genial rays of the sun of science the germ of the
young mind of Thomas Lynch, Jr. soon burst from its embryo state,
and exhibited a pleasing and luxuriant growth. His progress in the
exploration of the fields of literature was creditable to himself
and highly gratifying to his indulgent parent and numerous friends.
So rapid was his improvement, that at the early age of thirteen, his
father placed him at the famous school at Eton, Buckinghamshire,
England, founded by Henry VI., where he commenced his classical
studies. After completing his course there, he was entered as a
gentleman commoner in the University of Cambridge, where he became a
finished scholar and an accomplished gentleman, esteemed and respected
by all who knew him. He then had his name entered in the Law Temple,
and made himself familiar with the elementary principles of legal
knowledge, and prepared himself thoroughly to act well his part through
future life. During his stay, he cultivated an extensive acquaintance
with the whigs of England, which gave him an opportunity of acquiring
a knowledge of the policy and designs of British ministers with regard
to the American colonies. He took a deep interest in the relative
situation of the two countries, and returned home in 1772, prepared
and determined to oppose the oppressions of the crown and strike for
LIBERTY. As the dark clouds of the revolution gathered in fearful
array, the firmness of his purposes increased. These were fostered and
encouraged by his patriotic father, and responded to by the people of
his parish. Hand in hand did the sire and son march to the rescue of
their country from the iron grasp of tyranny.

The first attempt of Thomas Lynch, Jr., at public speaking, after
his return from Europe, was at a large town meeting at Charleston.
His father had just addressed the assembled multitude on the subject
of British oppression, amidst the enthusiastic cheers of his fellow
citizens. As he sat down his youthful son rose. A profound silence
ensued. A thousand eyes were turned upon him. For a moment he paused;
his eyes were fixed, his bosom heaved; the struggle was over, and a
strain of eloquence followed that carried the insulating fluid of
patriotism to the hearts of his astonished and delighted audience with
irresistible force. Tears of joy ran down the furrowed cheeks of his
father, and loud bursts of applause were shouted by the enraptured

When the final crisis for physical action arrived, Mr. Lynch was among
the first to offer his services. In July, 1775, he accepted of the
commission of captain, and repaired to Newbern, North Carolina, where
he unfurled the star spangled banner, and in a few weeks enlisted
the number of men required for his company. His father objected to
his acceptance of so low a commission, to whom his affectionate son
modestly replied, “My present command is fully equal to my experience;”
a reply worthy of the consideration of every young person who desires
to build his fame upon a substantial basis. If a man is suddenly placed
upon a towering eminence to which he is unaccustomed, the nerves of
his brain must be unusually strong if he does not grow dizzy, tremble,
totter, and fall. If he ascends gradually, and pauses at the different
points of altitude, he may reach the loftiest spire, preserve his
equilibrium and be safe. Sudden elevations are uniformly dangerous. On
his way to Charleston with his men, Captain Lynch was prostrated by
the bilious fever, brought on by the fatigues and exposures of his new
mode of life. From this attack he never entirely recovered. Towards the
close of the year he so far regained his health as to be able to join
his regiment. Soon after, he received intelligence of the dangerous
illness of his father, then a member of Congress at Philadelphia.
He immediately applied to Colonel Gadsden, his commanding officer,
for permission to visit him, which was peremptorily refused, on the
ground that the necessity for his services in the army was paramount
to all private considerations. This difficulty was unexpectedly
removed by his election to Congress, as the successor of his father,
by an unanimous vote of the assembly of his state. He received the
information with deep emotions of diffidence and gratitude. He promptly
repaired to his new and dignified station, and took his seat in the
Congress of 1776, composed of sages and statesmen whose combined
talents and wisdom have no parallel in ancient or modern history. On
his arrival at Philadelphia he found his father partially relieved from
his paralytic affection, and in August he attempted to return to South
Carolina, but only reached Annapolis, where he expired in the arms of
his son who was soon to follow him.

On his entrance in the national legislature, Captain Lynch became a
bold and eloquent advocate of the Declaration of Independence, and
gained the reputation of being an able statesman and a firm patriot.
He most cheerfully and fearlessly affixed his name to the charter of
our rights, and did all in his power, and more than his feeble state
of health warranted, to promote the glorious cause of FREEDOM. He was
finally compelled to yield to increasing disease, and relinquish his
public duties. Medical skill proved unavailing, and by the advice of
his physicians he undertook a voyage to Europe, a change of climate
being the only thing that promised him relief. Near the close of the
year 1779, himself and lady sailed with Captain Morgan, whose vessel
was never heard from after she had been a few days at sea. The last
account of the unfortunate ship was from a Frenchman, who left her from
some cause unknown and went on board of another, shortly after which a
violent tempest arose and unquestionably sent her, with all on board,
to the bottom of the ocean.

Previous to his embarking, Captain Lynch, having no issue, willed his
large estate to his three sisters in case of the death of himself and

The private character of this worthy man was unsullied, and in
all respects amiable. Had his valuable life been spared, he would
undoubtedly have rendered his country eminent services, and maintained
an elevated rank among the patriots and sages of the eventful era he
saw so gloriously commenced. During his short career, he performed
enough to immortalize his name. Although his morning sun never reached
its meridian, its splendour contributed largely in illuminating the
horizon of LIBERTY, and shed a lustre over his memory enduring as time.

The brief but brilliant career of THOMAS LYNCH, JR., admonishes us
that life is held by a slender tenure, and that high accomplishments,
like some rich flowers, often bloom just long enough to be admired
and revered, then withdraw their beauties from our enraptured sight


In the sages of the American revolution, we recognise every variety of
character that ennobles man and confers upon him dignity and merit. To
rouse the people to a becoming sense of their inalienable and chartered
rights, and to induce them to rise in the majesty of their might
and vindicate them, was the first great business of the illustrious
patriots who boldly planned and nobly achieved American independence.
To effect this important object, all the varied forms and powers
of eloquence were necessary, from the mighty torrent of logic that
overwhelms, the keen sarcasm that withers, to the mild persuasion that
leads the heart a willing captive.

The latter talent was pre-eminently possessed by MATTHEW THORNTON,
who was born in Ireland in 1714, and immigrated to this country with
his father, James Thornton, in 1717, who settled at Wiscasset, Maine.
This son received a good academical education, and was much admired
for his industry, correct deportment, and blandness of manners. After
completing his course at school, he commenced the study of medicine
with Dr. Grout, of Leicester, Massachusetts. He made rapid progress in
the acquisition of that important branch of science, and gave early
promise of future and extensive usefulness. When he became prepared
to enter upon the duties of his profession, he commenced practice in
Londonderry, New Hampshire, which was principally settled by immigrants
from his native country. He soon acquired a lucrative business, and the
confidence and esteem of his numerous patrons.

In the expedition against Cape Breton, then belonging to the French,
he was appointed surgeon of the New Hampshire division of the invading
army, and performed his duty with great fidelity, skill, and credit.

He was an early and prominent advocate of American rights—a bold and
uniform opposer to the usurpations of the British ministry. He had a
great opportunity to disseminate liberal principles among the people,
which did not pass unimproved. When the revolutionary storm burst upon
the colonies, he had command of a regiment of militia in Londonderry.
He also held the commission of justice of the peace, and had filled
various civil offices. His urbanity of manners, sincerity and honesty
of purpose, and uncommon powers of persuasion, gave him a rare and
salutary influence, both in private parties and public assemblies.

He was appointed president of the first provincial convention of New
Hampshire, after the dissolution of the king’s government. The people
of that state, for a time, did not come up to the line marked out by
the patriots of Massachusetts, but Dr. Thornton, and other leading
men, soon brought them into the rank and file of opposition to the
invading foe, and redeemed them from the bonds of servitude and fear.
In 1774, they sent delegates to the Congress convened at Philadelphia,
and in December of that year, when they were apprised of the order
of the king in council prohibiting the exportation of gunpowder, the
committee of safety in the town of Portsmouth collected a body of men,
who, before the governor was apprised of their intention, seized upon
the fort and carried off one hundred barrels of that then important

Soon after the flight of Governor Wentworth upon receiving the
intelligence of the battle of Lexington, an address was prepared by
a committee of the provincial convention, of which Dr. Thornton was
president, which was published over his signature. To the young reader
this may seem unimportant, until it is known it was full evidence to
convict him of high treason, and would have doomed him to the scaffold
had he fallen into the hands of his enemies. Hence, the patriotism and
boldness of the act.

The address was couched in strong and feeling terms, well calculated
to produce the intended effect. The following extract is a fair sample
of the whole: “You must all be sensible that the affairs of America
have at length come to an affecting crisis. The horrors and distresses
of a civil war, which, till of late, we only had in contemplation, we
now find ourselves obliged to realize. Painful, beyond expression,
have been those scenes of blood and devastation which the barbarous
cruelty of British troops have placed before our eyes. Duty to God,
to ourselves, to posterity, enforced by the cries of slaughtered
innocents, have urged us to take up arms in our own defence. Such a day
as this was never before known either to us or to our fathers. We would
therefore recommend to the colony at large to cultivate that christian
union, harmony, and tender affection which is the only foundation upon
which our invaluable privileges can rest with any security, or our
public measures be pursued with the least prospect of success.”

On the 10th of January, 1776, Dr. Thornton was appointed a Judge of
the Superior Court of New Hampshire, and on the 12th of September he
was elected a member of the Continental Congress, and when he took
his seat affixed his name to the Declaration of Independence. For
those who are not correctly informed upon the subject it is natural
to suppose that the signers of the chart of our liberty were present
on the memorable 4th of July when it was adopted. This was not the
case. Messrs. Franklin, Rush, Clymer, Wilson, Ross, and Taylor, as in
the case of Dr. Thornton, were not members on that day. Nor does the
name of Thomas M’Kean appear upon the printed records of Congress,
although he was present and signed on the 4th of July; and the name of
Henry Wisner, a delegate from Orange county, New York, who signed the
original manuscript of the declaration on the day it was adopted, has
never been properly recognised. These errors were undoubtedly clerical,
not intentional. Mr. Wisner was a highly respectable member, and a pure
and zealous patriot.

Dr. Thornton discharged the duties of his important station ably and
faithfully until his services were required upon the bench. On the 24th
of December of the same year, he was again elected to Congress, and
served until the 23d of January, 1777, when he retired finally from the
national legislature, highly esteemed by all his associates, enjoying
the full confidence and gratitude of his constituents, and the proud
satisfaction of having performed his duty towards his country. For six
years he served on the bench of the Superior Court, and was also Chief
Justice of the Common Pleas; the combined duties of which rendered his
task arduous. In 1779, he removed to Exeter, and the following year
purchased a plantation upon the banks of the Merrimack river, where
he sought that repose that his advanced age required. His friends,
however, were not willing to excuse him from acting in public concerns,
and induced him to serve as a member of the general court, and also in
the state senate during the war, and for two years after its close.
On the 25th of January, 1784, he was appointed a justice of the peace
and quorum throughout the state, which was an important office under
the original constitution of the state, but which was abolished in
part, and abridged in jurisdiction, by the amendments of 1792. This he
held to the day of his final retirement from all public duties; and,
after 1785, he took no part in the politics of the day, but continued
to afford salutary counsel on all important matters relative to the
public weal, about which he was often consulted. During the controversy
between his state and Vermont concerning a portion of disputed
territory, he wrote several letters to those in power, urging the
necessity of conciliatory measures, and an unconditional submission to
the decision of Congress in the premises. They were highly creditable
to him as an able patriot, a good writer, and a discreet man.

DR. THORNTON was one of the most fascinating and agreeable men of
his age. He was seldom known to smile, but was uniformly cheerful,
entertaining, and instructive; similar, in many respects, to the
illustrious Franklin. His mind was stored with a rich variety of useful
and practical knowledge, which rendered him an interesting companion.
He sustained an unblemished private reputation, and discharged all the
social relations of life with fidelity and faithfulness. He was opposed
to sectarian religion, belonged to no church, but was devoutly pious
and a constant attendant of public worship. He was a kind husband,
an affectionate father, and a good neighbour. He was very exact in
collecting his dues, by some thought too severe, and was rigidly
scrupulous in liquidating every farthing he owed. He was a large portly
man, over six feet in height, well proportioned, with an expressive
countenance, enlivened by keen and penetrating black eyes. He died at
Newburyport, Massachusetts, on the 24th of June, 1803, whilst visiting
his daughter. His remains were conveyed to New Hampshire, and deposited
near Thornton’s Ferry, on the bank of the Merrimack, where a neat
marble slab rests over his dust, with this laconic and significant




Private virtue and undisguised sincerity were marked characteristics
of the revolutionary patriots. They were actuated by pure and honest
motives, and not by wild ambition and political phrenzy. Noisy
partisans and intriguing demagogues were not the favourites of the
people during the war of independence. The man of genuine worth and
modest merit was the one whom they delighted to honour and trust.

In the character of WILLIAM FLOYD these qualities were happily blended.
He was a native of Suffolk, Long Island, in the state of New York,
born on the 17th of December, 1734. His grandfather, Richard Floyd,
immigrated from Wales in 1680, and settled at Setauket, Long Island.
During his childhood he was remarkable for frankness and truth, and
for amiableness of disposition and urbanity of manners. He was an
industrious student, and acquired a liberal education. During the
prosecution of his studies, he preserved his health in its full vigour,
by devoting a short period almost, daily to the use of his gun, in
pursuit of game, the only diversion to which he was ardently attached.
This exercise gave his system a healthy tone, and enabled him to
master his lessons with more accuracy than some who confine themselves
exclusively to their rooms, and become debilitated for the want of
physical action. Upon the health of the body the improvement of the
juvenile mind very much depends—exercise in the open air should not be

The father of William M’Nicoll Floyd died before this son arrived
at his majority, and left him an ample fortune. He managed it with
prudence and economy, and when his country was doomed to pass through
the fiery furnace of a revolution, he was one of the most opulent
and influential men on Long Island. From his youth he had been the
advocate of liberal principles, and opposed to the innovations of the
British ministry, upon the chartered rights of the American colonies.
As oppression increased, his patriotic feelings were more frequently
and freely expressed, and when the Congress of 1774 convened at
Philadelphia, he was an active and zealous member. By his uniform
candour and purity of purpose, he gained the unlimited confidence of
his constituents and of his country. His cool deliberation and calm
deportment, under all circumstances, were well calculated to preserve
an equilibrium among those of a more fiery temperament and of more
rashness in action. The Congress of 1774 was remarkable for clear and
unanswerable argument, calm and learned discussion, wise and judicious
plans, and reasonable but firm purposes. The course pursued operated
powerfully and favourably upon the minds of reflecting men, whose
influence it was important to obtain and secure.

Mr. Floyd also had command of the militia of his native county, and
when the British attempted to land at Gardner’s Bay, promptly assembled
them, and repelled the invading foe. In 1775 he was again chosen a
representative in Congress, and became one of its active and efficient
members. He was emphatically a working man, and engaged constantly
on important committee duties. During his absence at Philadelphia,
the British obtained possession of Long Island, and forced his family
to flee for their safety to Connecticut. His property was materially
injured by the enemy, and his mansion-house converted into a military
barrack, for the accommodation of the invaders of his country. For
seven years he was deprived of all resources from his plantation,
and was dependant upon his friends for the protection of his family.
The year following he was again elected to a seat in the Continental
Congress, and had the satisfaction of affixing his name to the
declaration of independence, which he had advocated from its incipient
stages to the time of its adoption. In 1777 he was elected to the
first senate of the state of New York, convened under the new order
of things. He immediately became a prominent and leading member, and
rendered important services in forming a code of republican laws for
the future government of the empire state, carefully guarding the
rights of person and property inviolate.

In January, 1779, he again took his seat in the Continental Congress,
and entered upon the duties of his station with the utmost vigour and
industry. On the 24th of the ensuing August, he resumed his station in
the senate of his native state. Much important business was before the
legislature, requiring wisdom, energy, and unity of action. To devise
some plan of relief from a depreciated currency and a prostrate credit,
was an important item. Mr. Floyd was at the head of a joint committee
appointed for this purpose, and reported a plan that proved him to be
an able financier and a man of deep thought and investigation. It was
predicated upon a gradual and just system of taxation, to be carried
into effect by responsible and honest agents, with good and sufficient
sureties for the payment of all monies collected to the proper
officer—the state treasurer. In October of that year, Mr. Floyd, Ezra
L’Hommedieu, and John Loss were appointed by the New York legislature
delegates to a convention of the eastern states convened for the
purpose of devising some system by which supplies of provisions could
be more readily obtained and preserved from the grasp of avaricious

Immediately after the discharge of the duties assigned him, he again
took his seat in Congress. On the third of December he was elected one
of the board of admiralty, and on the thirteenth of the same month a
member of the treasury board. By incessant application to the various
duties that devolved upon him, his health became impaired, and in
April following he obtained leave of absence. In June he repaired to
the senate of New York, and was immediately appointed upon a joint
committee to act upon resolutions of Congress, involving the important
relations between the state and general government. He opposed,
unsuccessfully, the plan of making bills of credit a legal tender,
but had the pleasure in after life of seeing the principles he then
advocated sanctioned and adopted.

In September he was appointed upon a committee of the senate to prepare
a reply to the message of the governor. To effect a proper organization
of the general government, was the anxious desire of the state
legislatures. To confer upon Congress all necessary powers, strictly
defined and plain to be understood, was considered the only safe policy
to insure future safety. To this important subject the governor had
drawn the particular attention of the members. The committee reported
several resolutions on this point, which were adopted and forwarded
for the consideration of the national legislature. They recommended
the enactment of laws that should produce an equal responsibility
upon each of the states to bear its _pro rata_ proportion of the
burden of the war, in the way and manner that should be devised by
the general government. In 1780 he was again returned to Congress.
In addition to the usual duties, he was instructed by an act of the
legislature, together with the other members from New York, to obtain
a settlement of the claims of his native state, and those of New
Hampshire, to the territory now comprising the state of Vermont. This
was a vexed question that required much industry and wisdom to manage.
These were eminently possessed by Mr. Floyd, who, on that occasion,
as upon all others, discharged his duties to the entire satisfaction
of his constituents. He also, during the same session, introduced a
resolution for the cession of the western territories to the United
States. He also nominated, on the 10th of August, Robert L. Livingston
as secretary of foreign affairs, who was immediately appointed to that
important station.

In addition to serving in the senate of his own state, more or less
every year, he continued an active member of Congress until 1783, when
he joined in the general joy of triumphant victory and heart-cheering
peace, and was once more permitted to return and take possession of the
ruins of his once flourishing plantation, amidst the congratulation
of his numerous friends, all animated by the resplendent glories of
LIBERTY. In order that he might repair his private fortune, he declined
the urgent request of his constituents to consent to a re-election to
Congress. He however continued to serve in the senate of his native
state until 1788, when he was returned a member of the first Congress
under the federal constitution. Worn out in the service of his country,
he retired at the end of his term from the public arena, and once more
entered upon the enjoyments of domestic bliss.

Being possessed of a large tract of valuable land upon the banks
of the Mohawk river, then a dense wilderness, he commenced gradual
improvements upon it, and in 1803 took up his final residence there.
His friends often urged him to again become a member of the national
legislature, but he declined entering upon any laborious public duties,
except serving the district to which he removed one term in the state
senate, and also of serving as a member of the convention of 1801, to
revise the constitution of New York. He was four times a member of
the electoral college of his state for the election of president and
vice-president, and in 1800 he travelled two hundred miles to give his
vote for his old companion and friend, Thomas Jefferson, in the dreary
month of December.

He continued to improve his new plantation until he saw the wilderness
blossom as the rose, and his mansion surrounded by happy neighbours,
all basking in the clear sunshine of that freedom he had been
instrumental in acquiring. Envy was a stranger to his philanthropic
and patriotic bosom; he rejoiced in the happiness of the whole human
family; he delighted in the prosperity of all around him.

In all things he was a practical man, free from pomp and vanity, and
systematic in all his proceedings. When his purposes were formed, he
prosecuted them with an unyielding energy that was seldom arrested
or thwarted. He was possessed of a clear head, a strong mind, a good
heart, a vigorous and sound judgment, matured by long experience and
a close observation of men and things. He spoke but little in public
assemblies, and rarely entered into debate. Happy would it be for our
country if we had more men like William Floyd at the present day,
instead of so many who _talk_ more than they _work_. Long speeches hang
like an incubus over our legislatures, and those who feel disposed, are
prevented by them from doing the business of the people promptly.

In all the private relations of life William Floyd presented a model
as worthy of imitation as that of his public career. He was warm in
his friendships, and most scrupulously honest in all his transactions.
His feelings and morals were of a refined cast, and the most rigid
integrity marked his every action. He thought and acted for himself,
and left others to do the same. He marked out his path of duty from the
reflections of his own mind, and pursued it steadily and fearlessly.
For more than fifty years he enjoyed the full fruition of popular
favours, and only one year before his death was elected a member of the
electoral college. His physical powers were remarkable until a short
time before his last illness. He was a man of middle size, well formed,
and of easy deportment. He was dignified in his general appearance, and
affable in his manners. For the last two years of his life his health
was partially impaired, and on the 1st of August, 1821, he was seized
with general debility, and on the fourth day he folded his arms calmly,
closed his eyes peacefully, and met the cold embrace of death with the
fortitude of a sage, a patriot, and a Christian. Although general Floyd
did not possess the Ciceronian eloquence of an Adams, a Jefferson, or
a Henry, he was one of the most useful men of his day and generation.
His examples and his labours shed a lustre over his character, as rich
and as enduring as the fame of those who shone conspicuously in the
forum. He was an important link in the golden chain of liberty, and
was so esteemed by all his associates in Congress. The working man was
then properly appreciated. The most powerful orators of that eventful
era were concise and laconic. Long speeches were as uncommon as they
are now pernicious and unnecessary. The business of our nation was
performed promptly, expeditiously, effectually, and economically. Let
us imitate the examples of the patriots of the times that tried their
souls, and preserve, in its native purity, the rich boon of liberty
they have transmitted to us. Let us emulate the virtues of general
WILLIAM FLOYD, and we shall be highly esteemed in life, deeply mourned
in death, and our names will survive, on the tablet of enduring fame,
through the revolutions of time.


A common error that has gained credence among mankind, consists in a
belief that to obtain a sufficient share of knowledge to enable a man
to appear advantageously upon the theatre of public action, he must
spend his youthful days within the walls of some celebrated seminary
of learning. In the view of many, it is necessary for a young man to
commence his career under the high floating banner of a collegiate
diploma in order to ensure future fame.

That a refined classical education is a desirable and high
accomplishment, I admit; that it is indispensably necessary, and always
renders a man more useful, I deny. The man who has been incarcerated
from his childhood up to his majority within the limited circumference
of his school-room and boarding-house, although he may have mastered
all the sciences of the books, cannot have acquired that knowledge of
men and things necessary to prepare him for action in private or public
life. Polite literature is _one_ thing, useful knowledge, fit for every
day use, is _another_, and of vital importance. By proper application
a man may obtain both, and that without entering college. The field
is open to all, especially under a republican form of government.
Franklin and Sherman, both humble mechanics, became finished scholars
and profound philosophers without the aid of collegiate professors.
I do not design to deteriorate the usefulness of high seminaries of
learning, but to stimulate those who have native talent and cannot
enjoy their advantages, to imitate the examples of those who have risen
to high stations of honour and distinction by the force of their own
exertions, unaided by these dazzling lights.

Among the self taught men of our country the name of WILLIAM WHIPPLE
stands conspicuous. He was the eldest son of William Whipple, and born
at Kittery, Maine, in 1730. He was educated in a common English school,
where he was taught reading, writing, arithmetic, and navigation.
These branches he mastered at an early age, and was then entered as a
cabin boy on board of a merchant vessel, which was in accordance with
the wishes of his father and his own inclination. Before he arrived
at the age of twenty-one years, he rose to the station of captain and
made several successful voyages to Europe. Some writers have attempted
to cast a stigma upon his character at that era of his life, because,
in a few instances, he participated in the slave trade. If they
will learn the general feeling that pervaded the minds of a large
proportion of the civilized community at that time upon this subject,
their anathemas will vanish in thin air. The trade was then sanctioned
by the king of Great Britain, under whose government captain Whipple
acted, and, according to the English law, _the king can do no harm_.
The correctness of the principle was not then disputed or agitated
generally, and the trade was ingrafted in the commercial policy of the
mother country. That Captain Whipple became convinced upon reflection
of the unjustness and barbarity of the traffic, fully appears from his
subsequent acts. At the commencement of the revolution he manumitted
the only slave he owned, who adhered to his old master during the war,
and fought bravely for our liberties. If every man is to be condemned
for the errors of youth, whose riper years are crowned with virtue, the
list of fame will be robbed of many bright constellations.

In 1759, captain Whipple relinquished his oceanic pursuits, and
commenced the mercantile business in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He
also married Miss Catharine Moffat, and entered upon a new scene
of life. During his numerous voyages he had become celebrated as a
skilful navigator and a judicious commanding officer. He had carefully
treasured a large fund of useful knowledge by close observation,
attentive reading, and by mingling, when in port, with none but
intelligent and good company. He had listened, both in England and
America, to the unwarranted pretensions of the former, and the
increasing complaints of the latter. He had made himself familiar with
the chartered rights of his own country, and with the usurpations of
the crown over his fellow citizens. He was prepared to take a bold
stand in favour of freedom. He took a conspicuous part in public
meetings, and was chosen one of the committee of safety. He rose
rapidly in public estimation, and the former cabin boy became a leading
patriot. In January, 1775, he represented Portsmouth in the Provincial
Congress, convened at Exeter, for the purpose of choosing delegates for
the Continental Congress. On the 6th of January of the following year
he was chosen a member of the provincial council of New Hampshire, and
on the 23d of the same month, a delegate to the national legislature
at Philadelphia, of which he continued a distinguished, active, and
useful member, until the middle of September, 1779. He was present at
the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, and affixed his name
to that sacred and bold instrument with the same fearless calmness with
which he would have signed a bill of lading.

He was emphatically a working man, and from his extensive knowledge of
business, rendered himself highly useful on committees. As a member of
the marine and commercial committees, his practical knowledge gave him
a superiority over his colleagues. He was also appointed one of the
superintendents of the commissary and quartermaster department, and did
much towards correcting abuses and checking peculation. He was untiring
in his industry, ardent in his zeal, philosophic in his views, pure in
his purposes, and strong in his patriotism. When he finally retired
from Congress to serve his country in another and more perilous sphere,
he carried with him the esteem and approbation of all his co-workers
in the glorious cause of liberty. On his return to his constituents he
was hailed as a SAGE, a PATRIOT, and a HERO.

In 1777 he had received the appointment of brigadier-general, and was
put in command of the first brigade of the provincial troops of New
Hampshire, acting in concert with General Stark, who commanded the
other. At that time General Burgoyne was on the flood tide of his
military glory in the north, spreading consternation far and wide.
He was first checked in his triumphant career by General Stark, at
Bennington, Vermont. General Whipple, about the same time, joined
General Gates with his brigade, and was in the bloody battles of
Stillwater and Saratoga, where the palm of victory was attributed in a
great measure to the troops under his command. In the consummation of
the brilliant victory over the British army under Burgoyne, which shed
fresh lustre on the American arms, General Whipple contributed largely.
Colonel Wilkinson and he were the officers who arranged and signed
the articles of capitulation between the two commanders. He was also
selected as one of the officers to conduct the conquered foe to Winter
Hill, near Boston. His faithful negro, whom he manumitted at that time,
participated in all the perils of his old master, and seemed as much
elated with the victory as if he had been the commander-in-chief.

In 1778, General Whipple was with General Sullivan at the siege of
Newport, which was necessarily abandoned in consequence of the failure
of the anticipated co-operation of the French fleet under Count
D’Estaing, which was unexpectedly injured in a gale of wind. A safe and
fortunate retreat was effected in the night, which saved that portion
of the American army from total destruction.

In 1780 General Whipple was appointed a commissioner of the board of
admiralty by Congress, which honour he did not accept, preferring to
serve in the legislature of his own state, to which he had just been
elected, and in which he continued for a number of years.

In 1782 he was appointed by Robert Morris financial receiver for the
state of New Hampshire, which conferred upon him the highest eulogium
for integrity and honesty. The office was arduous, unpopular, and
irksome, but he performed its duties faithfully until the 2nd of
July, 1784, when he resigned. In conjunction with the many honourable
stations he filled, he was appointed a judge of the superior court
on the 20th of June, 1782, and on the 25th of December, 1784, was
appointed a justice of the peace and quorum throughout the state,
which offices he held to the day of his death. He was also one of
the commissioners on the behalf of Connecticut, who met at Trenton
to settle the unpleasant controversy between that state and the
commonwealth of Pennsylvania, relative to the lands in Wyoming valley.
In all the multiform public duties that devolved upon him, he acquitted
himself nobly, and retained, to his last moments, the entire confidence
of his country. He possessed a strong and analyzing mind, a clear head,
a good heart, and deep penetration of thought. In all the relations of
private and public life, from the cabin boy up to the lofty pinnacle
of fame on which he perched, he maintained a reputation pure as the
virgin sheet. During the latter part of his life, he suffered much
from disease in his chest, which terminated his useful and patriotic
career on the 28th of November, 1785. Agreeably to his request before
his death, his body underwent a post-mortem examination. His heart was
found ossified; the valves were united to the aorta, and an aperture,
not larger than a knitting needle, was all that remained for the
passage of the blood in its circulation. This accounted for his having
often fainted when any sudden emotion excited a rapid flow of his life


Times of high excitement, terminating in an important crisis, big with
interests and events, tend greatly to the developement of character and
talent. Thus, during the revolution, many talents were brought to light
and action, that a supremacy of kingly power would have crushed in
embryo, and left them to perish, unseen and unknown.

Amongst the actors on that memorable stage we find a variety of
characters, showing the powers of mind in all their varied forms and
shades, from the sedate and grave Washington, to the sprightly and
witty Hopkinson, and the pithy and original Franklin.

FRANCIS HOPKINSON was the son of Thomas Hopkinson, of Philadelphia,
born in 1737. His father was a man of superior talents and high
attainments, his mother was one of the best of Heaven’s gifts. At the
age of fourteen, death robbed Francis of his father, and left his
mother to struggle, with limited means, with all the accumulating
difficulties of maintaining and educating a large family of fatherless

Under her guidance and instruction, young Francis soon evinced talents
that promised well for him and his country. She used every exertion
to improve his education, depriving herself of all the luxuries, and
many of the comforts of life, to advance the interests of her children.
Being a devoted Christian, she took peculiar care and delight in
planting deep the purest principles of virtue, guarding their minds
against all the avenues of vice and sin. She taught them the design of
their creation, the duty they owed to their God and fellow men, and
that to be truly _happy_, they must be truly _good_. The foundation
being thus firmly laid, she placed her favourite son, the future hope
of her family, at the University of Pennsylvania, where he completed
his studies and graduated. He then commenced a successful study
of law under Benjamin Chew, Esq., and became a close and thorough
student, making great proficiency in his judicial acquirements. He
possessed a brilliant and flowing fancy, a lively imagination, a
captivating manner, and was partial to polite literature as well as
the more solid sciences. He was fond of poetry, music, and painting.
He excelled in humorous satire, keen as that of his prototype Swift.
Fortunately, these talents were made to subserve, pre-eminently, the
cause of patriotism, science and philanthropy—the consequent result of
deep-rooted morality.

In 1765, he visited London, where he continued two years, making
himself acquainted with the feelings and designs of the British
parliament towards the Colonies, who had already began to feel

On his return he married the amiable Miss Ann Borden, of Bordentown,
N. J.; and soon found himself surrounded by all the accumulating cares
of a rising family. In rearing his children, his mind was often carried
back to the manner his venerable and esteemed mother had instructed him
during his childhood. He could adopt no better plan or find no brighter
example to follow. But the comforts of “sweet home” were soon to be
interrupted. His country needed his services, which were cheerfully and
promptly rendered. He was among its warmest and most zealous patriots.
It was for him to do much in opening the eyes of the great mass of the
people to a just sense of the injuries inflicted by the mother country.
This he did by various publications, written in a style so fascinating
and humorous as to be universally read; painting, in true and glowing
colours, the injustice of the crown and the rights of the colonists.
His Pretty Story—his Letters to James Rivington—his Epistle to Lord
Howe—his two Letters by a Tory—his translation of a Letter written
by a Foreigner—his Political Catechism—and the New Roof, were all
productions of taste and merit, and were of vast importance in rousing
the people to a vindication of their rights and the achievement of
their liberties.

During the administration of Governor Dickinson, political dissensions
and party spirit spread their mountain waves over Pennsylvania,
threatening to destroy the fair fabric of her new government. The pen
of Mr. Hopkinson was again instrumental in restoring order. In an
essay, called “A full and true account of a violent uproar which lately
happened in a very eminent family,” he exposed the factious partizans
to such keen and severe ridicule, that they threw down the weapons
of their rebellion much sooner than if a thousand bayonets had been
pointed at their breasts.

He was among the first delegates elected to the Continental
Congress, and most cheerfully and fearlessly recorded his name on
that declaration which has proved a consolation to the friends of
FREEDOM, but a Boanerges to the enemies of LIBERTY. Always cheerful
and sprightly, he contributed much in dispelling the gloom that
often pervaded the minds of his colleagues in the midst of disaster
and defeat. He knew the cause was righteous—he believed that Heaven
would crown it with triumphant victory and ultimate success. He had
sacrificed a lucrative situation in the loan office, held under the
crown, at the shrine of liberty; he had embarked his fortune, his
life, and his sacred honour, in defence of his country—and, with all
his humour and wit, he was firm and determined as a gladiator. With
the fancy of a poet, he united the soundness of a sage; with the wit
of a humorist, he united the sagacity of a politician. He succeeded
George Ross as Judge of the Admiralty court, and was subsequently one
of the United States District Judges; and was highly esteemed for his
judicial knowledge, impartial justice, and correct decisions.—He filled
every station in which he was placed with credit, honour, and dignity.
He continued to contribute, by his writings, much towards correcting
the morals of society, by ridiculing its evils and abuses—Sarcasm and
satire, properly timed, and guided by a sound discretion, are the most
powerful and cutting instruments ever wielded by man. Their smart upon
the mind is like cantharides upon the skin, but often requires a more
powerful remedy to heal it. The wit of Mr. Hopkinson was of a noble
cast, flowing from a rich and chaste imagination, never violating the
rules of propriety, always confined within the pale of modesty, but
keen as a Damascus blade. He was an admirer of sound common sense, and
a zealous advocate of common school education. He appreciated correctly
the bone and sinew of our country, and knew well that the perpetuity
of our liberties depends more upon the general diffusion of _useful_
knowledge, fit for _every_ day use in the various business concerns of
life, than upon the high-toned literature of colleges and universities.
He admired the industrious tradesman; he respected the honest farmer.
In the yeomanry of the soil and inmates of shops, he saw the defenders
of our country. MR. HOPKINSON was like some rare flowers, that, while
they please by their beauty, they possess powerful qualities to
alleviate distress and impart comfort. He was amiable and urbane in
his manners; open and generous in his feelings; noble and liberal in
his views; charitable and benevolent in his purposes; an agreeable and
pleasant companion; a kind and faithful husband; an affectionate and
tender parent; a stern and inflexible patriot; a consistent and active
citizen; a valuable and honest man.

His career was closed suddenly and prematurely by an apoplectic fit,
on the 9th of May, 1791, in the 53d year of his age, and in the midst
of his usefulness. He left a widow, two sons, and three daughters, to
mourn his untimely end, and their irreparable loss.


The profession of medicine in the hands of a skilful, honest,
judicious, upright, and accomplished man, is one of the richest
blessings in community, and one of the most honourable employments.
Over his acquaintances, the influence of “the Doctor” is greater,
when we include all classes, than that of any other profession;
consequently, in the cause they espouse, physicians can wield an
influence more powerful than many imagine. It is with pleasure I
remark, that among the signers of the Declaration of Independence we
find a goodly number from this highly honourable and useful profession.

Among them was Dr. JOSIAH BARTLETT, who was the son of Stephen
Bartlett, of Amesburg, Massachusetts. Josiah was born in November,
1729. He early manifested a strong and vigorous mind, which was
cultivated by an academical education. Possessing a retentive memory,
he acquired the Latin and Greek languages, and finished the course
assigned him at the early age of sixteen. He then commenced the study
of medicine under Dr. Ordway, and pursued it assiduously for five
years. He then commenced a successful practice at Kingston, where he
soon became generally and favourably known and highly esteemed. Two
years after he commenced his professional career, he was reduced so
low with a fever that his physician gave up all hopes of his recovery.
By an experiment of his own his life was saved. He induced those
who were attending upon him to furnish him with cider, small and
frequent quantities of which he took, a perspiration ensued, the fever
was checked, and he recovered. From this time forward, he closely
watched in his patients the operations and wants of nature, and often
successfully deviated from the stubborn rules that were laid down in
books written in other countries and climates. With a physician of an
acute and discerning judgment, matured by skill and experience, this
practice is safe. Dr. Bartlett was the first who discovered, in that
section of country, that the _angina maligna tonsillaris_, or canker,
was _putrid_, instead of _inflammatory_, and the first who administered
the successful remedy of Peruvian bark for this disease. He also
introduced the successful practice of using antiphlogistic remedies for
the _cynanche maligna_, or sore throat; by which disease hundreds of
children were suddenly torn from the arms of their fond parents, three
or four being frequently buried in one grave from the same family.
Under the skilful hands of Dr. Bartlett this disease was checked in its

Enjoying the unlimited confidence of his numerous acquaintances he was
promoted to several important stations, both civil and military, under
Governor Wentworth, discharging his duty with ability and approbation.
In 1765 he was elected to the legislature of New Hampshire, where
he soon became prominent from his steady and firm opposition to the
infringements of the crown upon the rights of the colonists. Republican
in all his views and feelings, he watched, with an eagle eye, the
movements of the British ministry and the royalists around him. In
granting charters to towns, the royal governors had uniformly reserved
to themselves, and for the use of episcopal churches, the _cream_ of
the location. This injustice roused the indignation of the advocates
of justice and equal rights, among whom Dr. Bartlett stood in the
foremost rank. The burdens of taxation by the mother country were
also severely felt and strenuously resisted. In effecting their early
settlements, the colonists had been left unaided and unprotected to
struggle with the stubborn wilderness and cruel savage. They were now
unwilling to allow themselves to be stripped of their hard earnings to
gratify the extravagant luxuries and avarice of the creatures of the
crown. Resistance was natural—it was right. Taxation and representation
are inseparable principles; without the one the other should not,
cannot exist with an enlightened people. Power is not always a
creature of justice, and often adopts the principle that “might makes
right.” Upon this corrupt and sandy foundation the British ministry
based their conduct towards the colonies. Starting upon these false
premises, their harsh measures recoiled upon them with a force that
levelled their superstructure to the dust. For a time the cords of
oppression were partially slackened, the stamp act was repealed, a
spirit of conciliation seemed to pervade the heart of the king, but
his old preceptor, lord Bute, in conjunction with lord North, soon
induced him to sanction measures more oppressive and arbitrary than
those previously complained of. The tax on tea was received with more
indignation than the stamp act, and the popular rage soon rose to a
foaming fury.

Governor Wentworth thought to secure Dr. Bartlett by appointing
him a member of the judiciary; but he could not be seduced by any
trappings from the crown, and continued to oppose the innovations of
the royalists. The minority in the legislature, to which the doctor
belonged, was fast increasing, and to prevent a majority against his
own views, the governor obtained the king’s writ for three new members
from townships not entitled to an additional representation. This
act of injustice disgusted many of the members who had not espoused
the cause of liberal principles, and determined them to enlist under
the banner of freedom. Opposition grew bolder under every act of
oppression; private meetings were held, committees of correspondence
and safety were appointed, a concert of feeling was produced through
most of the colonies, and plans of resistance were rapidly taking
the place of petitions to the king. Governor Wentworth several times
dissolved the assembly at the commencement of its sessions, until he
so exasperated the members and people as to virtually dissolve his
own authority, and was obliged to seek safety on board the man-of-war
Forney. The three new members had been expelled from the legislative
body, a warfare commenced between the adherents of the crown and the
friends of equal rights; Dr. Bartlett and others were deprived of all
authority within the control of the governor, the line of demarcation
was drawn, and the tocsin of war was sounded.

Dr. Bartlett was one of the members elected by the eighty-five
delegates convened for the purpose at Exeter, on the first of July,
1774, to meet the general Congress at Philadelphia. In consequence of
the recent destruction of his house by fire he was compelled to decline
the appointment at that time, but in September of the year following he
took his seat in that patriotic body. Simultaneous with his election to
Congress, he was appointed to the command of a regiment of provincial
troops. In Congress he performed his duties with great zeal, industry,
and ability. He was uniformly placed on the most important committees,
whose duties occupied their time until a late hour at night. Congress
met at nine in the morning, and sat until four in the afternoon. After
this hour the arduous duties of the committees were performed. When we
contemplate the labours of the Continental Congress, surrounded as they
were by difficulties on every side, a tremendous storm bursting over
their heads, retreating from place to place before a victorious foe;
their country bleeding at every pore, without resources, their army
almost annihilated, the only rational conclusion to be drawn how they
were sustained is derived from the fact, that many of its members were
consistent and devoted Christians, firmly relying upon Him who rules
the destinies of nations to support them and crown their efforts with
victory and success. Nor did they trust in vain.

In 1776, Dr. Bartlett was again elected to Congress and took a
conspicuous part in the discussion of separating from the mother
country. Amongst the patriots there were many who doubted the propriety
of this determination in consequence of their weakness. A concert of
feeling was eventually produced and a decided majority declared in
favour of emancipation. On the fourth of July the final question was
put to each member. Commencing with the most northern colony, Dr.
Bartlett was the first who was called. Firmly relying on the justice of
the cause, with his eyes raised to heaven, he responded YEA and AMEN;
and laid the first stone in the base of the fair fabric of liberty,
now towering in majesty over our happy land. Next to the president,
the venerable John Hancock, Dr. Bartlett was the first who signed
that invaluable instrument which gave our nation birth, and at one
bold effort burst the chains of slavery and dissolved the power that
had been swayed, with an iron hand, over the oppressed and bleeding

Worn down with the fatigue of arduous duties, Dr. Bartlett found his
health declining and was not able to take his seat in Congress after
the close of this session, until 1778. He was, however, enabled to
be useful to his native state in her civil departments, and also
aided greatly in raising troops for the northern army. When Congress
assembled at York Town Dr. Bartlett again resumed his seat. Although
re-elected to the succeeding term, this was the last of his attendance
in that body. His domestic concerns had suffered from his absence
in the public service, and he obtained leave to remain at home. His
services were immediately required by his fellow citizens of New
Hampshire. He was appointed chief justice of the common pleas and
muster master of the troops, then enlisting for the continental
service. In 1782 he was appointed a justice of the superior court, and
six years after, chief justice.

The usefulness of Dr. Bartlett did not close with the war. Although
victory had crowned the efforts of the patriots, and their independence
had been achieved, much remained to be done. Numerous conflicting
interests were to be reconciled, a system of government was to be
organized, an enormous debt was to be paid, many abuses and corruptions
were to be corrected, a concert of feeling and action to be produced,
and the art of self-government to be learned. In my view the wisdom of
the patriots and sages of the revolution shone more conspicuously in
perfecting our system of government, than in driving the foe from our
shores. It is a task of no small magnitude to reduce a nation from a
seven years’ war to a civil and quiet government, entirely different
from the one to which it has been accustomed. It often requires more
sagacity and wisdom to retain and enjoy, than to obtain an object.

Thus, with regard to our independence, after it was obtained, storms
arose that threatened utter destruction and ruin. It required the
combined wisdom of the wisest legislators to preserve it. Long and
arduous were the labours that effected a confederated consolidation.
During the time this subject was under discussion, many of the states
were shook to their very centre by internal commotions. That concert
of action and feeling that had carried the people triumphantly through
the revolution, was now, with a great mass of the community, lost in
the whirlpool of selfishness. Fortunately for our country and the
cause of liberty, those who stood at the helm during the storm of war
still remained at their posts. Their labours resulted in the adoption
of that constitution under which we have enjoyed a prosperity before
unknown. Dr. Bartlett was a member of the convention of his native
state for the adoption of the consolidating instrument, and gave it
his warm and efficient support. In 1789 he was chosen a member of the
national senate, the next year president of New Hampshire, and in 1793
he was elected the first governor of the state. He enjoyed universal
confidence and esteem, and discharged his duties with so much wisdom
and integrity, that slander and envy could find no crevice for an
entering wedge. Worn down by years of arduous toil, old age fastening
its wrinkled hand upon him, and the confines of the eternal world just
before him, he resigned his authority and closed his public career
on the 29th of January, 1794, covered with laurels of immortal fame,
without a spot to tarnish the glory of his bright escutcheon.

Governor Bartlett now retired to private life, anticipating the
enjoyments that are peculiarly pleasing to men who accept of public
stations from a sense of duty rather than a desire to acquire
popularity for the sake of advancement. But his fond anticipations
were soon blasted. Disease fastened its relentless grasp upon him, his
amiable wife had died six years before, the world had lost its charms,
and, on the 19th of May, 1795, his happy spirit left its tenement of
clay, ascended to Him who gave it, leaving a nation to mourn the loss
of one of its brightest ornaments, one of its noblest patriots.

In the life of this estimable man, we behold one of the fairest
pictures spread on the pages of history. His public career was of
that discreet and solid character, calculated to impart enduring and
substantial usefulness. Without dazzling the eyes of every beholder,
his course was onward in the cause of philanthropy and human rights.
He could look back upon a life well spent; he stood acquitted and
approved at the dread tribunal of conscience. He had nobly acted his
part, fulfilled the design of his creation, discharged his duty to his
country and his God, and filled the measure of his glory.

In his private character he was all that we could desire in a patriot,
a citizen, a friend, a husband, a father and a Christian. No man was
more highly esteemed by all who knew him—no man more richly deserved


Those who are familiar with the history of England, with her
constitution, with her great Magna Charta, and with the usurpations of
men in power upon the rights of British subjects at various periods,
can readily conceive why so many men of high attainments and liberal
minds immigrated to America. Disgusted with oppression at home they
sought liberty abroad. The cause that prompted them to leave their
native land, impelled them to action when imported tyranny invaded
their well-earned privileges. The mind of every immigrant patriot
was as well prepared to meet the crisis of the revolution, as that
of a native citizen. The feelings created by remembered injuries,
which drove them from the mother country, rendered them as formidable
opponents to the unjust pretensions of the crown as those who had never
breathed the atmosphere of Europe.

In tracing our own history back to the early settlements, we find an
almost constant struggle between the people and the officers sent by
the king to govern them; the former claiming their inherent rights, the
latter frequently infringing them.

Among those whom at an early period boldly espoused the cause of
freedom was Edward Middleton, the great grandfather of the subject of
this brief sketch, who immigrated from Great Britain near the close of
the seventeenth century, and settled in South Carolina. His son, Arthur
Middleton, imbibed all the feelings of his father, and in 1719, when
the crown officers became insolent beyond endurance, he stood at the
head of the opposition that boldly demanded and obtained their removal.
His son, Henry Middleton, the father of Arthur, whose biographette is
my present object, also inherited the same bold patriotism, and took
a conspicuous part in rousing his fellow citizens to action at the
commencement of the revolution.

ARTHUR MIDDLETON, the subject of this memoir, was born in 1743, at
Middleton place, on the banks of Ashley river, where his father owned a
beautiful plantation. His mother was a Miss Williams, the only child of
a wealthy and reputable planter. Arthur was the eldest of his father’s
children, and received all the advantages of an early education. At
the age of twelve years he was placed in the celebrated seminary of
Hackney, near London, and two years after, was transferred to the
classic seat of learning at Westminster. He applied himself with great
industry to his studies, excelling in all he undertook, and gained
the esteem and respect of those around him. In his nineteenth year he
became a student at the University of Cambridge, and four years after,
graduated with the degree of bachelor of arts, a profound scholar and
a virtuous man. Trivial amusements and dissipation, which had ensnared
many of his classmates, had no charms for him. Although an heir to
wealth and liberally supplied with money, economy was his governing
principle, wisdom his constant guide.

After he had completed his education he spent nearly two years in
travelling, making the tour of Europe. Familiar with the Greek and
Roman classics, he enjoyed peculiar satisfaction in visiting Rome
and other ancient seats of literature. He possessed an exquisite
taste for poetry, music, and painting, and was well versed in all the
technicalities of sculpture and architecture. After completing this
tour he returned home. Soon after his arrival, he led the amiable and
accomplished Miss Izard, daughter of Walter Izard, to the hymeneal

About a year after, he embarked with his wife for England. After
enjoying a pleasant season with their friends and connexions there,
they visited France and Spain, and in 1773, returned home and located
on his native spot, which his father bestowed upon him, placing him at
once in possession of an ample fortune.

Having resided so long in Great Britain, possessed of an observing
mind, tracing causes and results to their true source, he was well
qualified to aid in directing the destiny of his country through the
approaching revolution. Rocked in the cradle of patriotism by his
father, tracing its fair lines in the history of his ancestors, he
acted from the genuine feelings of his heart when he boldly espoused
the cause of liberal principles and human rights. The Middletons were
the nucleus of the opposition in South Carolina. Unlike many others
who mounted the stage of public action for the first time, untried and
almost unknown, this family had been proved and their influence was
felt throughout the colony, and was known in the mother country. Hence
the importance of their services at the commencement of the doubtful
struggle, and for the same reason they were peculiarly obnoxious to the
creatures of the crown. Aristocracy, too often the attendant of riches,
found no resting place in their bosoms. The very marrow of their bones
was republican, and to defend their country’s rights they freely
pledged “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honours.”

Arthur Middleton was a member of the different committees that were
appointed by the people to devise means of safety. On the 17th of
April, 1775, he was one of the committee of five, in South Carolina,
that determined to have recourse to arms, and under whose direction the
royal magazine was entered, in defiance of the king’s officers, and its
contents put into the hands of the people for their defence.

On the 14th of June following, the provincial Congress of this state
appointed a council of safety, consisting of thirteen persons, of
whom Arthur Middleton was one. They were fully authorized to organize
a military force, and adopt such measures as they deemed necessary
to arrest the mad career of the royalists. Mr. Middleton was one of
its boldest and most decided members, and appears to have been much
chagrined at the temporizing spirit of some of his colleagues.

That he possessed a penetrating sagacity as well as a firm patriotism,
appears from the following circumstance.

During the session of the first provincial Congress of South Carolina,
the new governor, Lord William Campbell, fresh from his majesty,
arrived to enter upon the duties of reducing the rebellious subjects
to subordination. He was all mildness and did not pretend to justify
the oppressions of which the people complained. To prove his sincerity,
Captain Adam M’Donald, one of the council, was introduced to Lord
William as a tory from the upper country, who seemed anxious to have
some means devised to put down the rebels. The plan succeeded. The
governor desired him and his friends to remain quiet for the present,
as he expected troops in a short time that would put a quietus upon the
_new fangled_ authorities.

When the report of this interview was laid before the council, Mr.
Middleton, although nearly related to the governor by marriage, made a
motion to have him immediately arrested and confined. This measure was
too bold for his timid companions, a majority of whom voted against
it. Soon after, his excellency retired on board a British sloop of war
and did not venture to return until accompanied by Sir Henry Clinton
and Sir Peter Parker, who showed more bravery than judgment in their
unsuccessful attack on Fort Moultrie. In this engagement Sir William
was severely wounded, and Sir Peter had his silk breeches badly
mutilated by the unceremonious course of a rebel cannon ball.

On the 11th of February, 1776, Mr. Middleton was one of the committee
that drafted the first constitution of his native state. Soon after
this he was elected a member to the Continental Congress, taking a
conspicuous part in its deliberations. Bold in all his movements,
he advocated, and by his signature sanctioned the declaration of
independence, then called by many the death-warrant of the fifty-six,
but ultimately proving the warrant of LIBERTY, the morning star of
FREEDOM. Mr. Middleton was a man of few words in debate—these few
words were to the point, and gave him a substantial influence in every
legislative body of which he was a member. He stood at the head of the
delegation of his state. He possessed a strong mind, a clear head, and
a good heart. He exercised plain common sense, attending diligently
to the business of his constituents and his country. He was on the
most intimate terms with John Hancock and was by him highly esteemed.
He remained in Congress until the close of the session of 1777. The
following year he was elected governor of South Carolina, not knowing
that he was a candidate until his election was announced. The mode
was by secret ballot by the members of the assembly, who had not then
learned the art of intrigue and caucusing—merit was the only passport
to office—management and corruption dared not show their hydra heads.

For the same reasons that induced Governor Rutledge to resign a few
days previous, Mr. Middleton declined accepting the proffered honour.
These reasons were founded in objections to a new constitution, then
before the legislature for adoption, and which required the sanction of
the chief magistrate of the state before it could go into operation.
Mr. Rawlins Lowndes was then elected, who approved the new form of
government on the 19th of March, 1778. Political candour and honesty
were marked traits in the character of Arthur Middleton. No inducements
could swerve him from the path of rectitude. He weighed measures, men,
and things, in the unerring scales of reason and justice. He went
with no man when clearly wrong, he concurred with all whom he believed
right. Patriotism, pure and unalloyed, governed his every action.
Discretion, the helm of man’s frail bark, guided him in the path of
duty. Philanthropy and love of country pervaded his manly bosom. He
was sound at the core. His mind was pure and free as mountain air; his
purposes, noble, bold, and patriotic.

In 1779, when the British spread terror and destruction over South
Carolina, Mr. Middleton took the field with Governor Rutledge, and
cheerfully endured the privations of the camp. He was at Charleston
when General Provost attacked that place, and was found in the front
ranks acting with great coolness and courage. Knowing that the
plundering enemy would visit his plantation, he sent word to his lady
to remove out of danger, but took no means to remove his property,
which fell a sacrifice to the mercenary army. They did not burn but
rifled his house, and several large and valuable paintings that they
could not carry away they defaced in the most shameful manner.

At the surrender of Charleston in 1780, Mr. Middleton was among the
prisoners sent to St. Augustine, and endured the indignities there
practised upon the Americans with heroic fortitude. In July of the
following year he was included in the general exchange, and arrived
safe at Philadelphia. He was shortly after appointed a member of
Congress, and again assumed the important duties of legislation. Soon
after this, the last important act of the revolutionary tragedy was
performed at Yorktown, where the heroes of the revolutionary stage
and of our nation took a closing benefit at the expense of British
pride and kingly ambition. With the surrender of Lord Cornwallis the
last hope of the crown expired in all the agonies of mortification.
Had a spirit of retaliation predominated in the bosom of Washington,
awful would have been the doom of his barbarian, desolating foe. But
he possessed a noble soul that soared above revenge. He sunk his enemy
into the lowest depths of humiliation by kindness and generosity.

In 1782, Mr. Middleton was again elected to Congress, where he
continued until November, when he visited his family, from whom he
had long been separated. At the declaration of peace he declined a
seat in the national legislature, believing the interests of his own
state required his services at home. He was highly instrumental in
restoring order, harmony, and stability in the government of South
Carolina. He was several times a member of its legislature, and used
every exertion to advance its prosperity. During the intervals of his
public duties he spent his time in improving his desolated plantation,
the place of his birth, and of the tomb of his venerable ancestors.
He once more participated in the enjoyments of domestic felicity and
fondly anticipated years of happiness. But, alas! how uncertain are
all sublunary things. In the autumn of 1786, he was attacked with an
intermittent fever, which paved the way for disease that terminated
his life on the first of January, 1787, leaving a wife, two sons and
six daughters, to mourn their irreparable loss. By the public he
was deeply lamented. His memory was held in great veneration by his
contemporaries. He had a strong hold upon the affections of his fellow
citizens. Those who knew him _best_ esteemed him _most_. In his private
character he was a consolation to his friends, an ornament to society,
a consistent, honest, and virtuous man. His wife lived until 1814,
highly respected and beloved. The example of a good man is visible
philosophy; the memory of departed worth “lives undivided, operates


Among the strange freaks of human nature is that of inconsistency,
showing itself in as many shapes and forms as are exhibited by the
kaleidescope, but of a contrary character. One of its most odious
features is persecution, prompted by jealousy and promulgated by
slander and falsehood. Great and good men are often the victims of
unprincipled and designing partisans, who stop at nothing and stoop to
every thing calculated to accomplish their unholy desires. In recurring
to the eventful period of the American revolution, we would naturally
suppose that party spirit found no place in the bosoms of any of those
who advocated the principles of liberty; that all were united in the
common cause against the common enemy. This is the impression upon the
minds of many, perhaps all who are not familiar with the history of the
local politics of that period. But far otherwise was the fact. Many of
the best men of that trying time were scourged and lacerated, and their
noblest exertions for a time paralyzed by the reckless hand of party
spirit. No one, perhaps, suffered more from this source, and no one
gave less room for censure than JAMES WILSON.

He was born of respectable parents, residing near St. Andrews,
Scotland, in 1742. His father was a farmer, in moderate circumstances,
which he rendered still more limited by rushing into the whirlpool
of speculation, a propensity which unfortunately seems to have been
transmitted to his son. After receiving a good classical education,
having been a worthy student at St. Andrews, Edinburgh, and Glasgow,
James was finished under the master hand of Dr. Blair, in rhetoric,
and of Dr. Watts, in logic. Thus fitly prepared, he immigrated to
Philadelphia in 1766, with letters of high recommendation, and soon
obtained the situation of usher in the college of that city. His moral
worth, combined with fine talents and high literary attainments, gained
for him the esteem and marked respect of Dr. Richard Peters, Bishop
White, and many others of the first rank in society. Indeed, those who
knew him best admired him most.

He subsequently commenced the study of law under John Dickinson, Esq.
and when admitted to the practice, settled permanently at Carlisle, in
Pennsylvania, where he exhibited powers of mind surpassed by no one at
that bar, and equalled but by few in the province.

A powerful display of his legal knowledge and Ciceronean eloquence at
the trial of an important land cause between the Proprietaries and
Samuel Wallace, gained for him an early celebrity in his profession.
Mr. Chew, who was then attorney-general, is said to have fixed his
eyes upon him soon after he commenced his speech, and to have gazed at
him with admiring astonishment until he concluded. He was immediately
retained in another important land case, and from that time forward
he stood second to no one at the Pennsylvania bar. He removed from
Carlisle to Annapolis, in Maryland, where he remained a year, and then
removed to Philadelphia, where he obtained a lucrative practice.

Notwithstanding the liberal patronage of the public, his circumstances
frequently became embarrassed by unfortunate speculations, to which
he frequently became a victim. Amidst his severest adversities he
frequently sent remittances to his mother, in Scotland, his father
having died and left her poor. To the day of her death he manifested
an earnest and commendable solicitude for her comfort, and used every
means within his power to alleviate her wants and smooth her downward
path to the tomb.

With the commencement of British oppression the political career of Mr.
Wilson began. He freely spoke and ably wrote in favour of equal rights
and liberal principles. He was an early, zealous, and able advocate of
the American cause. Of a consistent and reflecting mind, he sometimes
censured the rashness of those who were less cool, which laid the
foundation for many unjust and malicious slanders against him, which,
in the dark fog of party spirit, several times enabled his enemies to
obtain a momentary triumph over him, but which were always fully and
satisfactorily confuted.

In 1774, a short time previous to the meeting of the Continental
Congress, the provincial convention of Pennsylvania convened to concert
plans for the redress of wrongs imposed by the mother country, of
which Mr. Wilson was a bold and efficient member. So conspicuous were
his talents and so pure his patriotism, that he was nominated by the
same convention one of the delegates to the national assembly. His
appointment was opposed by Mr. Galloway, who had long been his bitter
enemy; but on the sixth of May, 1775, he was appointed a member of that
august body. At the commencement of hostilities he was honoured with
the commission of colonel, and was one of the commissioners to treat
with the Indians. He was continued a member of Congress until 1777,
when his enemies again succeeded in their machinations against him.

On the 4th of July, 1776, Mr. Wilson, with a bold and fearless hand,
guided by love of country and motives pure as heaven, gave his vote
in favour of independence, and subscribed his name to that matchless
instrument which records the birth of our nation and liberty. That act
alone was sufficient to confute the base slanders circulated against
him, in the minds of all whose eyes were not covered by the baneful and
deceptive film of party spirit. At the shrine of this dread Moloch,
our country’s glory has been too often sacrificed. No purity of heart,
no brilliancy of talent, no pre-eminence of worth, can save a man from
the vile attacks of party spirit. Even Washington, the father of his
country, often writhed under its withering lash. Some men seem born
_demagogues_, and live under the influence of Gog and Magog during
their whole lives.

As a member of the Continental Congress, Mr. Wilson acted well his
part, and was esteemed as one of its most active and useful delegates.
Coolness and consistency, marked characteristics of the Scotch nation,
were the crimes of Mr. Wilson, on which his enemies based an accusation
that he was not a pure patriot, and that he opposed the declaration of
independence. But those who knew him well soon convinced the people of
the falsity of the slander, and the character of this great and good
man shone with renewed brightness.

On the twelfth of November, 1782, he was again elected to the national
legislature, and the same year was appointed one of the counsellors and
agents of Pennsylvania to attend the court of commissioners at Trenton,
to which was referred the final determination of the protracted
controversy between Connecticut and the Commonwealth relative to
certain lands claimed by the latter within the limits of the former,
situated in Wyoming valley.

The luminous and unanswerable arguments of Mr. Wilson, which lasted for
several days, contributed, in no small degree, to influence that court
to determine in favour of Pennsylvania, and put at rest for ever an
angry litigation of years.

During the interim in which he was not a member of Congress he held
the office of Advocate General for the French nation, which led him to
the close investigation of national and maritime law. At the close of
his services, the French king rewarded him with ten thousand livres.
He was at the same time a director of the bank of North America, and
had the full confidence of Robert Morris as a safe and able adviser in
financial matters.

As an active, clear headed, and discreet member of the most important
committees, Mr. Wilson stood in the front rank. He weighed every
subject with a mathematical judgment, and traced all its bearings with
the compass of wisdom.

He arrived at the desired goal with less parade but with more
certainty than many others, whose zeal was more impetuous but not more
pure than his. He sought more to bestow lasting benefits upon his
bleeding country than to excite the huzzas and gaze of the multitude.
Substantial usefulness is not always found in the foaming froth of
popularity. It lives and is admired long after that transient vapour
has disappeared and left its subject to repose in the peaceful
shades of oblivion. Those who become inflated and rise by the power
of party, vain pride and flattery, may soar aloft in the political
atmosphere, followed by the eyes of thousands, but rely upon it, in
a large majority of instances, their every action is dependent upon
these subtile gases, and they will ultimately prove to be a mere bag
of wind. Modest worth avoids etherial excursions; the terra firma of
deep thought, calm reflection, and sound discretion, constitute its
most congenial clime. It consents to launch into the revolving vortex
of party with great reluctance, and nothing but a sense of duty to his
country and fellow citizens, can induce a man of genuine merit to enter
the vexatious arena of politics. How many such men are now in public
stations, guarding the rights and directing the destiny of our nation,
is a subject worthy of anxious and careful inquiry. If the people are
not true to themselves, demagogues may easily ride into office who
_will not_ be true to them.

Mr. Wilson was one of the most useful members of the convention that
formed our national constitution. He warmly opposed the appointment
of delegates to Congress by the legislatures of the several states,
and was powerfully instrumental in placing their election in the
hands of the people. He was one of the committee which framed that
important document, as first reported to the delegates. When this
model of wisdom received its finishing stroke, Mr. Wilson warmly
advocated its adoption. He was the only member from Pennsylvania of
the national convention that framed the constitution who had a seat in
the convention of that state convened to consider its provisions. His
closing remarks in favour of its acceptance are worthy the attention of
this enlightened age. They manifest a thorough acquaintance with human
nature and with the circumstances that prompted many to dissent from
its ratification.

“It is neither unexpected nor extraordinary, that the constitution
offered to your consideration should meet with opposition. It is the
nature of man to pursue his own interest in preference to the public
good; and I do not mean to make any personal reflection when I add,
that it is the interest of a very numerous, powerful, and respectable
body, to counteract and destroy the excellent work produced by the late
convention. All the officers of government and all the appointments for
the administration of justice and the collection of the public revenue
which are transferred from the individual to the aggregate sovereignty
of the states, will necessarily turn the influence and emolument into a
new channel. Every person, therefore, who either enjoys or expects to
enjoy a place of profit under the present establishment, will object to
the proposed innovation;—not in truth, because it is injurious to the
liberties of his country, but because it affects his schemes of wealth
and consequence. I will confess, indeed, that I am not a blind admirer
of this plan of government, and that there are some parts of it which,
if my wish had prevailed, would certainly have been altered. But when I
reflect how widely men differ in their opinions, and that every man—and
the observation applies likewise to every state—has an equal pretension
to assert his own, I am satisfied that any thing nearer to perfection
could not have been accomplished. If there are errors, it should be
remembered that the seeds of reformation are sown in the work itself,
and the concurrence of two-thirds of the Congress may, at any time,
introduce alterations and amendments. Regarding it, then, in every
point of view, with a candid, disinterested mind, I am bold to assert,

Mr. Wilson was also a member of the convention to alter the
constitution of Pennsylvania, where he acted a very conspicuous part
in defending the elective franchise, as belonging exclusively to the
sovereign people. The last vestige of aristocracy trembled beneath his
powerful eloquence, and the last whisper of slander against his pure,
unsophisticated democracy, was forever silenced and hushed.

The boldest features of liberal principles in the old revised
constitution of Pennsylvania were penned by James Wilson; and, could
_his_ views have been fully incorporated in that instrument, I doubt
much if a convention would ever have been called for its revision.

That the talents and integrity of Mr. Wilson were held in high
estimation by Washington, appears from the fact, that he was appointed
one of the first Judges of the Supreme Court of the United States,
in which office he continued until his death, discharging its duties
with great ability, integrity, and justice. His manner was dignified,
urbane, and pleasing.

In 1790, he was appointed the first professor in the law college of
Philadelphia, and the following year, when the college and university
of Pennsylvania were united, he was called to fill the chair. In 1791,
he was appointed by the legislature of that state to revise its laws,
but a disagreement of the two houses relative to the disbursements
necessary to prosecute the work, frustrated the plan. As a learned and
eloquent lawyer, he stood at the head of the Philadelphia bar. He was
honoured with the degree of LL.D. and, during the first year of his
professorship, delivered a course of lectures to the students. Towards
them he was reserved and distant, another marked characteristic of the
Scotch literati. His writings were vigorous and logical, and did much
to disseminate just conceptions of a republican form of government.
As early as 1774, he wrote an essay, portraying, in language bold and
strong, the assumptions of the British parliament not warranted by
their constitution, and painted, in fascinating colours, the blessings
arising from a republican form of government and the enjoyment of equal
rights. To a person unacquainted with the bitterness of party feeling,
it must seem mysterious that any one could have been found so base as
to accuse him of being an aristocrat. A purer patriot and an abler
advocate for the cause of freedom did not exist among the statesmen
and sages of ’76. He several times passed through the ordeal of severe
and relentless persecution, but truth-telling time, in every instance,
forced his enemies to retrace their steps, covered with shame and

The private character of this truly great man was, in all respects,
amiable and untarnished. It always stood beyond the reach of slander,
a pure, unsullied sheet. As a friend, he was warm-hearted and
benevolent; as a husband, kind and affectionate; as a father, discreet
and exemplary; consistently indulgent, and faithful in imparting that
instruction and advice to his children calculated to prepare them for
future usefulness and respect.

In 1798, on the 28th of August, this venerable sage, eminent lawyer,
able statesman, and profound judge, took his exit “to that country from
whose bourne no traveller returns,” in the fifty-sixth year of his
age. He died whilst on his circuit, of stranguary, in the hospitable
mansion of his colleague, Judge Iredell, in Edenton, North Carolina,
where his ashes rest in peace beneath the clods of the valley.

In reviewing the life of this worthy man, no one can doubt his
patriotism and purity. No one can doubt his devotedness to the American
cause and his firm and uniform opposition to British oppression.
Influenced, as he was, by the noblest motives; guided, as he was, by
liberal principles, it is painful to reflect, that he was often wounded
in the house of his professed friends, and placed under the castigating
lash of persecution by those who had sworn to support the same cause he
so ardently and ably espoused. The solution of the problem may be found
in the present state of things, without travelling back to that time,
of all others, when party should have hidden its hydra head.

At the present day, the dark intrigues of party are proverbial.
Low cunning is practised by men in the same ranks, to over-reach
an approaching rival, and all the machinery of slander put in
requisition to destroy him. Is he a man of superior talents and
worth? Means proportionably base must be resorted to, in order to
insure his destruction and drive him from the course. Disgusted at
such corruption, the very men best calculated to advance our dearest
interests and add new lustre to our national glory, are those who most
dread the political arena and shrink from the public gaze. How small a
proportion of such men as James Wilson, Benjamin Franklin, and others
of the same stamina, are now to be found in our legislative halls. We
pay large sums of money every year for _party_ legislation, and but a
small proportion of business is accomplished, calculated to benefit our
country. Let the people, the YEOMANRY, awake to this subject, and no
longer be led blindfold towards the vortex of destruction. Unless we
are true to ourselves, we need not expect purity in our legislators.
The genuine salt grows less and less as time advances, and a dangerous
carelessness is annually manifested in selecting men of proper industry
and purity of moral and republican principles to transact our public
business. Some of them are victims of the artful and designing, or are
mere partisans, legislating for themselves and their immediate friends
more than for the advancement of public good and national glory. These
are facts that are self-evident to every reflecting, observing man,
facts that demand our serious attention and timely correction, before
the unholy leaven extends its baneful influence so far as to destroy
our beautiful fabric of LIBERTY, and prostrate, at one bold stroke, the
hopes of FREEMEN.


The fond and faithful parents who have guided to manhood a family of
sons whose every action is a source of pleasure and delight, who walk
in wisdom’s ways, who prove themselves to be bold, generous, brave,
virtuous, and patriotic; whose lives shed new lustre upon the world,
and whose achievements, on the battle field or in the senate chamber,
place them on the loftiest, proudest pinnacle fame can rear, enjoy a
rich, a heavenly consolation, pure as the etherial skies and cheering
as the zephyrs of spring. More especially do their souls become
enraptured with gratitude, if these, their sons, deliver them from the
iron grasp of a merciless tyrant, disenthral them from the chains of
slavery, and make them free and independent.

All this was done for our country by her valiant sons, who graced the
memorable era of ’76. Like a meteor bursting from the clouds amidst
the gloom of midnight darkness, they illuminated the world with glory,
raised the star spangled banner, and planted the tree of LIBERTY deep
in the soil of FREEDOM. Sages and heroes of the American revolution!
noble sons of Columbia’s new world! your names will be held in grateful
remembrance through the rolling ages of time, and millions yet unborn
will rehearse your brilliant achievements and triumphant victories,
with admiration and praise.

Among the sons of noble daring who stood forth the champions of their
injured and bleeding country, was CHARLES CARROLL, of Carrollton, in
the state of Maryland.

This good man, accomplished gentleman, finished scholar, and bold
patriot, was born at Annapolis, on the 20th of September, 1737. He
was the grandson of Charles Carroll, son of Daniel Carroll, of King’s
county, Ireland, the former of whom immigrated to Maryland about 1686,
and located at Carrollton. The elder Carrolls were always found in the
foremost rank of those who espoused the cause of liberal principles,
and taught their sons to go and do likewise. Nor did the seed sown by
them fall on a barren soil. Imitating the examples and obeying the
precepts of his patriotic sire, young Charles proved himself worthy of
the high source from whence he sprang. At the early age of eight years,
his embryo talents shone so conspicuously that his father determined
on giving them an opportunity to bud, blossom, and expand, amidst the
literary bowers, and under the cultivation of a master’s hand in Europe.

He was accordingly sent to France, where his advantages of acquiring an
education were far superior to those then enjoyed in any of the infant
seminaries of the colonies in America. His unremitting application
to his studies and urbanity of manners, obtained for him a finished
education and the esteem of his teachers and classmates. At the age of
twenty, he entered upon the study of law in London, where he ripened
into manhood, and returned to his native state in 1764, with a rich
and enduring fund of useful knowledge, prepared to act well his part
through future life.

The subject of American oppression by the British ministry was
freely discussed in England during his stay, and had prepared his
mind for the exciting crisis that awaited the colonies. In Charles
Carroll, of Carrollton, the friends of freedom and equal rights
found an unflinching and able advocate, and the enemies of liberty
an uncompromising but manly opposer. He possessed a clear head, a
good heart, and a discriminating mind. In action, he was cool and
deliberate, firm and decisive. As a lawyer, he was learned, lucid,
and logical; as a statesman, bold, discreet, and industrious; as a
patriot, pure, disinterested, and zealous; as a Christian, devoted,
exemplary, and consistent; and as a gentleman, urbane, accomplished,
and courteous. His talent for writing was also of a high order. This
was fully developed in 1772, in a controversy between the people and
the king’s governor, who had issued a proclamation derogatory to their
inalienable rights. In a series of communications published in the
public papers, Mr. Carroll boldly, ably, and triumphantly espoused
the people’s cause, answering conclusively and confuting completely
the combined arguments of the governor’s cabinet in favour of the
pretensions of their master. So fully were the people convinced by the
essays of Mr. Carroll that they were clearly right, that they hung
the proclamation upon a gallows, and bid defiance to the minions of
despotism. Before it was known who was the writer, the citizens of
Annapolis instructed their representatives to record a vote of thanks
to the author, and when they subsequently ascertained that Mr. Carroll
was the champion who had bearded the British lion, they repaired in a
body to his house, and made the welkin ring with heartfelt thanks and
plaudits of praise.

From that time forward he became a prominent leader of the liberal
party, an espouser of American rights, and a stern opposer of
parliamentary wrongs. His benign influence radiated its genial rays
upon the hearts, and confirmed the wavering minds of many in the
glorious cause of liberty. He went for his country and his whole
country. He portrayed, in bold and glowing colours, the oppressions
of the king, the corruptions and designs of his ministers, and the
humiliating consequences of tame submission to their arbitrary demands.
He was among the first to kindle the flame of patriotic resistance, and
light the torch of independence. He was among the first to sanction the
declaration of rights, and the last of that noble band of patriots who
signed this sacred instrument, that bid it a long, a final farewell,
and took his exit to “that country where the wicked cease from
troubling and the weary are at rest.”

On the 18th of July, 1776, he was elected to the convention of
Maryland, and on the 2nd of August following, took his seat in the
Continental Congress, and affixed his name to the chart of liberty.
His talents and zeal were highly appreciated by the members of that
august body. He had previously endeared himself to them by a voluntary
mission to Canada, in conjunction with the Rev. John Carroll, Benjamin
Franklin, and Samuel Chase. The object of this mission was to persuade
the people of Canada to unite with the colonies in bursting the chains
of slavery, and throw off the yoke of bondage that had been forced upon
them by the mother country. The Messrs. Carrolls being of the Roman
Catholic faith, then most prevalent among the Canadians, and the other
two gentlemen entertaining that universal charity for others, that, if
exercised at the present day, would crumble to dust the sectarian walls
of partition that are now the greatest barriers against the advancement
of the Redeemer’s kingdom, it was fondly hoped that their influence
might induce the people of that country to join against the common
enemy. The defeat and death of Montgomery, and the dark prospects of
future success, caused them to determine on a contrary course. The
consequences of that course are at this time developing themselves most
fearfully, amidst the dying groans and streaming blood of the oppressed
citizens of Canada.

On his return from this mission, Mr. Carroll found, to his great
surprise, that the delegates from Maryland then in Congress, had
been instructed to vote against the declaration of independence. He
immediately repaired to the convention, and, by his eloquence and
cogent reasoning, convinced the members of their error, who immediately
rescinded the former and gave contrary instructions.

Although an active and efficient member of Congress, Mr. Carroll
occasionally returned to Maryland, and aided in the formation of its
constitution and laws. In 1778, he left the national legislature, and,
for several years, was a member of the senate of Maryland. From 1788 to
1791, he was a member of the United States’ senate, when his services
were again demanded by his native state, where he served as a senator
until 1801, when he retired from the great theatre of public action,
where he had acted a conspicuous and glorious part, that stamped
his name with unfading glory, his memory with lasting gratitude and
enduring fame.

In private life, Mr. Carroll lost none of the laurels that decked his
brow when in the service of his beloved country. Of an amiable and
kind disposition, he was highly esteemed by his friends and respected
by all. Temperate in all things his course was consistent, charitable,
and systematic. He was an exemplary Christian, and was ever opposed
to a spirit of persecution by one sect against another for opinion’s
sake. He was among the few who reason correctly and act wisely upon
this important subject. It is a fact, unknown perhaps to many, and
admitted by fewer still, that the Roman Catholics of Maryland were
the first who proposed and passed into a law religious toleration in
America. [See laws of the general assembly of that state, 1647.] It is
also a fact which is equally true, that the Protestants were the first
who introduced proscription, and obtained an order from Charles II.,
after his restoration in 1661, to disfranchise all Roman Catholics from
holding any office, taking the loaves and fishes exclusively into their
own keeping, in violation of the charter granted to Lord Baltimore by
Charles I., and in violation of reason, common sense, and the laws of
God. Sectarianism is not religion, nor a child of heaven.

The Protestants having become the bride of state, and having the power
in their own hands, carried on their principles of proscription under
the authority of William III. The Roman Catholics were taxed to support
the religion of their oppressors, and by an act passed in 1704, the
celebration of mass or the instruction of youth by a Catholic, insured
him a transportation to England.

During the excitements produced by this unhallowed connection of church
and state, which several times resulted in bloodshed, the Carrolls used
their best exertions to produce a reconciliation between the parties.
This was never fully effected until the revolution compelled all
persuasions to unite in the common cause against the common enemy.

For thirty years Mr. Carroll enjoyed the cheering comforts of “sweet
home,” and survived to hear the funeral knell of all the other signers
of the Declaration of Independence.

He enjoyed the rich reward of seeing the fruits of his labour, in
conjunction with his compatriots of the revolution, prospering under
the direction of an all wise Providence and a free and independent
people. He beheld, with increased delight, the onward march of his
favoured country, to which he had contributed largely in giving it a
name and character among the nations of the earth, at once admired and

He beheld, with increasing gratitude to Heaven, the asylum he had
aided in preparing for those whom the oppression of kings and tyrants
drive from their native shores. As one of the signers of the chart of
freemen, he stood alone, like a majestic oak that has long withstood
the raging tempest, calmly awaiting the time when he should be riven
and gathered to his fathers. Already had his mind ascended the golden
chain of faith, reaching from earth to Heaven: already had the world
lost its former charms; already had his mind become fixed on scenes
of future and purer bliss; already had he reached out his hand to
receive a crown of immortal glory; already had he anticipated the
joyful welcome he should receive from his Lord and Master; when, on the
14th of November, 1832, his spirit was summoned from its trembling,
tottering tenement of clay to realms of joy beyond the skies. Calm
and resigned he entered Jordan’s flood; angels escorted his soul to
Immanuel’s happy shores, whilst his grateful country mourned _deeply_
and felt _strongly_ the loss of one of her noblest sons and purest

In the life of Charles Carroll, we have an example worthy the
imitation of youth, of manhood, of old age; of the lawyer, the
statesman, the patriot and the Christian. His career was guided by
virtue and prudence; his every action marked with honesty, frankness,
and integrity; richly meriting, and freely receiving the esteem and
veneration of a nation of FREEMEN.


Great designs require the deep consideration of strong and
investigating minds. Great events open a wide field for virtue and
fame, and bring to view powers of intellect, that, under ordinary
circumstances, would never unfold their beauties to mortal eyes. Hence
the brilliancy of talent that illuminated the glorious era of the
American revolution. Many who became eminent statesmen and renowned
heroes during that memorable struggle, in times of peace, would have
remained within the sphere of their particular occupations—lived
retired from the public gaze, and died without a full developement of
their mental powers. That many of the sages of that eventful period
were men of unusual talents and acquirements, I freely admit; that the
momentous transactions that engaged their attention served to add a
more vivid lustre to their names than the common routine of life would
have given them, is equally true. The perils that encompassed them,
the dangers that threatened them, the dark clouds that hung over them,
the noble patriotism that influenced them, and the mighty work they
conceived, planned, and consummated, all combined to shed a sacred halo
around them.

Among those whose natural desires did not lead them into the public
arena, was WILLIAM WILLIAMS, the son of the Rev. Solomon Williams,
D. D. He was a native of the town of Lebanon, Windham county,
Connecticut, and was born on the 8th of April, 1731. His paternal
ancestors were Welsh, one of whom immigrated from Wales in 1630. They
were remarkable for piety and a love of liberty. His father was the
highly esteemed and able pastor of the first congregational church in
Lebanon, during the long period of fifty-six years. Deeply impressed
with the importance of storing the youthful mind with a good education,
virtuous principles, and moral truth, he spared no pains in furnishing
his sons and daughters with the means of exploring the fields of
science. His own mind imbued with liberal principles and expansive
views, his children naturally imbibed the same feelings. His own
soul enraptured with the beauties of genuine and practical piety, he
desired and had the happiness to see his offspring, one after another,
consecrate themselves to the Lord of glory by a public profession
of the Christian faith. At an early age William Williams became a
member of the church over which his father presided, and adorned
his profession through life. After he had completed his preparatory
studies, he entered Harvard College and graduated in 1751. He sustained
a high reputation for correct deportment, untiring industry, and
scholastic lore. His father then directed his theological studies in
order that he might be prepared, if so inclined, to enter the sacred
desk. His talents were of a variegated character, combining a taste for
the classics, mechanics, architecture, mathematics and general science.

Feeling an inclination to travel beyond the confines of his juvenile
perambulations, in 1755 he accepted a commission in the staff of
Colonel Ephraim Williams, a kinsman of his, and founder of the college
of that name at Williamstown, Massachusetts. A detachment, put under
the command of Colonel Williams, consisting of eleven hundred men,
was sent by Sir William Johnson, who commanded the English troops, to
reconnoitre the army under Baron Dieskau, composed of a large body of
French and Indians. After proceeding about four miles, Colonel Williams
was attacked by a superior force lying in ambuscade. He commenced a
spirited defence, but fell in the early part of the action, bravely
fighting for the mother country. The detachment then fell back upon the
main body in good order, which advanced and repulsed the enemy.

The French war, in which the colonies were not interested, the
acquirements of which are still held by Great Britain, cost much
American blood and treasure. The pilgrim fathers were long treated
and used as mere vassals of the English crown. During that campaign,
William Williams became disgusted with the hauteur of the British
officers and with the manner they treated native Americans, who were by
far the most efficient in conducting the Indian mode of warfare. Being
ardent in his feelings and of a warm temperament, he resolved never
again to submit to their indignities, and returned home and commenced
the mercantile business.

Soon after, he was elected town clerk, a member of the assembly, and
appointed a justice of the peace. These were not solicited honours, but
awarded to him by his fellow citizens as the reward of merit. Similar
demonstrations of confidence were continued to him for more than fifty
years. For a long time he was either clerk or speaker of the house of
representatives in his native state, in which he served nearly one
hundred sessions.

When the revolutionary storm began to darken the horizon of public
tranquillity, Mr. Williams freely confronted its raging fury. He was
an able debater, an eloquent speaker, and a bold advocate of his
country’s rights. Extensively and favourably known, his influence had a
wide range. When the tocsin of war was finally sounded, he closed his
mercantile concerns and devoted his whole time to the glorious cause
of equal rights and rational liberty. His learning, piety, experience
in public affairs, honesty of purpose, and energy of action, combined
to give great weight to his character. He was an active member of the
council of safety, and on the second Thursday in October, 1775, was
appointed a representative of the Continental Congress. He entered
zealously into the deliberations of that revered body, and became
prominent and useful. He was ever ready to go as far as any one in
promoting the liberation of his bleeding country from the serpentine
coils of oppressive tyranny. He was in favour of bold and vigorous
measures, and advocated the declaration of rights from its incipient
conception to its final adoption. He was instrumental in removing the
timidity and wavering doubts of many, whose motives and desires were as
pure, but whose moral courage was less than his. Whenever he rose in
debate he was listened to with profound attention. He possessed a fine
figure of the middle size, dark hair, piercing black eyes, an aqueline
nose, an open and ingenuous countenance, and a stentorian voice,
combined with a clear head, a Roman heart, a sound judgment, an acute
perception, and a logical mind. He was well versed in the principles of
international law, the different forms of government and the duties of

He was re-elected to Congress the two succeeding years, and when the
final vote upon the charter of our rights was taken, the voice of
William Williams responded a thundering—“AYE”—that told his boldness
and his zeal. That vote stands confirmed by his signature upon the
record of immortal fame, a proud memento of his unalloyed patriotism, a
conclusive proof of his moral firmness.

He was free from an aspiring ambition based on self and nurtured
by intrigue. From the pure fountain of an honest heart his motives
emanated; to promote the glory of his country was his anxious desire.
Upon the altar of liberty he was willing to sacrifice his property and
his life; in vindicating the cause of freedom he was willing to spend
his latest breath. Honesty of purpose, self-devotion, and persevering
action were among his marked characteristics. To rouse his countrymen
to a sense of danger, and to induce them to enlist in the common cause
against the common enemy, he used every honourable exertion.

Just before Congress was compelled to fly before the victorious foe
from Philadelphia, Mr. Williams, at the risk of being captured himself,
rescued his colleague, Colonel Dyer, from the fangs of the British, who
had planned and were on the point of effecting his arrest. They both
made a hair-breadth escape.

When the government treasury was drained of its last hard dollar, this
patriot threw in what he termed his “mite” of specie, amounting to more
than two thousand dollars, and took continental money in return, which
soon died in his hands. In the cause of equal rights his property was
nearly all expended, and he gloried in being able to add to his mental
aid a portion of “the sinews of power.”

For forty years he was a judge of probate, a select-man of his native
town during the war, commissioner of the public school fund, and held
almost every office within the gift of his constituents, discharging
the duties of all with so much industry, ability and integrity,
that slander found no crevice in his uninterrupted and unblemished
reputation for the smallest entering wedge, by which to impugn his
private or public character. He was remarkably active and fortunate
in obtaining private donations of necessaries to supply the army. He
went from house to house among his friends, obtaining small parcels of
any and every article that would alleviate the wants of the destitute
soldiers. He forwarded to them at different times more than a thousand
blankets. During the winter of 1781, he gave up his own house for the
accommodation of the officers of the legion under Colonel Laurens, and
used every effort to render them comfortable. His industry was equal
to his patriotism, seldom retiring until after twelve at night, and
rising at early dawn.

He was a member of the convention of his state when the federal
constitution was adopted, and was a warm advocate for that instrument.
He was never permitted to enjoy full retirement from public service
until disabled by disease, which terminated his useful career on the
2nd of August, 1811. He had lived the life of a good man, his last end
was peaceful, calm and happy. During his last years he was considerably
deaf, and spent much time in Christian devotion. But few men have
served their country as much, and no one more faithfully than did


No quality of the human mind sheds over it more lustre than
consistency. “Be consistent,” was a Roman motto, and once a Roman
virtue that influenced the hearts and actions of its republican sages,
heroes, and literati. Consistency is one of the brightest jewels in the
escutcheon of a name. It is the crowning glory of meritorious fame, and
implies a course of life that ennobles and dignifies man. It is based
upon true wisdom and sound discretion, the pilot and helm of the bark
of life in navigating the ocean of time. Without it, the buffetings of
chaos, the sand-bars of folly, and the rocks of disaster, cannot be
avoided. Without it, the brightness of other talents and attainments
of a high order are often eclipsed by the clouds of error and obscured
by the mists of ridicule. With it, mediocrity shines and enables the
plough-boy of the field to reach the pinnacle of substantial and
enduring fame, when his classic friend who has no share in consistency,
but is in all other respects his superior, sinks into oblivion.

It is a propensity susceptible of cultivation, and where its
developements are small in youth, parents and instructors should
nurture it with great attention and peculiar care. It is of more
importance than classic lore and the most powerful elocution. Dr. Young
has truly said, “With the talents of an angel a man may be a fool.”
The sages of the American revolution were remarkable for consistency.
Many of them rose from the humble walks of life by the force of their
own exertions, guided by this darling attribute, and became eminently
useful in the cause of liberty.

Among this class the name of SAMUEL HUNTINGTON stands conspicuous. He
was a native of Windham, Connecticut, born on the 2nd of July, 1732.
His father, Nathaniel Huntington, was a plain honest farmer, and gave
this son only a common English education. Three of his brothers enjoyed
the advantages of Yale College and became gospel ministers, all of them
adorning their profession, and one of them, Joseph, becoming an eminent
divine and an able writer. Their pious mother was the happy instrument
that led them to the pure font of religion, and had the happiness to
see her numerous offspring all walking hand in hand in the ways of
wisdom and virtue. Samuel followed the plough until he was twenty-two
years of age. He was of middle stature, dark complexion, keen eyes,
countenance expressive, with a deportment that commanded respect, love
and esteem. He was remarkable for industry and integrity, and from
his early youth had been a close observer of men and things, and an
attentive reader. His native talents were strong and of a grave cast,
his judgment was clear and his reflections deep. From his childhood to
his grave he was remarkable for consistency in all things. This was his
strong forte, and exalted him to a lofty eminence. In his twenty-third
year he commenced reading law at his father’s domicile, from books
loaned to him by Zedediah Elderkin, Esq. a member of the Norwich bar.
Like Roger Sherman, he soon mastered the elementary principles of
that intricate science, was admitted to the practical honours of the
profession, and immediately opened an office in his native town. His
reputation as an honest man, possessing a clear head and a good heart,
already rested on a firm basis. His fame as an able advocate and safe
counsellor, soon added new grace to this superstructure. He was not
celebrated for Ciceronean powers; he imitated more closely Socrates
and Solon. His manner was plain and unvarnished, but marked by that
deep sincerity and candour that seldom fail to impress the minds of a
court and jury favourably, and often foil the most brilliant and happy
displays of Demosthenean eloquence. To his other strong qualities he
added punctuality, which is the very life of business. He soon obtained
a lucrative practice and the confidence of the community. In 1760,
he removed to Norwich, where a wider field was open before him; and
two years after, he emerged from the lonely regions of celibacy with
Martha, the accomplished daughter of Ebenezer Devotion, and entered
the delightful bowers of matrimony, thus giving him an importance in
society that, single blessedness never confers. The choice he made was
consistent; his partner proved to be an amiable companion, uniting the
accomplishments of a lady and the piety of a Christian, with laudable
industry and strict economy. “Marriage, with peace, is this world’s

The professional fame of Mr. Huntington continued to rise and expand,
and when the all-important subject of American rights and British
wrongs was agitated, he exerted his extensive influence and noblest
powers in favour of the cause of equal rights. In 1764, he was elected
to the general assembly, and the next year was appointed king’s
attorney, the duties of which office he continued to ably discharge
until the pestiferous atmosphere of monarchial oppression drove him
from under the dark mantle of a corrupt and impolitic ministry. He was
appointed to the bench of the Superior Court in 1774, and the next
year a member of the council of his native state. In October, 1775,
he had the honour of being associated with the patriots and sages of
the Continental Congress then assembled at Philadelphia, of which body
he became a prominent and useful member. In January following he
again took his seat in that venerable assembly, and advocated boldly,
fearlessly, and with undisguised sincerity, the necessity of severing,
at one gigantic stroke, the cords that bound the colonies to England.
The solemnity of his manners, the deep tone of his reasoning, the lucid
demonstration of his propositions, and the purity of his patriotism,
were well calculated to carry conviction to the heart and impart
confidence to the wavering and timid. He was present on the memorable
4th of July, 1776, at the birth of our independence, and became a
subscribing witness to the imposing solemnities of that eventful day.
He was continued a member of Congress until 1781, when ill health
compelled him to retire, for a season, from the halls of legislation.

He was a man of great industry, clearness of perception, honesty of
purpose, and profound research; united with an extensive practical
knowledge of human nature, general business, and political economy,
which rendered him worthy of unlimited confidence and gave him a
place on the most important committees. So highly was Mr. Huntington
esteemed, that on the resignation of Mr. Jay, in 1779, who was
appointed minister to Europe, he was elected president of Congress,
the duties of which high and dignified station he discharged with so
much consistency and ability, that on his final resignation in July
1781, that august body passed and communicated to him a vote of thanks
for the able manner he had filled the chair and promoted the execution
of public business. So anxious were the members that he should resume
his seat, that they waited considerable time before they supplied the
vacancy permanently, hoping that his health might be restored and
enable him to return. During this interim of his congressional career,
when he was able, he served his own state on the bench and in her
council. In 1783, he resumed his seat in the national legislature,
during which year he closed his services in that body and declined a
re-election. He had aided in completing the mighty work of national
freedom; the star spangled banner was floating in the breeze of
liberty; his country had triumphed over a merciless foe; her political
regeneration had been consummated; America was disenthralled; he then
desired retirement from the arena of public life. His rest was of brief
duration. In 1784, he was appointed chief justice of his native state;
the ensuing year, lieutenant-governor; and the year following that, he
was elected governor of Connecticut, which responsible and important
office he filled until the 5th day of January, 1796, when he sunk under
a complication of diseases, and closed his eyes in death. He died
the death of a righteous man, having long adorned the profession of
religion by a life of consistent and exemplary piety.

In the life of this good and useful patriot, we find much to admire
and nothing to condemn. His superior virtues and uniform consistency
eclipsed every frailty of his nature. In the performance of all the
duties of public and private life, he was a model worthy of the highest
praise and of the closest imitation. From the plough in the field,
through his bright career to the presidential chair in Congress, and
from thence to the chief magistracy of his native state, so great
were his consistency, wisdom, prudence, discretion, and even-handed
justice, that envy, malice, and slander, shrunk from the torpedo
touch of his moral purity. As a lawyer, a judge, a statesman, and a
chief magistrate, he stood admired, approved, and honoured. He was a
stranger to pomp and show; republican in his manners as well as in his
principles; temperate and frugal in his habits; scrupulously honest in
the discharge of every duty; calm and deliberate in all his actions;
urbane and affable in his intercourse with mankind; completely master
of all his passions; systematic and punctual in private and public
business; emphatically a son of consistency, liberty, order, and law.
His fame is based upon substantial merit; his name is surrounded by a
sacred halo that renders it dear to every freeman; his examples will
shed a salutary influence over the mind of every reader capable of
receiving the congenial impression of angelic consistency.


Knowledge is the treasure of the mind; virtue is the parent of earthly
happiness. In this enlightened age and in our free country, ignorance
is a voluntary misfortune arising from idleness, the parent of want,
vice, and shame. Under the benevolent arrangements of the present
day, every child, youth, woman and man can have access to books, and
generally to schools. At no era of the world has the mantle of science
been so widely spread as at this time. All who will may drink at the
pure fountain of intelligence, and go on their way rejoicing in light.
By a proper improvement of time, the apprentice of the workshop may lay
in a stock of useful information that will enable him, when he arrives
at manhood, to take a respectable stand by the side of those who have
been illumined with the full blaze of a collegiate education. In his
own hands are the materials of future fame, oblivial obscurity, or
shameless infamy. He is the architect of his own fortune, and will rise
in the scale of being just in proportion with his mental exertions.
Youth of America, if you desire to remain free, store your minds with
knowledge. Several bright examples have already been spread before the
reader, in this review of the lives of the signers of the declaration,
of men who raised themselves by the force of their own powers and
industry to the loftiest pinnacle of enduring fame.

In tracing the career of GEORGE WALTON, another instance of the same
kind is presented. He was a native of Frederic county, Virginia,
born in 1740. Without any school education he was apprenticed to a
morose carpenter at an early age, who was so penurious as to deny him
a candle to read by, after having faithfully performed his task of
labour. So great was his desire to become familiar with books, that he
would collect pine knots, which afforded him the only light for the
prosecution of his studies during his boyhood and youth. He served out
his time in strict accordance with his indentures, and when manhood
dawned upon him, his mind was stored with a rich stock of useful
intelligence and practical information. This he had acquired alone
by the dint of industry during those hours of the night when a large
proportion of other boys and youth were either reposing in slumber, or
were wasting their time in corrupt and vicious company, demonstrating
most clearly _that ignorance is a voluntary misfortune_.

When he arrived at his majority he went to Georgia and commenced
the study of law with Henry Young, Esq., under whose instruction he
rapidly acquired the elements of the profession, and was admitted to
the bar in 1774. During his investigation of the principles laid down
by Blackstone and other able writers, he was most forcibly struck with
the gross violation of the chartered and constitutional rights of the
colonies. His indignation became roused, he communicated his views and
feelings to other kindred spirits, and was among the first to oppose
British oppression in his adopted state. The interests of the crown
were sustained in Georgia longer than in either of the other provinces.
A temporizing spirit pervaded the minds of many of those who desired
liberty, but believed its attainment beyond their reach. For some
time they preferred enduring their present sufferings, lest a severer
fate should overtake them. They knew their own weakness, they dreaded
the physical power of England. But George Walton and a few other bold
patriots were not to be intimidated by a display of military force.
They considered that to die in the cause of liberty was more glorious
than to wear the chains of a tyrant. They were determined never to bow
the knee to Baal, or offer a sacrifice at the altar of monarchy. They
resolved to be free or nobly perish in the attempt.

In order to test the public mind, Messrs. Walton, Noble, Bullock, and
Houston, over their proper signatures, published a notice for a meeting
of their fellow citizens to be held at the Liberty Pole, Tondee’s
tavern, Savannah, on the 27th of July, 1774, in order to take into
consideration the constitutional rights and liberties of the American
subjects of the British empire. This was the first liberty pole planted
in that state; this was the first meeting that put the revolutionary
ball in motion in Georgia. A large number of citizens assembled at the
time and place appointed, and were eloquently addressed by Mr. Walton,
who, from that time, became a prominent and able leader of the popular
party. A committee was organized for the purpose of rousing the people
to a sense of impending danger and to a vindication of their injured
rights. Governor Wright, with the hireling phalanx of the crown, used
great exertions to obtain from the inhabitants of every parish a
written pledge to sustain them in executing the nefarious designs of
the mother country, and to submit their necks more implicitly to the
yoke of bondage. Fascinating promises of redress were held out, and the
people were in a measure lulled into quietness by a renewal of their
petitions to the throne for the repeal of the unconstitutional laws of
parliament. But the fire of patriotism had commenced its insulating
course. From Mr. Walton and his compatriots its holy flame continued to
spread from heart to heart, from sire to son, from parish to parish,
at first slowly, but finally illuminating the horizon of liberty with
cheering refulgence. The struggle of many of the more timid patriots in
that province, between policy and duty, was long suspended on the pivot
of indecision. Present self-interest and self-preservation influenced
many to remain inactive for a season, who subsequently became the bold
advocates of liberal principles. In January, 1775, the members of the
assembly were so equally divided upon the all-important subject of
the revolution, then rolling upon them, that they adjourned without
any definite action relative to it. The same wavering spirit was
manifested at the public meetings and by the committee of safety. To
restore the public mind from this political paralysis, was the province
of Mr. Walton and a few other noble spirits. All the other colonies
had united in the common cause against the common enemy and had sent
delegates to the Congress convened at Philadelphia the previous year.
That Georgia should be the last to hug the chains and kiss the rod of
oppression, was to him a source of mortification and regret. But he
determined not to desert his post. His exertions became equal to the
herculean task before. His powers of mind rose with the magnitude of
the occasion; his eloquence and logic bore down all opposition, and
when the cry of blood—of murder—from the heights of Lexington was
heard, the people started from their reverie, rose in the majesty of
their might, buckled on the armour of opposition, burst the cords
that bound them, and bid defiance to British power. In May, 1775, the
parish of St. Johns sent Lyman Hall to the Continental Congress, and
in July, a convention of the province sanctioned his election, joined
the confederacy, and sent four other delegates to aid him. The council
of safety was re-organized, and vigorous measures adopted to aid the
cause of rational liberty. In these measures Mr. Walton was one of the
leading men. In January of the next year the legislature appointed
Mr. Bullock, a bold and active patriot, president of the executive
council by a large majority. British authority was at an end. Governor
Wright threatened the members with bayonets, the next hour he was their
prisoner, and permitted only the liberty of his own house on his parol
of honour. This he violated, fled on board of the armed fleet in the
harbour, commenced an attack upon the town, was shamefully defeated,
and retired from the vengeance of an enraged, insulted, and injured

In February, 1776, Mr. Walton was elected to Congress, and entered
upon the important duties of legislation. He at once took his seat and
proved a bold, energetic, and efficient advocate for every measure
calculated to advance the cause of independence. He warmly supported
the declaration of rights and most cheerfully gave it his vote and
signature. He continued to be annually elected a member of the national
legislature until 1781, excepting 1779, when he was governor of
Georgia, he rendered essential service on various committees. When
Congress was compelled to retire to Baltimore on the 13th of December,
1776, in consequence of the approach of the British army, Messrs.
Morris, Clymer, and Walton, were left as a committee of superintendence
with $200,000, to be expended for the use of the army. Mr. Walton was
also a member of the treasury board and marine committee, and ably
discharged every duty that devolved upon him. In addition to his civil
honours, his brow was decked with the epic wreath. In 1778, he was
commissioned colonel of militia, and bravely sustained himself at the
battle of Savannah between the American troops under General Howe and
the British under Colonel Campbell. The battalion under his command
made a desperate resistance until he received a shot in his thigh, fell
from his horse, and was captured by the enemy. So long as his wound
confined him he was held under a parol of honour; when he recovered,
he was sent to Sunbury and confined with the other prisoners. He was
soon after exchanged, and again entered into the service of Congress,
having been absent during the session of 1778. In January, 1783, he
was appointed chief justice of Georgia. He was subsequently again
elected governor of the state, and also a member of the United States
senate, and served several sessions in the state legislature. He was
a judge of the superior court, when he closed his laborious life on
the 2nd of February, 1803, which had been almost entirely devoted to
the service of his country. He was also one of the commissioners that
effected a treaty with the Cherokee Indians in Tennessee. His high
reputation as an able and faithful public servant, imposed upon him
numerous and onerous duties, all of which he discharged in a manner
that did honour to his name and his country. The only difficulty in
which he appears to have been involved during his public career, was
as singular as it proved harmless, and lost none of its odd features
in its final adjustment. During the war, a jealousy existed between
the civil and military powers in Georgia. At the head of the first was
Mr. Walton; at the head of the latter, General M’Intosh. In 1779, when
the former was first elected governor of the state, a forged letter,
purporting to be from the legislature, then in session at Savannah, was
forwarded to Congress, requesting the removal of the latter to some
other field of action. The governor was charged with a knowledge of
the transaction; but few, if any, believed it, and he declared himself
ignorant of the whole matter. The documentary proofs were laid before
the house in January, 1783, and whilst under discussion, Mr. Walton was
appointed chief justice of the state; the next day a vote of censure
was passed upon him for participating in the forged letter, and the
attorney-general directed to institute proceedings against him in the
very court over which he presided, and the only one that had cognisance
of the charge against him. The vote of censure may have healed the
wounded feelings of General M’Intosh; it certainly never injured chief
justice Walton, and was never afterwards agitated. It was more like a
political compromise of the present day than any revolutionary farce
that has come under my notice.

During the latter part of his life, Judge Walton confined his public
duties to the bench of the superior court; and during the intervals of
its session, enjoyed the comforts of domestic life with his family,
consisting of one son, and his amiable and accomplished companion,
the daughter of Mr. Chamber, whom he had married in 1777. He was not
wealthy, was free from avarice, and was contented with a competence
which was afforded by his public emoluments and the produce of a small
plantation. He indulged in good living, and suffered much from the gout
at various times. He was a close student during his whole life. He
continued to add to his experience a general knowledge of the sciences,
and became an ornament to the judiciary of his state. He was also a
ready writer, and possessed a peculiar talent for satire, which he
occasionally resorted to as a correction of error and folly. He was
of a warm temperament, easily excited, resenting every indignity, but
highly honourable and just, moving within the orbit of propriety under
all circumstances, showing clearly that the inflammable passions may be
governed and controlled by a wise discretion. He was open and frank, a
stranger to disguise, ardent in his attachments, firm in his purposes,
stern and reserve in his manners in general society, but very familiar
in the private circle with his friends. He was an indignant but manly
opponent; his enemies knew just where to find him. He was fond of
brevity and despatch in conversation and in business, and systematic in
all his proceedings and arrangements both public and private. Taken as
a whole, he was one of the most useful men of his day and generation,
and has left examples worthy of the imitation of the apprentice, the
student, the lawyer, the judge, the magistrate, and the statesman. By
the force of industry and perseverance he rose from the humblest walks
of life to the most dignified stations in the community. Let every
youth whose eyes meet this brief sketch, be stimulated to embrace
every opportunity for improvement, and drink often and freely at the
crystal fountain of knowledge now accessible and open to all. Soon the
affairs of a mighty nation will devolve upon you; without intelligence
you cannot be prepared to guard its dearest interests and counteract
the corrupting and baneful evils that are often put in motion by wild
ambition, sordid selfishness, and dark intrigue.


The mental powers of man are as diversified as the soils of the earth.
Upon the minds of some we pour the classic stream in vain; like the
desert of Sahara, they are barren of fruit or flower. Upon the minds
of others, laborious efforts produce an improvement, but never enrich
them. Their substance is too light and their substratum too porous to
long retain the fructifying substances lavished upon them. Others,
by good culture, yield a liberal harvest and become valuable by use.
Others again, like the alluvial prairie, are adorned with spontaneous
fruits, and only require the introduction of seed to afford all the
rich varieties that may be desired. Expose them to the genial rays of
the sun of science and the germs of genius will immediately spring up,
the embryo forms will bud and blossom like the rose.

The mind of GEORGE CLYMER was composed of a prolific and deep mould,
capable of producing the richest foliage. Fortunately for our country,
it was not appropriated entirely to ornamental flowers and blooming
shrubbery, but to the substantial fruits that invigorate and support

He was born in Philadelphia in 1739. His father removed from Bristol,
England, to that city, and died when this son was but seven years of
age. George Clymer was then taken under the guardian care of William
Coleman, his uncle, who treated him as a son and made him heir of most
of his property. Himself a literary man, Mr. Coleman conferred upon his
nephew a good education. He possessed a splendid library, and had the
gratifying consolation of seeing it often and fully explored by George
Clymer, who manifested an early taste for reading, and investigated
critically every subject that came before him, never leaving it until
he traced it through all its meanderings to its primeval source. This
trait in his character rendered him vastly useful in the momentous
concerns that occupied his subsequent life. It is of the first
importance to dig deep and lay firmly the foundations of an education,
that the superstructure may rest upon a substantial basis.

From the seminary, Mr. Clymer went into the counting-house of his
uncle, and made himself acquainted with the mercantile business, in
which he subsequently embarked. The precariousness and uncertainty of
this calling rendered it unpleasant to him. He was opposed to sudden
gains or losses, because the one was calculated to elate the mind
too much, and the other to depress it too low, thus destroying the
equilibrium calculated to impart the most happiness to a man and render
him most useful to himself, to his family, and to the community. He
contended that a virtuous equality in life is more conducive to the
comfort and prosperity of a nation, than to have a majority of the
wealth wielded by a favoured few. He was the friend of equal rights
and free principles. He was a republican of the Roman school, a
patriot of the highest order, a philanthropist of the noblest cast,
and opposed to all monopolies. His genius was of that original order,
that, like some comets, illuminate our world only at long intervals.
It seemed to traverse the circuit of human nature, of metaphysics,
of philosophy, and of general science, without an apparent effort,
drawing from each conclusions peculiarly its own. He was a virtuoso,
an amateur, and at the same time a deep logician and mathematician. A
love of liberty and equal rights was with him an innate quality. His
mind was richly stored with the history of other times and nations; he
was well versed in the principles of law and government, and understood
well the chartered rights of his country, and felt most keenly the
increasing infringements upon them by the very power that was bound by
the laws of nature, of man, and of God, to protect them. His course
at the commencement of the revolution can readily be imagined. True,
his entire property was vested in commercial business; Reese Meredith,
his father-in-law, was his partner in trade, and for him to oppose
the interests of the crown, seemed certain destruction to his own,
so far as pecuniary matters were concerned. But his mind moved in an
orbit limited only by the confines of freedom. He was among the first
to resist the oppressors of his country and proclaim to his fellow
citizens the principles of liberty. At the “_tea meeting_,” held by the
citizens of Philadelphia on the 16th of October, 1773, his reasoning,
sincerity, zeal and enthusiastic patriotism, commanded great attention
and admiration. Free from pedantry and naturally retiring his powers of
mind were known only to his friends. From that time they were claimed
as public property. He was compelled to surrender possession to the
rightful owners, without certiorari or appeal, and was engaged in all
the important measures of the day. When the final crisis arrived for
action; when forbearance had ceased to be a virtue; when the war-cry
resounded from the heights of Lexington, Mr. Clymer took command of
a company under General Cadwalader and repaired to the tented field.
He was at the same time a member of the council of safety, and had
served on all or most of the preliminary committees of his native
city appointed to prepare petitions, remonstrances and measures
of defence. He was soon called from the field of epic glory, and
appointed by Congress, on the 29th of July, 1775, in conjunction with
Michael Hillegas, to take charge of the public treasury. He subscribed
liberally to the loan raised for the public service, and poured all
the specie he could raise into the government chest and took in return
paper, which was virtually ephemeral in its value. His examples and his
patriotic enthusiasm had a powerful influence upon his friends, many
of whom came boldly to the rescue. In July, 1776, he took his seat in
the Continental Congress _after_ the adoption of the declaration of
rights, to which he most cheerfully subscribed. A part of the preceding
delegation from Pennsylvania when they found their colleagues were
in favour of cutting loose, left their station and retired, perhaps
that they might avoid the wrath of the king on the one hand and the
indignation of the patriots on the other, or believing the time had not
yet arrived for so bold a step. The people promptly filled their places
with men who _dared_ to be free, by men who had already nobly resolved
on _liberty_ or _death_.

In September of that year, Messrs. Clymer and Stockton were sent by
Congress to regulate the northern army and to confer with Washington
in making arrangements for future action. In December of the same
year Congress retired to Baltimore in consequence of the threatened
approach of the British army, then spreading consternation, destruction
and death through New Jersey. Mr. Clymer was one of the committee
left in Philadelphia to superintend the public interests and brave
the perils that were rolling onward like a tornado. He was faithful
in the discharge of every duty, devoting his time and fortune to the
advancement of the glorious cause he had espoused. He was returned
to Congress the next year, and in April was again appointed upon a
committee to repair to the army and confer with Washington upon all
subjects that required their attention, which were neither few nor
small. In the autumn of that year an additional momentum was given
to the patriotism of Mr. Clymer. He had removed his family and goods
to Chester county, and immediately after the defeat of the Americans
at Brandywine, the tories led the British to his house; his family
escaped, but his property, to a large amount, was totally destroyed.
This sacrifice at the altar of freedom seemed to strengthen his
political faith and impart fresh vigour to his exertions.

In December, 1779, he was one of a board of commissioners sent by
Congress to Fort Pitt, to counteract, if possible, the hostility of
the savages, who were committing murders upon the western frontiers of
Virginia and Pennsylvania, and to effect, if practicable, a treaty with
the several tribes, and if unsuccessful in the accomplishment of these
designs, to make arrangements for offensive operations. The mission was
boldly executed, principally by Mr. Clymer alone, who narrowly escaped
the tomahawk during his absence. The commissioners returned in April
and reported the necessity of carrying the war into the Indian country.
During the next year Mr. Clymer was not in Congress, but devoted his
time in raising loans and supplies for the army, then destitute of
almost every necessary of life and of the munitions of war. In 1780,
he was again elected to the national legislature and served until
November of the ensuing year, when he and John Nixon were appointed to
organize the Bank of North America, which was instrumental in reviving
the prostrate credit of the government. In May, 1782, he was associated
with Mr. Rutledge on a mission through the southern states, for the
purpose of inducing them to meet more promptly the requisitions of
Congress for supplies. During the entire period of the revolution he
devoted his whole time to the service of his country, and discharged
every duty assigned him to the entire satisfaction of his constituents
and colleagues. He stood high as an able and faithful co-worker in
the vineyard of liberty, and retired from the field when the harvest
was ended covered with the honours of enduring fame. At the close of
the war he removed to Princeton, for the purpose of resting from his
toils and educating his children. The ensuing year his services were
requested in his native state, and he returned to Philadelphia. He
was elected to the Pennsylvania legislature, and contributed largely
in divesting her old constitution and laws of the obnoxious branches
of tyranny that were still attached to them. He introduced the
amelioration of the penal code and was the originator and warm advocate
of abolishing death in all cases, except murder in the first degree. He
was the father of the much admired penitentiary system of that state,
which has but recently been organized fully upon the plan proposed by
him—that of solitary confinement at hard labour. It may not be known to
the young reader, that in former times, prisoners, after conviction,
were compelled to labour in chains often in the most public places. The
superiority of solitary confinement over all other modes of punishment
has been fully demonstrated, and is in a course of adoption throughout
the civilized world. The arguments of Mr. Clymer in favour of these
philanthropic measures manifested a deep and thorough knowledge of
human nature, and were based upon the firm pillars of equal justice,
lucid reason and sound policy. He devised and prepared the humane
report of the committee that remodelled the penal code of Pennsylvania,
which has been fully and successfully tested, and stands an admired
monument of judicial reformation, and an enduring praise to the name of
its author.

The mind of Mr. Clymer was peculiarly prolific and happy in the
conception of plans of usefulness and utility. To benefit his country
and better the condition of mankind, afforded him the highest pleasure.
To effect this, he saw the necessity of reducing every department of
government to system and order. American independence was achieved; to
preserve it by reducing to harmony the conflicting local interests,
jealousies and inconsiderate clamours of the malevolent, was an
herculean task yet to be performed. The convention that formed the
federal constitution was therefore hailed with joy by Mr. Clymer, who
was one of its members. The result of the labours of that body was
fraught with deeper interest than the war struggle for victory over a
foreign foe. It involved the fate of our infant republic, which was
then verging on dissolution and fast retrograding towards the awful
gulf of primeval chaos. The conflict was between members of the same
family, and required the deepest sagacity, the profoundest wisdom,
the most acute judgment, the most disinterested patriotism, the most
exalted charity, and the purest spirit of conciliation, to bring it
to a peaceful and satisfactory termination. Happily for our country
this was done, and Mr. Clymer contributed his full share in the
accomplishment of the glorious work.

He was elected a member of the first Congress convened under that
saving instrument, he was a stern republican and opposed to tacking
any titles to the name of any public man except that of his office.
Excellency, honourable, &c., he conceived to be the mere shadows of
a shadow, too vain and trifling for a freeman. He was opposed to
the right of instruction from his constituents, because they must
necessarily decide without hearing either evidence or argument. He was
unwilling to be made a mere passive machine of puerile power, a mere
automaton of party spirit.

In the organization of the general government through all its
ramifications he took a deep interest and an active part. Every
subject that was presented to Congress for consideration he analyzed
with the skill of a sage, a statesman and a philosopher. In 1790, he
closed his legislative career and declined again entering upon its
arduous duties. Under the act of Congress of 1791, imposing a duty on
domestic distilled spirits, Mr. Clymer was appointed to superintend
its collection in his own state. The tax was then called, by way of
opprobrium, the _excise_. This law gave great dissatisfaction in many
places, and in Pennsylvania produced what was termed the _whiskey
rebellion_, which required the military to restore order. Unpleasant
as it was, Mr. Clymer proceeded to perform his duty by appointing the
required collectors in each county, endeavouring to persuade the people
to submit to the law whilst in force, and pursue the constitutional
remedy for its repeal if they believed it wrong. During the height
of the excitement he hazarded his life among the malecontents where
but few other men would have been spared if clothed with the same
office. He finally resigned this station, and was soon after appointed
a commissioner, with Colonels Pickens and Hawkins, to negociate a
treaty with the Cherokee and Creek Indians in Georgia, which was
effected on the 29th of June, 1796, and closed his long, faithful and
arduous public career. He had perilled his life, his fortune and his
sacred honour for his country; he had been her unyielding and fearless
advocate amidst the storms of revolution, civil discord and open
rebellion; he now saw her peaceful, prosperous and happy, with the
illustrious Washington presiding over her destinies. He could therefore
retire to enjoy the fruits of his labours and his toils, without any to
disturb or make him afraid.

But he remained an active man during his whole life. He felt an
interest in every kind of improvement, and to many he extended a
fostering care. As early as 1785, he aided in establishing the
Philadelphia Agricultural Society, and when the Academy of Fine Arts
was founded in that city he was one of its liberal patrons. He aided
also in establishing the Philadelphia Bank. Of the former, he was vice
president, and of the two latter, president when he died. He was a
friend to all the labouring classes, and made himself acquainted with
the principles of farming and the mechanic trades. His private papers
exhibit a great variety of draughts and plans of bridges, canals,
water-works, machinery and implements of husbandry, and numerous
recipes relative to the arts. Like the philosophic Franklin, he
extended his researches to almost every subject within the grasp of
man, and treasured in his mind the essential oil of each. He always
sought for solid substance that could be applied to substantial use.
His mind and his manners were opposed to pedantry and pomp. He was
what, in common parlance, would now be called a plain, old fashioned,
blunt man. His bluntness was not of an offensive kind; it consisted in
laconic truth, dressed in republican simplicity, a garb that was much
admired during the times of pure unsophisticated patriotism. Although
he originated many important measures in the national and state
legislature, he seldom spoke in the forum, and was often unknown to
the public as such, when the author of the most salutary propositions.
He was ambitious only to do good, and was not anxious that his name
should be wafted on the breeze of popular applause or be emblazoned in
the high places of the earth. To know that he had been instrumental in
benefitting the human family was the ultimatum of his soul. When the
importance of a subject induced him to rise in debate he was listened
to with profound attention, and was an example worthy of imitation.
Without any pretensions to refined elocution, he expressed in strong
language the sentiments he strongly felt. He came directly to the
point, adhered closely to it in a strain of keen, cutting, pithy and
laconic reasoning; was always brief, often casting into the shade, by
his remarks of a few moments, the laboured and gaudy speeches of his
opponents that had cost them weeks to prepare and hours to deliver. He
effected this, not by personal recrimination or irony, but by aiming
his blows at the strong points, the syllabus of their superstructure,
which he often demolished at one bold stroke with the damask blade of
sound logic, drawn from the scabbard of plain common sense, and wielded
by the vigorous arm of lucid reason. He was opposed to every shade
of aristocracy and every thing anti-republican, both in theory and
practice. His views were broad and liberal, his purposes were honest
and patriotic. He was an attentive reader, and wrote numerous essays,
which are forcible, logical, and extremely sarcastic.

In the private walks of life his character was a model of human
excellence. All its relations he discharged with the most scrupulous
fidelity and integrity. He was proverbial for punctuality in all
things, if only to take a walk with a friend or present a promised
toy to a child. In conversation he was agreeable and instructive,
illuminating and enlivening the social circle with apothegms,
aphorisms, and pungent anecdotes, imparting pleasure and intelligence
to all around him. In all this he was modest, chaste and discreet,
avoiding any appearance of superiority, carefully guarding against
personal allusions, even to his most bitter enemies. He spoke ill of
no individual, and checked slander in others whenever he discovered
it. His morals were of the purest order, his philanthropy was of the
loftiest kind. As a public servant, a private citizen, a kind husband,
a faithful father, a warm friend, an honourable enemy and a noble
patriot, the name of GEORGE CLYMER stands pre-eminent.

He was of the middle size, well formed, fair complexion, with a
countenance attractive, intelligent, expressive of a strong mind,
pleasing and ingenuous. He closed his long and useful career on the 23d
of January, 1813, at the residence of his son at Morrisville, Berks
county, in his native state, most deeply mourned by those who knew him


It often happens that those who forget right and abuse power undermine
the foundation of their own citadel, and prepare the way to be shorn of
their present enjoyments by an improper course to enhance them. Thus
it was with England. Previous to the causes that produced the American
revolution, the idea of a separation from the mother country, and of
forming an independent government, had probably never entered the
minds of but few of the patriots who were engaged in its consummation.
When the impolitic measures towards the colonists were first
commenced, relying upon their chartered rights, based upon the British
constitution as they were, they believed their grievances would and
must be redressed by the king, when properly requested by petitions.
These were repeatedly forwarded to him, couched in the most respectful
and eloquent language, to which he turned a deaf ear. Parliament
was appealed to in vain. Remonstrances formed the next link in the
chain. They also were treated with contempt. A formal demand to desist
from oppression in bold, but still in respectful language, breathing
allegiance to the king in every word, was the next resort—but all to
no purpose. The ministerial cry, _give_—_give_—_give_—resounded from
Albion’s shore, and pierced afresh the sensibilities of the imploring
suppliants. Resolutions of non-importation followed; these produced
menaces from the British military, a preparation for resistance by
the colonies succeeded; American blood was spilt; the tocsin of war
was sounded; millions rushed to the conflict; the struggle was long,
doubtful, and bloody; the patriots triumphed; the power of Britain was
dissolved; Columbia was free and patriots rejoiced.

Among them stood CARTER BRAXTON, the son of George Braxton, a wealthy
planter, who resided on the north bank of Mattapony river, where he
owned a valuable plantation, situated in the county of King and Queen,
Virginia. At that beautiful place Carter was born, on the 10th of
September, 1736. His paternal and maternal connections were highly
respectable and wealthy, and several of them officers of the crown at
various periods. He was liberally educated at the college of William
and Mary, and reared amidst all the splendours of opulence, without
the tender care of a mother to correct his childish foibles, or of a
father to guard him against the errors of youth; the former having died
when he was but seven days old, and the latter when he was quite young.
When but nineteen years of age, he married the beautiful and amiable
Judith Robinson, who was very wealthy, and entered into full possession
of his large estate, which, united with that of his wife, constituted
a princely fortune. She survived but a short time, leaving him two
daughters, the youngest but a few hours old.

To assuage his grief, he sailed for England, where he remained for
nearly three years, during which time he added greatly to the store
of knowledge he had previously acquired, and became familiar with
the feelings, views, and designs of that kingdom towards his native
country. His rank and fortune gave him access to the nobility, from
whom he obtained much valuable information relative to the ministerial
conclave then concocting plans to raise money in America to support
royalty in Great Britain.

Although his family connections were favourites of the king, and every
thing around him was calculated to foster aristocracy in his bosom, Mr.
Braxton became a warm friend of liberal principles and equal rights.
Soon after his return from Europe, in 1760, he was elected a member
of the house of burgesses, and, in 1765, was an ardent supporter in
that body of the bold resolutions offered by Patrick Henry, relative
to the stamp act. From that time forward he was a zealous advocate
in the cause of freedom. He was one of the house in May, 1769, when
the proceedings of the members excited the ire of the royal governor
Bottetourt to such a degree that he dissolved them without ceremony.
They immediately repaired to a private room in Williamsburg, and
entered into a solemn agreement not to import any articles from the
mother country until their chartered rights were restored. The same
members were elected to the next session, and, being aware of the kind
of materials he had to manage, the smooth and shrewd governor lulled
them into a more quiet mood by the syren song of promises, assuring
them that at the next session of parliament the offensive revenue taxes
would be removed. Still cherishing hopes that their rights would be
recognised, they waited in respectful but watchful silence. Mr. Braxton
was an active member of committees and an agreeable speaker. In the
house of burgesses there were six standing committees, one on courts of
justice, one on public claims, one on elections and privileges, one on
trade, one on grievances and propositions, and one on religion. Of the
three last, then by far the most important, Mr. Braxton was uniformly
a member. In 1771, governor Bottetourt died, and was succeeded by
Lord Dunmore, who, being fresh from the fountain of high notions and
ministerial corruption, dissolved the turbulent assembly then in
commission, and issued his proclamation for a new election. Mr. Braxton
was then sheriff of his county, and could not serve in the house. The
people continued to live on promises and hang on hope until the 27th
of May, 1774, when the house of burgesses again took a bold stand
against oppression, and was peremptorily dissolved by Lord Dunmore.
He then dissolved the gordian knot virtually; the people became
enraged; eighty-nine of the members, immediately alter the dissolution,
formed themselves, with many other patriots, into an association of
resistance, and the fire of freedom began to rise in curling flames. In
August, a convention of the friends of liberty met in Williamsburg, of
which Mr. Braxton was an active member. They elected seven delegates
to meet the Congress at Philadelphia, and bound themselves to act in
concert with the people of Boston, in the common cause against the
common enemy. Governor Dunmore had a new house of burgesses elected;
not being pleased with their proceedings he prorogued it several times,
until he prorogued himself, on the night of the 7th of June, 1775,
on board the armed ship Fowey, never again to assume his power over
the turbulent rebels of America. The Virginia convention met again in
March, 1775, and took every precaution necessary to put their state in
a condition of defence. In April following, Lord Dunmore had caused the
powder to be removed from the magazine, under pretence that it would
probably be needed in another part of the colony, to repel an expected
insurrection of the blacks. This enraged the people, who assembled in
large numbers, but were persuaded to return to their homes by Peyton
Randolph. Not fully satisfied, a Spartan band soon after collected,
headed by Patrick Henry, and proceeded towards Williamsburg, determined
on having the powder or its equivalent. An armed force was sent from
the Fowey to sustain the governor; this only enraged the patriots; the
spilling of blood seemed inevitable. At that juncture Mr. Braxton and
others interceded; the powder was paid for by the receiver-general; Mr.
Henry gave a receipt for the money, and his troops returned home.

The flight of the governor was the dissolution of British power in
Virginia. For a time the government was managed entirely by the
committee of safety, of which Mr. Braxton was a member. On the 15th
of December, 1775, he was elected to the Continental Congress, and
entered upon the duties of his new station with great zeal and vigour.
He had already seen much public service, and was prepared to act well
his part. He advocated, voted for, and signed the declaration, the
instrument that formally dissolved the maternal ties that bound the
pilgrim fathers to chains and slavery. On the return of Mr. Braxton
from Congress the next autumn he took his seat in the first Virginia
legislature convened under their republican constitution, having been
elected the May previous. A formal vote of thanks to him and Thomas
Jefferson, for their faithful services in Congress, is upon the records
of that body, dated the 12th of October, 1776. From that time to his
death, he was often a member of the legislature of his state, sometimes
in one branch and sometimes in the other. He was a member of council
when he died, and was in his seat only four days previous to his

During the war, he had lost a large portion of his fortune by the
British, and after its close he was extremely unfortunate, and was
reduced to indigent and perplexing circumstances. For a time, he led
his friends into speculative projects in order to resuscitate his
adverse circumstances, all of which proved abortive, injuring them
without benefiting him, and he finally sunk under a load of affliction,
which produced an excitement that was followed by paralysis, a second
attack of which ended his useful and eventful career at Richmond,
Virginia, on the 10th of October, 1797. Under all these trying
circumstances, his reputation did not suffer, he lost none of his well
earned fame as an able and faithful public servant, and an honest and
worthy man. His private character was of the most amiable kind; he
was a perfect gentleman and fulfilled all the relations of life with
fidelity. His name is justly placed high upon the list of enduring
fame, as a man who was a faithful sentinel in the cause of equal
rights, who contributed largely in consummating that independence we
now enjoy, that freedom of which we boast, that liberty which we are
bound to cherish, protect, preserve, and perpetuate.


Courage and fortitude, unaided by wisdom, often lead men into
unforeseen and unexpected difficulties. Combined, they form a power for
action equal to the lever, the fulcrum and the screw. Some men possess
a brave and dauntless spirit that knows no fear, but not possessed of
the helm of wisdom to plan and discretion to act, can never become
successful leaders. Guided by a wise prudence, blended with a talent
to conceive and a boldness to execute, the weak become strong and
effect wonders, at which they themselves look with astonishment after
the mighty work is completed. To the unparalleled wisdom of the sages
of the American revolution we owe the blessings of the liberty we
now enjoy, more than to the physical strength of our country at that
time. Compared with the fleets and armies of the mother country at the
eventful era of the birth of our nation, the available force of the
colonies dwindles into significance. The one a Goliah clad in armour;
the other, a boy with a puerile sling. The one, a giant in the vigour
of his glory; the other, an infant bursting into life. To the wisdom of
the revolutionary sages, then, under God, we must ascribe the success
of the noble work they conceived, planned and executed.

As a cool, deliberate and prudent man, the name of John Morton is
memorable. He was born in Ridley, Delaware county, Pennsylvania, about
four miles from Chester, in the year 1724. His ancestors immigrated
from Sweden at an early period, and settled along the Delaware not far
from Philadelphia. The father of John Morton, of the same christian
name, married Mary Richards when he was very young, and died before
his son was born, and before he arrived at his majority. The widow
was subsequently married by John Sketchly, an intelligent Englishman,
who proved a good husband and a kind step-father. Mr. Morton was
principally indebted to him for his education, having enjoyed the
advantages of a school but three months. Himself a skilful surveyor
and well versed in mathematics, he made his step-son master of that
important science. No branch of education is as well calculated to lead
the mind into the path of precision of thought and action as this.
Based upon invariable truth and lucid demonstration, never resting
on false premises, always arriving at incontrovertible conclusions,
it gives a tone to the mental powers calculated to produce the most
beneficial results.

Young Morton continued with his parental guardian until manhood dawned
upon him, aiding in the management of the farm and in surveying,
constantly storing his mind with useful and substantial knowledge,
blending and testing theory with practice. In 1764, he was commissioned
a justice of the peace, and shortly after was elected to the assembly
of his native state. He soon became conspicuous, and was subsequently
speaker of the house during several sessions. He took a deep interest
in the welfare of his country, and was a member of the Congress
assembled at New York in 1765 to concert measures for the repeal of
the odious stamp act. He concurred in the strong and bold measure of
that body, which virtually kindled the fire of the revolution, which,
although smothered for a time, was never extinguished until it consumed
the last vestige of British power in America. In 1767, he became the
sheriff of his county, which station he ably filled for three years. He
was then appointed president judge of his district, and rose rapidly
in the estimation of his fellow citizens. He also endeared himself to
society by a matrimonial connection with Miss Anne Justis of the state
of Delaware, an amiable and accomplished lady, who contributed largely
to his happiness in life. Soon after the clarion of war was sounded
from the heights of Lexington, the indignation of the people in his
neighbourhood was so roused that they raised a battalion of volunteers
and elected judge Morton colonel. He was under the necessity of
declining the proffered honour, having recently been appointed a judge
of the supreme court of Pennsylvania. In July, 1774, he was appointed
by the assembly of that state a member of the Congress that convened
in Philadelphia in September following. The object of that Congress
was to effect peace and reconciliation between the two countries, and
contract, instead of enlarging, the breach of amity. Men of wisdom
and deep thought, fired by a holy patriotism, were selected for the
all-important deliberations on which depended the future destiny of
themselves and unborn millions. When they assembled, a deep and awful
solemnity pervaded every mind. The proceedings were opened by prayer,
and every soul seemed to commune with the spirits of another world, as
by vesper orisons. After the address to the throne of grace was closed,
a protracted silence ensued; nought but the flitting of the purple
stream and the throbbing of anxious hearts was heard. The trembling
tears and quivering lip told the emotions of many a bosom, too strong
to be endured, too full to be expressed, too deep to be fathomed. At
length the mighty spirit of Henry burst forth in the majesty of its
native glory, and broke the magic spell. In bold and glowing colours,
strongly shaded with dignified sincerity, and painted upon the canvass
of eternal justice and truth, he presented American rights and British
wrongs. When he closed, every patriot responded a hearty—Amen. Their
mouths were opened, their burdens lightened, and they could breathe
more freely.

In May of the next year, judge Morton again took his seat in Congress,
and in November following was re-elected, although then speaker of the
assembly of his state. In July, 1776, he attended that august body for
the last time, and placed an enduring seal upon the bright escutcheon
of his name, by signing the chart of liberty, the manifesto of freemen
against the usurpations of tyranny.

During the time he was in Congress, he rendered very efficient
services, and was highly esteemed as a cool, deliberate, discerning
man; purely patriotic, firm in his principles, and anxious to do all
in his power to promote the righteous cause of his bleeding country.
With all these feelings resting upon his mind, he was among those
who weighed deeply the consequences of severing the bonds that bound
the colonies to the mother country. Unsustained, the step was death
or a more cruel slavery. To all human appearance the patriots must
be crushed by the physical force of their enemies then pouring in
upon them. There were five delegates from his state, two of them
had determined on going against the measure, which left him to give
the casting vote. The responsibility he considered of the greatest
magnitude. On it depended the enhanced misery or the happy deliverance
of his country. The former he feared, the latter he hoped for. When the
time arrived for final action, his patriotism preponderated over his
doubts, and he cast his vote in favour of the important instrument that
was to prove either the warrant of death or the diploma of freedom.
Some of his old friends censured him strongly for the bold act, and
would not be reconciled to him, even when he lay upon the bed of
death; so strong were the feelings of men during the revolution. His
dying message to them showed that his conscience approved the work his
hand had done. “Tell them that they will live to see the hours when
they shall acknowledge it to have been the most glorious service that I
have ever rendered to my country.” The truth of his prophecy has been
most happily verified.

When the articles of confederation were under discussion by Congress,
judge Morton was frequently chairman of the committee of the whole, and
performed the duty with great dignity and ability.

In April, 1777, he was attacked with a violent fever, highly
inflammatory, which terminated his life in a few days, in the midst of
his usefulness, with fresh honours awaiting him as time advanced. His
premature death was deeply mourned by his bereaved companion, eight
children, a large concourse of intimate friends, by the members of the
bar, by his associate judges, by the state legislature, by Congress,
and by every patriot of his country.

As a private citizen, he possessed an unusual share of esteem. He was
endowed with all the amiable qualities that enrich the domestic and
social circle, and, as a crowning glory to his fair fame, he professed
and adorned the Christian religion, and died triumphing in faith. His
dust reposes in the cemetery of St. James’ church, in Chester; his name
is recorded on the enduring tablet of fame. His examples are worthy of
imitation; his brief career admonishes us of the uncertainty of life;
his happy demise is an evidence of the truth of real piety.


A strong propensity exists in every investigating, reflecting mind, to
explore the labyrinthian abysm of the past. The classic reader dwells
with rapture upon oriental time. Its remoteness sheds around it a
sacredness that increases veneration, and leaves the fancy to wonder
and admire. Human foibles descend with the body to the tomb, and are
covered by the mantle of oblivion. Human faults, not enrolled on the
black catalogue of crime, are often eclipsed by transcendant virtues,
find no place upon the historic page, and leave after generations to
gaze at a picture of native beauty, which, as time rolls over it,
assumes deeper and holier shades, until it commands the reverence of
all who behold it. The names of Demosthenes, Cicero, Socrates, Solon,
Cincinnatus, and many others, over whose dust centuries have rolled,
are referred to with as profound respect as if angel purity had stamped
their every action with the impress of divinity. The same bright
portrait awaits the name of every good and great man. That of each of
the signers of the declaration of independence has long attracted the
earnest gaze of admiring millions, and becomes more sacred as time

Upon the tablet of enduring fame, stands the name of RICHARD HENRY LEE,
in bold relievo. He was the son of Thomas Lee, and born in Westmoreland
county, Virginia, on the 20th of January, 1732. His ancestors were
among the early settlers of the Old Dominion, and among those who
guided the concerns and directed the destinies of the colony. They
were the friends of liberal principles, and at all times resisted
every encroachment upon their rights. The arbitrary power exercised
by Charles the first over his European subjects, which hurled him
from his throne, was successfully resisted by the Lees of Virginia.
When Cromwell assumed the crown, his power was not recognised by this
colony, and the mandate that first proclaimed the second Charles king,
originated with Lee and Berkley of the Old Dominion.

The plan of ultimate independence seems to have been long cherished
and nursed by the elder Lees. Through the bright vista of the future
they contemplated the millennium of freedom in America. So strongly
impressed was the father of the present subject with this idea, that
he fixed in his mind the location of the seat of government, and in
view of this, purchased lands in the vicinity of Washington. By some
historians this is called a paradox which philosophy has been perplexed
to explain. To my mind the solution is involved in no mysterious
perplexity. A man of deep reflection does not draw his conclusions from
present appearances alone. He compares the past with the present, from
which he makes deductions for the future. The historic map of the old
world is covered with the rise, progress, and downfall of kingdoms and
nations. Judging from the causes that produced them, and the results
that followed, it was the natural conclusion of a penetrating mind,
that the expansive territory we now possess, with all the bounties
of nature lavished upon it, and with intelligent and enterprising
immigrants pouring in upon it, must eventually be so densely populated
that its physical force would become too strong for any European power
to maintain a dominion over it. Its geographical centre, with reference
to the settlements then in progress, was equally plain. The “prophecy,”
as it has been termed, was the result of deep thought, arriving at
conclusions drawn from the laws of nature, and shows that Mr. Lee
possessed an analyzing mind that moved in a broad circumference.

Richard Henry Lee commenced his education at Wakefield, Yorkshire,
England, and remained in that kingdom until he completed it. He
returned a finished scholar and an accomplished gentleman, with a
reputation untarnished by folly or vice. From his youth his integrity
and morality were of the purest order; he delighted in reposing under
the ethic mantle. During his absence his innate republicanism did not
become tinctured with the farina of European courts, or the etiquette
of aristocracy. In classic history he found the true dignity of man
portrayed, and his inalienable rights delineated. In the philosophy
of Locke he saw the rays of light reflected upon human nature, and
the avenues of the immortal mind opened to his enraptured view. In
the elements of Euclid the laws of demonstration were exhibited to
his understanding, and aided in maturing his logical powers. He was
prepared to enter upon the great theatre of public action, and to
adorn the circle of private life. Endowed with these qualifications,
his services were naturally required by his country. His first public
act was to raise a body of troops and tender his services to General
Braddock. That proud Briton considered the provincials puerile, and
declined the proffered aid. His fate is a matter of history. In 1757,
Mr. Lee was appointed a justice of the peace and president of the
court. Shortly after, he was elected to the house of burgesses, where
he made himself thoroughly acquainted with the laws of legislation, the
ramifications of the government, the various interests and policy of
the colony, and with the rules of parliamentary proceedings.

Retarded by an almost unconquerable diffidence, he took very little
part in debate at first, and it was not until he became excited by a
subject in which he felt a deep interest, that his Ciceronean powers
became developed. A bill was before the house imposing a duty upon the
importation of slaves into Virginia, so heavy as to virtually amount
to a prohibition. It met with strong opposition, and then it was
that Richard Henry Lee became roused, and poured upon his astonished
audience a flood of eloquence against the importing traffic of human
beings, that raised him at once to the pinnacle of fame as an eloquent
orator. He was proclaimed the Cicero of America. He painted, in vivid
colours, the cruelties of Cortes in South America, of the Saracens
in Spain, and then pointed his colleagues to the darker and more
barbarous practices that marked and branded with lasting infamy the
unhallowed slave trade. He also pointed them to the bloody scenes of
other times, when the physical force of those held in bondage had
enabled them to rise in their might and crush their masters at one
bold effort. By stopping the traffic the evil already entailed upon
them might be provided for, and the certain and dreadful consequences
of a constant influx from Africa be warded off. His eloquence was
applauded, but his doctrines of philanthropy were voted down. The trade
was then sanctioned by the government of Great Britain, now so loud
in complaints against us, for not providing for an evil entailed upon
America by the mother country.

The exposure of base corruptions practised by Mr. Robinson, then
treasurer of the colony, was the next important service rendered by Mr.
Lee. As this was participated in by the aristocracy of the house it
required much boldness, energy, and persevering sagacity to introduce
the probe successfully. This he effected in a masterly manner, and
proved clearly that the treasurer had repeatedly re-issued reclaimed
treasury bills to his favourite friends to support them in their
extravagance, by which means the colony, in paying them a second time,
was robbed of the amount. This act placed Mr. Lee on a high eminence in
view of every honest man.

When Charles Townshend laid before the British parliament the odious
and more extensive plan of taxing the American colonies, which was
seized upon as a _philosopher’s stone_ by Mr. Grenville, Mr. Lee was
among the first to sound the alarm to his countrymen. Within one month
after the passage of the preliminary act in parliament followed by a
revolting catalogue of unconstitutional and oppressive laws, Mr. Lee
furnished a list of arguments against it to his London friends, that
were sufficient to convince every man of the injustice and ruinous
policy of the measure proposed, who was not blind to the dictates of
reason and madly bent on enslaving his fellow men. When Patrick Henry
proposed his resolutions in 1765, against the stamp act, which brought
out the full force of his gigantic mind for the first time, Mr. Lee
gave them the powerful aid of his eloquent and unanswerable logic.[C]
Associations began now to be organized to resist the oppressions of the
crown of which he was a prominent and efficient member. The collector
of stamps was compelled to relinquish his office and deliver up his
commission and the odious paper, and the people were advised not to use
it on any occasion.

    [C] See them at large in the life of Henry.

The _pen_ of Mr. Lee was also ably used and produced many keen,
withering, logical, patriotic and sarcastic essays, that contributed
largely in producing a proper tone of enthusiastic patriotism in the
public mind. He also corresponded with the patriots of New York and New
England, and was the first one according to the testimony of Colonel
Gadsden, of South Carolina, and the public documents of that eventful
era, who proposed the independence of the colonies, which tends to
strengthen the allusion to his ancestors, who had for a century before
predicted this event. The idea had probably been handed down from sire
to son. In a letter from Richard Henry Lee to Mr. Dickinson, dated
July 25th, 1768, connected with the statement of Colonel Gadsden,
he proposes upon all seasonable occasions to impress upon the minds
of the people the necessity of a struggle with Great Britain “_for
the ultimate establishment of independence_,” and “that a private
correspondence should be conducted by the lovers of liberty in every
province.” His early proposition in Congress to sever the maternal
ties, was considered by most of the friends of liberty premature and
rash; but he had long nursed this favourite project in his own bosom
and was anxious to transplant its vigorous scions to the congenial
hearts of his fellow patriots.

Soon after the house of burgesses convened in 1769, Mr. Lee, as
chairman of the judiciary committee, introduced resolutions so
highly charged with liberal principles, sapping the foundation of
the Grenville superstructure, that they caused a dissolution of
the house, and concentrated the wrath of the British ministry and
its servile creatures against him. The fruits of their persecution
were the formation of non-importation associations, committees of
correspondence, committees of safety, and the disaffection of the
English merchants towards the ministers, in consequence of their
impolitic measures, which were calculated to prostrate the exporting
trade to America.

Lord North now assumed the management of the grand drama of oppression,
and laid more deeply the revenue plan. By causing a repeal of the
most offensive acts, he hoped to lull the storm of opposition that was
gathering, disarm the colonists of the spirit of resistance, and, in
the meantime, prepare for more efficient action. Had the Boston port
bill been omitted, his dark designing treachery might have had a more
triumphant reign. This roused the indignation of the people and fanned
the burning flame of patriotic resentment to a _white_ heat.

The Philadelphia Congress of 1774 was now planned, in which Mr. Lee
took his seat. At that memorable meeting he acted a conspicuous part.
After Patrick Henry had broken the great seal that appeared to rest on
the lips of the members as they sat in deep and solemn silence, he was
followed by Richard Henry Lee in a strain of belles lettres eloquence
and persuasive reasoning that took the minds of his audience captive,
and restored to a calm the boiling agitation that shook their manly
frames as the mountain torrent of the Demosthenean Henry rushed upon

He was a member of the committee appointed to prepare an address to the
king, the people of Great Britain, and to the colonies. That document
was written by him and adopted with a few amendments. He was also upon
the committee that prepared the address to the people of Quebec, and
upon the committee of rights and grievances, and of non-intercourse
with the mother country. In the warmth of his ardour, he proposed
several resolutions that were considered premature at that time, and
were rejected; not because his purity of purpose was doubted, but
because many of the members still hoped that peace might be restored
by a timely redress of the grievances they had strongly and clearly
set forth in their petition and address to the king and his advisers,
and were not willing then to take any action to widen the breach
between the two countries. The proceedings of this Congress were highly
applauded by Lord Chatham, as being without a parallel for solidity of
reasoning, force of sagacity and wisdom of conclusion.

In 1775, Mr. Lee was unanimously elected to the Virginia legislature
and continued to act with undiminished zeal. He received a vote of
thanks from that body “for his cheerful undertaking and faithful
discharge of the trust reposed in him during the last Congress,” and
was immediately appointed a delegate to the next. A more congenial
field was now opened for the ardent spirit of this devoted patriot.
Temporizing was no longer the order of the day. Vigorous action had
become necessary, and the zeal and industry of Mr. Lee had ample scope.
With all his might he entered upon the good work. Upon committees,
in the house, every where, he was all activity. In 1776, he was
again a member of the national legislature, and in obedience to the
instructions of the Virginia legislature and of his own conscience,
on the 7th of June of that year, he offered the resolution for the
adoption of a Declaration of Independence, and enforced it by one
of the most brilliant and powerful displays of refined and forcible
eloquence ever exhibited by man. On the 10th of the same month he was
called home by the illness of his family, which prevented him from
taking his place as chairman of the committee upon his resolution
agreeably to parliamentary rules. Mr. Jefferson was selected in his
stead. The wrath of British power was now roused against him. During
his short stay at home, an armed force broke into his house in the
night, and by threats and bribes endeavoured to induce his servants
to inform them where their master could be found. They persisted in
affirming that he had started for Philadelphia. He was not in his house
at the time, but a few miles from it with a friend.

In August he returned to Congress and most cheerfully affixed his
name to that instrument which his imagination had dwelt upon for
years. He served until June, 1777, when he returned to Virginia in
order to confute a base slander, charging him with unfaithfulness to
the American cause, in consequence of his having received rents in
kind instead of continental money. He was honourably acquitted by the
assembly and a vote of thanks for his valuable services was passed by
that body. During the two ensuing years his health did not permit him
to sit in Congress but a part of the time, but in all the vast concerns
that occupied the attention of that body he took a deep interest and
aided by his counsel.

The portals of military fame were now opened to Mr. Lee. The enemy,
defeated in the north, made a rush upon the southern states. He was
appointed to the command of the militia of his native county, and
proved as competent to wield the sword and lead his men to the field
of epic glory, as he was to command the admiration of his audience by
his eloquence. He annoyed the operations of the enemy in his vicinity
whenever they approached, and made admirable arrangements for the
defence of the country under his charge. In 1780–1–2, he served in
the legislature of Virginia. The propositions of making paper money
a legal tender, of paying debts due to the mother country, and of
raising a tax to support the clergy, or a general assessment to support
the christian religion, were then before the house and excited great
interest. Mr. Lee advocated them, Mr. Henry opposed them. Upon the
sacredness of contracts he based his arguments in support of the two
first; from the principles of ethics he drew conclusions in favour of
the last. He considered good faith in the former necessary to secure
peace and respect, and an adherence to the latter necessary to correct
vice and purge the body politic from moral corruptions, the bane of any
government. He remarked, “Refiners may weave reason into as fine a web
as they please, but the experience of all times shows religion to be
the guardian of morals.” He contended that the declaration of rights
was aimed against restrictions in the _form_ and _mode_ of worship, and
not against the legal compulsory support of it.

In 1784, Mr. Lee was again elected to Congress and chosen president of
that body. At the close of the session he received a vote of thanks for
the faithful and able performance of his duty, and retired to the bosom
of his family to rest from his long and arduous public toils. Under the
federal constitution he was elected to the first senate of the United
States, and fully sustained the high reputation he had before acquired.
Infirmity at length compelled him to bid a final farewell to the public
arena, and, with the honours of a most flattering resolution of thanks
for his many valuable services, passed by the Virginia legislature
on the 22nd of October, 1792, he retired to the peaceful shades of
Chantilly, in his native county, covered with laurels of lasting fame.
There he lived esteemed, beloved, respected and admired, until the 19th
of June, 1794, when the angel of death liberated his immortal spirit
from its prison of clay, and seraphs from heaven wafted his soul to
realms of bliss beyond the skies, there to enjoy the rich reward of a
life well spent.

Mr. Lee was a rare model of human excellence and refinement. He was
a polished gentleman, an accomplished scholar, orator and statesman.
In exploring the vast fields of science he gathered from them the
choicest flowers and the most substantial fruits. The classics, belles
lettres, the elements of civil, municipal, national and common law, and
the principles of every kind of government, were all familiar to his
mind. He was ardently patriotic, pure and firm in his purposes, honest
and sincere in his motives, liberal and republican in his general
principles, frank and open in his designs, and highly honourable in his
course. As an orator the modulation of his voice, manner of action, and
mode of reasoning, were a fac simile of his great prototype, Cicero, as
described by Rollin.

His private character was above reproach. He possessed and exercised
all those amiable qualities calculated to impart substantial happiness
to those around him. To crown with enduring splendour all his rich and
varied talents, he was a christian and an honest man. Whilst his dust
reposes in peace let his examples deeply impress our minds and excite
us to imitation.


Party spirit when based on selfishness, unhallowed ambition and venal
corruption, is a gangrene in the body politic. Its history is red with
blood—blackened by the darkest crimes, its career has been marked with
all the terrific horrors that demons could plan and wicked men execute.
It rides upon the whirlwind of faction; it is wafted on the tornado of
fanaticism; it is fanned by fell revenge and delights in human gore. It
has been the mighty conqueror of nations; its burning lava has consumed
kingdoms and empires; the fairest portions of creation have been
blighted by its rankling poison; countless millions have fallen by its
murderous hand; and, fearful thought! its end has not yet come.

A few rare instances are recorded where parties have arrayed themselves
against power, prompted alone by pure motives and elevated patriotism,
guided by reason and sound policy. To be successful and not violate the
laws of wisdom and justice, the leaders of a party must be men who are
influenced alone by a desire to promote the general good, aiming at
holy ends to be accomplished by righteous means. The brightest example
of this kind spread upon the pages of history was exhibited by the
sages of the American revolution. No convention of men ever assembled
to consult upon a nation’s rights and a nation’s wrongs, graced with
as much splendour of talent, sterling integrity, self-devotion and
disinterested patriotism, as that of the Continental Congress of

Among them, the patriarch, STEPHEN HOPKINS, took a conspicuous place.
He was a native of Scituate, Rhode Island, and born on the 7th of
March, 1707. He was the son of William Hopkins, a respectable farmer,
whose father, Thomas Hopkins, was one of the earliest settlers of that
province. The juvenile education of the subject of this biographette
was limited to the elementary English branches, then but superficially
taught in the common schools. From that embryo beginning, he reared,
from the force of his own exertions, a towering and beautiful
superstructure. Remarkably attached to books, he spent all his leisure
hours in the acquisition of knowledge. A farmer in easy circumstances,
he devoted a portion of the day and his quiet evenings to the
improvement of his mind.

No profession not literary, affords so good a chance for mental
exercise and reflection as that of agriculture. It is their own
fault if the independent tillers of the soil are not enlightened and
intelligent. The time was when ignorance was winked at. That dark age
has passed away, and now common sense and reason command all to drink
at the scholastic fountain.

Blessed with strong intellectual powers, Mr. Hopkins acquired a
thorough knowledge of mathematics at an early period and became an
expert surveyor. At the age of nineteen he married Sarah Scott,
whose paternal great grandfather was the first Quaker who settled in
Providence. After becoming the mother of seven children she died, and
in 1755, Mr. Hopkins married the widow Anna Smith, a pious member of
the society of Friends.

In 1731, he was appointed town-clerk, soon after which he was appointed
clerk of the court and of the proprietors of the county. The ensuing
year he was elected to the general assembly, and was continued for six
successive years. In 1735, he was elected to the town council, and for
six years was president of that body. The next year he was appointed
a justice of the peace and a judge of the common plea court, and in
1739 was elevated to the seat of chief justice of that branch of the
judiciary. During the intervals of these public duties he spent much of
his time at surveying. The streets of his native town and of Providence
were regulated by him, and a projected map made of each. The next year
he was appointed proprietary surveyor for the county of Providence,
and prepared a laborious index of returns of all the lands west of
the seven mile line, then laid out, which still continues a document
of useful reference. Beauty and precision marked all his draughts and
calculations. In 1741, he was again elected to the assembly. The next
year he removed to Providence, and was elected, soon after his arrival,
to the same public body, and was chosen speaker of the house. In 1744,
the same honour was conferred upon him, as also that of justice of
the peace for Providence. In 1751, he was appointed chief justice of
the superior court, and elected for the fourteenth time to the general
assembly. In 1754, he was a delegate to the colonial Congress held at
Albany, for the purpose of effecting a treaty with the five nations of
Indians in order to gain their aid, or at least their neutrality in the
French war. A system of union similar to the confederation subsequently
entered into by the Continental Congress, was recommended and submitted
at that time, but was vetoed by England and not adopted by the colonies.

In 1755, when the triumphant victories of the French and their
savage allies spread consternation over the frontier settlements, a
requisition for troops was made by the earl of Loudoun, then commander
of the king’s forces. The quota from Rhode Island was four hundred and
fifty, and no one was more active than Mr. Hopkins in raising them.
The next year he was elected chief magistrate of the colony. In 1757,
the fall of fort William Henry and the sad reverses of the English
army, made it necessary that the colonists should raise an efficient
force for self-protection. A company of volunteers, composed of the
most respectable gentlemen of Providence, was organized and Mr. Hopkins
appointed to command it. The timely arrival of troops from the mother
country dispensed with the necessity of their services. The ensuing
year, this useful man was again elected chief magistrate, and served as
such seven out of the eleven following years.

In 1767, party spirit was rolling its mountain waves over Rhode Island
so fearfully, that it threatened the prostration of social order and
civil law. Anxious for the welfare of the colony, this patriotic Roman
put forth his noblest efforts to check its bold career. In his message
to the assembly he expressed his deep solicitude for the restoration of
harmony, and offered to retire at once from the public arena, if, in
the opinion of that body, it would contribute in the slightest degree
to heal the political breach. To show his sincerity he soon after
retired from the public service, contrary to the wishes of his friends.
His picture of that era so much resembles the political drama of the
present time, in some sections of our republic at least, that I cannot
forbear presenting it to the reader.

“When we draw aside the veil of words and professions, when we attend
to what is _done_ and not to what is _said_, we shall find in the
present age of our country, that liberty is only a cant term of
faction, and freedom of speaking and acting, used only to serve the
private interests of a party. What else can be the cause of our unhappy
disputes? What other reason for the continual struggle for superiority
and office? What other motive for the flood of calumny and reproach
cast on each other? Behold the leading men meeting in cabals, and from
thence dispersing themselves to the several quarters, to delude and
deceive the people. The people are called together in tippling houses,
their business neglected, their morals corrupted, themselves deluded;
some promised offices for which they are unfit, and those who have
disputes with their neighbours are assured of their causes whether
they be right or wrong. Those with whom these arts will not prevail,
are tempted with the wages of unrighteousness, and are offered a bribe
to falsify their oath and betray their country. By these scandalous
practices, elections are carried and officers appointed. It makes
little difference whether the officer, who in this manner obtains
his place, is otherwise a good man or not; for, put in by a _party_,
he must do what _they_ order, without being permitted to examine the
rectitude even of his _own_ actions. The unhappy malady runs through
the whole body politic; men in authority are not revered, and therefore
lose all power to do good; the courts of judicature catch the infection
and the sacred balance of justice does not hang even. All complain of
the present administration, all cry out the times are hard and wish
they might grow better. But complaints are weak, wishes are idle, cries
are vain, even _prayers_ will be ineffectual, if we do not universally
amend. Will no friend, no patriot, step in and save the commonwealth
from ruin? Will no good Samaritan come by and pour in the wine and oil
into the bleeding wounds of his country?” Again, from his essay on the
duties of freemen: “Permit me, therefore, to remind my countrymen of
the blood, the sufferings, the hardships and labour of their ancestors
in purchasing the liberty and privileges they might peaceably enjoy.
How can they answer it to fame, to honour, to honesty, to posterity, if
_they_ do not possess those inestimable blessings with grateful hearts,
with purity of morals, and transmit them with safety to the next
generation? Nothing is desired but that every man in the community may
act up to the dignity of his own proper character. Let every freeman
carefully consider the particular duty allotted to him as such by the
constitution; let him give his suffrage with candour for the person
he sincerely thinks _best_ qualified; let him shun the man who speaks
to him to persuade him _how_ to vote; let him despise the man who
offers him an office, and spurn the sordid wretch that would give him
a bribe; let him think it his duty to give his vote according to his
conscience, and not depend on others to do his duty for him. Let him
know that as duty is not local, so neither is capacity or fitness for
office confined to this or that town or place. Officers and magistrates
I would humbly entreat to consider, that their turn has arrived to
serve the _commonwealth_ and not themselves; that their own discreet
and exemplary behaviour is their chiefest and best authority to do
good in their offices; that it is vain to command others to practise
what we ourselves omit, or to abstain from what they see us do; that
where moderation and example are insufficient to suppress vice, power
ought to be used, even to its utmost severity, if necessary; and, above
all, that justice should be, in all cases and under all circumstances,
equally, impartially and expeditiously administered.”

This plain but lucid exposition of the duties of freemen, merits the
highest consideration of the private citizen, the able statesman,
and the profound judge. It is the effusion of a clear head, a good
heart, and a noble mind. It exhibits briefly and fully, in language
of unvarnished but sublime simplicity, the only sure foundation of a
republican government. It strikes at the very root of alarming evils,
that at this moment hang over our beloved country like an incubus.
It is naked truth plainly told, and by us should be strongly felt and
implicitly obeyed.

Owing to the great reputation of Mr. Hopkins as a mathematician, he was
called in June, 1769, to aid in taking observations upon the transit
of Venus over the disk of the sun. So highly prized were his services
on that occasion, that the pamphlet published upon the subject was
dedicated to him. This rare phenomenon occurred in 1739–61–69, and will
occur again in 1874 and 1996, if the planetary system is not before
dissolved, or changed in its primitive revolving course.

Governor Hopkins had incurred the displeasure of the British ministry
previous to the revolution, by licensing vessels from Rhode Island
to trade with the French and Spanish colonies. So long as it did not
violate any act of parliament he continued to exercise the privilege,
and disregarded the authority assumed but not delegated, of directing
the local concerns of the colony. He had long been convinced that the
mother country cared more for the fleece than the flock she claimed
in America, which had often been left to contend alone against a
merciless foe. With convictions like these upon his mind, a republican
to the core, and valuing liberty above life, he was fully prepared to
resist the first scintillations of the unconstitutional claims made
by corrupt and corrupting ministers. When the stamp act was passed,
his voice and his pen were arrayed against it. He showed clearly, that
this and other acts of parliament had no foundation in justice, and
were contrary to the spirit of the constitution of Great Britain. In
1772, the mountain torrent of local party spirit having subsided in the
colony, and its effervescence submerged in the more absorbing question
of British oppression, Mr. Hopkins again took his seat in the assembly
and continued a member for the three succeeding years. In 1774, this
patriarch statesman was elected to the national Congress, and entered
with a calm but determined zeal upon the responsible duties of that
august convention. The same year he proposed and obtained the passage
of a bill by the assembly of Rhode Island, entirely prohibiting the
slave trade in that colony; and, to show that he strongly felt what
he earnestly advocated, he emancipated all his negroes, some of the
descendants of whom still reside in Providence. He had incorporated
their freedom in his will dated some time previous.

In 1775, he was appointed chief justice of the colony, was a member of
the assembly and member of Congress; holding, simultaneously, a trio
of offices. The ensuing year he was one of the immortalized fifty-six
by whose exertions a nation was born in a day, and who signed, scaled,
and delivered the certificate of legitimacy to their grateful country.
The same year he was president of the board of commissioners of the New
England states that convened at Providence to consult and devise plans
for the promotion of the glorious cause of freedom. The next year he
presided over a similar board at Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1778,
he was a member of Congress for the last time, and the next year closed
his long, useful and arduous public career in the assembly of his
native state, and retired covered with the rich foliage of unfading
honours, the growth of nearly half a century. The proud escutcheon of
his public fame and private worth was without a spot to obscure its
brilliant lustre. As a municipal officer, as a judge on the bench, as a
legislator in the assembly, as the chief magistrate of the colony and
as a member of the Continental Congress, he discharged all his duties
ably, honestly, faithfully and with a single eye to the glory of his

As a public speaker he made no pretensions to elocution, but was
listened to with profound attention. His reasoning was strong, always
to the point in question, and his speeches short. His was a vigorous,
clear, inquiring, analyzing mind, that surmounted every barrier with
the same fortitude, energy and determined resolution that carried
Bonaparte over the Alps, Sherman to the pinnacle of fame, and Franklin
to the summit of science.

He was a laborious and extensive reader and a friend to education. He
was one of the principal founders of the Providence Library in 1750,
and when it was destroyed by fire ten years after, he contributed
largely to a new supply of books. He also framed and obtained the
passage of an act to establish free schools, and did all in his power
to promote the cause of literature.

He was a friend to unshackled religion, breathing charity for all whose
deportment gave the impress of divine grace—the only genuine touchstone
of true piety. He admired most the creed of the society of Friends,
which frequently held meetings at his house. All gospel ministers were
made welcome to his hospitable mansion, which was not unaptly called by
some “the ministers’ tavern.” He was plain in all things and opposed to
pomp and show.

In addition to his multifarious public duties, he was extensively
engaged in commerce, manufactures and agriculture. He was a systematic,
thorough business man, scrupulously honest, honourable and liberal.
He never became wealthy, but enjoyed a competence through life. He
was often placed in the crucible of domestic affliction. Of the seven
children by his first wife, not one survived him. One son was murdered
by the Indians, another died in Spain, and the youngest, who was the
fourth sea captain of the family, was lost at sea as was supposed,
his vessel having never been heard from after leaving the port of

In the relations of husband, father, kinsman, friend, gentleman,
benefactor, philanthropist, Christian, neighbour and citizen, this
public spirited man and pure patriot was a model of human excellence.

His eventful career was closed on the 13th of July, 1785, after
enduring the course of a slow and lingering fever with the same calm
fortitude that had marked his whole life. He had lived respected and
esteemed; he died peaceful and happy. To the last moments of his
earthly pilgrimage he retained full possession of his mental powers,
and approached the confines of eternity with a seraphic smile that
augured heaven. He had long laboured under physical infirmities of a
nervous nature; for many years it had been difficult for him to write
his name. He was interred at Providence two days after his decease.

His demise produced a mournful sensation throughout the country, and
many from an unusual distance joined the numerous procession that
followed his remains to the silent tomb. Let us all imitate his bright
examples, that we may be useful in life, triumphant in death, and
exalted beyond the grave.


The love of liberty and the oppressions of those in power, first
induced the pilgrim fathers to plant their standard on the granite
shores of New England. They were not a band of visionary unprincipled
speculators, but a band of intelligent, virtuous, pious, patriotic
and enterprising citizens, who were, from the commencement, willing
to risk their lives and fortunes in the cause of human rights. The
early forms of government adopted by many of those infant settlements,
were remarkably similar to those now in operation. The principles that
actuated the patriots of the revolution were recognised and taught
by many of the earliest immigrants. Although, in consequence of the
charters emanating from the king, an allegiance was recognised, yet
the people never intended to have those chains riveted upon them from
which they had fled, nor surrender tamely the rights and privileges
given them by the God of nature, and rendered more dear by years of
toil and fountains of blood. To understand, appreciate, and guard
these blessings, they correctly deemed _intelligence_ the first grand
requisite. Upon this principle they started, upon this principle they
lived, and their happy example soon spread its benign influence far and
wide. Hence, we find more intelligent, wise, reflecting, consistent,
cool and deliberate men embarked in the cause of the American
revolution than in any other recorded on the pages of history.

Holding a conspicuous place among them, was ROBERT TREAT PAINE, a
native of Boston, born in 1731, of highly respectable and religious
parents. His father performed the duties of a clergyman until his
health became impaired, when he embarked in the mercantile business.
His mother was the daughter of an eminent divine, the Rev. Mr. Treat,
of Eastham. From these pious parents he received those principles of
virtue that enabled him to be useful through future life. Were there
no other blessings flowing from religion than its salutary influence
upon the order and harmony of society, mankind would be richly paid for
adhering to its principles. This consideration alone should close the
_mouth_ of every infidel opposer, whatever may be the conclusions of
his _mind_ with reference to its origin and reality.

At an early age, Mr. Paine was placed under Mr. Lovell, a classical
teacher in Boston, where his embryo talents rapidly expanded into a
rich and luxuriant growth. At fourteen he became a student at Harvard
College. After closing his studies at this ancient seat of learning,
his parents, not only unable to aid him in business, required his
assistance to render them comfortable. He, therefore, before commencing
the study of a profession, employed his time for some months in
teaching a public school, a business as honourable as it is useful, and
which in point of dignity and compensation is now far inferior to the
days of Greece and Rome. Isocrates, for a single course of lectures on
rhetoric, received from one hundred of the Athenian scholars, fourteen
thousand eight hundred dollars. No wonder the ablest talents were
employed in advancing literature in classic Greece.

Mr. Paine continued this business at intervals, which enabled him to
contribute to the support of his worthy parents and a maiden sister,
whose healths were impaired, and also to pursue the studies of his
profession. He commenced the study of theology, but ultimately read
and entered upon the practice of law. He first appeared at the Boston
bar, and from there removed to Taunton, in the county of Bristol. He
there acquired a firm and substantial eminence as an acute, sound and
discreet lawyer and able advocate. He enjoyed the confidence and esteem
of his numerous acquaintances. He was among the earliest patriots
who opposed the innovations of the crown and boldly advanced liberal
principles. He was a member of the conventions of 1768, called by the
citizens of Boston, to take measures for the preservation of their
sacred rights, and which Governor Bernard vainly attempted to disperse
before they completed their deliberations.

He was employed, at the instance of Samuel Adams, by the people of
Boston to conduct the prosecution against Captain Preston, for ordering
his men to fire upon the populace on the 5th of March, 1770, which
duty he discharged with great zeal and ability. During the gathering
storm of the revolution, Mr. Paine was uniformly upon the important
committees of the people, and many of the boldest resolutions that were
adopted at the meetings and conventions of that trying period were
from his pen. In 1773, he was chosen a representative to the general
assembly, and was one of the members who conducted the impeachment of
Peter Oliver, chief justice of the province, who was accused of acting
under the direct influence of the crown instead of the assembly. In
this trial, Mr. Paine manifested strong talent, and showed himself
master of his profession.

In 1774, he was again elected to the assembly, and boldly warned the
people against the dangers to be apprehended from the appointment of
Governor Gage to succeed Governor Hutchinson. It was plainly seen that
the designs of the British ministry were to be enforced at the point of
the bayonet. An awful, an alarming crisis was approaching. A committee,
larger than at any previous time, was convened at Boston, which advised
and proposed the plan of a General Congress. Governor Gage sent a
messenger with an order for them to disperse, to whom they refused
admittance until they finished their deliberations, which resulted in
the appointment of five delegates, one of which was Mr. Paine, to meet
those from the other colonies at Philadelphia. This measure originated
in Massachusetts, and had been proposed as early as 1765, and was
strongly urged in a circular three years after. The set time had now
arrived—the galling yoke had become painful—and the colonies generally
acceded to the proposal. The ostensible object in convening this
Congress was, not to effect a separation, but to obtain a relaxation of
the severities imposed by the crown. It is believed a large majority of
the members when they assembled had never contemplated a declaration
of independence; but among them were bold and ardent spirits, noble
and patriotic hearts. As one of those, Mr. Paine stood conspicuous.
Their language continued to be respectful to the crown, but their
chartered rights they were determined to defend and protect. They did
not attribute their sufferings to a bad heart in their king, but to
the ambitious avarice of a corrupt ministry. Their proceedings were
calm as a summer morning, but firm as the rock of ages. They appealed
to their sovereign, to the British nation, to the American people,
and to a gazing world for the justice of their claims and the equity
of their demands. But to Britain they appealed in vain. The cords
of coercion were drawn with a stronger hand—their remonstrances and
petitions were answered by legions of foreign soldiers in all the
panoply of war—and servile submission or open resistance were the
only alternatives left. Mr. Paine was also a member of the Provincial
Congress of Massachusetts, convened at Concord, in October, 1774, and
was the principal in preparing a spirited address to the people of
England, which did much to open the eyes of many in the mother country,
and rouse the colonists to a just sense of the injuries of the British

The following year he was again elected a member of the Continental
Congress, and was placed upon many important committees. He was as
indefatigable in his labours as he was zealous in the cause of human
rights. He was chairman of the committee for the encouragement of the
manufacture of arms and for furnishing the army. He used to say, “I
fear we shall become slaves, because we are not industrious enough to
be free.”

Mr. Paine was appointed on the committee to prepare a constitution
for Massachusetts, and has the credit of framing that instrument. He
was again elected to Congress, and in April, 1776, was appointed on a
committee with Messrs. Jefferson and Rutledge to report rules to govern
Congress in their deliberations, and upon the committee to inquire
into the causes of the disasters of the campaign in Canada.—When the
glorious 4th of July, 1776, dawned upon Columbia’s sons like smiling
heaven, and the eagle of LIBERTY soared in peerless majesty over their
blood-stained soil, Mr. Paine was at his post. With a buoyant heart
and a firm hand he affixed his name to that matchless instrument which
is a terror to tyrants and the pride of freemen. He did much to rouse
his friends to action by his letters, which he poured upon them in
the most happy style. In his native state he stood on the pinnacle of
fame—in the national legislature he was universally esteemed. He was
still continued a member of Congress, and, when he could be spared,
took a part in the legislative proceedings of Massachusetts. In 1777,
he was speaker of the House of Representatives, and the same year was
appointed attorney-general, by the unanimous vote of both branches
of the legislature. He was a prominent member of the committee who
formed the “regulating act” reducing the price of labour, goods, &c.
to a standard of equality. In 1779, he was elected a member of the
executive council, which, in conjunction with his other appointments,
imposed upon him constant and arduous duties. At the adoption of the
constitution, he was re-appointed attorney-general of his native state,
and continued in that office until 1790, when he declined, in order to
pursue some more lucrative business that he might provide for the wants
of a large and destitute family. He had been a faithful public servant
and had expended all but a bare and scanty support in the cause of his

He was then appointed a judge of the superior court, which situation
he held until 1804, when his health compelled him to resign. He
discharged the duties of this office with great justice and ability,
and did much to advance the interests of religion, social order and a
sound state of society. On his resignation, he was elected a counsellor
of the commonwealth, and continued to impart his salutary advice and
influence to his fellow-citizens until death closed his career on the
11th of May, 1814, when, calm and resigned, he fell asleep in the arms
of his glorious Redeemer, reposing full confidence in His merits,
and possessing a full assurance of a welcome entrance into realms of
transcendent bliss beyond the skies, there to enjoy the rich reward of
a crown of unfading glory through the rolling ages of eternity.

In the life of Judge Paine, we have a picture which the christian,
the patriot, the legislator, and the statesman, may contemplate with
pleasure and delight. From the stations he occupied as the prosecutor
for the commonwealth, and as the administrator of its laws, he obtained
the reputation amongst some of being harsh, but no one dared to accuse
him of injustice. His integrity was above the reach of slander. From
his solicitude to confine a wayward son in the paths of rectitude,
he was accused of being unkind to his family, an accusation as false
as the heart was base that originated it. To his family he was all
kindness and affection. No stronger proof need be adduced than his
extreme anxiety for their welfare and usefulness. He was a friend to
literature, and the founder of the American Academy of Massachusetts
in 1780. The degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by the Cambridge
University. He was a striking example of the happy results of
perseverance and industry, having acquired his fame without the aid
of patronage in early life, rising by his own exertions, unaided
by any, and administering to the comfort of his aged and destitute
parents. His career in public and private life was marked with the
purest integrity, the strictest morality, the utmost consistency and
the noblest patriotism. His life was a continued round of usefulness;
his labours were a blessing to mankind; his death was surrounded by
a sacred purity that reached from earth to heaven—his examples will
be held in veneration by the great and good to the remotest period of
truth-telling time.


A purely confederate republican government to answer fully its
beautiful theory, must be healthful and sound in all its parts, and be
wielded by enlightened rulers whose hearts are free from all guile,
whose judgments are strong and matured, whose characters are in all
respects irreproachable, whose conduct is in all things consistent,
whose patriotism and virtue extinguishes self and soar above all
temptation to digress from the most exalted honesty and rigid moral
rectitude, whose minds are stored with useful knowledge and large
experience, and whose souls are imbued with wisdom from above.

In such a condition and in such hands this kind of government is
calculated to elevate the mental powers of man, to spread before the
mind correct and liberal principles, and to promote social order and
general happiness by extending its radiant light, its genial rays and
its benign influence to the remotest bounds of the inhabited globe. In
such a condition and in such hands it would become the solar fountain
of intellectual improvement, the polar star of expanding science, and a
shining light to the human family. Its refulgent beams would enrapture
the ignorant, the oppressed, and the forlorn—its harmonious links would
form a golden chain that would reach the confines of earth. It would
be a messenger of peace, pointing and inviting the weary pilgrims of
bondage in every clime to a reposing asylum of peaceful and quiescent
rest. This is the kind of government intended by the sages of the
American revolution—this is the kind of government they desired to form
and perpetuate.

Among those who laid the foundation and commenced the superstructure
of our admired and expanding republic was GEORGE TAYLOR, a native of
Ireland, born in 1716. His father was a clergyman and bestowed upon
him a good education. He then placed him with a physician, under whose
direction he commenced the study of medicine. Not fancying the idea
of becoming a son of Æsculapius he flew the course, and finding a
vessel bound for Philadelphia and ready to sail, without consulting his
friends and without money, he entered on board as a redemptioner. Soon
after he arrived in this country his passage was paid by Mr. Savage,
of Durham, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, a few miles below Easton, for
which he bound himself as a common labourer for a term of years. This
gentleman was the owner of iron works where he lived, and assigned
to his new servant the station of _filler_, his business being to
throw coal into the furnace when in blast. He soon found this work
to differ widely from that of handling books and the pen. His hands
became cruelly blistered, but being resolute and ambitious to gain
the approbation of all around him, he persevered without a complaint.
The workmen, observing his condition, named the circumstance to Mr.
Savage, whose humanity induced him to provide some less laborious
employment for the young foreigner. On conversing with him he
discovered his intelligence, education and talents, and immediately
promoted him to clerk in the counting room of the establishment. He
proved fully competent to his new situation, and gained the friendship
and esteem of all around him. Nor did he neglect the improvement of
his mind. He applied to practical use the theories he had acquired
at school. His reflecting and reasoning powers became developed. He
made himself familiar with the formula of the business, the customs
and the government of his adopted country. He became esteemed for
his correct deportment, and admired for his clearness of perception
and soundness of judgment. To add to his importance in society, the
wife of Mr. Savage became a widow and was subsequently married by Mr.
Taylor, by which he became sole proprietor of a large property and the
husband of a worthy and influential woman. By persevering industry
and good management he continued to add to the estate constantly, and
in a few years purchased a tract of land on the bank of the Lehigh,
in Northampton county, upon which he built a splendid mansion and
iron works, and made it his place of residence. He was not prospered
in business at his new location, and at a subsequent period removed
back to Durham. During his residence in Northampton county he became
extensively and favourably known, and in 1764, was elected to the
provincial assembly at Philadelphia, and took a prominent part in its

He had not been an idle spectator or careless observer of passing
events or of subjects discussed. He had examined the principles upon
which various governments were predicated, and became enraptured with
the federal republican system. He had watched, with a freeman’s eye,
the increasing advances of British oppression. He was too patriotic and
too bold to tamely submit to the yoke of bondage. So well was he then
known as a discerning and discreet man, that he was placed upon the
important committee of grievances. He also took a bold stand against
the corruptions of the proprietary government, and advocated strongly
an alteration of the charter, so that peculation should be diminished
and abuses corrected.

The ensuing year he was again elected to the assembly, and was one
of the committee that prepared the instructions of the Pennsylvania
delegation to the Congress that convened in New York in 1765, to adopt
measures for the restoration and preservation of colonial rights. This
document combined caution and respect with firmness of purpose and
deliberation of action. It instructed the delegates to move within the
orbit of constitutional and chartered privileges, and to respectfully
but clearly admonish the king and his advisers not to transcend the
limits of the same circle.

The stamp act was repealed shortly after, and Mr. Taylor was one of the
committee that prepared a congratulatory address to the king on the
happy event. So ably did he discharge his public duties that his name
was uniformly placed upon several of the standing committees of the
highest importance, assigning to him an onerous burden of legislative
service. Upon the committee of grievances, assessment of taxes, the
judiciary, loans on bills of credit, navigation, to choose a printer of
the public laws, and others of importance the name of George Taylor was
generally found and often the first. For six successive years he was
constantly a member of the assembly. In 1768, he was upon a committee
appointed by that body to prepare an address to the governor censuring
him for a remissness in duty, in not having brought to condign
punishment certain offenders who had openly and barbarously murdered
several Indians, thereby provoking retaliation. It was respectful
and manly, but keen and cutting as a damask blade. It was a lucid
exposition of political policy, sound law, and public duty.

In October, 1775, Mr. Taylor was again returned to the assembly and
added fresh laurels to his legislative fame. In addition to others
he was placed upon the committee of safety, then virtually the organ
of government. An awful crisis had arrived, the dread clarion of
war had been sounded, American blood was crying for vengeance, the
revolutionary storm had commenced, and the mountain waves of British
wrath were rolling over the colonies. Firmness, sound discretion and
bold measures were required. Mr. Taylor possessed the former and
promoted the latter. He stood forth a faithful sentinel in the cause
of freedom, not a blazing luminary, but as solid as the granite rock.
He was in favour of prudence in all things, but was not affected by
the temporizing mania that at first paralyzed the action of many
who desired liberty but dreaded penalties. He continued to exercise
a powerful and salutary influence in the assembly of Pennsylvania
until the summer of 1776, when he became a member of the Continental
Congress, and sanctioned with his signature to the declaration of
rights, the principles of liberty he had boldly advocated. Although
Mr. Taylor did not tempt the giddy height of refined rhetoric, he
knew where and when to speak, what to say and how to vote—the highest
qualifications of a legislator.

In the spring of 1777, he retired from Congress and from public
life, covered with the honours of a devoted and ardent patriot, an
industrious and useful legislator, an enlightened and valuable citizen,
a worthy and honest man. On the 23d of February, 1781, he closed his
eyes upon terrestrial things, bid a final adieu to earth and its toys,
and bowed submissively to the king of terrors. He died at Easton, to
which place he had recently removed. From the character of Mr. Taylor
the reader may learn, that without the luminous talents of a Jefferson,
a Lee, or a Franklin, a man may be substantially useful and render
valuable and highly important services to his country and to the world.


Virtue affords the only foundation for a peaceful and happy
government. When the wicked rule, the nation mourns. Not that rulers
must necessarily profess religion by being attached to some visible
church—but they must venerate it, and be men of the highest moral and
political honesty. Disease and corruption affect the body politic and
produce dissolution with the same certainty that they prostrate the
physical powers of man. If the head is disordered, the whole heart is
sick. If the political fountain becomes polluted, its dark and murky
waters will eventually impregnate every branch with their contagious
miasma. The history of the past proves the truth of these assertions;
the passing events of the present day afford too frequent demonstration
of the baneful effects of intrigue and peculation. Without virtue our
union will become a mere rope of sand, the victim of knaves and the
sport of kings. Self-government will become an enigma with monarchs,
rational liberty a paradox, and a republic, the scoff of tyrants.
Let every freeman look to this matter in time. Let him look back to
the sages who wisely conceived, nobly planned, and boldly laid the
foundations of the freedom we now enjoy, but which cannot, will not be
perpetuated unless we imitate their examples and obey their precepts.
They were virtuous, many of them devotedly pious, and all of them
politically honest.

Among their number the name and character of FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE
claims our present attention. He was the son of Thomas Lee, and born
in Westmoreland county, Virginia, on the 14th of October, 1734. He was
the brother of Richard Henry Lee, whose eloquence rose higher but whose
reflections were no deeper than those of Francis. In childhood he was
admired for his docility and amiable deportment, in youth he was the
pride of every circle in which he moved, and when manhood dawned upon
him he exhibited a dignity of mind and maturity of judgment that his
fellow citizens highly appreciated and delighted to honour.

He was educated by the Rev. Mr. Craig, a Scotch clergyman, of high
literary attainments and profound erudition. Under his tuition the
germs of knowledge took deep root in the prolific mental soil of
young Francis, and produced plants of a rapid and luxuriant growth.
The Scotch literati are remarkable for deep investigation, thorough
analyzation, and lucid demonstration. I have never met one who was
a pedant, a vain pretender, or a superficial scholar. Under such an
instructor the intellectual powers of Francis assumed a vigorous
and solid tone that placed him upon the substantial basis of useful
knowledge and enduring fame. He became delighted with the solid
sciences, and spent less time in the bowers of belles lettres than his
Ciceronean brother. The history of classic Greece and republican Rome
enraptured his mind with the love of liberty and liberal principles. He
read closely, thought deeply, and investigated fully. He prosecuted his
studies with untiring industry and became an excellent scholar, without
the advantages of European seminaries, to which most of the young sons
of wealthy men were then sent to complete their education. Imitating
the examples of his elder brothers, whose manners had received the
highest polish of English gentilesse and French etiquette he became
an accomplished gentleman. Raised in the midst of affluence, actuated
by moral rectitude, free from a desire to participate in the follies
of the world, living in the enjoyment of the refined pleasures that
promote felicity without enervating the body or vitiating the heart,
and a favourite among all his numerous acquaintances, his earthly
happiness was of the purest kind. With a mind richly stored with
scientific theory, with ethics and correct religious principles, he
entered the school of experience and became emphatically a practical
man. Possessed of an ample fortune he could devote his time to such
objects as he deemed most useful. Having early imbibed the love of
rational liberty, and having fully canvassed the conduct of the British
ministry towards the American colonies, Mr. Lee resolved to oppose the
encroachments of the king upon rights and privileges clearly guarantied
by the constitution of the mother country. He could not consent that
the trappings of the crown, the pomp of the court, the extravagance
of the ministry, and the expenses of the parliament of Great Britain
should be borne by the yeomanry of America, eloigned as they were from
the protection and good feeling of that power—deprived as they were
from being properly represented in legislation—subject as they were
to the caprice of every new cabinet created by the king—threatened as
they were to be dragged from their native soil to be tried by a foreign
jury—oppressed as they were by the insolence of hireling officers—and
driven as they were from under the mantle of constitutional rights.

In 1765, he was elected a member of the house of burgesses to represent
Loudoun county, where his estate was situated. He became an important
advocate of equal rights and took a bold stand in favour of natural
and chartered privileges. Blessed with a strong and investigating
mind, a deep and penetrating judgment, a clear and acute perception,
a pure and patriotic heart and a bold and fearless disposition, he
became one of the most efficient advisers in the house. He continued to
represent Loudoun until 1772, when he married the highly accomplished
and amiable Rebecca, daughter of Colonel Tayloe, of the county of
Richmond, where Mr. Lee then permanently located. The same year he was
elected to the house of burgesses from his new district, and continued
to render valuable services and exercise a salutary influence in that
body until he was appointed a delegate to the Continental Congress.
Amidst the gathering storm of the revolution and the trying scenes that
accumulated thick and fast around him, he stood undaunted, unmoved,
and undismayed. He advocated every measure calculated to promote
the independence of his country, and was prolific in plans for the
accomplishment of the desired object. As a member of committees he had
no superior. An extensive reader, he had made himself acquainted with
the principles of every form of government, and understood well the
minutiæ of magna charta and the British constitution. He was prepared
to act advisedly and safely, and determined to resist, even unto blood,
all the illegal advances of a base, designing and avaricious ministry.
He made no pretensions to oratory, seldom spoke in public, but when so
highly excited as to rise, he poured upon his opponents a flood of keen
and withering logic that often made them quail beneath its force.

On the 15th of August, 1775, Mr. Lee was elected a member of the
Continental Congress. A more expansive field was then opened before
him. To do or die, to live in chains or peril every thing for liberty
had become the dilemma. Columbia’s soil had been stained with the blood
and serum of Americans, shed by the very men who had been cherished by
their bounty and fed by the labour of their hands. The dim flickerings
of the hope of redress and conciliation were fast expiring in the
socket of forbearance. The great seal of the social compact had been
broken by the British ministry, the last petitions, remonstrances and
addresses to the king were to be prepared, and the final course to be
pursued by the colonies, determined. Inglorious peace or honourable
war were the two propositions. In favour of the last Mr. Lee put forth
the strong energies of his mind. Eternal separation from England and
independence for America could only satisfy and meet his views. Being
appointed upon many important committees, his exertions to obtain this
desideratum were unremitting, and his influence was strongly felt.
So highly were his talents appreciated that he was often chairman of
the committee of the whole. So convinced were his constituents of
his ability to promote the best interests of the glorious cause of
freedom, that they continued him in Congress until his retirement from
the public arena in 1779 to scenes more congenial to _his_ mind, but
less beneficial to the deliberations of the august body he had so much

When the proposition of final separation was submitted to Congress by
his brother, his soul was animated to the zenith of patriotic feeling,
and when the declaration of rights was adopted, his mind was in an
ecstacy of delight. His influence, his vote and his signature, told
how strong and pure were his desires in its favour. On that sacred
instrument, the chart of freemen and an eye-sore to kings, the name of
Francis Lightfoot Lee stands recorded—a lasting monument of his civic

He rendered essential aid in framing the articles of confederation
that carried the colonies through the revolution. This was a work
of great labour, and underwent, besides the time bestowed upon it
by the committee, thirty-nine distinct discussions in the house. He
contended ardently that the rights of contiguous fisheries and the
free navigation of the Mississippi river should be incorporated in the
claims of the United States upon Great Britain in all propositions
of peace. The wisdom and sagacity of his position is now fully
demonstrated although it then met with opposition by some, and was
considered as a matter of secondary importance by others.

A late writer has charged the “Lees of Virginia” with hostility towards
Washington, which, unqualified as it stands, includes Francis with
the rest. This hostile feeling, he asserts, arose from the sentence
of the court martial in 1778, that suspended General Charles Lee from
holding any commission in the American army for one year. Had the
writer consulted the records of Congress he might have avoided this
error. Francis Lightfoot Lee was the only one of the name in Congress
at that time. The sentence was acted upon and sanction by that body,
and Mr. Lee voted in its favour. He was ever a warm friend of the
illustrious Washington, and I have yet to learn that his brothers were
not also. General Lee was a native of North Wales, and, excepting a
short time during his youth, was not in America until 1773, and could
not have had the same claims of friendship upon the “Lees of Virginia”
as the father of our country. He was an accomplished and brave officer,
having served in Portugal under Burgoyne, and in the army of Poland,
and other places, from the time he was eleven years old until his
unfortunate dereliction from orders at the battle of Monmouth. He died
in Philadelphia in 1782. Another evidence that Mr. Lee held the hero of
the revolution in veneration is of a later date. After the adoption of
the federal constitution he was asked his opinion upon it. He answered,
with an air of seriousness, “I am old and do not pretend to judge
these things now, but one thing satisfies me it is all right—General
Washington is in favour of it and John Warden is opposed to it.” Mr.
Warden was opposed to American independence.

After he retired from Congress he enjoyed the domestic circle but for a
short season. He was elected to the legislature of his native dominion
contrary to his wishes, but promptly repaired to the post of public
duty. After aiding in the removal of the most perplexing difficulties
that embarrassed the government of the state, he again retired to the
peaceful shades of private life, where he remained until April, 1797,
when, calm and resigned, he obeyed the summons of the messenger of
death, bid an affectionate farewell to his friends and the world, and
took his departure “to that country from whose bourne no traveller
returns,” triumphing in faith, rejoicing in death, with the full
assurance of a crown of glory in a brighter and better world.

In public life Mr. Lee was eminently useful; his private worth and
excellence shone with equal brilliancy. Always cheerful, amusing
and instructive, he was the delight of every circle in which he
moved. Wealthy, liberal and benevolent, he was the orphan’s father,
the widow’s solace and the poor man’s friend. Kind, affectionate
and intelligent, he was a good husband, a faithful companion, and a
safe counsellor. Polished, urbane and gentlemanly, his examples were
calculated to refine the manners of those around him. Moral, discreet
and pious, his precepts had a salutary influence upon the minds of
all who heard them and were not callous to good advice. He died of
pleurisy, resulting from a heavy cold, and, within a few days of
each other, himself and wife were both laid beneath the clods of the
valley. They had no children to mourn their loss, but their graves
were moistened by the tears of numerous relatives and friends. Let the
shining examples of this good man be reflected forcibly upon our minds,
that our country may be benefitted by us in time, and that our final
exit from earth may be peaceful and happy.


A man who has a just sense of the responsibilities of a high public
office, will seldom seek one, unless impelled by impending dangers
that threaten to injure or destroy the best interests of his country.
The more clearly a modest unassuming man perceives the magnitude of a
public trust, the more he distrusts his own capacity to discharge its
duties, yet such a man is the very one to be safely trusted. It was
with great diffidence that Washington undertook the command of the
American armies, yet no one can be pointed out who possessed as fully
all the requisites to meet “the times that tried men’s souls.” John
Hancock quailed under his appointment as president of the Continental
Congress, yet no one could have manifested more firmness in the cause
of liberty, or have presided with more dignity.

It is only in times of danger that men of the _greatest_ worth become
_most_ conspicuous. They are then _sought_ out by the virtuous part of
the community, and sometimes become prominent by throwing _themselves_
in the breach of danger. In times of peace and prosperity, the same men
may be called to the councils of a nation without exciting astonishment
or unusual applause, and the names of noisy political partisans may
become more extensively known and be wider spread upon the wings of
venal party newspapers than theirs. It is in such times that men of
the greatest merit shrink from the public gaze, and it is in such
times that the canker worm of political intrigue carries on the work
of destruction in the body politic. It is in times of peril that men
of deep thought, cool deliberation and sterling honesty, become most
prominent and receive the full reward of merit. This fact was fully
demonstrated during the American revolution. Many were then called
to deliberate in the solemn assemblies of that eventful era who had
not been previously known as public men, and who retired as soon as
the mighty work of independence was completed. They were selected in
consequence of their strict integrity and sound discretion.

Of this class was THOMAS STONE, a descendant of William Stone, who
was governor of Maryland during the reign of Cromwell. He was born at
Pointon Manor, Charles county, Maryland, in 1743. He was well educated
under the liberal and classical instruction of a Scotch clergyman, and
studied the profession of law with Thomas Johnson of Annapolis. He
commenced a successful practice at that place, and was held in high
estimation by the community in which he lived. Modest, retiring and
unassuming in his manners, an industrious man of business, a close
student, a safe and judicious counsellor, he was beloved and admired
for his substantial worth and sterling merit. He possessed a clear
head, a sound judgment, and a good heart. His mind was vigorous,
analyzing, investigating, and patriotic. He was a friend to equal
rights, and delighted in seeing every person happy. He detested
oppression in all its varied shades. He was kind, noble and benevolent.
With feelings like these he was not a careless observer of the
infringements of the Grenville administration upon the constitutional
and chartered rights of his fellow citizens. When the stamp act was
promulged, he was a youth in politics, but the discussions upon its
odiousness deeply interested him. He was an attentive listener and
a thorough investigator. His opposition to it became firm; a holy
indignation pervaded his bosom and prepared him for future action.
Still he avoided the public gaze. With his friends in the private
circle he conversed freely, lucidly and understandingly upon the
subject of American rights and British wrongs, but could not be induced
to mount the rostrum of the forum and display his forensic powers until
a short time before he was called by his country to deliberate in her
national council.

When the Boston port bill was proclaimed, Mr. Stone surmounted the
barriers of diffidence and rushed promptly to the rescue. His example
had a salutary influence upon those around him. All knew that something
must be radically wrong, that some portentous danger hung over the
colonies when Thomas Stone was roused to public action. The influence
of such men as him, in times of peril, is of the highest value. The man
who is always or often a declaimer in popular meetings, must possess
Demosthenean or Ciceronian powers to command attention for a long time.
The cool, the reflecting, the calculating, the timid and the wavering,
are operated upon as by magic, where they see such a man as was Mr.
Stone go boldly forward and advocate, what to them seems a cause of
doubtful expediency.

On the 8th of December, 1774, he was elected a member of the
Continental Congress, and took his seat in that body on the 15th of
the ensuing May. The meeting of that convention of sages had been
deeply solemn and imposing the preceding year, but at that time an
increased responsibility rested upon the members. The cry of blood from
the heights of Lexington was ringing in their ears; the fury of the
revolutionary storm was increasing; the clash of arms and mortal combat
had already commenced; the vials of British wrath were unsealed, and
the fabric of civil government was falling before a foreign military
force. To meet such a crisis, it required the wisdom of Solomon, the
patriotism of Cincinnatus, the acuteness of Locke, the eloquence of
Cicero, the caution of Tacitus, the learning of Atticus and the energy
of Virginius. All these qualities were combined in the Continental
Congress to a degree before unknown. Mr. Stone commenced his duties
with vigour and prosecuted them with zeal. He was at first trammelled
by the instructions of the provincial assembly of Maryland, that body
being extremely anxious that peace should be restored without recourse
to arms. But the increasing oppressions of the crown eventually removed
this injunction and enabled him and his colleagues to join cheerfully
in all measures calculated to promote the cause of independence. He was
continued in Congress until 1777, when he declined a re-election. He
had been a faithful labourer in the committee rooms, and an influential
member in the house. He had bestowed much thought and time upon the
articles of confederation, and felt bound to remain in the public
service until they were fully formed and adopted. That important work
completed, he retired from the halls of Congress, carrying with him the
esteem and respect of that body, the approbation of a good conscience,
and the unlimited gratitude of his constituents.

In 1778, he was elected a delegate of the Maryland legislature, where
he became an important and influential member. During that session, the
articles of confederation that he had aided in framing the preceding
term in Congress, were submitted for consideration. They met with
violent opposition at first, and were the subject of warm discussion.
Having been present at their formation, Mr. Stone was prepared to
answer the objections raised against them by lucid, clear, logical and
convincing arguments. He contributed largely in gaining for them a
majority of votes in the legislature of his state.

In 1783, he again took his seat in Congress and became a highly
esteemed member. Devoted to the best interests of his country, free
from political ambition, honest, frank, republican and sincere in his
principles, he was safely entrusted with the responsibilities of every
station he was called to fill. He was present when Washington resigned
his commission and retired from the field of civic glory to the
peaceful shades of Mount Vernon, amidst the loud plaudits of admiring
millions, and the mingled tears of joy and gratitude that stood, like
pearly dew drops, on the cheeks of his countrymen and compatriots in

The ensuing year closed the labours of Mr. Stone in Congress, and
completed his public career. During the last session in which he
served, he presided, previous to its close, as president _pro tempore_,
and, had he consented to a re-election, would, as a matter of course,
been chosen the next president of the national legislature. As a
further mark of public esteem, he was elected a delegate to the
convention of 1787 that framed the federal constitution, but having
commenced a lucrative practice of law at Port Tobacco he declined the
honour of serving. On the 5th of October of the same year, he was
prematurely and suddenly called to the bar of God to render an account
of his stewardship, and closed his eyes in death, deeply lamented by
numerous friends, a grateful country, and millions of freemen. He was
cut off in the prime of life, in the midst of usefulness, whilst the
prospects of future honours were opening brightly before him. But he
had already earned a rich and honourable fame, imperishable as the
pages of history, lasting as human intelligence. From the time he
was first known as a public man to the present, neither the tongue
of slander nor the breath of detraction have attempted to cast a
stain upon his reputation as a patriot, a statesman, a lawyer, or
a private citizen. He was a rare specimen of discretion, propriety
and usefulness—a true specimen of the very salt of the body politic,
rendering efficient services to his country without pomp or show, and
without the towering talents of a Cicero or a Demosthenes. Such men are
always valuable, and may be relied upon in the hour of danger as safe
sentinels to guard the best interests of our nation.


A military depotism is a national curse. Laws that require the
bayonet to enforce them upon a civilized and enlightened people, are
of doubtful efficacy. Moments of excitement may occur in the best
organized communities, arising from some sudden local impulse, that
require a show of military power and even its force; but when a little
time is afforded for reflection, reason resumes her sway, the spirit of
mobocracy subsides, the soldier again becomes the peaceful citizen and
rests for security upon the arm of civil power. Quartering the military
among the citizens of a community, is calculated to produce numerous
and serious evils. Let that military, after having enjoyed the bounty
and hospitality of the citizens, be directed to _force_ the execution
of laws upon these citizens, oppressive in their nature and ruinous in
their effects, and an indignation is roused that is increased tenfold
from the circumstance of previous familiarity. Intimate friends often
become the most bitter enemies. Favours forgotten and ingratitude
displayed, add to the desperation of revenge.

Thus, previous to the American revolution, the military were often
quartered upon, or drew their support directly from the people. The
colonies had also contributed largely in money and blood to aid the
mother country in conquering her most inveterate foe in America—the
French in Canada. No return was asked but the enjoyment of privileges
granted and secured by the British constitution. This was eventually
denied. Petitions were treated with contumely—remonstrances were
laughed to scorn. Then it was that a band of sages rose to vindicate
the rights of their country, whose achievements have no parallel in
ancient or modern history.

Among the boldest of the bold was LEWIS MORRIS, who was born at
Morrisania, in the vicinity of the city of New York, in 1726. The
family documents of this Morris family trace their genealogy back to
Rhice Fitzgerald. Rhys or Rhice Fitzgerald was a Cambrian chieftain,
who carried his military operations and conquests into Ireland during
the reign of Henry the second. By his valour and success he obtained
the name Maur (great) Rhice, and the penultimate Fitzgerald was
dropped, and we now find the name as we have it above. In tracing
genealogy, we often find names as greatly changed as this. From this
original down to the present time, the various branches of the family
have been highly respectable, and have honourably filled many important

Lewis was the son of Judge Morris, of the same christian name, who
appears to have retained possession of the paternal estate formerly
purchased by his grandfather, Richard Morris, who was a leader under
Cromwell, and immigrated from Barbadoes about 1663, and purchased a
large tract of land near Haarlem, on York Island. He died in 1773.
He left an only son, Lewis, who was chief justice of New York, and
subsequently governor of New Jersey.

After passing through his preparatory studies, Lewis entered Yale
College at the age of sixteen. He became a good scholar and imbibed
from the president, Dr. Clap, a permanent relish for moral and
religious principles. In 1746, he took the degree of bachelor of arts,
returned to his estate and became extensively engaged in agriculture.
At that period the colonies were prosperous, free and happy. The mother
country had not yet contemplated the imposition of burdens upon her
distant children, and they were left to pursue their own course without
annoyance or molestation. Then they enjoyed the fruits of their labours
and reposed in peace.

In this happy retirement Mr. Morris continued to improve his farm and
his mind, and by his suavity and urbanity of manners, united with moral
rectitude and an honourable course, gained the confidence and esteem
of all who knew him. He became the nucleus of a circle of friends of
the highest attainments and respectability and was emphatically the
people’s favourite. His appearance was in every way commanding. A
noble and graceful figure, a fine and intelligent face, an amiable and
agreeable disposition, a warm and ardent temperament, a benevolent and
generous heart, an independent and patriotic soul, crowned with virtue,
intelligence and refinement, he was in all respects to be admired and

The time approached rapidly when colonial repose was to be plucked by
the roots and wither beneath the scorching rays of British oppression.
The treasury of England had been drained by extravagance and war, and
her national debt had swollen to an enormous amount. The story of
prosperity and wealth in America was told to Mr. Grenville. The plan
of imperious taxation was devised. The stamp act was passed. The sons
of the pilgrim fathers were astonished and amazed. They loved their
king, but loved their country more. Legal remedies were resorted to.
A Congress was convened at New York. Able addresses to the throne and
the people of Great Britain followed, breathing the purest allegiance
conditioned on the restoration of constitutional rights. The stamp
act was repealed, but only to give place to a more voracious and
obnoxious family. In all these concerns of his country, Mr. Morris took
a deep interest, and from the beginning, opposed even the approach
of oppression, not at first as a leader but as an adviser. Although
Massachusetts took the lead in opposition, New York made a strong show
of resistance. In 1767, an act was passed by parliament compelling
the people of that province to furnish the British soldiers that were
quartered among them with provisions. By this order the burden fell
upon certain portions of the inhabitants exclusively and not pro rata
upon the whole. It was a direct invasion of personal rights and was
most severely felt by the citizens of the city of New York and its
vicinity. This measure brought Mr. Morris out. He publicly proclaimed
it unconstitutional and tyrannical, and contributed largely towards
influencing the legislature to place a veto upon it. Superior might
eventually overpowered this opposition and enforced the contribution
from the citizens. But spirits like that of Lewis Morris were not to
be subdued. An unquenchable fire was only smothered to gather strength
beneath the volcanic surface that then covered it. It was kept alive
by fresh fuel added by Mr. Grenville and his more subtle successor
Mr. North. The statute of Henry the eighth was revived, which doomed
malecontents to be sent to England for trial; the Boston port bill, its
handmaid, was passed and the cords of slavery were drawn more tightly.
The last petitions and remonstrances in the magazine of patience were
finally exhausted, and then it was that it was replenished with more
potent materials. Mr. Morris had now become a prominent man, a bold
and substantial whig, rather too ardent to send to the conciliatory
Congress of 1774. But the time soon arrived when the people required
just such a man, and in April, 1775, he was elected to the Continental
Congress. Even then the majority attributed their sufferings to the
ministers and not to the king, and still hoped he would cease to be
an automaton and prove himself a man worthy of the high station he
occupied. But hopes were vain, the juices of the olive branch became
absorbed by the sponge of venal power, and the virtues of the sword
were next to be tried. Already had the purple current stained the
streets of Boston and the heights of Lexington—already had the groans
of dying Americans, slain by the hands of those whom they had fed,
pierced the ears of thousands—already were widows and orphans weeping
for husbands weltering in blood and fathers covered with gore. Vigorous
measures of defence followed—legions of foreign troops flooded the
land—a dark and gloomy hour had arrived. Soon after his appearance
in Congress, Mr. Morris was placed upon a committee of which the
illustrious Washington was chairman, appointed to devise measures to
obtain a supply of the munitions of war. This was a desideratum not
readily acquired. Comparatively a sling and a few smooth stones were
all the patriots had with which to commence the combat with the British
Goliah. But with all these disadvantages, the battle of Bunker Hill
convinced the veterans of Europe that men determined on liberty or
death were not to be tamely subdued.

Mr. Morris became an active and efficient member of the national
legislature, and advocated strong measures. Although his enthusiastic
patriotism bordered on what was then considered rashness, in some
instances, the very path marked out by him in 1775 was the one
eventually followed. He became early convinced that an honourable
peace could not be obtained _under_ Great Britain, and was satisfied
that nothing but a triumph _over_ her would restore the equilibrium
of justice and chartered rights. During the interim between that and
the ensuing session, Mr. Morris was one of a committee appointed to
visit the frontier Indian tribes, to deter them, if possible, from
enlisting under the blood-stained banner of the mother country. He
also visited the assemblies of the New England states, in order to
perfect plans to raise supplies and prepare for a vigorous defence.
In 1776 he again took his seat in Congress, and was animated to find
a spirit more congenial with his views—a determination to sever the
gordian knot and proclaim an eternal separation from a nation that
had held power only to abuse it. He was placed on many and important
committees, and was active in and out of the house. In his native
neighbourhood Mr. Morris had no easy task to perform in rousing the
people to an efficient opposition. Governor Tryon, who was as wise and
poisonous too as a serpent, affected to be as harmless as a dove, and
exerted a powerful influence over the people of the city of New York
in favour of the crown. The commercial interests would be prostrated
by a war, the inequality of the two powers rendered the success of the
whigs problematical, and self interest, which was construed into self
preservation, operated for a long time against the cause of liberty in
that section. It required great exertions to surmount these obstacles.
Mr. Morris and his friends put forth their noblest energies in the
mighty work, and what _they_ could not effect, British oppression
and the powder and ball of General Howe soon accomplished. The able
addresses that he aided in preparing and circulating among the people
do great credit to his head and heart as a patriot, a statesman and a
scholar. They are chaste, forcible and luminous. When the declaration
of independence was proposed Mr. Morris became one of its ardent
supporters. At that very time his vast estate was within the power of
the enemy, and he well knew that if he signed the instrument proposed,
should it be adopted, it was giving to them a deed of sale, _alias_
of destruction, of all his property that was to them tangible. Most
rigidly did they use the delegated authority. Even his extensive
woodlands, of a thousand acres, were subjected to axe and fire, his
family driven from their home, and every species of destruction
resorted to that malice could invent, ingenuity design and revenge
execute. But liberty was dearer to this determined patriot than earth
and all its riches. He boldly sanctioned and fearlessly affixed his
name to the great certificate of our national birth, and rejoiced in
freedom illumined by the conflagration of Morrisania. His family and
himself suffered many privations during the remainder of the war, but
suffered patiently, without regret for the past and with brighter hopes
for the future.

In 1777 he resigned his seat in Congress and repaired to his native
state, in the legislature of which he rendered important services. He
also served in the tented field and rose to the rank of major-general
of militia. He was an excellent disciplinarian and contributed
essentially in the organization of the state troops. In every situation
he ably and zealously discharged all his duties, and never left the
post of service until the American arms triumphed in victory, and the
independence of his country was firmly established and acknowledged
by the mother country. Then he retired to his desolated plantation,
converted his sword into a pruning hook, his musket into a ploughshare,
and his farm into a delightful retreat, where his friends from the city
often visited him to enjoy his agreeable society, talk of times gone
by, and rejoice in the consolations of blood-bought liberty. Peacefully
and calmly he glided down the stream of time until January 1798, when
his immortal spirit left its frail bark of clay and launched upon
the ocean of eternity in a brighter and more substantial vessel. He
died serene and happy, surrounded by an affectionate family and kind
friends. His remains were deposited in the family vault upon his farm,
under the honours of epic fame and civic glory.

The examples of Mr. Morris illustrate the patriotism that impelled
to action during the revolution in a more than ordinary degree. He
had every thing that could be destroyed to lose, if the colonies
_succeeded_ in the doubtful struggle; and if they did not, the
scaffold, or death in some shape, was his certain doom. He was,
previous to the revolution, a favourite with the English; and, what
was more, his brother Staats was a member of the British parliament
and a general officer under the crown. But few made so great a
personal sacrifice, and no one made it more cheerfully. Like Marion,
he preferred a morsel of bread, or even a meal of roasted potatoes,
with liberty and freedom, to all the trappings and luxuries of a king
without them. So long as this kind of disinterested patriotism finds a
resting place in the bosoms of Columbia’s sons, our union is safe—let
this be banished and the fair temple of our liberty will perish in
flames kindled by its professed guardians and sentinels.


Agriculture, of all occupations, is the one best calculated to rivet
upon the heart a love of country. No profession is more honourable,
but few are as conducive to health, and, above all others, it insures
peace, tranquillity and happiness. A calling more independent in its
nature, it is calculated to produce an innate love of liberty. The
farmer stands upon a lofty eminence and looks upon the bustle of
mechanism, the din of commerce, and the multiform perplexities of
the literati, with feelings of personal freedom unknown to them. He
acknowledges the skill and indispensable necessity of the first, the
enterprise and usefulness of the second, and the unbounded benefits
flowing from the last; then turns his thoughts to the pristine quiet
of his agrarian domain and covets not the fame that accumulates around
the other professions. His opportunities for intellectual improvement
are superior to the two former, and, in many respects, not inferior to
the latter. Constantly surrounded by the varied beauties of nature
and the never-ceasing and harmonious operations of her laws, his mind
is led to contemplate the wisdom of the Great Architect of worlds and
the natural philosophy of the universe. Aloof from the commoving arena
of public life, and yet, through the medium of that magic engine,
the PRESS, made acquainted with the scenes that are passing there,
he is able to form cool and deliberate conclusions upon the various
topics that concern his country’s good and his country’s glory. In his
retired domicile he is less exposed to the baneful influence of that
corrupt and corrupting party spirit which is raised by the whirlwind
of selfish ambition and wafted on the tornado of faction. Before he
is roused to a participation in violent public action, he bears much,
reflects deeply and resolves nobly. But when the oppressions of rulers
become so intolerable as to induce the yeomanry of a country to leave
their ploughs and peaceful firesides, and draw the avenging sword,
let them beware—the day of retribution is at hand. Thus it was at
the commencement of the American revolution—when the implements of
husbandry were exchanged for those of war and the farmers joined in the
glorious cause of liberty—the fate of England’s power over the colonies
was sealed for ever. The commingling phalanx of all professions was
irresistible as an avalanche in the full plenipotence of force.

Among the patriots of that eventful era who left their ploughs in the
furrow and rushed to the rescue, was JOHN HART, a native of Hopewell,
Hunterdon county, New Jersey, born about the year 1715. The precise
time of his birth is not a matter of record, but his acts in the
Continental Congress are. He was the son of Edward Hart, a brave and
efficient officer, who aided the mother country in the conquest of
Canada, and participated in the epic laurels that were gained by Wolfe
on the heights of Abraham. He raised a volunteer corps, named it the
“Jersey Blues,” an appellation still the pride of Jerseymen. He fought
valiantly, and was recompensed by the _praise_, but not the _gold_
of the mother country. John Hart was an extensive farmer, a man of a
strong mind, improved by reading and reflection, and ambitious only to
excel in his profession. In Deborah Scudder he found an amiable and
faithful wife, and in the affections and good conduct of a liberal
number of sons and daughters he found an enjoyment which some bachelors
may affect to despise, but for which they often sigh in vain. Eden’s
fair bowers were pleasureless until Heaven’s first best gift to man was

Known as a man of sound judgment, clear perception, liberal views and
pure motives, Mr. Hart was called to aid in public affairs long before
the revolution. For twenty years he had served in various stations,
and was often a member of the legislature of his native colony. He
took a deep interest in the local improvements, always necessary in a
new country, and also in the legislative enactments of that period.
He was a warm supporter of education and aided in the establishment
of seminaries of learning. He was a friend to social order and law,
and contributed largely in producing an equilibrium of the scales of
justice. In organizing the municipal government of his own county he
rendered essential service. Still his family and his farm were his
chief delight—save his orisons to Heaven. He viewed all public business
as a duty to be performed when required, not as a political hobby-horse
to ride upon. The public men of that day spoke but little, and then
to the point, and despatched their business promptly. Sinecures were
scarce, and office hunters few and far between. Industry, frugality and
economy, in public and private matters, were the marked characteristics
of the pilgrim fathers. Golden days! when will ye return in the majesty
of your simplicity, and banish from our land the enervating follies,
the poisonous weeds and the impugning evils that augur its destruction.

Observing and discerning, Mr. Hart was quick to discover the
encroachments of the British ministry upon the constitutional rights
and chartered privileges of the colonies, and was prompt in resisting
them. The stamp act, passed on the 22nd of March, 1765, was followed by
a commotion that showed by what a precarious tenure the king held his
power in America. When the Congress convened at New York, on the first
of October following, represented by nine of the colonies, Mr. Hart was
a member of the convention that made the selection of delegates from
New Jersey. The firm and discreet proceedings of that body produced a
repeal of the act complained of on the 18th of the following March.
Still the political alchymist, Mr. Grenville, was madly bent on trying
fresh experiments. The colonists had borne the yoke of restrictions
upon their trade and industry, which had been artfully and gradually
increasing for more than fifty years, to the advantage of the mother
country, and he concluded their necks had become sufficiently hardened
by long use to bear a more ponderous burden. Poor fellow! he was as
much mistaken in the metal he placed in his crucible as the colonists
were amazed and indignant at his unwarranted pretensions. Direct
taxation, without representation, was taking an issue not warranted
by the præcipe or narr, and a general demurrer was promptly entered.
An emparlance ensued, replications and rejoinders followed, and the
suit was finally decided by wager of battle. Long and doubtful was the
struggle—obstinate and bloody was the conflict. The second edition
of the revenue plan, revised and stereotyped in 1767 by Charles
Townshend, chancellor of the exchequer, imposing duties on glass,
paper, paste-board, tea and painters’ colours, kindled a flame of
indignation in the colonies that no power could quench. Public meetings
against the measure, resolutions of the deepest censure, remonstrances
of the strongest character, and arguments of the most conclusive logic,
were hurled in its face; and to carry conviction to the minds of the
ministry that the people were in earnest, Boston harbour was converted
into a tea-pot and all the tea used at one drawing. Non-importation
agreements, committees of safety, preparations of defence,
non-intercourse, bloodshed, war and independence followed. In all these
movements Mr. Hart concurred, and deliberately, but firmly, opposed the
encroachments of the crown.

In 1774 he was elected to the Congress at Philadelphia, and, with the
frost of sixty winters upon his head, entered upon duties of higher
importance than had before devolved upon him. Mild, deliberate,
cautious, discreet, but firm in his purposes, he became an important
member to aid in carrying out the measures then contemplated—those of
reconciliation and a restoration of amity. He was highly esteemed as
a patriarch sage in the cause. The ensuing year he was again elected,
and repaired to the post of duty, of honour and of fame, on the 10th
of May. The cry of blood, shed on the 19th of the preceding April, had
infused a spirit in Congress widely different from that which pervaded
it a few months before. It was then that the Roman virtues of such men
as Mr. Hart shone with peculiar splendour. The impetuosity of youth
had passed away, their minds traced the deepest, darkest avenues of
every proposition, arguments were weighed in the balance of reason,
the causes, the effects, the objects, the ends, the plans, the means,
were all placed in the scale of justice and exhibited to the inspection
of those whose disposition led them to an examination. In this manner
every act was performed with clean hands, the cause of liberty
honoured, prospered and crowned with triumphant success. At this time
Mr. Hart was also a member and vice-president of the assembly of his
native colony, and shortly after, had the proud satisfaction of aiding
in its funeral obsequies and in establishing a republican form of
government. On the 14th of February, 1776, he was again elected to the
Continental Congress, and when the chart of liberty was presented to
his view, after carefully examining its bold physiognomy, he pronounced
its points, its features, its landmarks, its delineations and its
entire combination, worthy of freemen—gave it his vote, his signature
and his benediction, and soon after retired from the public gaze
and declined a re-election. As he anticipated, the British soldiers
devastated his farm, drove away his family, destroyed his property, and
compelled him, several times, to fly precipitately to save his neck
from the halter. Under circumstances like these, no one will doubt the
disinterested patriotism of the quiet farmer, JOHN HART. Not a stain
rests upon his public or private character. In all the relations of
life he performed his duty nobly. He was an honest man and devoted
christian, a member of the baptist denomination, and died in 1780, from
an illness brought on by exposure in flying from place to place to
elude the pursuit of the British.


Inconsistency is an incubus that assumes a thousand varied forms, and
in some shape hangs over every nation and most individuals. It is
human nature to err, but some errors there are, that, in the view of
reason and common sense, are so legibly stamped with inconsistency as
to enable every man of a sane mind to avoid them. Yet we often see
men of high attainments rush into the whirlpool of inconsistency with
a blind infatuation that seeks in vain for a justification, even by
the rules of the most acute sophistry. Among the most fallacious and
opprobrious inconsistencies that now hang over our nation is that of
duelling. We boast of our intellectual light and intelligence, and
mourn over the ignorance of the poor untutored Indian. In his turn he
may point us to a dark spot upon our national character that never
tarnished the name of an eastern or a western savage. This Bohon Upas
of inconsistency thrives only in society that claims to be civilized.
In no country has it been as much and as long tolerated without condign
punishment as in our own. It is murder of the most deliberate kind, and
a violation of the laws of God and man. Has any one of these numerous
and blood-thirsty murderers, who walk boldly among us, ever been
punished to the extent of the offended laws of our country? Not one.
Widows may mourn, orphans languish, hearts bleed, and our statesmen
perish, and the aggressor may still run at large, treated by some with
more deference than if the escutcheon of his name was not stained
with blood. This foul stigma upon the American name should be washed
out speedily and effectually. The combined powers of public opinion,
legislative, judicial and executive authority, should be brought to
bear upon it with the force of an avalanche. Flagrant crimes are
suppressed only by strong measures. This is the acknowledged policy of
the penal code of every nation where laws are known and respected.

Among the victims of this cruel practice, was Button Gwinnett, a man of
splendid talents and a pure patriot of the revolution, whose private
character was without a stain, and his public career as brilliant as
it was transient. He was born in England in 1732. His parents were
respectable, but not wealthy. Being a boy of promise, they bestowed
upon him an accomplished education, and at his majority he commenced
a successful career in the mercantile business at Bristol, in his
native country. He was commanding in appearance, six feet in height,
open countenance, graceful manners, and possessed of fine feeling.
Surrounded by an increasing family, he resolved on seeking another
and a broader country, and in 1770 embarked for America. He landed
at Charleston, S. C., where he commenced commercial business and
remained two years. He then disposed of his merchandise and purchased a
plantation upon St. Catharine’s Island, in Georgia, to which he removed
and became an enterprising agriculturalist. He was a man of an active
and penetrating mind, and a close observer of passing events. Having
been in England during the formation of the visionary and impolitic
plan of taxing the colonies, he understood well the frame work of the
British cabinet, and from his course in the struggle that ensued, it is
reasonable to infer that he had imbibed strong whig principles before
his removal to this country. The subject of raising a revenue from the
pioneers of the new world had been long and ably discussed in England.
Many of her profoundest statesmen, and the most sagacious one that
ever graced her parliament, lord Chatham, portrayed with all the truth
of prophecy, the result of the unjust, the blind course of ministers
towards the Americans. Connected with commerce and intelligent men as
he was at Bristol, Mr. Gwinnett had become well informed upon the
litigated points in controversy, and was well acquainted with the
relative feelings and situation of the two countries. When the question
of liberty or slavery was fairly placed before the people of his
adopted land, he declared himself in favour of the latter. Knowing as
he did the superior physical force of Great Britain and the comparative
weakness of the colonies, their freedom, at first, seemed to him a
paradox. His doubts upon the subject were removed in 1775, by the
enthusiasm exhibited by the patriots, and by the lucid demonstrations
of Lyman Hall, a bold and fearless advocate of equal rights, with whom
he became intimate. Convinced from the beginning of the justice of the
cause, and now convinced of its feasibility, he soon became a public
champion in its favour. He had counted the cost, he had revolved in
his mind the dangers that would accumulate around his family, himself
and his property, which he truly predicted would be destroyed by his
enemies, and had deliberately and nobly resolved to risk his life,
his fortune and his sacred honour, in defence of chartered rights and
constitutional franchises.

He enrolled himself among the leaders of the popular party and became
a conspicuous and active member of public meetings, and of the several
revolutionary committees. For some time after the other colonies had
united in a concert of action against the common enemy, that of Georgia
refused to join them. She stood perched upon the pivot of uncertainty,
indeterminate, irresolved and doubting. Some of her noblest sons had
become shining lights in the glorious cause, the fire of patriotism
was extending, oppression was increasing, and, at length, the cry of
blood was heard from Lexington. The work was done. Like a lion roused
from his lair, Georgia started from her lethargy and prepared for the
conflict. She resolved “to do or die.”

On the 2nd of February, 1776, Mr. Gwinnett was appointed a member
of the Continental Congress, and took his seat in that venerable
body on the 20th of the ensuing May. Although his constituents were
now determined to maintain their rights at all hazards, the plan
of independence was to the most of them more than problematical; a
thing of visionary fancy, merely ideal, and not to be hoped for, much
more not to be seriously attempted. The subject, however, gained new
strength daily, and began to emerge from its embryo form. At this
juncture, the Rev. Mr. Zubly, a colleague with Mr. Gwinnett, with
an Iscariot heart, wrote a letter to the royal governor of Georgia,
disclosing the contemplated measure, a copy of which was in some way
obtained by one of the clerks and placed in the hands of Mr. Chase, who
was proverbial for boldness, and who immediately denounced the traitor
on the floor of Congress. The Judas at first attempted a denial by
challenging his accuser for the proof, but finding that the betrayer
had been betrayed, he fled precipitately for Georgia, in order to place
himself under the protection of the governor, who had just escaped from
the enraged patriots and was safely ensconced in a British armed vessel
in Savannah harbour, and could render him no aid on terra firma. He was
pursued by his colleague, Mr. Houston, but upon the wings of guilt he
flew too rapidly to be overtaken.

When the proposition came before Congress for a final separation from
the mother country, Mr. Gwinnett became a warm advocate of the measure,
and when the trying hour, big with consequences, arrived, he gave his
approving vote and affixed his signature to the important document that
stands acknowledged by the civilized world the most lucid exposition of
human rights upon the records of history—the Declaration of American

In February, 1777, Mr. Gwinnett took his seat in the convention of
his own state, convened for the purpose of forming a constitution and
establishing a republican form of government. His activity in Congress,
to which he stood re-elected, had already given him great weight,
and he at once exercised a powerful influence in his new situation.
He submitted the draft of a constitution which, with a few slight
amendments, was immediately adopted by the convention. Shortly after
this he was elevated to the presidency of the provincial council, then
the highest station in the state, thus rising within a single year
from private life to the pinnacle of power in the colony. At this
time an acrimonious jealousy existed between the civil and military
authorities. At the head of the latter was General M’Intosh, against
whom Mr. Gwinnett had pitted himself the preceding year, whilst in
Congress, as a candidate for brigadier-general, and was unsuccessful.
His elevation and influence became a source of uneasiness to his
antagonist. The civil power claimed the right to try military officers
for offences that General M’Intosh conceived were to be tried only by a
court-martial. Another root of bitterness between these two gentlemen
took its growth from the promotion of a senior lieutenant-colonel, then
under General M’Intosh, to the command of his brigade, destined for the
reduction of East Florida, agreeably to a plan formed by Mr. Gwinnett,
which proved a disastrous failure. This was a source of mortification
to the one, and the other publicly exulted in the misfortune. Under the
new constitution a governor was to be elected on the first Monday of
the ensuing May, and Mr. Gwinnett offered himself as a candidate. His
competitor was a man whose talents and acquirements were far inferior
to his, but succeeded in obtaining the gubernatorial chair. General
M’Intosh again publicly exulted in the disappointments that were
overwhelming his antagonist—a challenge from Mr. Gwinnett ensued—they
met on the blood-stained field of _false_ honour—fought at the distance
of four paces—both were wounded, Mr. Gwinnett mortally, and died on
the 27th of May, 1777, the very time he should have been in Congress.
Comment is needless—reflection is necessary.


The sacredness of contracts honourably and fairly entered into by
parties competent to make and consummate them, should be held in high
veneration by all. The individual and the social compact from the
co-partnership of the common business firm up to the most exalted
nation, are bound by the laws of God, of man and of honour to keep
inviolate their plighted faith. A deviation from the path of rectitude
in this particular, is uniformly attended with evil consequences and
often with those of the most direful kind. The party that violates its
engagements without accruing causes of justification, and to advance
its own interests regardless of those of the other, comes to court with
a bad cause. I have repeatedly remarked, that the American revolution
was produced by a violation on the part of the mother country of
chartered rights secured to the colonists by the crown under the
British constitution.

To enter into a full exposition of the relations between the two high
contracting parties, would require more space than can be allowed in
this work. A reference to some of the prominent points in a single
charter, will give the reader an idea of the nature of the whole as
originally granted, although some of a later date are rather more
limited in their privileges than that of Rhode Island, to which I refer.

This charter secured religious freedom, personal liberty, personal
rights of property, excluding the king from all interference with
the local concerns of the colony and was virtually democratic in its
features. One of the early acts of parliament, referring to Rhode
Island, contains the following language. “That no person within the
said colony at any time hereafter shall be in any way molested,
punished, disquieted, or called in question for any difference of
opinion in matters of religion that does not actually disturb the
civil peace of the said colony.” The feelings of the inhabitants from
the time they received their charter up to the time oppressions were
commenced by Great Britain, may be inferred from the following extract
taken from the ancient records of the secretary of state of that
province addressed to the king. “The general assembly judgeth it their
duty to signify his majesty’s gracious pleasure vouchsafed to us,” &c.;
and also from the following extract of a letter written at a later
period to Sir Henry Vane then in England. “We have long drunk of the
cup of as great liberties as any people we can hear of under the whole
heavens. We have not only been long free together with all English from
the yokes of wolfish bishops and their popish ceremonies, against whose
grievous oppressions God raised up your noble spirit in parliament,
but we have sitten down quiet and dry from the streams of blood spilt
by war in our native country. * * * We have not known what an excise
means. We have almost forgotten what tythes are, yea, or taxes either
to church or common weal.” In addition to other declaratory acts of
parliament, sanctioning and construing chartered privileges generally
in all the colonies, one was passed in March, 1663, involving the very
hinge upon which the revolution turned, as the following extract shows.
“Be it further enacted, _that no taxes shall be imposed or required of
the colonies, but by the consent of the general assembly_,” meaning
the general assembly of each colony separately and collectively. This
single sentence of that act, based upon the British constitution and
guarded by the sanctity of contracts that could not be annulled but by
the mutual consent of the high contracting parties, solves the whole
problem of the revolution. Living as the colonists did in the full
enjoyments of these chartered privileges which had become matured by
the age of more than a century, they would have been unworthy of the
name of men, had they tamely submitted to their annihilation. To the
unfading honour of their names let it be said—_they did not submit_. A
band of sages and heroes arose, met the invaders of their rights, and
drove them from Columbia’s soil.

Among them was WILLIAM ELLERY, a native of Newport, Rhode Island,
born on the 2nd of December, 1727. His ancestors were from Bristol,
England. He was the son of William Ellery, a graduate of Harvard
College and an enterprising merchant, who filled many public stations,
among which were those of judge, lieutenant-governor, and senator.
Delighted with the docility of his son, he became his instructor and
superintended his studies preparatory to his entrance in college. After
these were completed, William entered Harvard College and became a
close and successful student. He became delighted with the Greek and
Roman classics and dwelt with rapture upon the history of the ancient
republics. So great was his veneration for the ancient authors, that he
continued to be familiar with them during his whole life, and became a
lucid philologist in classic literature. At the age of twenty he took
the degree of bachelor of arts, and then commenced the study of law.
In that laborious field he was all industry and diligence, and was
admitted to practice with brilliant prospects before him. Located in
one of the pleasantest towns on the Atlantic, surrounded by a large
circle of friends who desired his success, blessed with superior
talents, improved by a refined education, esteemed by all who knew
him, his situation was truly flattering. He possessed an agreeable and
amiable disposition, a strong mind, enlivened by a large share of wit
and humour, an urbanity of manners of a refined and polished cast, and
an animation and life in conversation that dispelled ennui from every
circle in which he moved. He was of the middle stature, well formed,
with a large head, an intelligent and expressive countenance, moderate
in his physical movements, and with all his vivacity generally wore
a grave aspect. He was temperate, plain, and uniform in his habits
and dress, and could seldom be induced to join in the chase after
the _ignus fatuus_ of fashion. For many years before his death, his
wardrobe bespoke a man of another generation.

Mr. Ellery commenced business in his profession at his native town,
took to himself a wife, soon became eminent and obtained a lucrative
practice. He was highly honourable in his course and gained the
confidence of his fellow citizens and of the courts. Up to the time
of the commencement of British oppression, his days passed peacefully
and quietly along and a handsome fortune accumulated around him. When
the revolutionary storm began to gather, the mind of Mr. Ellery became
roused and a new impetus was given to his physical powers. His townsmen
were the first among the colonists who had dared to beard the lion and
unicorn. On the 17th of June, 1769, in consequence of the oppressive
conduct of her captain, the revenue sloop Liberty, belonging to his
Britannic majesty, and then lying at Newport, was forcibly seized by
a number of citizens in disguise, who cut away her masts, scuttled
her, carried her boats to the upper part of the town, and committed
them to the flames under the towering branches of a newly planted
liberty tree. This was a hard cut and thrust at the revenue system
that contemplated taxing the colonies contrary to the letter of the
constitution and charters granted by the laws of England. This act
was followed by another on the 9th of June, 1772, in which blood was
spilt—that of seizing and burning the British schooner Gaspee. This was
made a pretext for more severe measures on the part of the hirelings
of the crown, and a disfranchisement of the colony was recommended and
urged upon parliament. Already was the revolutionary ball in motion. In
the midst of these turmoils, Mr. Ellery was not an idle spectator. He
declared for the cause of liberty and the preservation of those rights
that had become sacred by age and had the high sanction of the laws of
nature, of man, and of God. In 1774, he was warmly in favour of the
project of a general Congress, and, in conjunction with Governor Ward,
who was a delegate with Mr. Hopkins to that august assembly, approved
of a suggestion already made in a letter from General Greene, “that the
colonies should declare themselves independent.” The same spirit soon
became general in the province.

In 1776, Mr. Ellery was elected a member of the Continental Congress,
and proceeded to the post of duty boldly and fearlessly, left by his
constituents to act as free as mountain air. He had participated in
all the incipient measures of the conflicts in his own colony, he now
became a vigorous and active patriot of the national legislature. He
was fully prepared to sanction, and well qualified to advocate the
Declaration of Independence. An agreeable speaker, master of satire,
sarcasm, logic, and philosophy, he exercised a salutary and judicious
influence. He was an able member of committees and was immediately
placed upon some of great importance. He was upon the committee for
establishing expresses, upon that for providing relief for the wounded
and disabled, upon that of the treasury, and upon the committee of
one delegate from each state for the purchase of necessaries for the
army. He was also upon the marine committee, and was a warm advocate
for the navy. His constituents were many of them bold mariners, and
he felt a just pride in referring to his fellow-citizen, commodore
Ezek Hopkins, of Rhode Island, as the first commander of the little
fleet of the infant Republic. It was him who took New Providence by
surprise, seized a large amount of munitions of war, one hundred pieces
of cannon, and took prisoners the governor, lieutenant-governor, and
sundry others of his majesty’s loyal officers. When the time arrived
for the final question upon that sacred instrument which was to be
a warrant of death or a diploma of freedom, Mr. Ellery was at his
post, and most cheerfully gave it his sanctioning vote and approving
signature. With his usual vivacity, he placed himself by the side
of Charles Thomson, the secretary, for the purpose of observing
the apparent emotions of each member as he came up and signed the
important document. He often recurred to this circumstance in after
life, and observed, that “undaunted resolution was displayed in each
countenance.” He was continued a member of Congress until the close of
the session of 1785, which shows how highly his services were valued
by the patriotic citizens of his native state. In 1777, he was one of
the important committee of admiralty, the committee for replenishing
the empty treasury, the committee upon commercial affairs, of the one
to investigate the causes of the surrender of Ticonderoga, and of the
one for preventing the employment in the public service of persons not
clearly in favour of the American cause. He ably advocated the plan,
supposed to have originated with him, and submitted by the admiralty
committee, of fitting out six fire-ships from Rhode Island to annoy the
British fleet.

When the enemy obtained possession of Newport their vengeance against
this patriot was manifested by burning his buildings and destroying all
his property within their power. This only increased his zeal in the
glorious cause of liberty and scarcely disturbed the equanimity of his
mind. In 1778, he advocated strongly a resolution making it death for
any member of the colonies, _alias_ tories, who should betray or aid
in delivering into the hands of the enemy any of the friends of the
revolution, or give any intelligence that should lead to their capture.
He also supported the plan of confederation adopted by Congress. He
spent nearly his whole time in that body.

The ensuing year he was one of the committee on foreign relations,
which at that time involved the unpleasant duty of settling some
difficulties that existed between the United States foreign
commissioners, in addition to the usual diplomatic affairs with foreign
nations. He was also chairman of a committee to provide provisions
for the inhabitants that were driven from the island of Rhode Island
and were entirely destitute of the necessaries of life. The ensuing
year he was arduously employed upon most of the standing committees,
especially the admiralty committee, the duties of which became very
delicate, as the powers claimed by some of the states conflicted with
those of the general government under the articles of confederation. A
committee was created for the express purpose of defining those powers,
of which he was the prominent member. Their deliberations resulted in
the determination that all disputed claims were subject to an appeal
from the court of admiralty to Congress, where the facts as well as the
law were to be finally settled. On all occasions and in all situations
he was diligent, punctual, and persevering. In the house, whenever he
discovered any long faces or forlorn countenances, even in view of the
darkest prospects, his wit and humour were often so vivid as to dispel
the lowering clouds that hung gloomily over the minds of dejected

In 1782, he was an efficient member of the committee on public
accounts, the duties of which had become not only of great magnitude,
but of a very perplexing character. Fraud and speculation had rolled
their mountain waves over the public concerns, and to do justice to all
who presented claims, was no common task. In 1783, Mr. Ellery had the
pleasure of being appointed by Congress to communicate to his friend,
General Green, a resolution of thanks and high approbation for his
faithfulness, skill and services, accompanied by two pieces of brass
cannon taken from the British at the battle of the Cowpens.

In 1784, he was a member of the committee appointed to act upon the
definitive treaty with Great Britain. He was also upon the one for
defining the power of the board of the treasury, the one upon foreign
relations, and the one upon the war office. The next year he closed
his congressional course, and, as the crowning glory of his arduous
and protracted labours in the national legislature, he advocated with
great zeal, forensic eloquence, and powerful logic the resolution of
Mr. King for abolishing slavery in the United States. His whole force
of mind was brought to bear upon this subject and added a fresh lustre
to the substantial fame he had long enjoyed. He then retired to his
now peaceful home, to repair the wreck of his fortune and enjoy the
blessings of that liberty for which he had so ardently contended.
In the spring of 1786, he was appointed by Congress a commissioner
of the national loan office for Rhode Island, and shortly after, he
was elected to the seat of chief justice of the supreme court of his
native state. Upon the organization of the federal government under the
constitution, President Washington appointed him collector of customs
for Newport, which station he ably filled until he took his tranquil
departure to another and a brighter world. The evening of his life was
as calm and mellow as an Italian sunset. Esteemed by all, he enjoyed
a delightful intercourse with a large circle of friends. Honest,
punctual and circumspect, he enjoyed the confidence of the commercial
community in his official station, as well as the approbation of all
in the private walks of life. During the thirty years he was collector
of customs, a loss of only two hundred dollars upon bond accrued to
government, and upon that bond he had taken five sureties.

He spent much of his time in reading classic authors, and in
maintaining an extensive correspondence with distinguished men. But
three weeks before his death, he wrote an essay upon Latin prosody
and the faults of public speakers. His bible was also a favourite
companion, from which he drew and enjoyed the living waters of eternal
life. Always cheerful, instructive and amusing, his company was a rich
treat to all who enjoyed it. His writings combined a sprightliness and
solidity rarely exhibited. His courtesy and hospitality were always
conspicuous, the whole frame-work of his character was embellished
with all the rich variety of amiable qualities, uniting beauty with
strength, which can never fail of gaining esteem, and of rendering
an individual useful in life and happy in death. His demise was
as remarkable as it was tranquil. It was that of a christian and
philosopher. On the 15th of February, 1820, he rose as usual in the
morning and seated himself in the flag bottom chair which he had used
for fifty years, and which was a relic rescued from the flames when
his buildings were consumed. He commenced reading Tully’s Offices in
his favourite, the Latin, language, without the aid of glasses, the
print of which is as small as that of a pocket bible. On his way to
the hospital, the family physician called in, and perceiving that his
countenance was cadaverous, felt his wrist and found that his pulse
was gone. The physician administered a little wine, which revived the
action of the purple current. The doctor then spoke encouragingly, to
which Mr. Ellery replied—“It is idle to talk to me in this way, I am
going off the stage of life, and it is a great blessing that I go free
from sickness, pain, and sorrow.” Becoming extremely weak, he permitted
his daughter to help him on his bed, where he sat upright, and
commenced reading Cicero de Officiis, with as much composure as if in
the full vigour of life. In a few moments, without a groan, a struggle,
or a motion, his spirit left its tenement of clay, his body still erect
with the book under his chin, as if on the point of falling asleep.

Thus usefully lived and thus peacefully died, WILLIAM ELLERY. His whole
career presents a rare and pleasing picture of biography, upon which
the imagination gazes with admiration and delight, and which cannot
be rendered more beautiful or interesting by the finest touches of
the pencil of fancy, dipped in the most lively colours of romance and


Decision, tempered by prudence and discretion, gives weight to the
character of a man. The individual who is always or uniformly perched
upon the pivot of indetermination, and fluttering in the wind of
uncertainty, can never gain public confidence or exercise an extensive
influence. Decision, to render us truly useful, must receive its
momentum from the pure fountain of our judgment, and not depend upon
others to fill the lamp of philosophy, after our reasoning powers have
become matured by experience, reflection and the solar rays of science.
When the child becomes a man, he should think and act as a man, and
draw freely from the resources of his own immortal mind. He may enjoy
the reflective light of others, but should depend upon the focus of
his own, rendered more brilliant by reflectives, to guide him in the
path of duty and usefulness, that leads to the temple of lasting fame.
The man who pins his faith upon the sleeve of another, and does not
keep the lamp of his own understanding trimmed and burning, is a mere
automaton in life, never fills the vacuum designed by his creation,
and, when he makes his exit from the stage of action, leaves no trace
behind, no memento to tell that he once moved upon the earth in the
sphere of usefulness, or bore the image of his God.

The sages of the American revolution have left bright and shining
examples of self-moving action and a discreet decision of character.
Among those who were roused to exertion by the reflections of their
own mind, was LYMAN HALL, who was born in Connecticut in 1731. He
graduated at Yale College at an early age, studied medicine, married a
wife before he arrived at his majority, removed to Dorchester, S. C.,
in 1752, and commenced the practice of physic. After residing there
a short time he joined a company of about forty families, originally
from the New England states, and removed to Medway, in the parish of
St. John, Georgia, and settled under favourable circumstances. He
became a successful practitioner, and was esteemed and admired for
his prudence, discretion, clearness of perception and soundness of
judgment, united with refinement of feeling, urbanity of manners,
a calm and equable mind, a splendid person, six feet in height, an
intelligent and pleasing countenance and a graceful deportment. He
had only to be known to be appreciated. As years rolled peacefully
along, Dr. Hall became extensively and favourably known. He took a
deep interest in the happiness of those around him, and in the welfare
of the human family. He was an attentive observer of men and things
and of passing events, and understood well the philosophy of human
rights and the principles of the tenure by which the mother country
held a jurisdiction over the colonies. When the rightful bounds of
that jurisdiction were transcended, he was one of the first to meet
the transgressors and point his countrymen to increasing innovations.
As dangers accumulated, his patriotism became fired with enthusiastic
zeal, tempered by the purest motives and guided by the soundest
discretion. The indecision and temporizing spirit of Georgia, at
the commencement of the revolution, has been before described. This
was extremely annoying to Dr. Hall, but only tended to increase his
exertions in the work of political regeneration. Over the people of
his own district he exercised a judicious and unlimited influence. He
also attended the patriot meetings held at Savannah, in July, 1774,
and in January of the ensuing year, and contributed much to aid and
strengthen his co-workers in the good cause, then but just commenced.
His constituents became equally enthusiastic in favour of liberty, and
indignant at British oppression, with himself. All the other colonies
had united in the defence of their common country against the common
enemy. A frontier settlement, and more exposed than any other in the
province, he prudently laid the whole matter before the people of his
district, and left them to choose freely whom they would serve. They
decided against the sovereignty of Baal and declared for liberty. They
at once separated from the other parishes, formed a distinct political
community, applied to be admitted into the confederation entered
into by the other colonies, passed resolutions of non-intercourse
with Savannah, only to obtain the necessaries of life, so long as it
remained under royal authority, and organized the necessary committees
to carry these patriotic and decisive measures into effect. Placed upon
an eminence like this, they were welcomed into the general compact, and
in March, 1775, Lyman Hall was elected to the Continental Congress to
represent the parish of St. John, that stood like an island of granite
in the midst of the ocean, separate and alone, regardless of the waves
of fury that were foaming around her. This example had a powerful
influence upon the other parishes, and from this lump of the leaven
of freedom the whole mass became impregnated, and, in July following,
Dr. Hall had the proud satisfaction of seeing his province fully
represented by men honest and true, save Judas Iscariot, alias Zubly.
Georgia now rose like a lion when he shakes the dew from his mane for
the fight, and “shed fast atonement for its first delay.” To Dr. Hall
may be justly attributed the first impetus given to the revolutionary
ball in the district of his adoption. As an enduring monument of praise
to the portion of the district in which he resided, which was formed
into a new county in 1777, it received the name of LIBERTY.

On the 13th of May this devoted patriot took his seat in that august
assembly that then attracted the attention of the civilized world.
He was hailed as a substantial and devoted friend of the cause of
human rights, and immediately entered upon the important duties of
his station, enjoying the full fruition of the light of patriotism
that illuminated that legislative hall. He was a valuable man upon
committees, and although not a frequent speaker, he was heard, when he
did rise, with deferential attention. He reasoned closely and calmly,
confining himself to the point under consideration, without any effort
to shine as an orator. His known patriotism, decision of character,
purity of purpose and honesty of heart, gave him a salutary influence
that was sensibly felt, fully acknowledged and discreetly exercised. He
gained the esteem, respect and confidence of all the members.

In 1776 he took his seat in the national legislature, and became
decidedly in favour of cutting loose from the mother country. He had
induced his own district to present an example in miniature, which
stood approved, applauded and admired. He knew the justice of the
cause he had espoused—he believed Providence would direct its final
accomplishment—he was fully convinced that the set time had come
for his country to be free. With feelings like these, he hailed the
birthday of our independence as the grand jubilee of liberty. He
cheerfully joined in passing the mighty Rubicon, aided in preparing the
sarcophagus of tyranny, signed the certificate of the legitimacy of the
new-born infant and responded heartily to its baptismal name—FREEDOM.

Dr. Hall was continued in Congress to the close of 1780, when he took
his final leave of that body, and in 1782 returned to his own state to
aid in systematizing the organization of her government. In common with
many of the patriots, the enemy had devastated his property and wreaked
a special vengeance upon his district. His family had been compelled
to fly to the north for safety, and depend upon the bounty of others
for their support and comfort. In 1783 he was elected governor of
Georgia, and contributed largely in perfecting the superstructure of
her civil institutions and in placing her on the high road to peace and
prosperity. This done, he retired from the public arena and settled in
Burke county, where he once more was permitted to pursue the even tenor
of his ways and enjoy the highest of all earthly pleasures—the domestic
fireside, surrounded by his own family. He glided down the stream of
time calmly and quietly until 1790, when he bade a last farewell to
the transitory scenes of earth, entered the dark valley of death, and
disappeared from mortal eyes, deeply mourned and sincerely lamented by
his numerous friends at home, and by every patriot in his country. His
name is perpetuated in Georgia by a county being called after him, as a
tribute of respect for his valuable services.

The examples of this good man are worthy of imitation. Without the
luminous talents that tower to the skies in a blaze of glory that
dazzles every eye, he rendered himself substantially and extensively
useful. He was like a gentle stream that passes through a verdant mead,
producing irrigation in its course without overflowing its banks.
Decision of character, prudence of action and discretion in all things,
marked his whole career. Not a stain tarnishes the lustre of his public
fame or his private character. He lived nobly and died peacefully.


A federal republican form of government is an unlimited partnership
of the purest, noblest character. Based upon an equality of original
stock, an equality of interest in the welfare of the firm devolves
upon each individual of the compact. Unlike monopolizing corporations,
each stockholder has an equal right to act, speak and vote upon all
questions in primary meetings, without reference to the number of
accumulative shares one may hold above another. The specie of the firm
consists in equality of representation, equality of natural rights,
equality of protection in person and property, and equality of personal
freedom. These precious coins cannot be diminished in quantity, or
be reduced in quality by alloy, without courting danger. To aid in
preserving them in their native purity, is the duty of _all_, not of
a _few_. Separately and collectively, the great mass belonging to the
compact is obligated to look to its prosperity, and use their best
exertions in promoting the general good. Each one is bound to bring
every talent into use, and to leave none buried in the dark quarry
of ignorance, the quagmire of negligence, or the rust of inertness.
The steward that had but one talent, was condemned because he had not
put it to use. But who can tell what his talents are, until he brings
them to the light? Rich ores often lie deep. Many men have arrived
to, and others passed their majority, moving in a sphere not above
mediocrity in point of intellect developed, and have then risen like
a blazing comet and illuminated the world. By several of the signers
of the declaration of rights, this position was fully and beautifully

Among these was JOHN PENN, a native of Caroline county, Virginia; born
on the 17th day of May, 1741. He was the only child of Moses Penn,
who married Catharine, the daughter of John Taylor. The education of
the son was neglected by the parents, who sent him to none but the
commonest of common schools, which unfortunately for the youth of the
neighbourhood, were the only kind then in that vicinity. A _little_
learning has been called a dangerous thing, but the quantum taught
in some common schools even at this enlightened age, is too small to
be dangerous, too limited to do much good. As a redeeming trait in
their neglect of duty towards their son, they taught him by example
and precept, social virtue and moral honesty. Upon the retirement
of a farm and in its cultivation young Penn plodded along with his
father, who had no books of value or a desire for them, until he
arrived at the age of eighteen, when his paternal guardian died, and
left him a competence, but not a large fortune. About that time he
became inclined to read, this inclination ripened, his mind began to
expand and his thirst for knowledge increased. Destitute of a library,
he communicated his ardent desire to improve his education to Edmund
Pendleton, a neighbour and relation of his, who was an accomplished
scholar, a profound lawyer and an able statesman. Convinced that
Mr. Penn possessed strong native talent he made him welcome to his
valuable library and became deeply interested in his improvement. After
exploring the fields of science for a short time, this young philomath
commenced the study of law, and soon exhibited mental ores, taken from
his long neglected intellectual quarry, that were of a rich and rare

He surmounted the barriers that lay before him with an astonishing
rapidity, and before some of his friends supposed he had mastered the
elementary principles of Blackstone, he presented himself at the court
for examination, was admitted to practice, and at once exhibited the
bright plumage of a successful lawyer and an able advocate. But three
years before, his now soaring talents were buried deep in their native
quarry, unknown and unsuspected; a strong admonition to the reader,
if under similar circumstances, to examine closely the powers of his
own mind. The professional eminence of Mr. Penn rose as rapidly as
his appearance at the bar was unexpected. He gained the confidence
of the community, the respect of the courts, and the esteem of his
senior brethren. In 1763, he added to his original stock in the firm
of the social compact by leading to the hymeneal altar the amiable and
accomplished Miss Susannah Lyme, thus avoiding the hyemal frost that
creeps chillingly over the lonely bachelor.

In 1774, Mr. Penn removed to North Carolina, and carrying with him
a high reputation as a lawyer, soon obtained a lucrative practice.
He had also participated largely in the patriotic feelings that were
spreading over the colonies like fire in a praire, relative to the
oppressions of the mother country. He had imbibed fully the principles
of his venerable preceptor and friend, who was among the boldest of
the bold Virginians in the vindication of chartered rights, and was a
member of the Congress first assembled at Philadelphia. His liberal
views and splendid talents did not escape the notice of his new
acquaintances. On the 8th of September, 1775, he was appointed a member
of the Continental Congress, to supply the vacancy occasioned by the
resignation of Mr. Casewell. He repaired to the post of honour and of
duty the next month, and became an active and vigorous member of that
venerated assembly of sages, whose wisdom, sagacity, and intelligence
emblazoned the historic page with a lustre before unknown. He served
on numerous committees, and acquitted himself with great credit in
the discharge of every duty that devolved upon him. In the committee
room, in the house, among the people, in every situation in which he
moved, he made the cause of liberty his primary business. So highly
were his services appreciated by his constituents, that they continued
him in Congress until the accumulating dangers that hung over his own
state induced him to decline a re-election at the close of 1779. He
was an early and warm supporter of the declaration of rights, and when
the joyful day arrived to take the final question, he most cheerfully
sustained the measure by his vote and signature; thus enrolling his
name with the brightest constellation of illustrious statesmen that
ever illuminated a legislative hall, surpassing all Greek, all Roman

South Carolina had been devastated by Lord Cornwallis, who had
dispersed the army under General Gates; and North Carolina was next
to be visited by the conquering foe. Emissaries from the British were
already within its precincts to prepare the way for the entry of his
lordship. Already had the friends of royal power received instructions
to seize the most prominent whigs and the military stores, with an
assurance of immediate support. The cruelties that had been practised
in South Carolina spread a terror over all “but hearts of oak and
nerves of steel.” The sacrifice of Colonel Hayne at Charleston, will
give the reader some idea of the spirit of revenge that actuated some
of the British officers.

When that city fell into his possession, Lord Cornwallis issued
a proclamation, promising all who would desist from opposing the
authority of the king the most sacred protection of person and
property, on condition that each should sign an instrument of
neutrality, which, by legal construction, whilst it put its signers
under an obligation not to take up arms against the mother country,
exonerated them from serving against their own.

Being a prisoner and separated from his wife and six small children,
then residing in the country and surrounded by the small pox, Colonel
Hayne, with his mind long poising on the pivot of uncertainty as to
what was his duty, finally, with great reluctance, signed the fatal
instrument upon the assurances and solemn promises of the English
officers, and James Simpson, intendant of the British police, that
he never should be required to support, with his arms, the royal
government. Colonel Hayne, like Bishop Cranmer, subscribed to that
which his soul abhorred and detested, that he might be permitted to fly
to the relief of his suffering family. And, as in the case of Cranmer,
his enemies persecuted him the more, and never gave him any peace until
their vengeance was wreaked upon him by inflicting an ignominious
death, in violation of all law, justice and humanity.

Soon after his return to his wife and children, he was called upon
by the British to take up arms against his country and kindred, and
threatened with close confinement in case he refused to comply with
the order. In vain he referred them to the conditions upon which he
so reluctantly signed the article of neutrality. In vain he claimed
protection under the militia law that imposed a fine where a citizen
chose not to render personal service. To his relentless oppressors,
all was a dead letter. He then pointed them to the partner of his
bosom, the mother of his children, sinking under the small pox, and
fast approaching the confines of eternity. In vain he endeavoured to
excite their sympathy or move their compassion. In a few short hours,
Mrs. Hayne took her departure to “that country from whose bourne no
traveller returns,” “where the wicked cease from troubling and the
weary are at rest.” Upon her own couch, peaceful and serene, she closed
her eyes in death. A different fate was in reserve for Colonel Hayne.
His foes still pursued him, and by their own breach of good faith,
and of the contract of neutrality before entered into, absolved him
from its obligations. It was no longer binding upon him, and he again
entered the continental army, preferring death rather than enter the
ranks of the invaders of his country. A short but brilliant career
awaited him. He was soon made prisoner, and was sent to Charleston,
where Lord Rawdon loaded him with irons, submitted him to a mock trial,
exparte in its proceedings and determinations, based upon revenge and
cruelty, resolved on the death of his victim, and that without delay.
Colonel Hayne was doomed to be hung. This sentence produced amazement
and dismay, indignation and surprise amongst all classes of people.
The finest feelings of sympathy were excited in the breasts of a large
proportion of the adherents of the crown, who deemed the transaction
a species of murder. A petition, headed by the king’s governor and
numerously signed by persons of high standing and advocates for
the mother country, was presented to Lord Rawdon in behalf of the
unfortunate prisoner—but all in vain.

   “Fell revenge sat brooding on his dark and sullen brow,
    And the grim fiends of hell urged his soul on to murder.”

The ladies of Charleston, the wives and daughters of both whigs and
tories, next united in a petition, couched in the most moving language,
praying that the life of Colonel Hayne might be spared. This met with
a cold reception and a prompt refusal. As a last effort to rescue
the father from the scaffold, his infant children, dressed in their
mourning habiliments, were led before Rawdon, and on their knees,
their cheeks bathed in tears, implored him, with all the thrilling and
heart-rending eloquence of childish innocence, to spare their only
surviving parent and earthly protector.

   “But still he stood unmoved,
    Hard as the adamantine rock,
    Dark as a sullen cloud before the sun.”

So melting was this scene that veteran soldiers could not refrain from
weeping, and all were astounded at the cruel severity of the unyielding
and blood-thirsty Rawdon.

A request was then made that Colonel Hayne might be permitted to die
as a military officer, instead of being hung as a felon. This was also

As a devout Christian, the martyr resigned himself to his cruel fate,
and prepared his mind to meet the approaching crisis. His youthful son
was permitted to visit him in prison, who, when he beheld his father
bound in irons, burst into tears. “Why,” said the father, “will you
break my heart with unavailing sorrow? Have I not often told you that
we came into this world but to prepare for a better? For that better
life, dear boy, your father is prepared. Instead of weeping, rejoice
with me that my troubles are so near an end. To-morrow I set out for
immortality. When I am dead, bury me by the side of your mother.”
No pen can fully describe that scene. When summoned to the place of
execution, his firmness was worthy of the Christian, the hero, and the
patriot. When upon the fatal drop, with the accursed halter around
his neck, he shook hands with his friends, bade them an affectionate
farewell, urged them to persevere in the glorious cause of freedom,
recommended his children to the protection of three gentlemen present,
and the next moment was struggling in death. The sight was too much for
his son, his brain became disordered, his reason fled, and he soon died
insane, lisping his father’s name to the last moment of his life.

Fortunately for North Carolina, the efficient and sagacious Greene and
his brave officers and soldiers, checked the triumphant and murderous
career of the British army. The operations of this brave general were
greatly accelerated by the exertions of Mr. Penn. In 1780, when Lord
Cornwallis penetrated the western part of the state to Charlottetown,
the crisis became awfully alarming, and this bold patriot was placed
at the helm of public affairs in the state, and invested with almost
unlimited power. He was authorized to seize supplies by force,
and to do all things that in his judgment were necessary to repel
the approaching foe. He proved himself equal to the emergency. He
understood his duty, and performed it efficiently and with so much
prudence that no complaints of injustice were heard, and the state was
saved from the grasp of a merciless foe. Tarleton was humbled, Ferguson
killed, and Cornwallis retreated.

Mr. Penn, after discharging the public duties imposed upon him by
his own state, again retired to private life and the pursuit of
his profession. In 1784, he was appointed receiver of taxes for
North Carolina; a high encomium upon his reputation for honesty and
integrity. Fatigued with public service, he resigned this office in a
few months after. This closed his public career, and he bade farewell
to the busy and perplexing scenes of political life, decked with a
civic wreath, surmounted with an unfading and permanent fame. He again
entered into the enjoyments of domestic felicity, which were soon
exchanged for those of another and a brighter world. In September,
1788, he was gathered to his fathers and laid in the silent tomb,
there to await the resurrection of the great day.

In all the relations of private life and public action the examples of
Mr. Penn are worthy of imitation. As a lawyer he stood pre-eminent.
His forensic eloquence was admirable and strongly pathetic. The court
and jury were often suffused with tears when listening to his appeals,
and his own feelings of sympathy were not always suppressed on such
occasions. As a patriot and statesman he stood approved and applauded
by his country. His disposition was mild, benevolent and amiable,
but firm in the performance of every duty. He was an honest man. Let
every reader imitate JOHN PENN in the effort to become useful, and
banish the doctrine _that merit is to be monopolized by a few_, which
should never gain credence in a government like ours, where every
individual is equally interested in the first and dearest principles of
freedom—personal rights equally enjoyed and personal liberty equally


That man who moves only within the circumference of self, reflecting
no social rays upon the community in which he moves, contributing in
no way to the advancement of human happiness, winding himself up in
the hermitical cocoon of a miser’s cell or of total seclusion from the
world, makes his life a vacuum and his death a burletta. The acutest
metaphysician can never demonstrate the problem of his creation, the
lemma of his existence has no corollary in philosophy. The following
apothegm from ELBRIDGE GERRY should be deeply impressed upon the mind
of every reader: “It is the duty of every citizen, though he may have
but one day to live, to devote that day to the service of his country.”
This precept he enforced by the examples of his brilliant career.

ELBRIDGE GERRY was a native of Marblehead, Massachusetts, born on the
17th of July, 1744. He was the son of an enterprising and respectable
merchant, who bestowed upon him a classical education. He graduated at
Harvard University in 1762, with a scholastic and mental reputation
creditable to himself and pleasing to his friends. Judging the tree by
its fruit, the seed from which it sprang must have been of the purest
kind, and its vegetation not retarded by the absorbing and poisonous
weeds of vice. Its incipient pruning and growth must have been directed
by a master hand, to produce a form of so much symmetry and beauty.

After having completed his collegiate studies, Mr. Gerry entered the
counting-house of his father and ultimately became one of the most
enterprising and wealthy merchants of his native town. From the nature
of his business he was among the first to feel the weight of the
impolitic and unconstitutional revenue system, and by the nature of
his mind, he was impelled to meet oppression at the threshold. A man
of deep reflection and investigation, he examined closely the nature
and extent of chartered rights and of British wrongs. He made himself
acquainted with the structure and principles of government, law,
political economy, and national policy. No one understood better than
him, the natural, legal and practical relations between the mother
country and the colonies. He was therefore prepared to act advisedly
and disposed to act firmly. His extensive influence, his decision of
character, his sound discretion and his exalted patriotism, pointed
him out as one of the master spirits to guide the public mind and aid
in the public affairs of the people. He at once became a participant
in all the popular movements in favour of liberty. On the 26th of May,
1773, he commenced his official career as a member of the legislative
body of Massachusetts Bay, then called “the general court.” That
assembly and the royal governor took a bold issue upon rights and
wrongs. The unconstitutional acts of parliament were sanctioned by
the latter, and fearlessly censured by the former. The general court,
moved by Samuel Adams, appointed a standing committee of inquiry for
the purpose of watching closely the proceedings of ministers and
parliament, and of corresponding with the other colonies upon the
important subjects then under national consideration. This committee
was appointed two days after Mr. Gerry had taken his seat for the
first time in a legislative body, of which he was made a member. From
that time forward he was a conspicuous actor upon the tragic stage
of the revolution, in the drama of peace and in the construction of
the federal government. He walked shoulder to shoulder with Adams and
Hancock in the adoption of the bold measures that roused the lion
from his lair and the people to their duty. At the Boston tea-party,
the opposition to the port bill, the impeachment of the crown judges,
the controversy with Governor Hutchinson and the establishment of
non-intercourse with Great Britain, Mr. Gerry stood firmly at his
post. Completely prostrated in his influence, and driven from every
position assumed, Governor Hutchinson retired and was succeeded by
General Gage. This change was of no advantage to the royal cause. The
blending of military and civil power was an unpopular measure. He
issued a commission for a new general court, but finding it would be
composed of members inimical to his views he countermanded the order.
The sovereign people, however, elected delegates, who assembled in
October at Salem, an unusual place of meeting, to do the business
of their constituents. The governor and council not appearing to
administer the oath of office, they adjourned to Concord and organized
a provincial Congress, of which Mr. Gerry was a leading member. They
prepared an address to the governor in respectful but firm language,
declaring their attachment to the mother country, and their willingness
to obey all laws of parliament and the mandates of the king that came
within the sacred pale of the British constitution and the well defined
charters which had emanated from it. They pointed out the violations
of right, the perversions of justice, the military array of foreign
soldiers, all tending to reduce the people to slavery. They reasoned,
they explained, they remonstrated, but all in vain. These appeals to
Governor Gage fell upon his adamantine soul as the morning dew upon the
desert of Sahara. The delegates then appealed to the legitimate source
of a righteous government—THE PEOPLE—who nobly responded and sustained
them in the hour of peril. They then proceeded to adopt measures for
the vindication of their inalienable rights, and whilst they presented
the olive branch of peace they prepared for war. Severe measures were
adopted by parliament, the charter of Massachusetts was altered by
exparte legislation under the crown, illegal taxes were imposed, the
hirelings of the king became more insolent, the indignation of the
people rose like a tornado, colonial blood began to flow, the tocsin of
war was sounded, the clash of arms and fury of battle commenced, the
struggle was terrific, the lion was conquered—AMERICA WAS FREE!!

During all the thrilling scenes that passed in Massachusetts previous
to his election to Congress, Mr. Gerry was a leading member of the
legislative body from its aurelia form to its more perfect growth. He
was an active and efficient member of the two great committees that
were for some time virtually the government—the committee of safety and
that of supplies.

In April, 1775, he narrowly escaped the grasp of his foes. The night
previous to the battle of Lexington, Messrs. Gerry, Lee and Orne
were at Cambridge, through which the British passed on their way to
the opening scene of hostilities. When they arrived opposite the
house where these gentlemen were in bed, a file of soldiers suddenly
separated from the main body and approached it rapidly. The patriots
barely escaped by the back way in their linen as the enemy entered, not
having time to put on a single article of their over-dress. After the
military passed on they returned for their wardrobe, and immediately
rallied the people to prepare for resistance.

The night previous to the fall of his intimate friend, the brave
Warren, Mr. Gerry lodged in the same bed with him. The anxiety they
felt for their country drove sleep from them, and their time was spent
in concerting plans for future action. The lamented hero of Bunker Hill
appears to have had a presentiment of his premature fate. The last
words he uttered to Mr. Gerry as they parted were,

   “Dulce et decorum est,
    Pro patria mori.”[D]

    [D] It is sweet and glorious to die for one’s country.

In the month of July, 1775, the government of Massachusetts assumed
a systematic form. A legislature was chosen and organized, and in
a few months a judiciary was established upon the basis of the new
arrangement. Mr. Gerry was immediately appointed to the responsible
post of judge of the admiralty court, but declined serving, preferring
more active and exciting duties. He desired to be where he could render
the most important services.

On the 18th of January, 1776, he was elected to the Continental
Congress, a situation he was well calculated to fill. Bold and
fearless, yet cautious and prudent, he was admirably adapted to meet
the awful crisis of that eventful era. His public reputation already
established on a lofty eminence, he was placed upon the most important
committees, and among others upon the one sent to head-quarters to
consult with Washington and mature plans of supplies for the army and
for its augmentation. To the speculating sutlers and to peculating
contractors, he was a terror during the war. He introduced in Congress
many salutary guards against dishonest men, who, during a war more
especially, always hang about every department of government like
vultures. Even now, in a time of profound peace, they occasionally tap
the jugular vein of our republic, and produce a laxity of the sinews of

When the declaration of independence was proposed in Congress, the
soul of Mr. Gerry was enraptured in its favour. He had long been
prepared for the measure and gave it his ardent support. When the
thrilling moment arrived for final action upon this important question
his vote was recorded in favour of equal rights, and his signature
affixed to that venerated instrument which verified the truth of divine
prophecy—“A nation shall be born in a day.”

In 1777, he was still continued a member of the national council, and
continued to discharge his duty with unabated zeal. The committee rooms
and the house were alike benefitted by his intelligence and extensive
experience in general business. He was called to aid in the arrangement
of the military hospitals, the discipline and regulations of the army,
the commissary department, foreign commerce, and other branches of the
new government, requiring the soundest discretion to place them on a
firm basis. He was also associated with Messrs. Clymer and Livingston
on their mission to the army to arrange existing difficulties. He took
a conspicuous part in the debates upon the articles of confederation,
and was listened to with great attention. He spoke well, reasoned
closely and demonstrated clearly.

Like Mr. Clymer, he was truly republican in all his ideas and opposed
to every thing that did not bear upon its face sound sense, practical
usefulness and equality of operation. Hence he opposed a resolution of
thanks proposed in Congress to his bosom friend, Mr. Hancock, for his
services when he resigned the presidential chair. He contended that the
president had done no more than to ably perform his duty, the rest of
the members had done the same, and it would be a singular entry upon
the journals of Congress to record a vote of thanks to each. Etiquette,
however, prevailed over his logic, and the usual vote of thanks was
passed, thus introducing a custom in the new government that has long
since lost its original importance by too frequent use on occasions of
minor interest.

Mr. Gerry was also upon the committee that devised the plan of
operations for the northern army that effectuated the capture of
Burgoyne, and upon the one to obtain supplies for the American troops
during the winter of 1777, which took him again to the camp of
Washington. These multiform and arduous duties, so constantly imposed
upon him, are stronger encomiums upon his talents, perseverance,
patriotism, and activity, than a volume of panegyric from the most
enlivening pen that was ever wielded by mortal hand.

I have repeatedly referred to the religious and moral characters of
the members of the Continental Congress as remarkable for purity. As a
proof of the assertion, the records of that body of the proceedings of
the session of 1778, show a resolution passed recommending the several
states to adopt decisive measures against “theatrical entertainments,
horse-racing, gaming, and such other diversions as are productive
of idleness, dissipation, and a general depravity of principles and
manners.” Another resolution strictly enjoins upon the officers of
the army “to see that the good and wholesome rules provided for the
discountenancing of profaneness and vice, and the preservation of
morals among the soldiers, are duly and punctually preserved.” A third
one was passed, which would be a _sweeper_ if revived at the present
day. It arose from a disposition on the part of some officers to
disregard the first one above cited. It reads as follows.

“Resolved, that any person holding an office under the United States,
who shall act, promote, encourage, or attend such plays, shall
be deemed unworthy to hold such office, and shall be accordingly

Mr. Gerry voted for these resolutions, which were passed by a large
majority. He was upon the grand committee of one from each state,
appointed during that session, to examine closely foreign affairs and
the conduct of the foreign commissioners, about which considerable
difficulty then existed, particularly relative to Mr. Deane. The
committee used the probe freely, and recommended to Congress to use the
amputating knife upon every limb affected by the gangrene of political
corruption. The report of the committee was an able document and
produced a warm debate, in which Mr. Gerry participated and supported
it with great eloquence and force.

On the 14th of October, 1779, he proposed to Congress the expedition
against the Indians, which was successfully executed by General
Sullivan. He also proposed a resolution designed to guard against
inducements to corrupt influence, that “no candidates for public
office shall vote in, or otherwise influence their own elections;
that Congress will not appoint any member thereof during its time of
sitting, or within six months after he shall have been in Congress, to
any office under the said states, for which he, or any other for his
benefit, may receive any salary, fees, or other emolument.” He urged it
strongly but was unsuccessful. As a member of the committee of finance
Mr. Gerry stood next in rank to Robert Morris.

In 1780, he retired from Congress after five years arduous and faithful
service. In all situations and at all times, he was energetic, zealous
and active in the cause of liberty. When his duties called him to the
army, if any fighting was on the tapis whilst he was in camp, he always
insisted upon taking an active part. When the affair occurred with
General Howe at Chestnut Hill, he actually shouldered a musket and
entered the ranks; and when General Kniphausen engaged the American
army at Springville, he took his station by the side of Washington,
who invested him with a volunteer command during his stay. On both of
these occasions he was one of the visiting committee from Congress.

The second year after his retirement, he was again induced to become
a member of the national legislature and commenced his duties with
the same zeal that had marked his whole career. The business of the
nation was at that time more perplexing than when in the heat of the
revolution. An empty treasury, a prostrate credit and a mammoth debt,
presented a fearful contrast. To aid in settling the derangement in
public affairs, he was an important member. Committee labours were
heaped upon his shoulders as though he was an Atlas and could carry the
world, or an Atalanta in the celerity of business. The local feelings
and interests of the states began to be perplexing, and the half pay
for life guaranteed by Congress to all officers who remained in the
army during the war, was a source of dissatisfaction with many. This
was finally settled by compounding the annuity for the full pay of five

In 1784, he was chairman of the important committee on foreign
relations, and of the one to perform the onerous task of revising
the treasury department. He also brought forward a resolution for
the compensation of Baron Steuben, who had rendered immense service
by introducing a system of military tactics and discipline, by which
the armies of the United States were entirely governed, and which
were strictly adhered to long after the revolution by the military
throughout the union. This resolution was warmly supported by Mr.
Jefferson, but owing, as I fondly hope, to the embarrassed situation of
the financial department, it was lost. He also took a deep interest in
the commerce of the republic, a subject which he understood well.

In 1785, Mr. Gerry closed his services in the Continental Congress.
During that year he was arduously employed upon the committee on
accounts. He also obtained the passage of his former resolution
relative to public officers and elections and the appointment of
members of Congress to office. At the close of the session he retired
from public life for a season and settled at Cambridge, not far from
Boston, with all the honours of a pure patriot and an able statesman
resting upon him—crowned with the sincere and lively gratitude of a
nation of freemen.

Time soon developed to the sages of the revolution that the articles
of confederation which bound the colonies together when one common
interest and impending dangers created a natural cement, were not
sufficient to secure permanently the liberty they had achieved. Local
interests engendered jealousies, these produced dissatisfaction,
and this threatened to involve the government in anarchy. To remedy
these evils, a motion was made by Mr. Madison, for each state to
send delegates to a national convention for the purpose of forming a
constitution. The proposition was sanctioned, and in May, 1787, the
convention commenced its herculean task at the city of Philadelphia,
in the accomplishment of which Mr. Gerry took an active and useful
part. He was among those who did not sanction or sign the instrument
as adopted, and participated liberally in the political abuse of
the _partisans_ who were opposed to him, not by the noble minded
statesmen who differed with him in opinion, all honest in their views
and patriotic in their motives. _They_ soared above the acrimonious
scurrility of venal party spirit.

After the constitution was adopted, no one manifested more zeal in
adhering to it than Mr. Gerry; actuated, as on all other occasions,
by the great republican principle—_that the majority must rule and be
obeyed_. He was elected a member of the first Congress under it, and
did much towards raising the beautiful superstructure that now towers
sublimely upon its broad basis. After serving four years he declined
a re-election and again sought retirement. But this was of short
duration. The relations between America and France had become deranged
and threatened a disastrous result.

Mr. Adams, then president of the United States, determined on sending
an able embassy to that government, and to make a strong effort to
effect an amicable arrangement of difficulties before appealing to
arms. General Pinckney was already appointed an ambassador to France.
Mr. Gerry and Mr. Marshall, since chief justice of the United States,
were appointed to join him in this delicate duty of diplomacy,
empowered to act separately or collectively, as a sound discretion
should dictate. On their arrival at Paris they were not treated with
proper courtesy by the directory, and were not recognised as the
official organ of their nation. Prudence and patience were necessary to
prevent an immediate rupture between the two countries. They opened a
correspondence with the French secretary of foreign affairs, and after
many fruitless attempts to be met in a proper manner, Messrs. Pinckney
and Marshall were ordered peremptorily to depart from the republic
of France, and Mr. Gerry invited to stay. By his prudent, manly and
firm course, he succeeded in allaying the angry feelings of the French
nation, and prevented a war that for a long time seemed inevitable.

On his return he was placed upon the republican ticket as a candidate
for governor of Massachusetts. Party spirit at that time was in its
full vigour, and the federal party had for a long time been in the
majority. So popular was Mr. Gerry, that his antagonist, Mr. Strong,
was elected but by a small majority, and that resulted from the
incorrectness of some of the returns, the former having actually
received the largest number of votes. In 1805 he was upon the electoral
ticket which succeeded. In 1810 he was elected governor of his state by
a large majority, and ably discharged the duties of chief magistrate.
He had never entered into _partisan_ feelings and views, and in his
first message pointed out, in a luminous manner, the dangers arising
from high toned party spirit, and did all in his power to allay it.
He felt and acted for his whole country and the general good. This
deterioration from _party_ caused him to lose his election for the
next term; the leaders of each having marshalled their forces in solid
phalanx—the federal party, when consolidated, having always had a
majority in the state since its distinctive formation.

For many years Mr. Gerry had anxiously desired to be excused from
the public duties of high and responsible stations, but no excuse was
accepted. In 1813 he was inaugurated vice-president of the United
States, and proceeded to discharge the devolving duties with great
dignity and propriety. His impartiality, correctness and candour gained
for him the esteem of the elevated body over which he presided to the
last day of his eventful and useful life—thus teaching by example the
principle of his precept, that “It is the duty of every citizen, though
he may have but one day to live, to devote that day to the service of
his country.”

At the city of Washington a beautiful monument is erected to his
memory, with this inscription:

                     The tomb of
                   ELBRIDGE GERRY,
         Vice-President of the United States,
  Who died suddenly in this city, on his way to the
         Capitol, as President of the Senate,
                 November 23d, 1814,
                       Aged 70.

In the review of the life of Elbridge Gerry the pure patriot finds much
to admire and nothing to condemn, unless a man is to be condemned for
an honest difference of opinion and for keeping aloof from high toned
party spirit, which, for the sake of liberty, God forbid. His examples
of devotedness to the good of his country, his untiring industry, his
prudence, his discretion, his intelligence, and his moral virtues,
are all worthy of imitation and shed a lustre upon his character. In
private life he was highly esteemed and fulfilled its duties with the
strictest fidelity. He was emphatically a useful man in every sphere in
which he moved. No perils retarded him from the faithful performance of
what he deemed duty. His purposes were deliberately formed and boldly
executed. He was an honour to his country, to the cause of freedom, and
to enlightened liberal legislation. He was truly a worthy and an honest


Every man is not designed by creative wisdom to become a Demosthenes
or a Cicero; but every man of common sense has the power to be good
and to render himself useful. If all were alike gifted with splendid
talents, the monotony would become painful, and variety, the very spice
of life, would lose its original flavour. If _all_ our statesmen were
eloquent orators and were affected by the mania of speech-making, as
sensibly as most of our public speakers are at the present day, we
should be constantly, as we are now frequently, overwhelmed with talk
and have but little work finished. No one admires eloquence more than
the writer, but the speedy accomplishment of business is of higher
importance. Like our bodies that end in a narrow cell, the speeches
of our legislators, although based upon the purest motives, dictated
by the most enlightened understanding, decked with the beauties of
intelligence, strengthened by the soundest logic and embellished
with the richest flowers of rhetoric, receive their final fate from
the approving _Aye_—or the emphatic _No_. I indulge no desire to
extinguish these brilliant lights, or to snuff them too closely. The
volume of their flame, often so large as to emit smoke, might safely
be diminished and their wicks cut shorter. Brevity is the soul of wit,
prudent despatch, the life of business. In the committee-room every man
can be useful—the responsibilities of a vote bear equally upon each at
the time and place he is called to act. Let the importance of no man
be undervalued by himself or his compeers because he is not born with
a trumpet tongue. If his head is clear and his heart right, _he can do

Some of the most useful members of the Continental Congress seldom
participated in debate, and the ablest speakers were remarkable for
conciseness and for keeping close to the question under consideration.
Among those who rendered essential services in the cause of the
revolution, in a retiring and unassuming manner, was WILLIAM PACA, a
native of Wye Hall, on the eastern shore of Maryland, born on the 31st
of October, 1740. His father was a highly respectable and influential
man, and bestowed upon William a good education, and planted deeply in
his mind the principles of virtue and moral rectitude. He completed
his classical studies at the college in Philadelphia, and in 1758
commenced the study of law at Annapolis. Industrious in his habits,
and not fond of the public gaze, he applied himself closely to the
investigation of that science which unfolds the nature and duty of man
in all the relations of life, shows what he is and what he should be
under all circumstances, unveils his passions, his propensities and
his inclinations, carries the mind back through the abysm of times
of light, of shadows, of darkness and of pristine happiness, and
illuminates the understanding more than either branch of the sciences,
it being a compound of the whole in theory and in practice. An honest
and upright lawyer, who is actuated alone by principles of strict
justice, pure ethics, equal rights and stern integrity, can do more to
sustain social order and promote human happiness than a man pursuing
either of the other professions.

Upon principles like these Mr. Paca commenced his practice, and upon
a basis like this he built an enduring fame. He was esteemed for his
clearness of perception, honesty of purpose, decision of character,
prudence of conduct and substantial usefulness—all exhibiting a clear
light, but not a dazzling blaze or an effervescent embrocation. Upon
minds like his, the oppressions of the mother country made a gradual
impression, that was deepened by the graver of innovation, and that all
the powers of earth could neither efface, deface, erase nor expunge.
Thus it was with Mr. Paca—as chartered rights and constitutional
privileges were more openly infringed by the British authorities, his
soul became more strongly resolved on liberty or death. He was on
intimate terms with Mr. Chase, who possessed all the requisites to
command, while Mr. Paca possessed the indispensable acquisitions of a
safe and skilful helmsman. With qualities thus differing, but with the
same object in view, these two patriots commenced their voyage upon the
boisterous ocean of public life, at the same time and place.

Soon after he became a member of the bar Mr. Paca was elected a member
of the legislature of Maryland, and discharged his duties to the
entire satisfaction of his constituents. In 1771 he was one of the
committee of three that prepared a letter of thanks from the citizens
of Annapolis to Charles Carroll for his able advocacy of the cause
of liberty, in a written controversy with the royal governor and his
lackeys. In that letter the committee expressed a determination never
to submit to taxation without representation, or to the regulating of
taxes by executive authority—thus fully approving and sustaining the
position taken by the distinguished citizen whom they addressed.

Mr. Paca was a member of the Congress that convened at Philadelphia in
1774, which rendered itself illustrious by proceedings of propriety and
wisdom, such as would naturally flow from a mind like his. It is upon
such men that we can always safely rely in times of peril and danger.
They view every thing in the calm sunshine of reason and justice, and
are never overwhelmed by the billows of foaming passion or sudden
emotion. Always upon the terra firma of prudence, and always prepared
for action, they are ready to render assistance to those whose more
towering barks often get among the breakers.

Mr. Paca was continued a member of Congress until 1778, and rendered
valuable services upon numerous and important committees. In 1775 he
was a member of the one charged with providing ways and means to ward
off the threatened dangers that hung frightfully over the cause of
freedom in Virginia and North Carolina. He was also upon a similar
committee for the aid of the northern department. About that time he
joined Mr. Chase in furnishing a newly raised military corps with
rifles, to the amount of nearly a thousand dollars, from their own
private funds. His talents, his time and his fortune he placed in the
fearful breach of his country’s freedom. His examples had a powerful
influence upon the minds of his reflecting friends, who had unlimited
confidence in his opinions, always deliberately formed.

When the declaration of independence was proposed, his feelings and
views were decidedly in its favour, but his instructions from the
assembly of Maryland were directly opposed to the measure. The members
of that body considered the project as wild and futile, believing the
power of the mother country sufficient to crush all opposition. They
only contemplated redress—this they fondly but vainly hoped for. The
course of the British authorities, however, soon furnished arguments,
steeped in blood, that convinced them of the necessity of the course
proposed in Congress, and about the first of July, 1776, they removed
the injunction and left Mr. Paca and his colleagues to act freely
without any restraint. The struggle between the adherents of the crown
and the patriots in the assembly had been severe. The able letters
written by their delegates in the national legislature had great weight
in the colonial council, and the affair at Lexington admitted of no
extenuation. The first decided vote in favour of the cause, then in
embryo, obtained in the Maryland legislative body, was on the 28th of
May preceding the declaration, when their chaplain was directed to
omit praying for the king. This was a sore cut upon the dignity of his
majesty, and, as trifling as it may seem, had a potent effect upon the
people. It convinced them that if the king had forfeited all claims to
the _prayers_ of his subjects, he was not pure enough to direct their
destinies, and with one accord declared, “we will not have this man to
rule or reign over us.”

When the glorious 4th of July, 1776, arrived, Mr. Paca was in his
place, fully prepared to sanction the Magna Charta of American freedom
by his vote and signature, and enrolled his name among the great
apostles of LIBERTY, whose fame will continue to rise in peerless
majesty until the last trump of time shall sound its final blast and
the elements be dissolved in fervent heat.

On his retirement from Congress, in 1778, Mr. Paca was appointed chief
judge of the superior court of Maryland, and in 1780 his duties were
increased by the appointment of chief judge in prize and admiralty
cases. He had proved himself an able statesman—his talents as a
judicial officer shone with equal brilliancy. The acumen of his mind
and his legal acquirements made him an _able_ judge, his honesty and
impartiality rendered him a _popular_ one. He was a man of polished
manners, plain but dignified in his deportment and graceful in his
address, with an engaging, intelligent and benignant countenance, all
combining to gain admiration.

In 1782 he was elevated to the gubernatorial chair of his native state.
As chief magistrate he sustained a high reputation for usefulness and
sound policy. He was a devoted friend to literature and religion, and
did much to promote their prosperity. He inculcated the principles of
political economy and governed the state with a parental care. His
wise and judicious course furnished no food for malice, was above the
assaults of slander, and afforded jealousy no loop to hang upon. After
completing his term he retired to private life, until 1786, when he was
again called to preside over the destinies of his native domain.

In 1789 he was appointed by President Washington, United States
district judge for the Maryland district, which office he continued to
fill with dignity and respect until 1799, when he was summoned by death
to appear before the dread tribunal of the great Jehovah to render an
account of his stewardship. His life had been that of a good man, his
final end was peaceful and happy. Let his memory be revered and his
examples imitated. He demonstrated most clearly that moderation and
mildness, tempered with discretion and firmness, govern better and more
potently than angry and authoritative dictation.


I have frequently referred, in several of the preceding biographies, to
the powerful eloquence of several of the Signers of the Declaration of
Independence. Of its nature, the reader should be correctly informed.

Rhetoric, as taught in the schools, as defined in the lexicons, and as
practised in times of prosperous peace and leisure like the present, is
not the kind that graced the Continental Congress.

Not to leave the reader to depend upon a picture drawn by my own fancy
and imagination, I will present the delineation as drawn by those who
saw and felt its influence, at the time it illuminated the legislative
hall, roused men to deeds of noble daring, and gave freedom to our
happy country.

One of the illustrious members of that body, John Adams, has said:
“Oratory, as it consists in expressions of the countenance, graces
of attitude and motion, and intonation of voice, although it is
altogether superficial and ornamental, will always command admiration,
yet it deserves little veneration. Flashes of wit, corruscations of
imagination and gay pictures, what are they? Strict truth, rapid
reason, and pure integrity, are the only essential ingredients in
oratory. I flatter myself, that Demosthenes, by his ‘action! action!
action!’ meant to express the same opinion.”

Another eminent writer, who had often felt the force of this, the
kind of eloquence exhibited by the sages of the revolution, in
describing that of the illustrious statesman just named, remarked;
“It was bold, manly, and energetic, but such as the crisis required.
When public bodies are to be addressed on momentous occasions, when
great interests are at stake, and strong passions excited, nothing is
valuable in speech farther than is connected with high intellectual
endowments. Clearness, force and earnestness are qualities which
produce conviction. True eloquence, indeed, does not consist in speech.
It cannot be brought from far. Labour and learning may toil for it, but
they toil in vain. Words and phrases may be marshalled in every way,
but they cannot compass it. It must exist in the man, in the subject,
and in the occasion. Affected passion, intense expression, the pomp
of declamation, all may aspire after it, but they cannot reach it. It
comes, if it comes at all, like the outbreaking of a fountain from
the earth, or the bursting forth of volcanic fires, with spontaneous,
original, native force. The graces taught in schools, the courtly
ornaments and studied contrivances of speech, shock and disgust men
when their own lives, and the lives of their wives and children, and
their country, hang on the decisions of the hour. Then words have lost
their power, rhetoric is vain, and all elaborate oratory contemptible.
Even genius itself, then feels rebuked and subdued, as in the presence
of higher qualities. Then patriotism is eloquent, then self-devotion is
eloquent. The clear conception outrunning the deductions of logic; the
high purpose, the firm resolve, the dauntless spirit speaking on the
tongue, beaming from the eye, informing every feature, and urging the
whole man onward—right onward to his object—this, this is eloquence, or
rather, it is something greater and higher than eloquence—it is action,
noble, sublime, and god-like action.”

This was the kind of eloquence that characterized the Continental
Congress, and sounded an alarum that vibrated the souls of millions,
and often drove back the purple current upon the aching heart. No
long, no set, no written speeches were then crowded upon the audience
to kill time and make a show. Governor M’Kean, who was constantly a
member during the revolution, remarked, shortly before his death, “I
do not recollect any formal speeches, such as are made in the British
Parliament, and in our late Congresses, to have been made in the
Revolutionary Congress. We had no time to hear such speeches, little
for deliberation—action was the order of the day.”

Of the kind of eloquence above described, GEORGE ROSS possessed a large
share. This faithful public servant was the son of the Rev. George
Ross, pastor of the Episcopal Church at New Castle, Delaware, and was
born in 1730, at that ancient town. Under the parental roof, and under
the instruction of his father, his strong native talents unfolded
their beauties, and at the age of eighteen he became a good classical
scholar. He then commenced the study of law with John Ross, an elder
brother, in the city of Philadelphia, where he was admitted to the bar
in 1751. In order to have more elbow-room he located at Lancaster, then
a border town near the confines of civilization, and verging on the
“far west.”

Noble in his disposition, agreeable and plain in his manners, learned
and diligent in his profession, candid, honest, and just in his course,
he succeeded in gaining the confidence and esteem of the people, and a
lucrative practice. In addition to all this, in order to plant himself
more firmly in his new location, he married Miss Ann Lawler, an amiable
and highly respectable lady, who proved an affectionate and worthy

He built his legal fame upon its legitimate basis, close application
to his professional business unconnected with public politics. At the
present day, many young men, unfortunately for themselves, when they
are admitted to the practice of law, at once enter the political arena,
for the purpose of obtaining professional notoriety and business. This
conclusion is based upon false premises, and has prevented many from
rising to a legal eminence that a contrary course would have gained.
Sacred writ has declared, “no man can serve two masters.” This is
particularly the case with a young lawyer at the present day; the
American revolution was a different thing. When he becomes devoted
to the interests of a political party, a tyrant that exacts the most
abject and humiliating services, either _his_ business, or that of
the party must be neglected. Reflecting men know this, and aware that
it requires close study and diligent application to become learned
in the law, they keep aloof from young political lawyers. A few high
toned partisans may employ them in _small_ matters, but if they have an
important case, the studious, industrious attorney, who has not imbibed
the corrupting atmosphere of modern politics, is the man of their
choice. A word to the wise should be sufficient.

It was not until long after his location at Lancaster that Mr. Ross
commenced his legislative course. The time had already arrived when the
people began to feel the smart of British oppression, and became more
particular in selecting men of known worth, integrity and talents, to
guard their interests against the machinations of an avaricious and
designing ministry. They accordingly elected Mr. Ross a member of the
colonial legislature in October, 1768. His reputation then stood high
as an able lawyer and as a man of liberal views, sound judgment and
decision of character. He at once exercised a salutary influence in the
assembly, and took a bold and decided stand in favour of the people’s
rights. At that time it was the custom of the legislature to reply
to the messages of the royal governor _in extenso_, or at large. Mr.
Ross was appointed to prepare an answer to one of these documents at
the first session of his service. In that as at all subsequent times,
he boldly objected to every proposition that he considered impolitic
or in opposition to the rights and best interests of the people. He
became a faithful and fearless sentinel, a vigorous and able champion
in the cause of liberty. He continued to serve in the legislature of
his own colony until he was elected to Congress. He was one of the
committee that prepared a consonant reply to the speaker of the house
of burgesses of Virginia in answer to the resolutions recommending a
general convention of delegates to deliberate upon the condition of the
country. In every leading measure in favour of freedom, he was among
the leading men.

In 1774, he was appointed a delegate to the Congress convened at
Philadelphia, and repaired promptly to the post of duty. He was one of
the committee of the assembly that determined on sending delegates to
the general convention, and was appointed by that committee to prepare
the instructions of that body to govern these delegates in their
action. As these instructions are similar in their main features to
those adopted by the other colonies, I here insert them that the reader
may see that peaceable redress of grievances was all that was at that
time contemplated by the sages of the revolution.

“The trust reposed in you is of such a nature, and the modes of
executing it may be so diversified in the course of your deliberations,
that it is scarcely possible to give you particular instructions
respecting it. We shall therefore only in general direct, that you are
to meet in Congress the committees of the several British colonies
at such time and place as shall be generally agreed on, to consult
together on the present critical and alarming situation and state of
the colonies, and that you, with them, exert your utmost endeavours to
form and adopt a plan which shall afford the best prospect of obtaining
a redress of American grievances, ascertaining American rights, and
establishing that union and harmony which is most essential to the
welfare and happiness of both countries. And in doing this, you are
strictly charged to avoid every thing indecent or disrespectful to the
mother state.”

Under instructions like these the first general Congress assembled;
agreeably to instructions like these that august body acted. All
honourable means were used to restore peace on the part of the
colonists that were required by the constitution of England, more
was offered than reason and strict justice demanded. Nothing but an
infatuation making men blind, deaf and dumb, could have resisted the
appeals and consummate arguments in favour of chartered and violated
rights that were poured upon the king, the parliament and the people of
Great Britain, from the deep, the translucent fountain of intelligence
concentrated in the Congress of 1774. The members were determined
to clear their own skirts of blood and not draw the bow of physical
opposition until their arrows were dipped in the liquid fire of eternal
justice and fixed in the quiver of wisdom.

Mr. Ross was continued a member of the Continental Congress until 1777,
when ill health compelled him to retire. He rendered important services
on numerous committees, and was a strong and truly eloquent debater in
the house. He also served, when his congressional duties would permit,
in the legislature of Pennsylvania, in which he continued to exercise
an essential influence. The governor and his friends were on the alert
to thwart the designs of the patriots, and for some time presented a
formidable opposition. To raise the foundation of this royal mass, Mr.
Ross placed his whole weight upon the political lever, and contributed
largely in breaking it up. He was a member of the colonial convention
that commenced the new government, and one of the committee that
prepared the declaration of rights on that occasion. He was chairman
of the committee that formed the organization of the state government,
and of the one that prepared the declaratory ordinance defining
high treason and misprision of treason, and the kind and measure of
punishment to be inflicted. Upon committees like these, his high legal
acquirements rendered him an important member. He was a profound lawyer
and an able statesman, and well prepared to aid in laying deep the
foundations of rational liberty.

On the 19th of July, 1779, he was appointed judge of the court of
admiralty for Pennsylvania, and in July following was called suddenly
and unexpectedly to witness the untried scenes of a boundless eternity.
His death was occasioned by an excruciating attack of the gout.

Thus in the full career of life and usefulness, rising on the wings
of fame, flushed with the hopes of liberty for his country, pressing
right onward towards the goal of freedom, an arrow from the quiver of
death pierced his patriotic heart and consigned him to the insatiate
tomb. There his dust reposes in peace whilst the lustre of his examples
when living will continue to shine and will be admired by millions yet

Immediately after he closed his legislative career, the citizens of
Lancaster county passed two resolutions of the following tenor.

“Resolved, that the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds out of the
county stock, be forthwith transmitted to George Ross, (‘Honourable’
was not then republican,) one of the members of the assembly for this
county, and one of the delegates for this colony in the Continental
Congress; and that he be requested to accept the same, as a testimony
from this county of their sense of his attendance on the public
business, to his great private loss, and of their approbation of his

Resolved, that if it be more agreeable, Mr. Ross purchase with part
of the said money a genteel piece of plate, ornamented as he thinks
proper, to remain with him as a testimony of the esteem this county has
for him, by reason of his patriotic conduct in the great struggle for
American liberty.”

Here is old fashioned republican simplicity in language and expression,
flowing from its native fountain—gratitude strongly felt and plainly
told—forming a bold contrast with the fulsome flattery of modern times
showered upon our statesmen by fawning sycophants, whose gratitude is
based alone upon the loaves and fishes of favour and office.

Mr. Ross declined accepting the gift, assuring the committee that
waited upon him, that he had performed no more than his duty, and that
at such a period all were bound to exert their noblest energies to
secure their liberty, which would afford a reward more precious than
gold, more valuable than diamonds.

In private as in public life, he stood approved and untarnished. No
blemish is upon the proud escutcheon of the name of GEORGE ROSS.


Moderation, arising from sound discretion and deep penetration of
judgment, united with wisdom to plan, and energy to execute, is always
desirable, and, in times of high excitement, indispensably necessary
in those who wield the destinies of a community. When the fires of
passion burning in the bosoms of an enraged multitude unite in one
cyclopean volume, the mental rod of moderation managed by skilful hands
can alone guide, regulate, and direct it to a proper destination. To
this quality, pre-eminently possessed by many of the sages of the
American revolution, we owe the liberty we now enjoy. It was this
that gave weight and dignity to the proceedings of the Continental
Congress; leaving the mother country without an excuse for oppression
and exciting the sympathy of other nations in favour of the cause of

No one demonstrated more fully the beauties of moderation, combined
with firmness of purpose and boldness of action, than BENJAMIN
HARRISON. He was the eldest son of Benjamin Harrison, and born in
Berkley, Virginia. The date of his birth is not recorded. His family
descended from a near relation of General Harrison, who was a bold
leader in the revolution of the English commonwealth and was sacrificed
upon the scaffold for his liberal principles. This relation settled
in Surrey, Virginia, about 1640. His descendants sustained the high
character of their ancestors, and filled many important public stations
in the colony, and were uniformly wealthy and liberally educated. It
is recorded of Benjamin Harrison, who was the son of the Mr. Harrison
who settled at Surrey, that “he did justice, loved mercy, and walked
humbly with his God;” thus leaving a memento of character that forms
the crowning excellence of human attainments. The father of the subject
of this narrative was killed by lightning with two of his daughters.
At that time Benjamin was prosecuting his studies at the college of
William and Mary, where he finished his education at an early age.
Before he arrived at his majority he assumed the entire management
of the large estate left him by his father. He shortly after married
Elizabeth, the beautiful and accomplished daughter of Colonel William
Bassett, and niece to the sister of Lady Washington. He was a man of
great muscular power, above the middle height, graceful but plain
in his manners, with an intelligent countenance, indicating truly
strength of mind and decision of character. Towards the latter part
of his life he became corpulent, in consequence of good dinners and
a quiet mind. Before he arrived at the age then required by law, he
was elected a member of the house of burgesses, and soon became a
distinguished leader. His talents were of the peculiar kind calculated
to lead, without an apparent desire to command. His magic wand was
sound discretion deliberately and firmly exercised on all occasions,
enlivened by a good humour and sprightliness that took off the wiry
edge of his otherwise stern qualities; for when his purposes were
fixed, it required a powerful lever to move them—he adhered to them
with a firmness that in a more morose man would have been called

Wielding a powerful influence, the creatures of the crown were
particularly courteous towards him, especially just preceding the
commencement of the revolution, and proposed to confer upon him the
highest official dignity in the colony, except that of governor, which
was always reserved for a _native_ of the mother country. But Mr.
Harrison was too independent in mind, too republican in principle,
and too penetrating in their designs, to be caught in the silken web
of ministerial intrigue or royal cunning. With all his wealth and
influence he was a plain common sense man, acting upon the principle
that modesty is the handmaid of virtue, and has more charms than the
pomp of courts and the flourish of high pretensions. He was a man of
the people, and went for them and his country. He was too high minded
to become a tool, and scorned to be the slave of a king.

As early as 1764, Mr. Harrison was one of the committee appointed
by the house of burgesses that prepared an address to the throne, a
memorial to the house of lords, and a remonstrance to the house of
commons of Great Britain, predicated upon the Virginia resolutions,
anticipating the contemptible stamp act. These documents were strong
meat in view of a majority of the house, and by the process of
political alchymical chemistry, were transmuted to milk and water. But
the time rolled on that brought with it circumstances that inspired
far different feelings and action. As British oppression increased,
Virginia patriotism and indignation were kindled to a flame that
illuminated the remotest bounds of the old dominion. Harrison, Henry,
Wythe, Randolph, Jefferson and other sons of Virginia were roused. Mr.
Harrison was a member of the convention that met at Williamsburgh on
the first of August, 1774, that passed a series of strong resolutions
in favour of equal rights, and sanctioned the measures of opposition
adopted in New England. The same convention appointed seven delegates
to the Congress to be held at Philadelphia, Mr. Harrison being one.
When the time arrived, he repaired to the post of duty and of honour.
As but one object was contemplated at that time—the adoption of
measures to sustain right, justice and peace, the session continued
but two months, and was entirely employed in preparing petitions,
remonstrances, and addresses, in which Mr. Harrison aided by his
counsels. A personal acquaintance and a free interchange of personal
views, which served to establish mutual confidence, and to produce a
concert of feeling when the time for more decisive action arrived,
appears to have been the greatest good that resulted from the meeting
of that Congress. Its proceedings also placed the colonies in a
favourable light in view of other nations and of reflecting men,
showing that they paid a proper respect to the royal authority of
the mother country, and were unwilling to cut the cord of allegiance
without a just cause. The king and his infatuated counsellors were left
without excuse in their mad career.

On the 20th of March, 1775, Mr. Harrison was a member of the Virginia
Convention that met at Richmond, and passed the bold resolutions
offered by Patrick Henry. A vote of approbation and thanks was also
passed in favour of the delegates that had served in Congress the
preceding autumn. Many had their eyes opened at that time and came to
the rescue of their country.

Lord Dunmore, anticipating the appointment of delegates to a second
Congress, issued his proclamation forbidding the procedure, at the
same time affecting to treat the convention as a mere bagatelle. But
the time had arrived when proclamations from the royal governors
had lost their virtue and were in bad odour. The convention elected
Congressional delegates, among whom was Mr. Harrison.

When he again repaired to his post, a wider field opened for labour.
The proceedings of the preceding Congress had been treated with
contumely by the crown, and an awful crisis had arrived. The cry of
blood resounded from the heights of Lexington, and penetrated the ears,
the heart, the very soul of every patriot.

At the death of Mr. Randolph, the first president of the Continental
Congress, Mr. Hancock was elected to fill his place. When his name
was announced, he seemed overcome with a modest diffidence, and not
proceeding instantly to his post, Mr. Harrison, who was standing near
him, picked him up in his gigantic arms and placed him in the chair,
remarking, “we will show mother Britain how little we care for her, by
making a Massachusetts man our president, whom she has excluded from
pardon by public proclamation.”

Action now became the order of the day. Each gale from the North
wafted tidings of fresh outrages and increasing oppression on the
part of “mother Britain.” Congress began to prepare for the worst,
although many of its members still listened to the syren song of peace.
An important committee was appointed to devise ways and means for
defence, and for organizing the militia throughout all the colonies
that were represented, of which Mr. Harrison was an efficient member.
After labouring arduously for a month, the committee reported the plan
of military operations that carried the American armies through the
revolution. From the fact that Mr. Harrison was uniformly selected
to aid in military operations when they required the attention of
Congress, it may be inferred that he was well qualified to act in
that department. He was on the most intimate terms with Washington
and enjoyed his unlimited confidence, which is the _ne plus ultra_ of
eulogy upon his character.

In September, he was one of the committee of three appointed to
consult with the commander-in-chief, and with the authorities of the
regenerated colonies, for the means of preparing for vigorous action.
On the 29th of November, he was appointed chairman of the committee
of five to take charge of the foreign correspondence, subsequently
organized and made the committee on foreign affairs. On the second
of December, he was sent to Maryland to aid in organizing a naval
armament to repel the predatory warfare of Lord Dunmore along the
shores of the Chesapeake. On the 17th of January, 1776, he laid before
Congress a plan upon which to predicate the recruiting service, which
was approved. On the 21st of the same month, he was placed upon the
committee to organize the war department, and two days after, started
with Messrs. Lynch and Allen to New York, to aid General Lee in
arranging means for its defence, and for the erection of fortifications
upon the two confluent rivers. On his return he was placed on the
committee for organizing the military departments of the middle and
southern colonies; and on the sixth of March he was placed on the
standing marine committee, bestowing upon him labour according to his
physical as well as mental powers.

On the 26th of March, Congress published a complete preface to the
declaration of independence, setting forth the contempt with which the
petitions, remonstrances, and appeals for redress had been treated, and
portraying in lively colours the constitutional and chartered rights of
the American people, and the manner they were trampled under foot and
steeped in blood by the British hirelings. The same document authorized
the colonies to fit out vessels of war to meet the mistress of the
seas on her own element. At the same time Mr. Harrison was appointed
chairman of a committee to select and cause to be fortified one or
more ports for the protection of these vessels and such prizes as they
might take. In May, he was made chairman of the committee on the Canada
expedition. After consulting Generals Washington, Gates, and Mifflin,
he laid a plan of operations before Congress, which was approved. On
the 26th of the same month he was appointed chairman of a committee
of fourteen, directed to confer with the general officers of the army
relative to a plan of operations for the ensuing campaign. When this
was matured he laid it before Congress, and during its consideration
was chairman of the committee of the whole. With some amendments the
report of the committee was adopted. On the 15th of June a board of war
was organized, of which Mr. Harrison became chairman, and continued
to fill this important post until he retired from Congress. In the
discharge of its duties the revered Judge Peters remarks of him, “He
was a member, &c. when I entered upon the duties assigned me in the
war department. This gave me an opportunity of observing his firmness,
good sense and usefulness in deliberation and in critical situations,
and much use indeed, was required of these qualities, when every thing
around us was lowering and terrific.”

Mr. Harrison became very popular as chairman of the committee of
the whole, and when in the house, uniformly presided when important
questions were under discussion. He was in the chair during the
discussion of the declaration of independence. He also brought up the
resolution of the committee that recommended the formal preparation
of that sacred instrument, and on the fourth of July reported it as
sanctioned by Congress, and sealed his own approbation with his vote
and signature. As a further evidence of his cheerfulness and good
humour under all circumstances, at the thrilling moment when the
members were signing what was by many considered their death warrant;
as Mr. Gerry, who was a light slender man finished his signature, the
robust Mr. Harrison remarked to him, “When the hanging scene comes to
be exhibited, I shall have all the advantage over you. It will be all
over with me in a minute, but you will be kicking in the air half an
hour after I am gone.”

During the protracted discussions upon the articles of confederation,
Mr. Harrison was uniformly in the chair if in the house. From August
until the 5th of November, 1776, he was not a member of Congress, and
was engaged in the service of his own state, having been appointed one
of the counsellors of Virginia under the new form of government. He
then succeeded Mr. Jefferson, and again assumed the important stations
he had before so ably filled. He was also placed upon the committee to
superintend the movements of the northern army. During the sad reverses
of the winter of 1776–7, he remained firm at his post, whilst many had
gone home disheartened and dejected, but not willing to abandon the
cause of freedom. When Congress was compelled to fly from Baltimore
to Lancaster, where they remained but for a day, and from there to
Yorktown, he followed all its destinies. At one time, at the latter
place, the number of members did not exceed twenty, but these few
were rendered more zealous and strong from this very circumstance.
When there were but twenty-eight, Samuel Adams said it was the truest
Congress ever assembled; and when the number was reduced still lower,
the amount of zeal manifested and labour performed was not diminished.
Its enemies predicted its final dissolution, but proved themselves
to be false prophets. They even reported that Mr. Harrison was about
to desert the cause. The moderation of this patriot often interposed
to soften proposed measures that were too hasty and harsh. When the
question was agitated relative to the Quakers, (referred to in the
biography of Mr. Chase,) he interfered in their behalf, and as one of
their number often remarked, “He saved us from persecution. He had
talents to perceive the right and firmness enough to pursue it however
violently opposed.”

At the close of 1777, Mr. Harrison resigned his seat in Congress and
returned to the bosom of his family. No one member had performed more
labour than him, and no one was more highly esteemed and honoured.
He was a colossus in the cause of liberty and human rights. He was
emphatically a powerful working man.

On his return to his constituents he was not permitted to enjoy repose,
but was immediately elected to the house of burgesses, and on taking
his seat, was elevated to the dignified station of speaker, which he
continued to fill for five successive years. During that period the
revolutionary storm rolled its fury over Virginia, which before had
experienced but little inconvenience within its own borders. Arnold
the traitor and Cornwallis the tyrant, were tinging its streams and
saturating its soil with the blood of her noble sons. Fire and sword,
murder and rapine, ruin and destruction, marked their savage career.
The house of burgesses was driven from Richmond to Charlottesville, to
Staunton, and to the Warm Springs, and found but a transient resting
place at either. Application was made to Washington, but he could
afford no relief. During these rapid removes of the legislature,
Mr. Harrison remained firm, and used every exertion to promote such
measures as were best calculated to ward off impending dangers. He did
much to rouse the people to action and dispel the terrors of their
minds. He knew no fugitive fears; the opinion of another writer to the
contrary notwithstanding, uttered without any foundation in truth,
merely to raise his own hero above his proper level, by climbing upon
the shoulders of the towering reputation of Mr. Harrison. This _ruse de
guerre_ will not answer even at this late day. Records speak for the
dead in a voice that withers the slanderer like the hand writing that
paralysed the sturdy frame of Belteshazzer.

In 1782, Mr. Harrison was elected governor of Virginia and assumed
an herculean task. The recent devastations of the British army, and
the efforts of internal enemies, had thrown every thing into one
chaotic mass. He entered upon his duties with an energy and sagacity
that showed no “fugitive fear,” and so well did he succeed, that he
became one of the most popular chief magistrates that ever filled the
gubernatorial chair of Virginia. He was re-elected twice, and then
became ineligible by the constitution, and once more sought repose in
retirement. Immediately after, he was nominated as a candidate for
the legislature without his knowledge, and for the first time was
unsuccessful. His election was defeated by a singular circumstance
that was taken advantage of by his opponent. When governor, he had
directed the militia to level the embankments at Yorktown, which was
an unpopular measure. Without lamenting his defeat, effected entirely
by intrigue, he removed into the adjoining county of Surrey, and was
returned to the same legislature with his competitor; and to render
his triumph more complete and the mortification of his opponents more
galling, he was elected speaker of the house. Before the year expired
his old constituents solicited him to return to his former residence.
Old age and infirmity began to admonish him to retire, and he declined
a re-election.

In 1788, he was a member of the convention of his state to which
the federal constitution was submitted, and was appointed chairman
of the first committee—that of privileges and elections. He opposed
the document submitted as too indefinite in defining the powers of
the general and state governments, and sanctioned it with certain
amendments that were returned with it. So strong was the opposition
to its adoption by nearly half of the delegates, that they held a
private meeting in the night for the purpose of adopting plans of
opposition that were calculated to produce the most fatal consequences.
Fortunately, the deliberate old patriot, Mr. Harrison, gained
admittance and prevailed upon them to submit to the majority of nine
and pursue the legal remedy for obtaining amendments. This noble and
patriotic act formed the crowning glory of his public career. In 1790
he was nominated chief magistrate, but declined serving, and used his
utmost influence for Mr. Randolph and induced his own son to vote
against him, who was then a member of the house, by which the governor
was elected. Mr. Randolph had become unpopular with a part of the
members, who were confident of defeating him could they prevail upon
Mr. Harrison to consent to be used as a _party_ man.

During the next year his health declined rapidly, and in April, shortly
after his unanimous election to the legislature, he was prostrated by a
severe attack of the gout, which terminated his long and useful life,
leaving a large family of children to mourn the loss of a kind father,
and his country to lament the exit of one of her noblest patriots.
He was the father of General Harrison of Ohio, whose name is now
before the public as a candidate for the next president of the United
States. The private character of this zealous champion of liberty was
without reproach. His wit and humour made him a pleasant companion,
his intelligence and good sense made him an interesting one. His clear
head, good heart, sound judgment and equable moderation, made him an
important public servant, exactly suited to the times in which he


Genealogy was once an essential part, the first stepping stone of
biography, a kind of titular idol held in great veneration. In
countries where the iron sceptre of monarchy is still swayed, where
titles of honour create lineal dignity without regard to merit, where
blood is analyzed by political chemistry and all the precipitants are
rejected but the carbonate of noble pedigree, where royalty descends
upon a _non compos mentis_ incumbent with the same facility that
it reaches a man of good intellect, genealogy is still measurably
the criterion by which to determine the importance and degree of
character. As light and intelligence shed their benignant rays upon
mankind, the importance attached to this titular deity will be
diminished. Where rational liberty reigns triumphant, merit alone
creates dignity; the man is measured by his actions, not by the purple
fluid that flows through his veins. In our free country genealogy is
a matter of curiosity, not of veneration. The son of a coal cracker,
or of a cobbler, whose father may have been a foundling, can rise
to the highest station within the gift of the people by the force
of talent and merit. I am aware that the aristocracy of wealth is
a noxious weed that sheds its deleterious influence around us, but
not yet sufficiently strong to prevent genius from acquiring a rapid
and towering growth. In times of danger and peril its power will be
lessened in the same ratio that these increase. It withers and dies
when reached by the magic wand of republican patriotism. Then “what is
a name, my lord?”

One book error is prevalent in our country which should be
corrected. It is predicated upon hereditary notions of blood, and
is anti-republican. Some of our latest writers promulgate the idea
that the criminal conduct of _one_ member of a family disgraces the
_whole_. In a community purely republican, every individual is judged
according to his or her own deeds, and no act in one can criminate
or disgrace another who is innocent. The very writers amongst us who
thoughtlessly publish this _imported_ sentiment, pursue a different
course practically, and treat others agreeably to their merit,
without reference to the conduct of their relations. Their practice
is better than their theory. But few families in America can trace
their ancestors as far back as the Rodneys of Delaware. This name was
introduced into England with the Norman queen Maud or Matilda, as
early as 1141, and stands among the foremost on the list of military
fame acquired during the Norman conquest and at subsequent periods. To
those who are conversant with the history of the stormy times of that
kingdom, the name of Sir Walter De Rodeney, and others of the same
line, is familiar. They were able in council and in war, they figured
in the civil, military and naval departments, and received the highest
honours that could be awarded to their rank by kings and queens. They
were also remarkable for magnanimity and liberality. Under the auspices
of William Penn, a branch of this ancient family, William Rodney, came
to Philadelphia and finally settled in Kent, Delaware. He was the son
of William Rodney, of England, who married Miss Alice, daughter of Sir
Thomas Cæsar, a wealthy merchant. William Rodney, who located at Kent,
left one son, Cæsar, who was the father of the subject of this sketch.

CÆSAR RODNEY was a native of Dover, Kent county, Delaware, and born
in 1730. He appears to have received a good education, and at the
death of his father inherited an ample fortune in real estate. He
was a slender man physically, with an animated countenance, easy and
pleasing in his manners and gentlemanly in his intercourse. Owing to
a cancer upon his nose, which commenced its ravages upon him at an
early age, he became greatly emaciated, and long before his death was
emphatically a moving skeleton. The cancer having spread over one side
of his face, he was compelled for many years to wear a silk bandage
over it. Notwithstanding this affliction he was uniformly sprightly
and cheerful. With a strong and penetrating mind, firmness of purpose
and decision of character, he united an abundant share of keen wit and
good humour, that rendered him an agreeable companion—his vast stock
of experimental intelligence and practical knowledge rendered him an
instructive one.

With qualities like these Mr. Rodney became a popular public man. His
views were liberal and decidedly republican. In 1758 he became the high
sheriff of his native county, and discharged the duties of his office
with so much ability that he at once gained the confidence and esteem
of his constituents. When his term of service expired he was appointed
a justice of the peace and judge of the lower courts. In October, 1762,
he took his seat in the legislature at Newcastle and became an active
and influential member. He was one of the committee that prepared the
answer to the message of the governor and was placed on other important
committees. At the close of the session he was put in charge of the
great seal to be affixed to such laws as had been passed.

When the rights of the colonies were threatened by assumptions of
power on the part of the mother country, not warranted by the British
constitution and in violation of chartered privileges, Mr. Rodney
was among the first who took a bold stand in favour of liberty. In
conjunction with Messrs. M’Kean and Kollock he was appointed a delegate
to the Congress that convened at New York in 1765, to remonstrate
against the stamp act and other threatened innovations upon the
privileges of the colonies, that had been long enjoyed and were
guarantied by the social compact between the king and his “dutiful and
most loyal subjects in America.”

After the stamp act was repealed Mr. Rodney was appointed on the
committee with Messrs. M’Kean and Read to prepare an address to the
king expressive of the joy produced throughout the colony by this
event. It resembles those prepared by the other colonies and will
give the reader an idea of the feelings of loyalty that pervaded the
colonies at that time. The following extract is deemed sufficient for
the present purpose.

“We cannot help glorying in being the subjects of a king that has
made the preservation of the civil and religious rights of his people
and the established constitution the foundation and constant rule
of government, and the safety, ease and prosperity of his people
his chiefest care—of a king, whose mild and equal administration is
sensibly felt and enjoyed in the remotest part of his dominions. The
clouds which lately hung over America are dissipated. Our complaints
have been heard and our grievances redressed—trade and commerce
again flourish. Our hearts are animated with the warmest wishes for
the prosperity of the mother country, for which our affection is
unbounded, and your faithful subjects here are transported with joy
and gratitude. Such are the blessings we may justly expect will ever
attend the measures of your majesty, pursuing steadily the united
and true interests of all your people throughout your wide extended
empire, assisted with the advice and support of a British parliament
and a virtuous and wise ministry. We most humbly beseech your majesty
graciously to accept the strongest assurances that having the justest
sense of the many favours we have received from your royal benevolence
during the course of your majesty’s reign, and how much of our present
happiness is owing to your paternal love and care for your people,
we will at all times most cheerfully contribute to your majesty’s
service, to the utmost of our abilities, when your royal requisitions,
as heretofore, shall be made known: that your majesty will always find
such returns of duty and gratitude from us as the best of kings may
expect from the most loyal subjects, and that we will demonstrate to
all the world that the support of your majesty’s government and the
honour and interests of the British nation are our chief care and
concern, desiring nothing more than the continuance of our wise and
excellent constitution in the same happy, firm and envied situation in
which it was delivered down to us from our ancestors and your majesty’s

With feelings like these pervading the colonies, the reader must
readily conclude that nothing but the most cruel oppressions could have
driven the American people to a revolution. Connect this address with
the fact of a final separation from Great Britain, and the imagination
is at once supplied with reasons for the declaration of independence,
strong as holy writ—more especially as both documents emanated from the
same statesmen.

Mr. Rodney continued an active member of the legislature for several
years and took a deep interest in all public measures. He introduced an
amendment to a bill relative to slaves, prohibiting the importation of
negroes into the colony. So ably did he support his amendment that it
was lost by a majority of only two votes.

   “Whom the gods will destroy they first make mad.”

So with the British ministry—they were madly bent on reducing the
American colonies to unconditional subjection, and after a short
interval again commenced a system of oppression upon a broader and
bolder scale. Once more the people appealed to their king—but appealed
in vain. Mr. Rodney was upon the committee that prepared the second
address to his majesty just before the commencement of the revolution.
The following extract will show the reader the views of the colonists
and the grievances complained of.

“The sense of our deplorable condition will, we hope, plead with
your majesty in our behalf for the freedom we take in dutifully
remonstrating against the proceedings of a British parliament,
confessedly the wisest and greatest assembly upon earth. But if our
fellow subjects of Great Britain, who derive no authority from us, who
cannot, in our humble opinion, represent us, and to whom we will not
yield in loyalty and affection to your majesty, can, at their will
and pleasure, of right give and grant away our property; if they can
enforce an implicit obedience to every order or act of theirs for that
purpose, and deprive all or any of the assemblies on this continent of
the power of legislation for differing with them in opinion in matters
which intimately affect their rights and interests, and every thing
that is dear and valuable to Englishmen, we cannot imagine a case
more miserable—we cannot think that we shall have even the shadow of
liberty left. We conceive it to be an inherent right in your majesty’s
subjects, derived to them from God and nature, handed down from their
ancestors, confirmed by your royal predecessors and the constitution,
in person or by their representatives, to give and grant to their
sovereign those things which their own labours and their own cares
have acquired and saved, and in such proportions and at such times as
the national honour and interest may require. Your majesty’s faithful
subjects of this government have enjoyed this inestimable privilege,
uninterrupted, from its first existence till of late. They have at all
times cheerfully contributed to the utmost of their abilities for your
majesty’s service as often as your royal requisitions were made known,
and they cannot now, but with the greatest uneasiness and distress of
mind, part with the power of demonstrating their loyalty and affection
to their beloved king.”

Addresses similar to this were laid at the foot of the throne
from all the colonies and from the Congress of 1774. The struggle
between filial affection and a submission to wrongs, was of the most
agonizing kind. This, united with the known weakness of the colonies,
renders the American revolution a striking lesson to those in power,
admonishing them not to draw the cords of authority too closely, and
gives encouragement to freemen to resist every encroachment upon their

In 1769, Mr. Rodney was chosen speaker of the assembly of Delaware,
and filled the chair for several years with honour and dignity. As
the specks of war began to dim the fair face of freedom he became one
of the most active opposers of British tyranny. He was a member of
the Congress that convened at Philadelphia in 1774, and received the
approbation of his constituents for his firm and patriotic course. The
ensuing year he was again a member of the national assembly of sages,
and took an active part in its duties, deliberations and discussions.
In his own province he had much to do. The royal attachments were
deeply rooted, and it required great exertions to counteract the
intrigues of foes within, and repel the attacks of enemies without.
In addition to his duties as speaker of the assembly of Delaware and
member of Congress, he was brigadier-general of the militia. His
numerous messages to the legislature, and letters to his officers,
urging them to decisive action, manifest great industry, strength of
mind, clearness of perception, firmness of purpose and patriotic zeal.
He was decidedly in favour of the declaration of independence from the
time the proposition was first laid before Congress. The day previous
to the final question upon this important measure, he was in Delaware
pursuing means to arrest the career of certain tories in the lower part
of the province. Mr. M’Kean informed him by express of the approaching
crisis. He immediately mounted his horse and arrived at Philadelphia
just in time to dismount and enter the hall of Congress, with boots and
spurs, and give his vote in favour of liberty, and affix his name to
that bold instrument that dissolved allegiance to England’s king, and
created a compact of rational freedom.

In the autumn of 1776, the tories so far succeeded in obtaining the
reins of power as to prevent the re-election of Mr. Rodney to Congress.
But this only served to increase the exertions of this devoted patriot.
He immediately commenced military operations and repaired to Princeton,
soon after the brave Haslet and Mercer fell in the cause of justice.
He was also an active member of the council of safety. He remained
with the army for two months, and received the high approbation of
the commander-in-chief for his active services in bringing out the
militia and raising recruits. In a letter written to him by Washington,
dated at Morristown on the 18th of February, 1777, is the following
eulogium: “The readiness with which you took the field at the period
most critical to our affairs—the industry you used in bringing out
the militia of the Delaware state—and the alertness observed by you
in forwarding on troops from Trenton—reflect the highest honour on
your character and place your attachment to the cause in the most
distinguished point of view. They claim my sincerest thanks, and I am
happy in this opportunity in giving them to you.”

On his return to his native state he was appointed a judge of the
supreme court, organized under the new order of things. He declined
serving, believing that he could be of more use to the cause in
other situations. About that time an open insurrection against the
new government broke out in Sussex. He immediately repaired to the
district with a few troops and quelled it at once. At the time the
British forces were preparing to march from the Chesapeake towards the
Brandywine, General Rodney was stationed south of the American army to
watch the movements of the enemy, and if possible to get between them
and their shipping. He exerted his noblest powers to rouse the militia
to their duty, and acquitted himself faithfully in the discharge of
every duty that devolved upon him.

In December, 1777, he was again elected to Congress, but the
legislature of his state being in session, he concluded to remain in
that until the close of its deliberations, during which time he was
elected president of Delaware, which prevented him from rendering any
further assistance in the national assembly. His services in his new
and dignified station were of the utmost importance in the exposed
territory over which he presided. His exertions in raising supplies for
the continental army were of the most vigorous character, especially
during the winter and spring of 1779, when the troops were much of the
time on half allowance, and the magazines so empty and bare, that it
frequently seemed impossible that the army could be sustained another

During the four years that he presided over the destinies of Delaware,
he had many refractory spirits to manage and many difficult questions
to decide which required the exercise of firmness, prudence and wisdom.
All these qualities were possessed by him. Upon his own matured
judgment he relied. His course was onward towards the temple of
liberty, and so discreetly did he pursue it, that he stood approved and
applauded by every friend of equal rights, and was admired even by his
enemies. He continued to serve his country until 1783, when he fell a
victim to the cancer that had been preying upon him for many years. He
met death with calm submission and fortitude, and died rejoicing in the
bright prospects that were opening upon his country.

From his writings he appears to have highly respected religion and
to have practised the soundest morals. His private character was
unexceptionable and truly amiable. He was partial to good dinners but
not guilty of any excesses. He was remarkably fond of a good joke,
and sometimes exhibited brilliant displays of wit, but was extremely
careful not to give personal offence.

When in Congress, Mr. Harrison, who had often claimed Virginia as the
_Dominion_ of the colonies, asked for immediate aid to protect her
from the invading foe. When he sat down, Mr. Rodney rose, with assumed
gravity and sympathy, and assured the gentleman that the _powerful
Dominion_ should be protected: “Let her be of good cheer—she has a
friend in need—DELAWARE will take her under its protection and insure
her safety.” The portly Harrison and the skeleton Rodney both enjoyed
the “hit,” and the other members were convulsed with laughter.

His constitutional sympathy was so strong that he always avoided, if
possible, scenes of physical suffering, and could not be induced to
approach the dying bed even of his dearest friend or nearest relative.


To be able to judge correctly of the actions of men, we must understand
the philosophy of human nature thoroughly. We must trace the circuit of
the immortal mind, follow it through the regions of revolving thought,
become familiar with the passions that influence and control it, learn
its natural desires, its innate qualities, its springs of action and
its multifarious combinations. We must understand its native divinity,
its earthly frailty, its malleability, its contractions, its expansions
and its original propensities. In addition to all this knowledge, when
we judge the conduct of an individual, we must know the predominants
and exponents of his mind, the impress it has received from education,
the motives that impelled it to action, the circumstances that produced
its momentum, its propulsive and repulsive powers, the ultimatum of its
designs and its ulterior objects. With all these guides we shall still
become involved in errors unless our judgments are based upon the firm
foundation of impartiality and are enlightened and warmed by the genial
rays of heaven-born charity. Bias and prejudice are ever at our elbows,
ready to lead us to false conclusions.

With such criteria before me, I proceed to sketch, concisely, the
eventful career of SAMUEL CHASE, a native of Somerset county, Maryland,
who was born on the 17th of April, 1741. He was the son of the Rev.
Thomas Chase, who immigrated to this country from England, and in
1743 became the pastor of St. Paul’s parish in Baltimore, then a mere
country village and destitute of good schools. At the age of two years
Samuel was deprived of the tender care of his mother by her premature
death. In the superior classical and theological qualifications of
his father to guide him in the paths of science and virtue, he was
peculiarly fortunate. Under his instructions he became an accomplished
scholar, admired and esteemed by a large circle of acquaintances. At
the age of eighteen he commenced the study of law, and prosecuted it
with great industry under the direction of John Hammond and John Hall
of Annapolis. At the age of twenty he was admitted to practice in the
mayor’s court, and at twenty-two was admitted to several of the county
courts and the court of chancery. He located at Annapolis, married
the amiable and intelligent Miss Ann Baldwin, and soon obtained the
reputation of a sound lawyer and an able advocate.

He was of a sanguine temperament, bold, fearless and undisguised,
independent in mind, language and action, but honest, patriotic and
pure in his motives and immovable in his purposes—qualities that
dignify a man if prudently balanced, but which often rouse the most
implacable enmity in others. These leading traits in the original
composition of the nature of Samuel Chase must be kept constantly in
view to enable the reader to form a just estimate of his character. The
circumstances and times that influenced him must also be borne in mind.

On the flood tide of a prosperous business and forensic fame, in
the full enjoyment of domestic felicity and social intercourse with
friends, Mr. Chase glided smoothly along until his country began
to writhe under kingly oppression. The stamp act, the first born
of the pernicious revenue system devised by the putrescent British
ministry, met with a hostile reception in Annapolis. Mr. Chase, aided
by a band of kindred spirits under the cognomen of the “sons of
liberty,” forcibly seized and destroyed the newly imported stamps and
burnt in effigy the stamp distributor. No further violence was then
committed. The king’s officers opened a newspaper battery against
this “furious mob,” and directed their whole artillery at Mr. Chase,
complimenting him with the courtly names of “busy, restless incendiary;
a ringleader of mobs, a foul-mouthed and inflaming son of discord and
faction; a common disturber of the public tranquillity, a promoter
of the lawless excesses of the multitude,” and similar emphatic
appellations—conferring upon this young patriot a diploma of honour
little anticipated by them. His answers to these vituperations were
charged with strong and conclusive logic, keen and withering sarcasm.
This brought him into the political field, and so delighted were the
people with the manner he handled the hirelings of the crown that they
elected him to the colonial assembly. There he took a conspicuous
part and became the uncompromising opposer of all measures that were
not within the pale of the constitution or that were tinctured with
oppression. So strongly was he in favour of liberal principles and
rational liberty, that he gave his whole influence and vote in favour
of the repeal of the law that compelled the people to support the
clergy, by which the stipend of his father was reduced one half.
Agreeably to the laws of primogeniture then in force, this was voting
money out of his own pocket in order to impart greater freedom to
the people at large. By his bold and independent course he became an
object for the persecution of the creatures of the crown and an object
of pride and admiration with the people. But his enemies found him a
bramble full of the keenest thorns and were unmercifully scarified
every time they approached him. His tongue, his pen, his logic and his
sarcasm were as blighting as the sirocco of Sahara.

After the repeal of the stamp act a calm of the public mind ensued, but
it was a calm of delusion such as precedes a tornado. The inquisitorial
rack of the ministry was again put in motion; fresh impositions
commenced and the fire of discontent was again kindled. The bill
closing the port of Boston and authorizing the king’s officers to seize
and send to England for trial those who should dare resist the royal
authority, roused the indignation of the colonies that had before
been rather passive. A general Congress was agreed upon to meet at
Philadelphia, and Mr. Chase, with four others, was appointed a member
from Maryland. They were instructed to join in “agreeing on a general
plan of conduct operating on the commercial connexion of the colonies
with the mother country for the relief of Boston and preservation of
American liberty.” A committee of correspondence was also appointed, of
which Mr. Chase was an active and efficient member.

The deep solemnity and unparalleled wisdom and prudence that marked
the proceedings of the Congress of 1774, shed a lustre around the
cause of equal rights, then in embryo, that forced applause from its
most violent opposers. Had not the cabinet of Great Britain been
blinded by sordid avarice, mad ambition and political delusion, and
had not the king been a mere automaton, the moving, loyal and logical
appeals from that august body of sages would have been treated with
respect and peace restored. The colonists asked for nothing but what
was clearly right, and asked in the most respectful and even suppliant
manner. Ministers were left without an excuse; _their_ sacrilegious
hands broke the great seal of the social compact; their agents sowed
the seeds of rebellion; their cruelty kindled the flame that devoured
them; their visionary policy severed the cords of maternal affection;
their treachery spread the mantle of righteousness over the cause
of the revolution. We justly censure them for their corrupt designs
but rejoice in the result of their projects. Haman erected his own
gallows—Grenville and North destroyed their own power.

In 1775, Mr. Chase was again returned to Congress, but was tramelled
with instructions of conciliation that were not congenial to his
ardent feelings. His prudence, however, kept him within their limits.
He was placed upon numerous committees and upon the very important
one of providing ways and means for preparing a naval armament. The
ensuing year he was again elected to the national legislature, bound by
instructions disavowing a desire for independence, imposing upon him
a course of amity and pacific submission that would have induced him
to decline serving, had he not hoped and predicted truly that British
violence would eventually remove the injunction. In the spring of
1776 he was appointed upon an important mission, in conjunction with
Benjamin Franklin, Charles Carroll and Bishop Carroll. These gentlemen
proceeded to Canada for the purpose of persuading the Canadians to join
in shaking off the yoke of bondage. The fall of General Montgomery and
the dark gloom that hung over the cause of liberty induced them to
decline, and after the most faithful and zealous efforts the committee
were compelled to return without accomplishing the desired object, and
the Canadas are still enjoying the cold comforts of foreign power.
When he arrived and took his seat in Congress he was rejoiced to learn
that the subject of a final separation from the mother country was
under consideration and was ably and boldly advocated. It was the very
measure to animate the soul of Samuel Chase. His instructions now
became oppressive and hung over him like an incubus. He redoubled his
exertions to open the eyes of the members of the Maryland convention
and induce them to leave him and his colleagues to act upon their own
judgments. The request was granted just in time for him to record his
vote in favour of that imperishable instrument that has immortalized
the names of its signers and is the pride of every true American. The
same day that the declaration was adopted he was elected a third time
to the Continental Congress, and continued to serve in that body the
two next ensuing years.

A short time previous to the glorious fourth of July, Mr. Chase
discovered that a Judas was among them in the person of the Rev.
Dr. Zubly of Georgia, who was clandestinely corresponding with the
enemy. So suddenly did this ardent patriot proclaim the name of the
traitor upon the floor of Congress, that “the gentleman from Georgia”
admitted the truth of the charge and immediately retired from the
house. His arrest was ordered, but when the officers went to his
cage the bird had flown and was never “bagged.” No member but the
accuser and the accused knew the fact before it fell upon their ears
from Mr. Chase, like a thunder clap without a cloud in view. No one
served upon more committees during his time in Congress, and no one
performed his duty more cheerfully and faithfully than Mr. Chase. In
every branch of legislation he was found fully competent to act well
his part. In forming the articles of confederation he was all life
and industry; he considered their adoption indispensably necessary to
insure the completion of the good work already begun. The manner of
representation, the mode of voting and the claims to the south sea,
were the three points that elicited the most discussion. They were
finally concluded and carried the colonies safely through their long
and bloody struggle.

In the fall of 1776 Messrs. Chase, Wilson, Clymer, Stockton and Smith,
were appointed a committee to take charge of the war department,
the duties of which involved the great business of the nation. This
power was subsequently delegated to Washington, which relieved these
gentlemen from a most onerous burden. They cheerfully commenced
their labours and as cheerfully resigned their task to him, in whose
discretion and ability they had full confidence.

About this time Mr. Chase gave another example of his bold and
fearless disposition. It was ascertained that many of the members of
the society of Friends, in and about Philadelphia and New Jersey,
inimical to the American cause, were circulating papers calculated to
impede its progress, were acting in concert with the tories, and were
in communication with the enemy; a report of which, with documents
substantiating the charges, was submitted to Congress by the committee
for suppressing internal enemies, of which he was the prominent member.

The exposure resulted in the confinement of several leading Quakers, a
suppression of the seditious papers, and a course of more respectful
neutrality by the society. The measure was then deemed harsh by some,
and, at first view, will appear more so now; but on examination, taking
into consideration all the circumstances of war, it will be found to
be in accordance with the rules of epic law. Agreeably to the martial
code of other nations, then the precedent guide for Congress, the
punishment might have been much more severe. By the religious tenets
of the society of Friends it can never be sanctioned, and by every
friend of liberty, the necessity of such a case, imposed by the rules
of war, is always regretted. Every social compact and nation must be
subject to its own laws, and minor parts of a community must submit
to the ruling majority or superior power, or government cannot be
maintained in any form. In 1777, Mr. Chase proposed a resolution to
make loan office certificates a legal tender from whigs to tories for
the payment of debts due. In 1778, the British parliament attempted a
stratagem by which they hoped to create a division among the patriots
by disseminating conciliatory propositions among the people, and by
appointing commissioners, who, when they arrived, proposed conditions
of inglorious peace. These promissory and flattering papers were
widely circulated, and to counteract their influence it was necessary
that Congress should prepare an answer. This task was imposed upon
a committee and by that committee upon Mr. Chase. Most ably did he
perform his duty. He unmasked the hypocrisy of the ministers, exposed
their delusive gull trap to derision and scorn, and left them without
a loop to hang upon. So well was it received by Congress that an
unusually large number was ordered to be printed, and a resolution
passed recommending the clergy throughout the country to read it to
their congregations after service on Sundays. Like all the other plans
of the British cabinet then devised for enslaving the colonies, it
recoiled upon their own heads with all the force of re-action. The
following is a copy of the answer written by Mr. Chase.

“Three years have now passed away since the commencement of the
present war. A war without parallel in the annals of mankind. It hath
displayed a spectacle the most solemn that can possibly be exhibited.
On one side, we behold fraud and violence labouring in the service
of despotism; on the other, virtue and fortitude supporting and
establishing the rights of human nature.

“You cannot but remember how reluctantly we were dragged into this
arduous contest, and how repeatedly, with the earnestness of humble
entreaty, we supplicated a redress of our grievances from him who
ought to have been the father of his people. In vain did we implore
his protection; in vain appeal to the justice, the generosity of
Englishmen; of men who had been the guardians, the asserters and
vindicators of liberty through a succession of ages; men, who, with
their swords had established the firm barrier of freedom, and cemented
it with the blood of heroes. Every effort was vain; for even whilst we
were prostrated at the foot of the throne, that fatal blow was struck
which hath separated us forever. Thus spurned, contemned and insulted;
thus driven by our enemies into measures which our souls abhorred, we
made a solemn appeal to the tribunal of unerring wisdom and justice. To
that Almighty ruler of princes whose kingdom is over all.

“We were then quite defenceless. Without arms, without ammunition,
without clothing, without ships, without money, without officers
skilled in war; with no other reliance but the bravery of our people
and the justice of our cause. We had to contend with a nation great in
arts and in arms, whose fleets covered the ocean, whose banners had
waved in triumph through every quarter of the globe. However unequal
this contest, our weakness was still farther increased by the enemies
which America had nourished in her bosom. Thus exposed on the one hand
to external force and internal divisions; on the other to be compelled
to drink of the bitter cup of slavery and to go sorrowing all our lives
long—in this sad alternative we chose the former. To this alternative
we were reduced by men, who, had they been animated by one spark of
generosity, would have disdained to take such mean advantage of our
situation, or had they paid the least regard to the rules of justice
would have considered with abhorrence a proposition to injure those who
had faithfully fought their battles, and industriously contributed to
rear the edifice of their glory.

“But however great the injustice of our foes in commencing this war,
it is by no means equal to that cruelty with which they have conducted
it. The course of their armies is marked by rapine and devastation.
Thousands, without distinction of age or sex, have been driven from
their peaceful abodes to encounter the rigours of inclement seasons,
and the face of heaven hath been insulted by the wanton conflagration
of defenceless towns. Their victories have been followed by the cool
murder of men no longer able to resist, and those who escaped from the
first act of carnage have been exposed by cold, hunger and nakedness—to
wear out a miserable existence in the tedious hours of confinement,
or to become the destroyers of their countrymen, of their friends,
perhaps, dreadful idea! of their parents or children. Nor was this
the outrageous barbarity of an individual, but a system of deliberate
malice, stamped with the concurrence of the British legislature, and
sanctioned with all the formalities of law. Nay, determined to dissolve
the closest bonds of society, they have stimulated servants to slay
their masters in the peaceful hour of domestic security. And, as if
all this were insufficient to slake their thirst of blood, the blood
of brothers, of unoffending brothers, they have excited the Indians
against us; and a general, who calls himself a christian, a follower
of the merciful Jesus, hath dared to proclaim to all the world his
intention of letting loose against us whole hosts of savages, whose
rule of warfare is promiscuous carnage—who rejoice to murder the infant
smiling in its mother’s arms—to inflict on their prisoners the most
excruciating torments, and exhibit scenes of horror from which nature

“Were it possible, they would have added to this terrible system:
for they have offered the inhabitants of these states to be exported
by their merchants to the sickly, baneful climes of India, there to
perish: an offer not accepted, merely from the impracticability of
carrying it into execution.

“Notwithstanding these great provocations we have treated such of them
as fell into our hands with tenderness, and studiously endeavoured
to alleviate the afflictions of their captivity. This conduct we
have pursued so far as to be by them stigmatized with cowardice, and
by our friends with folly. But our dependence was not upon man. It
was upon Him who hath commanded us to love our enemies and to render
good for evil. And what can be more wonderful than the manner of our
deliverance? How often have we been reduced to distress, and yet been
raised up? When the means to prosecute the war have been wanting to us,
have not our foes themselves been rendered instrumental in providing
them? This hath been done in such a variety of instances so peculiarly
marked almost by the direct interposition of Providence, that not to
feel and acknowledge his protection, would be the height of impious

“At length that God of battles, in whom was our trust, hath conducted
us through the paths of danger and distress to the thresholds of
security. It hath now become morally certain, that if we have courage
to persevere we shall establish our liberties and independence.
The haughty prince who spurned us from his feet with contumely and
disdain; and the parliament which proscribed us, now descend to offer
terms of accommodation. Whilst in the full career of victory, they
pulled off the mask and avowed their intended despotism. But having
lavished in vain the blood and treasure of their subjects in pursuit
of this execrable purpose, they now endeavour to ensnare us with the
insidious offers of peace. They would seduce you into a dependence
which, necessarily, inevitably leads to the most humiliating slavery.
And do they believe that you will accept these fatal terms? Because
you have suffered the distresses of war, do they suppose that you will
basely lick the dust before the feet of your destroyers? Can there
be an American so lost to the feelings which adorn human nature—to
the generous pride, the elevation, the dignity of freedom? Is there
a man who would not abhor a dependence upon those who have deluged
his country in the blood of its inhabitants? We cannot suppose this,
neither is it possible that they themselves can expect to make many
converts. What then is their intention? Is it not to lull you with
the fallacious hopes of peace, until they can assemble new armies to
prosecute their nefarious designs? If this is not the case, why do they
strain every nerve to levy men throughout their islands? Why do they
meanly court every little tyrant of Europe to sell them his unhappy
slaves? Why do they continue to embitter the minds of the savages
against you? Surely this is not the way to conciliate the affections of
America. Be not therefore deceived. You have still to expect one severe
conflict. Your foreign alliances, though they secure your independence,
cannot secure your country from desolation, your habitations from
plunder, your wives from insult or violation, nor your children from
butchery. Foiled in their principal design, you must expect to feel
the rage of disappointed ambition. Arise then! to your tents! and gird
you for battle. It is time to turn the headlong current of vengeance
upon the heads of the destroyers. They have filled up the measure of
their abominations, and like ripe fruit must soon drop from the tree.
Although much is done, yet much remains to do. Expect not peace whilst
any corner of America is in possession of your foes. You must drive
them away from the land of promise, a land flowing indeed with milk
and honey. Your brethren at the extremities of the continent already
implore your friendship and protection. It is your duty to grant their
request. They hunger and thirst after liberty. Be it yours to dispense
the heavenly gift. And what is there now to prevent it?

“After the unremitted efforts of our enemies we are stronger than
before. Nor can the wicked emissaries who so assiduously labour to
promote their cause, point out any one reason to suppose that we shall
not receive daily accessions of strength. They tell you, it is true,
that your money is of no value; and your debts so enormous that they
can never be paid. But we tell you that if Britain persecutes the war
another campaign, that single campaign will cost her more than we have
hitherto expended; and yet these men would prevail upon you to take up
that immense load, and for it to sacrifice your dearest rights; for
surely there is no man so absurd as to suppose that the least shadow of
liberty can be preserved in a dependant connexion with Great Britain.
From the nature of the thing it is evident that the only security you
could obtain, would be the justice and moderation of a parliament
who have sold the rights of their own constituents. And this slender
security is still farther weakened by the consideration that it was
pledged to rebels, (as they unjustly call the good people of these
states,) with whom they think they are not bound to keep faith by any
law whatsoever. Thus would you be cast bound among men whose minds, by
your virtuous resistance, have been sharpened to the keenest edge of
revenge. Thus would your children and your children’s children, be by
you forced to a participation of all their debts, their wars, their
luxuries and their crimes; and this mad and this impious system they
would lead you to adopt because of the derangement of your finances.

“It becomes you deeply to reflect on this subject. Is there a country
upon earth which hath such resources for the payment of her debts as
America? Such an extensive territory; so fertile, so blessed in its
climate and productions. Surely there is none. Neither is there any
to which the wise Europeans will sooner confide their property. What
then are the reasons that your money hath depreciated? Because no taxes
have been imposed to carry on the war; because your commerce hath
been interrupted by your enemies’ fleets; because their armies have
ravaged and desolated a part of your country; because their agents
have villanously counterfeited your bills; because extortioners among
you, inflamed with the lust of gain, have added to the price of every
article of life; and because weak men have been artfully led to believe
that it is of no value. How is this dangerous disease to be remedied?
Let those among you who have leisure and opportunity collect the monies
which individuals in their neighbourhood are desirous of placing in
the public funds. Let the several legislatures sink their respective
emissions, that so there being but one kind of bills there may be less
danger of counterfeits. Refrain a little from purchasing those things
which are not absolutely necessary, that so those who have engrossed
commodities may suffer, (as they deservedly will,) the loss of their
ill gotten hoards, by reason of the commerce with foreign nations,
which the fleets will protect. Above all, bring forward your armies
into the field. Trust not to appearances of peace or safety. Be assured
that unless you persevere you will be exposed to every species of
barbarity. But if you exert the means of defence which God and nature
have given you, the time will soon arrive when every man shall sit
under his own vine and fig-tree, and there shall be none to make him

“The sweets of a free commerce with every part of the earth will soon
reimburse you for all the losses you have sustained. The full tide
of wealth will flow in upon your shores, free from the arbitrary
impositions of those whose interest and whose declared policy it was
to check your growth. Your interests will be fostered and nourished
by governments that derive their power from your grant, and will be
obliged, by the influence of cogent necessity, to exert it in your

“It is to obtain these things that we call for your strenuous,
unremitted exertions. Yet do not believe that you have been or can
be saved merely by your own strength. No! it is by the assistance of
heaven; and this you must assiduously cultivate by acts which heaven
approves. Thus shall the power and the happiness of these sovereign,
free and independent states, founded on the virtue of their citizens,
increase, extend and endure, until the Almighty shall blot out all the
empires of the earth.”

This brilliant display of talent closed the congressional labours of
this devoted friend of liberty. He retired with all the honours of a
statesman, a sage, a patriot and an honest man. He had stood firmly at
his post a faithful public servant, a bold advocate for freedom and the
rights of man, an acute and discerning counsellor in every emergency,
a fearless champion in times of danger, an ornament to his country
and a terror to his enemies. As a working man he had no superior, as
a debater he had but few equals. Without the mellifluous elocution
of a Cicero, or any pleonastic parade, he spoke forcibly, reasoned
closely, demonstrated clearly and deduced conclusively. He sought to
inform the judgment, enlighten the understanding and to convince by
sound argument. After the close of the revolution, Mr. Chase was sent
to England to prosecute a claim in favour of Maryland for bank stock,
and obtained for the state six hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
His journal during his absence shows that he was a close observer
of men and things in the minutest particulars. His high attainments
as a lawyer, a scholar and a statesman—his frank and gentlemanly
deportment and his thorough and persevering business habits, made a
very favourable impression upon the British barristers and members of
parliament. He remained in Europe nearly a year, and on his return
resumed the practice of law.

In 1786, he removed to Baltimore, in consequence of which his worthy
friend, Colonel Howard, at whose solicitation he changed his residence,
conveyed to him in fee a square of ten lots of ground situated near
the plot designed for the public buildings, on the condition that he
located upon it. This square is bounded by Eutaw, Lexington, Fayette
and Paca streets, and the mansion house built by Mr. Chase is still
owned by his descendants.

In 1788, he was appointed chief justice of the new criminal court
organized for the then town and county of Baltimore, and the same year
was a member of the Maryland convention that ratified the federal
constitution. In 1791, he was appointed chief justice of the general
court of his native state; and in 1796, he was appointed, by President
Washington, an associate judge of the supreme court of the United
States, which dignified station he filled with great ability to the
time of his demise. He was esteemed one of the ablest judges upon the
bench, and when serving in the courts below, seldom had one of his
decisions reversed. His expositions of law and his charges to juries
were learned, luminous, logical and profound. His manner was forcible,
impressive and commanding. With all this lustre around him, and with
his great and acknowledged services in the cause of the revolution
still green and fresh, Judge Chase was placed in the crucible of severe
and unrelenting persecution, prompted alone by political animosity,
created by the lofty independence of thought and expression before
alluded to, and which prepared him to act a bold, conspicuous and
useful part, when the fury of British wrath was poured out upon his

In January, 1804, John Randolph obtained the passage of a resolution
in the house of representatives of the United States, instituting an
inquiry into the official conduct of Judge Chase, and as a salvo the
name of Judge Peters was added. No man was ever more vigorous and
persevering in the accomplishment of an object than Mr. Randolph, and
no one was more capable of consummating his designs. The committee
reported on the sixth of the ensuing March, acquitting Judge Peters
from all blame, and recommending the impeachment of Judge Chase. On
the 26th of the same month six articles of impeachment were reported,
predicated upon the following grounds: In 1800, he presided with
Judge Peters at Philadelphia, when and where John Fries, who had
been tried before Judges Peters and Iredel at the previous session
for treason against the government of Pennsylvania, was put upon
his trial a second time, in consequence of some informality at his
first. Having been fully informed of the points of law at issue and
the proceedings of the first trial, Judge Chase previously prepared
an elaborate exposition of his opinions upon the law of treason, and
with his constitutional frankness, and with the approbation of Judge
Peters, submitted a copy to the counsel for the defendant and to the
district attorney, reserving a copy for the jury _after_ the trial was
over. Messrs. Lewis and Dallas, counsel for the prisoner, considered
this _professionally_ and _professedly_ a pre-judgment of the case,
suffered Fries to be tried without any aid, undoubtedly intending and
successfully succeeding in creating an excitement of sympathy that
procured his pardon immediately after conviction. Fries subsequently
called upon Judge Chase and thanked him for the impartial manner he had
treated him when on his trial. The whole matter was then considered,
as it undoubtedly was, a _ruse de guerre_ of ingenious counsel, and
no one attributed any bad motives to the bench. The approval of Judge
Peters at the time is a conclusive evidence that the course of Judge
Chase was not only pure in design, but that it was not in violation of
the strictest rules of judiciary proceedings. He had given an opinion
upon the _law_, not upon the _facts_ of the case. This he was bound to
explain to the grand jurors before they proceeded to find any bills,
and to the traverse jury that tried each prisoner. This constituted
the first charge in the impeachment. Shortly after, a man named
Callendar was tried before Judge Chase in Richmond, Virginia, under
the sedition law, for publishing a libel upon the president. During
the trial the judge refused the admission of testimony offered on the
part of the prisoner, as he believed illegally, and thereby greatly
offended those who were opposed to the law in question. He believed the
law salutary, as he did that which suppressed the tories and Quakers
in 1776; and believed the venality of the press required a check; many
others thought differently. The law, right or wrong, he was compelled
by his oath of office to execute so long as it remained in force. That
his _legal_ decisions were correct, must be presumed, or a writ of
error would have been taken under the existing excitement. This formed
the foundation of the second charge.

From Virginia he proceeded to New Castle, Delaware, where he held
a court aided by Judge Bedford. In his charge to the grand jurors,
presuming that cases under the unpopular sedition law might come before
them, he gave his views frankly upon it, and that they might better
understand what constituted a breach of its provisions, alluded to the
publications of a high toned party paper printed in the district, as
containing the kind of libels intended to be suppressed by it. This
gave great offence to those who were opposed to it. But the judge
only discharged a duty which he had sworn to perform. The personal
allusion may be considered by some uncourteous, but his object was
plain and simple demonstration for which he was always remarkable. No
ingenuity has or ever can fairly construe it into a pre-judgment of the
case. The publications were before him, they came clearly within the
meaning and intention of the law. He charged them upon no individual
specifically, but that some one had published them was beyond dispute,
and that they were in violation of the law in question, was to his mind
equally plain. This constituted the ground of the third article of the

In 1803, Judge Chase, in delivering his charge to the grand jury of
Baltimore, having become a decided federalist and believing the course
pursued by the democrats was wrong, made sundry remarks upon the
politics of the day. This was, in my opinion, a surplusage of duty, but
not a subject of impeachment, and may be traced to the warm temperament
of his mind, the great political excitement of that period, and to the
innovations, as he believed them, upon the constitution and laws by
political influence, without discovering a shadow of impurity in his
motives. Freedom of speech is a constitutional privilege, and he was
only using the same liberty claimed by his opponents, and which was
then given by the repeal of the sedition law. That it was a proper time
and place to read a political lecture I do not pretend, but it does not
therefore follow that his designs were corrupt or his conduct criminal.
The ermine of a judge is not rendered more comely by being powdered
with the farina of politics, but his right to think and speak upon this
subject, none will question. He animadverted in his charge upon the
alterations of the constitution of his native state, particularly upon
that of the extension of the right of suffrage, to which he had strong
objections. In this particular his opinions were in unison with many
of the most devoted patriots of the revolution, who deemed the elective
franchise unsafe if controlled by uninformed men, who, not distinctly
understanding, would not properly appreciate their rights. The reasons
for this opinion were stronger then than now, and an anxiety to
preserve the government pure and undefiled, unquestionably pervaded the
bosom of Judge Chase.

In another part of this charge to the grand jury he spoke strongly
against the changes that had been made in the judiciary system of the
United States, attributed them to party politics, and deemed them
personal in their objects and not conducive to the public good in
their operation. The last two points were proper subjects of comment,
inasmuch as they related to his official duties. That a man like him
should remark severely upon what he believed to be impolitic or wrong,
was a matter of course. He was never accustomed to half-way business.
In all this nothing appears to lead any candid mind to suppose he
was not honest in his intentions and pure in his motives. Upon these
premises the six articles of impeachment were based, and at the next
session, out of the same material, two more were manufactured—the
natural increase of a year.

On the 2nd of January, 1805, Judge Chase was arraigned before
the Senate of the United States, a majority of the members being
politically opposed to him, but among them were men who loved justice
more than party. The gigantic powers of Mr. Randolph were brought to
bear against the accused with all their force. The trial continued,
except a short recess, until the first of March, a part of which time
the Judge was confined by illness. He was defended by Messrs. Martin,
Hopkinson, Harper and Key, ably and faithfully. Of five of the charges
he was acquitted by a majority of the Senate, and a constitutional
number could not be obtained to convict him on the others, and of
course he stood approved, acquitted and triumphant over his enemies
at the highest tribunal of his country. He had never doubted the
favourable result and was at no time depressed by the prosecution. From
that period to the time of his last illness his peace was undisturbed,
and he continued to be an ornament to the judiciary, an honour to his
country, and the faithful friend of human rights and equal justice. On
the 19th of June, 1811, surrounded by his family and friends and in the
full enjoyment of the smiles of his Redeemer, he bade a last farewell
to sublunary things and died peaceful and happy.

In the character of this great and good man we find no corruption
to condemn, and many strong and brilliant traits to admire. As a
revolutionary patriot he stood on a lofty eminence; as a statesman he
rendered many and important services; as a lawyer he enjoyed a high
reputation; as a judge, his talents and legal acquirements were of the
most exalted character. All the charges against his judicial career,
and the result of their investigation, have been faithfully laid before
the reader, who is left to examine impartially, and I hope, to judge
correctly. I find no evidence of guile in his heart; he expressed his
opinions freely, he felt them strongly, and was evidently sincere in
his conclusions.

Against his private character malice and slander never directed an
arrow. He was in all respects above suspicion. He was a kind husband,
an affectionate father, a warm friend, and an open, honourable, but
scarifying enemy. From the constitution of his nature and the vehemence
of his feelings, he was calculated to gain strong friends and create
violent enemies. His independence and decision were admired, but often
roused animosity in others. His political opponents he handled with
great severity, which accounts for the mighty effort made to prostrate

He was a man of a noble and benevolent disposition—a friend to the
poor and needy. A particular instance of his generosity was exhibited
in 1783. Listening to the discussions of a debating club in Baltimore,
he was forcibly struck with the talent exhibited by a youth, to him
an utter stranger. On inquiry, he found that he was poor, and in the
employment of an apothecary. He called upon him, advised him to study
law; offered him a home at his house, the use of his library, and the
aid of his instruction. His proposition was accepted; the youth arrived
at manhood, rose to eminence, and became an ornament to America. This
was the celebrated William Pinkney, who was minister to Russia, London,
Naples, and attorney-general of the United States. He often recurred to
his benefactor with feelings of the profoundest gratitude in after life.

Judge Chase was also a friend to education and religion. He was a
member of St. Paul parish, and was active in promoting the best
interests of practical piety, social order and purity of morals.
His force, vigour, and decision of character and stern integrity,
were admirably calculated for the period in which he lived; and if
he sometimes offended by soaring above the non-committal system of
technical politics, it must be attributed to the strong combination
of conflicting circumstances that uniformly attend the period of a
revolution, the formation of a new government, and the asperity of
high-toned parties, operating as they did upon the sensitive feelings
of an ardent, patriotic and independent mind.


The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. This ancient apothegm
can never be controverted by the ingenuity of sophistry; it is based
upon reason, justice, and sound philosophy. Its solution is brief. To
be wise is to be good—to be good is to be happy. To avoid all vice
and practise only virtue, is the great desideratum of earthly bliss.
Virtue carries with it its own reward. Vanity and vain glory may be
richly laden with blossoms, but they bear no fruit. We must look to
the great Author of all good for substantial enjoyment; we must fear
to offend the majesty of his laws to be truly wise. The greatest men
who have ever figured upon the stage of action, fully recognised the
power of omnipotence, and feared to offend the great Jehovah. The
sages of the American revolution were constantly under the influence
of this salutary principle. This may be inferred from their writings,
their examples, and the proceedings of the Continental Congress. Days
of humiliation and prayer were frequently fixed and recommended by
legislative proclamation, by the states and by the general government.

Among those of the signers who appears to have lived with the fear
of God before his eyes, was WILLIAM HOOPER, a native of Boston,
Massachusetts, born on the 17th of June, 1742. He was the son of the
Reverend William Hooper, who came from Kelso, in the south of Scotland,
and was for many years the pastor of Trinity church in Boston. He was
a man of high accomplishments, a good scholar, an able and eloquent
preacher, and a devoted christian. He was useful in life and lived in
the affections of his people.

William, being of a slender constitution, received the first rudiments
of his education from his father under the parental roof. At the age
of seven years he was placed under the care of Mr. Lovell, and at the
age of fifteen he entered Harvard University. His talents were of a
high order and his industry untiring. His mind was moulded in wisdom,
and averse to trifling amusements and fleeting pleasures. During
vacation he repaired to his father’s library and devoted himself to
the acquisition of knowledge, instead of obtaining a relaxation from
study by mingling in the convivial circle. He had a great taste for
the classics and polite literature. He paid particular attention to
composition and elocution. Refinement in every thing was his aim.

In 1760, he graduated with the degree of bachelor of arts, and
commenced the study of law under James Otis, one of the most
distinguished counsellors of that day. From the pious course of his
life from his youth up, his father had indulged a hope that his
inclination would have led him to the pulpit, but cheerfully submitted
to the choice he had made. The same industry and correct deportment
that carried him successfully through college, enabled him to master
the intricate science of his election, and gain the esteem of all who
knew him. After completing his course he was admitted to practice,
richly stored with theory for future use.

Manhood had now spread its dignified mantle over him. He was of the
middle height, slender and elegant in form, gentlemanly and engaging
in his manners, with strangers rather reserve, with his friends frank
and familiar, free from affectation, of a serious turn, and at all
times honest and sincere. His countenance beamed with intelligence and
benignity, his powers of conversation were pleasing and instructive,
chaste and classical. His mind was investigating, deliberative,
analyzing and firm. His habits were strictly moral; his disposition
was benevolent, hospitable and kind. As a public speaker he was
eloquent, persuasive, logical and sometimes sarcastic. With qualities
like these, Mr. Hooper repaired to Wilmington, North Carolina, in
1766, and commenced the practice of his profession. He was induced to
locate there by several wealthy connexions residing in that place. He
soon obtained a lucrative business; and to convince the people that
he contemplated a permanent location among them, he married Miss Anna
Clark, a lady of unusual accomplishments and strength of mind, and
highly respectable in her character and connexions. She was the sister
of General Thomas Clark.

His legal fame rose rapidly and was built upon a substantial basis.
About the year 1768, he was employed to conduct several important
public trials, which he managed with such skill and address, as to
place him among the ablest advocates of the province. He was treated
with marked attention by Governors Tryon and Martin, and by chief
justice Howard.

These attentions from the king’s officers arose, in a measure, from
the superior talents and merit of Mr. Hooper, but had also an ulterior
object—that of gaining his influence in favour of the designs of their
royal master. This could not be accomplished. He had received his legal
education in Boston, where the designs of ministers had been probed
for years. He had imbibed liberal principles and was a friend to equal
rights. Upon the firm basis of eternal justice he had planted himself,
from which flattery could not decoy him nor threatening dangers drive

One peculiar circumstance may have caused a particular attachment for
him on the part of the officers of government, that of having taken
a bold stand against a class of desperadoes called _regulators_, who
formed a dangerous association as early as 1766, in the interior of
the province. They were composed principally of men who were ignorant,
poor and savage, collected and led by men of more intelligence but of
baser minds, who incited them to open rebellion by complaints against
the civil authorities, and the promise of reward. They drove the judges
from the bench and committed many personal outrages. They even set the
military at defiance, and threatened to assume the entire rule. At
that alarming crisis, Mr. Hooper was one who came forward and dared to
advise decisive measures. The number of the regulators had accumulated
to three thousand. The plan of Mr. Hooper was carried into execution;
a military force was raised, a severe battle ensued and the insurgents
were dispersed. This occurred in 1770.

In 1773, Mr. Hooper was elected a member of the assembly of North
Carolina, and discharged his duties so much to the satisfaction of his
constituents, that they returned him the ensuing year. It was then
that the creatures of the crown attempted to throw a ministerial coil
of oppression around the people, and it was then that they found a
bold, fearless, eloquent and uncompromising opponent in William Hooper.
He not only met them in the legislative hall with incontrovertible
arguments, but he spread their designs before the public far and wide,
by a series of essays over the signature of Hampden. His course was in
favour of liberal principles, but ruinous to his purse. The question
before the assembly was the re-organization of the judiciary, which had
become defunct by the expiration of the statute that created it. An
attempt was made to model it in such a manner as to meet the designs of
the British cabinet. So powerful was the influence of Mr. Hooper, that
he kept his opponents at bay, and the province was a year without any

He was now fairly before the people, a champion for liberty. On the
25th of August, 1774, he was appointed a delegate to the Congress of
Philadelphia. In that body he was placed on the important committee
that prepared a statement of the rights of the colonies, the manner
these rights had been infringed, and the most probable means of
affecting their restoration. He was also one of the committee that
reported the statutes that affected the trade and manufactures of the
colonies. Upon the report of these two committees all the conclusive
proceedings of that Congress were based, from which we may infer that
the ablest and most active men were placed upon them. The ensuing
year he was re-elected to the national assembly, and soon after he
took his seat, he was appointed chairman of a committee to prepare an
address to the people of Jamaica relative to British oppression. It
was written by him, and is in a style bold, vigorous and classical.
The following extract is a fair sample. Speaking of the plan of
action laid and pursued by the British ministry, he writes: “That our
petitions have been treated with disdain, is now become the smallest
part of our complaint. Ministerial insolence is lost in ministerial
barbarity. It has, by an exertion peculiarly ingenious, procured those
very measures which it laid us under the hard necessity of pursuing, to
be stigmatised in parliament as rebellious. It has plunged us in all
the horrors and calamities of civil war. It has caused the treasures
and blood of Britain, formerly exhausted and shed for far other ends,
to be spilt and wasted in the execrable design of spreading slavery
over British America. It will not, however, accomplished its aim; in
the worst contingency a choice will still be left which it can never
prevent us from taking.”

On the 12th of June, Mr. Hooper offered the following resolution in
Congress, which demonstrates the position taken in the exordium of this

“It is at all times an indispensable duty devoutly to acknowledge
the superintending providence of the great governor of the world,
especially in times of impending danger and public calamity—to
reverence and adore his immutable justice as well as to implore his
merciful interposition for our deliverance; therefore,

“Resolved, that it is recommended by Congress that the people of the
American colonies observe the twentieth day of July next as a day of
public humiliation, fasting and prayer.”

The zeal and exertions of this patriot were of the most vigorous
character. He served on numerous committees and was highly esteemed
by all the members. His constituents were so well satisfied with his
course that he was returned a third time to the honourable post he
had so ably filled. In the spring of 1776, he was a member of the
conventions that convened at Hillsborough and Halifax, and was one of
the leading and most eloquent speakers. He also prepared an address
to the people of the British empire that was written with much nerve
and energy. He then repaired to his place in Congress, and boldly
supported the declaration of rights. He had long been convinced of its
propriety, and when the thrilling moment arrived for the final decision
he sanctioned it by his vote and signature. He was an unwavering friend
to the cause he had espoused; patient, cheerful, persevering, prudent
and firm under all circumstances.

In February, 1777, he obtained leave of absence from Congress and
returned to his family. When the news of the defeat of Washington at
Germantown reached him at Wilmington, he was surrounded by a circle of
his friends, who seemed dismayed at the intelligence. He rose calmly
from his seat and remarked, with great animation and cheerfulness,
“We have been disappointed!—but no matter—now that we have become the
assailants there can be no doubt of the issue.”

Before his return his property had suffered from royal vengeance; his
personal safety now became endangered and he was compelled to fly into
the interior for safety. His family had removed several times. He made
arrangements, in the event of the subjugation of the colonies by the
British, to remove to one of the French West India Islands, where, it
is said, all the signers, with the French minister, would have went,
had not the independence of the states been sustained. He did not
return to Wilmington until it was evacuated in 1781, during which time
his family was there, exposed to the insults of the enemy. He appears
not to have returned to Congress again, but mingled with the people,
rousing them to a sense of their duty, and was an active member of the
state councils. In 1782 he removed to Hillsborough, and endeavoured
to restore his long neglected private affairs to order. In 1786, he
was appointed by Congress a judge of the court organized to settle the
controversy between New York and Massachusetts relative to disputed
territory, a delicate and important duty, from which he was relieved by
an amicable settlement by the litigants before the court proceeded to
act in the premises.

Mr. Hooper continued to take a conspicuous part in the legislation of
North Carolina, and also pursued the practice of his profession until
1787, when his health began to decline and he retired from public life
and from the bar, to enjoy that repose in domestic felicity which had
always been more congenial to his mind than public stations, however
lofty. In his retirement he carried with him the esteem of his fellow
citizens and the gratitude of a nation of freemen. Not a blemish could
be found to tarnish the fair fame of his public career or private
reputation. He had served his country faithfully and discharged the
duties of friend, citizen, lawyer, patriot, husband and father, with
fidelity. From the elevated eminence of conscious integrity he looked
back upon his past life—with the eyes of faith he looked forward to a
crown of unfading glory, and in October 1790, closed his eyes in death
and resigned his soul to that God whom to fear is the beginning of


Honesty is a virtue that commands universal respect. This term,
like many others, has lost much of its original force and is too
promiscuously used. When Pope proclaimed an honest man the noblest
work of God, he included purpose, word and action in all things, under
all circumstances and at all times. He alluded to a man whose purity
of heart placed him above every temptation to violate the original
laws of integrity which emanated from the High Chancery of Heaven.
His imagination pictured a man whose every action through his whole
life should pass the moral scrutiny of omniscience unscathed, and
stand approved at the dread tribunal of the great Jehovah. Such a man
is a noble work indeed, worthy of the highest admiration and closest

The signers of the declaration of independence were remarkable for
integrity, and none of them more so than THOMAS NELSON, who was born
at York, Virginia, on the 26th of December, 1738. He was the son of
William Nelson, whose father was a native of England and settled in
York at an early period. The father of Thomas was an enterprising and
successful merchant, and eventually became also a wealthy planter. He
filled many public stations with great ability, and during the interval
between the administration of Lord Bottetourt and Lord Dunmore,
presided over the colony _ex officio_, being then president of the
executive council.

At the age of fourteen years Thomas Nelson was placed under the
instruction of Mr. Newcomb, whose school was near Hackney, England.
When his preparatory studies were completed he was placed at Cambridge
and entered of Trinity College, under the tuition of Dr. Beilby
Porteus, who was one of the brightest literary ornaments of his age
and ultimately became the bishop of London. Guided by the master-hand
of this finished scholar, accomplished gentleman and pious man, Mr.
Nelson traced the fair lines of science and explored the avenues of
literature. The principles of virtue and integrity were also deeply
impressed upon his mind and governed his actions through life.
After spending eight years at the classic fountain in England, he
returned to Virginia, highly polished in mind and person. He entered
into the enjoyment of a large landed estate, and over one hundred
and thirty thousand dollars in cash. In August, 1762, he led to the
hymeneal altar Miss Lucy, daughter of Philip Grymes, of Brandon, and
settled permanently at his native place. His house became the seat of
hospitality and domestic felicity. He assimilated his style of life,
in some respects, to that of an English nobleman when at his country
seat. He rode almost daily to his plantation, a few miles from York,
and amused himself with his gun. He also kept a pack of hounds and in
the winter often joined in the thrilling and blood-stirring sport of
the fox-chase. No respectable stranger could visit the town without
receiving an urgent invitation to partake of his hospitality. In this
manner his time passed smoothly along until the public demanded his

For a long time a particular intimacy existed between the leading men
of Virginia and those of England. This arose from consanguinity and
wealth and was kept alive for a century by an interchange of good
feelings and offices. The sons of the wealthy men of the Old Dominion
were uniformly educated in Great Britain, and imbibed the same feelings
of independence manifested by the noblemen of the mother country, and
felt themselves, very properly, entitled to as much confidence from
the king as a native and resident of Albion. Hence, when the car of
oppression was mounted by the British ministry, the noblest sons of
Virginia were the most vigorous opposers of royal power. They at once
acted in concert with the patriots of New England and treated the
insults offered at Boston as though they had been personally directed
to them. The very fact of former intimacy made this opposition more
bitter and pointed.

In 1774, Mr. Nelson was elected to the house of burgesses and took
a bold stand in favour of liberal principles. He was one of the
eighty-nine members who assembled at a tavern the day after Lord
Dunmore dissolved the house and formed themselves into an association
of non-intercourse with Great Britain. At the next election he was
again returned to the house of burgesses. He was a member of the
convention, held on the first of August of that year, to elect
delegates to Congress, and of the one convened in March, 1775, for
this and other purposes. He supported the boldest measures that were
proposed by the daring Patrick Henry, from which many of the patriots
at first recoiled with amazement. He had no ear for the syren song of
peace when the shores of his country were darkened by foreign fleets
and armies. From the following resolutions introduced in the last
named convention by Patrick Henry, the reader can form an idea of the
feelings that pervaded the minds of the leading patriots at that early
period. One of the germs of our militia system will also be perceived.

“Resolved, that a well regulated militia, composed of gentlemen and
yeomen, is the natural strength and only security of a free government;
that such a militia in this colony would for ever render it unnecessary
for the mother country to keep among us, for the purpose of our
defence, any standing army of mercenary soldiers, always subversive
of the quiet and dangerous to the liberties of the people, and would
obviate the pretext of taxing for their support.

“That the establishment of such a militia is, at this time, peculiarly
necessary by the state of our laws, some of which have already
expired and others will shortly be so—and that the known remissness
of government in calling us together in legislative capacity renders
it too insecure, in this time of danger and distress, to rely that
opportunity will be given of renewing them in general assembly, or
making any provision to secure our inestimable rights and liberties
from those further violations with which they are threatened.

“Resolved, therefore, that this colony be immediately put in a state of
defence, and that —— be a committee to prepare a plan for embodying,
arming and disciplining such a number of men as may be sufficient for
that purpose.”

These resolutions were warmly supported by Mr. Nelson, whose property
was exposed to the utmost danger in case of an open rupture with the
royal authorities. The measure proposed was carried into effect, and
from that time opposition to the pretensions of the crown assumed
a bold front in Virginia. This convention assembled again in July,
and divided the colony into sixteen military districts, the eastern
district to raise forthwith a regiment of six hundred and eighty men,
rank and file, and each of the others to raise a battalion of five
hundred, to be at once armed and held in readiness to march at any
moment. The convention also directed the raising of two regiments of
regulars of one thousand and twenty privates, and appointed Patrick
Henry to command the first and Mr. Nelson to command the second. Thus
Virginia assumed a determined and systematic attitude of defence at an
early period.

On the 11th of August this convention met again and elected Mr. Nelson
a delegate to the Continental Congress, in which he took his seat on
the 13th of September following. Possessed of a strong mind and sound
judgment, he became a useful member of committees, but seldom took
part in debate. By the following letter from him to Governor Page, it
seems he was one of those who agitated the question of independence
as early as the 22nd of January, 1776. “I wish I knew the sentiments
of our people upon the grand points of confederation and foreign
alliance, or, in other words, of independence—for we cannot expect to
form a connexion with any foreign power as long as we have a womanish
hankering after Great Britain—and, to be sure, there is not in nature
a greater absurdity than to suppose we can have any affection for a
people who are carrying on the most savage war against us.” On the
13th of February, he writes to the same gentleman again, as follows:
“Independence, confederation and foreign alliance are as formidable
to some members of Congress, I fear a majority, as an apparition to a
weak enervated woman. Would you think we have some among us who still
expect honourable proposals from the administration! By heavens—I am an
infidel in politics, for I do not believe were you to bid a thousand
pounds per scruple for honour at the court of Great Britain, that you
would get as many as would amount to an ounce. We are now carrying on a
war and no war. They seize our property wherever they find it, either
by land or sea, and we hesitate to retaliate because we have a few
friends in England who have ships. Away with such squeamishness, say I.”

By this language we can judge of the ardent feelings that actuated
this friend of equal rights. It was the pure fire of patriotism,
fanned by a just indignation against a tyrannical and insolent foe.
It was a fire that reflected a powerful heat upon those around it,
and gathered fresh vigour daily. Like separate parcels of metal in
a crucible, one member after another yielded to its power, until all
were united in one liquid mass, and, on the fourth of July, 1776, the
mould of liberty was filled, which, when opened to the gaze of the
world, presented a new and purely original table of law and government,
enriched by the embossment of freedom and equal rights. On this fair
tablet, more beautiful than mosaic-work, Mr. Nelson engraved his name
in bold relievo. Here we might leave him, with glory enough for one
man. But he had then just entered the portico of his useful career.
He embarked heart and soul in the cause, and became one of the most
industrious members of various committees that was in Congress. In
forming the articles of confederation he was particularly active. The
ensuing year he again took his seat in the national assembly, but was
compelled to retire in May, soon after the commencement of the session,
in consequence of a severe attack of disease in his head, which, for a
time, threatened to impair his mental powers. He was obliged to return
home, and for a short period refrain from business. His place was
supplied by Mr. Mason.

In August following, the appearance of a British fleet that entered the
capes caused a general rally of the military force of Virginia. Mr.
Nelson, who had regained his health, was commissioned by the governor
and council brigadier-general and commander-in-chief of the military
forces of the state. The appointment was popular—the incumbent was
competent. His appearance among them inspired confidence in the people.
The troops rallied around him like affectionate children around a fond
parent. The fleet, however, did not deign to give them a call at that
time, and the soldiers again became citizens.

In October, General Nelson took his seat in the legislature of his
state, and acted a conspicuous part in its deliberations. During the
session a bill was brought before the house sequestrating British
property, and authorizing those of the colonists who were indebted to
subjects of Great Britain to pay the amount into the public treasury;
and if the wives and children of such subjects remained in the state,
portions of the said money, under the direction of the governor and
council, were to be appropriated to their support. With all the ardour
and vehemence of feeling that pervaded the bosom of Mr. Nelson against
the mother country, his honesty and justice impelled him to oppose this
bill as violating the sacredness of individual contracts. He became
roused, and made an able and eloquent address against the proposed
measure, and closed in the following emphatic language:—“For these
reasons I hope the bill will be rejected; but whatever be its fate, so
help me God, I will pay _my_ debts like an honest man.”

On the second of March, 1778, Congress made an appeal to the patriotism
of the wealthy young men of the several colonies, urging them to raise
a troop of light cavalry at their own expense. Nor was the appeal
in vain. As soon as the proposed plan of Congress was received in
Virginia, General Nelson sent a circular to all the young gentlemen
of fortune in the state, recommending them not only to come to the
rescue themselves, but to open their purses to other high minded
and respectable young men, whose hearts were noble but whose means
were limited. A company of seventy was speedily raised in Virginia,
and elected general Nelson their commander. He proceeded with his
new charge to Baltimore and reported his youthful band to the brave
Pulaski, who received this accession of volunteers with delight and
admiration. From that place the company proceeded to Philadelphia,
where the general and his men received the praise and thanks of
Congress; and as their services were not wanted at that time, they were
permitted to return to their homes. The expenses of the company during
their absence were principally borne by General Nelson without any
subsequent remuneration; and for his own services in the field during
the war he refused to receive any pay; and, in addition to this, he
expended a great portion of his fortune in the cause of his country.

On the 18th of February, 1779, General Nelson again took his seat in
Congress, and was immediately placed on several important committees.
His severe labour caused a second attack similar to the former, and in
April he was compelled to return home.

It was in May of that year that the British made a descent upon
Virginia, and spread destruction far and wide. Exercise soon restored
the health of General Nelson and he at once took the field. He
assembled a body of troops near Yorktown, but the enemy chose not to
interfere with him at that time. During that short campaign he took a
parental care of the soldiers by providing for their wants from his
own funds. He distributed his labourers and servants among the poor
families of the militia from his neighbourhood to labour during the
absence of the men. He was as benevolent as he was patriotic and brave.

In June, 1780, the general assembly of Virginia passed a resolution
to borrow two millions of dollars for the purpose of defraying the
expenses of the war. General Nelson entered into the collection of this
money with great zeal. Public credit was prostrated and government
paper was no longer considered security. Like Robert Morris, he at once
pledged his own fortune and raised large sums upon his own credit, for
which he was but in part remunerated by government.

In the spring of 1781, Virginia was again the scene of murder, rapine,
and wide spread ruin. Judas, alias Arnold, and Lord Cornwallis were
sweeping over the land like a tornado. General Nelson was constantly in
the field, doing all in his power to arrest the bold and savage career
of the invading foe. He became the hero of the Old Dominion. In June
he was elected governor of the state. He immediately entered upon the
discharge of this dignified station, and bent his whole energies in
raising troops to resist the enemy.

About that time Lafayette arrived with a body of regulars. Governor
Nelson joined him in the field, and, yielding his rank, placed himself
and the militia under the command of the marquis. Every thing within
his power he grasped to aid his bleeding country. He placed even his
draught horses and negroes in the public service.

In the midst of these distresses a circumstance occurred that was
exceedingly trying to his mind. By the constitution, the governor acted
only in concert with the council. Two of that body had fallen into the
hands of Tarleton, and two had resigned. It was impossible to raise a
quorum for business. The awful crisis demanded immediate and decisive
action. In this dilemma he transcended the existing law, and proceeded
to act as though the council was with him.

At a subsequent period this was made the foundation of a complaint
against him, after he retired to private life and was sinking under
disease, which was forever put at rest by the legislature, by the
passage of laws sanctioning his every public act during that campaign.
Ingratitude is the prime minister of hell, and revenge its secretary.

At length Lord Cornwallis found himself snugly ensconced in Yorktown. A
dark cloud gathered over his military fame. Awful forebodings haunted
his blood-stained soul. Retributive justice pierced his conscience with
a thousand stings. The cries of widows and orphans, the curling flames
of hospitable mansions, the sweeping destruction of villages and towns,
and the dying groans of innocent victims, the bitter fruits of his
tyranny, preyed upon his imagination like a promethean vulture. The die
was cast. The siege was commenced. At the head of the Virginia troops
was General Nelson—cool, brave, fearless and vigorous. His native
town, his own domicile and property, were now to be razed. At first he
observed that the American batteries carefully avoided the direction of
his house. The principal British officers, anticipating this, had made
it their rendezvous. On hearing that it was out of respect to him, he
directed the gunners to point their guns at once at his mansion. The
first discharge sent a shot through it and killed two of the officers,
a number of whom were enjoying the comforts of a good dinner. They soon
left this retreat for safer quarters.

The following extract from the general orders of the illustrious
Washington, of the 20th of October, 1781, will best inform the reader
how highly the services of Governor Nelson were prized at that
memorable siege that crushed the power of Great Britain in America.

“The general would be guilty of the highest ingratitude, a crime of
which he hopes he shall never be accused, if he forgot to return his
sincere acknowledgements to his excellency Governor Nelson for the
succours which he received from him and the militia under his command,
to whose activity, emulation and bravery, the highest praises are
due. The magnitude of the acquisition will be ample compensation for
the difficulties and dangers which they met with so much firmness and

The fatigues of this campaign and his arduous gubernatorial duties
proved too much for the physical powers of Governor Nelson. He again
sunk under disease, and on the 20th of November, 1781, he resigned
his station and retired to private life. He spent the remainder of
his days principally on a small estate he had saved from the wreck of
his large fortune, situated at Offly, in the county of Hanover. His
health continued to decline, and on the fourth of January, 1789, he was
numbered with the dead.

His obituary, written by his bosom friend, Colonel Innes, fully
portrays the character of this devoted patriot and deserves a place in
this memoir.

The illustrious general THOMAS NELSON, is no more! He paid the last
debt to nature on Sunday, the fourth of the present month, at his
estate in Hanover. He who undertakes barely to recite the exalted
virtues which adorned the life of this great and good man, will
unavoidably pronounce a panegyric upon human nature. As a man, a
citizen, a legislator and a patriot, he exhibited a conduct untarnished
and undebased by sordid or selfish interests, and strongly marked
with the genuine characteristics of true religion, sound benevolence
and liberal policy. Entertaining the most ardent love for civil and
religious liberty, he was among the first of that glorious band of
patriots whose exertions dashed and defeated the machinations of
British tyranny and gave to United America freedom and independent
empire. At a most important crisis during the late struggle for
American liberty, when this state appeared to be designated as the
theatre of action for the contending armies, he was selected by the
unanimous suffrage of the legislature to command the virtuous yeomanry
of his country. In this honourable employment he remained until the
end of the war. As a soldier, he was indefatigably active and coolly
intrepid. Resolute and undejected in misfortunes, he towered above
distress and struggled with the manifold difficulties to which his
situation exposed him with constancy and courage. In the memorable
year of 1781, when the whole force of the southern British army was
directed to the immediate subjugation of this state, he was called to
the helm of government. This was a juncture which indeed “tried men’s
souls.” He did not avail himself of this opportunity to retire in the
rear of danger, but, on the contrary, took the field at the head of his
countrymen, and, at the hazard of his life, his fame and individual
fortune, by his decision and magnanimity, he saved not only his
country, but all America from disgrace, if not from total ruin. Of this
truly patriotic and heroic conduct, the renowned commander-in-chief,
with all the gallant officers of the combined armies employed at the
siege of York, will bear ample testimony. This part of his conduct even
contemporary jealousy, envy and malignity were forced to approve—and
this, more impartial posterity, if it can believe, will almost adore.
If, after contemplating the splendid and heroic parts of his character,
we shall inquire for the milder virtues of humanity and seek for
the man, we shall find the refined, beneficent and social qualities
of private life, through all its forms and combinations, so happily
modified and united in him, that in the words of the darling poet of
nature, it may be said,

   “His life was gentle, and the elements
    So mixed in him, that nature might stand up
    And say to all the world—THIS IS A MAN.”


Many men, like apes, are mere imitative beings in their manner of
action. They forsake the path designed for them by their Creator, and
strive to assimilate their mechanical movements to some noble personage
of a higher order by nature than themselves, and thus _ape_ their way
through the world. I refer particularly to public speakers. Some young
men of respectable native talent and good acquirements, when they mount
the rostrum, instead of acting perfectly natural, endeavour to imitate
some orator of notoriety, and thereby render themselves ridiculous.
Originality is the beauty of forensic or any other kind of eloquence.
Like a piece of marble under the hands of the statuary, a more
systematic form may be imparted by art, but its original composition,
like that, is most beautiful unpainted. Originality must form the base,
or the superstructure can never be truly beautiful. No human ingenuity
can remould the work of nature and retain the strength of the grand
original. We should imitate the virtues and wisdom of great and good
men—our _manner_ should be peculiarly our own—and still further—our
language and style of writing should be original to render it forcible
and interesting. Affectation in any thing is disgusting to sensible
men, and a discerning man readily detects a counterfeit.

A fine picture of originality and pleasing eccentricity was exhibited
by JAMES SMITH, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
He was a native of Ireland and came to this country with his father
when quite young. The precise time of his birth is not known. According
to the only record known of his age—the inscription on his tomb, he was
born in 1713. His father was a respectable farmer and settled on the
west side of the Susquehanna river nearly opposite to Columbia. James
was educated under Dr. Allison. He acquired a good classical education,
and retained a peculiar taste for authors of antiquity through life.
He was very partial to mathematics, and became an expert surveyor.
After finishing his course under Dr. Allison he commenced the study
of law in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, some say with Thomas Cookson, but
more probably with his elder brother who was then practising at that
town. When admitted to the bar he located himself on the frontiers
of civilization near the present site of Shippensburg, in Cumberland
county, blending the practice of law and surveying. In that section of
the country the two professions were then very properly and profitably
united. Large tracts of valuable land were held under hasty and
inaccurate surveys, and many others were only located by mere chamber
calculations upon paper. Litigation was the natural consequence, and
no witnesses told the truth more accurately than the compass of
Mr. Smith and the demonstration of his protractor. Possessed of a
penetrating mind, he looked into future prospects and secured much
valuable land and had full employment in his professional business.
He soon found himself on the flood tide of prosperity. Not willing to
sail alone, he took for his mate, Miss Eleanor Armor, of Newcastle,
who superintended his cabin stores with great skill and prudence. In
every thing he was purely original. With a strong mind, an open and
honest heart, a benevolent and manly disposition, he united great
conviviality and amusing drollery, yet so discreet as not to offend
the most modest ear. He delighted in seeing the contortions of the
risible muscles, which were uniformly in motion in all proper circles
when James Smith was present. Whenever he came in contact with a pedant
he would propound some ridiculous question with the utmost gravity,
such as the following, “Don’t you remember that terrible bloody battle
which Alexander the Great fought with the Russians near the straits
of Babelmandel? I think you will find the account in Thucydides or

His memory was retentive and stored with numerous anecdotes, which
he used in court either to annoy his opponent and help his case, or
in company to amuse his friends. No one could tell a story with more
effect than Mr. Smith. His manner was original and beyond imitation.
With all his wit and humour, he held religion in the greatest
reverence, and was a communicant of the church. No one that knew him
dare utter a word against it in his presence, knowing that the lash of
the keenest ridicule would at once be applied by him. Such a mixture
of qualities are rarely blended in one man. From the deep toned logic
and the profoundest thought up to the eccentric ridiculous, all
balanced by the happy equilibrium of discretion, his mind ranged with
the rapidity of lightning, using each at the most appropriate time
and place. His manner, his style, and his every thing, from the most
trivial circumstance to the momentous concerns of the nation in which
he participated, were purely original.

Of the affairs of his country Mr. Smith was not an idle spectator.
No man delights in liberty and independence more than an Irishman,
and no nation is more sensitive of its rights than “sweet Ireland.”
When British oppression showed its hydra head to the colonists,
although advanced in age, James Smith took a terrible dislike to
the beast and was for making fight unless it withdrew its visible
deformity forthwith. His heart beat high for his adopted country, and
he at once came boldly forward in its defence. At that time he was
a resident of York and extensively engaged in iron works as well as
in professional business, having become a very distinguished lawyer.
He had never consented to fill public stations, and nothing but the
purest patriotism and the importance of the threatened crisis, could
have induced him to enter the public arena. In the language of Josiah
Quincy, he had become convinced that—“We must be grossly ignorant of
the importance and value of the prize for which we contend—we must be
equally ignorant of the power of those who have combined against us—we
must be blind to that malice, inveteracy and insatiable revenge, which
actuate our enemies, public and private, abroad and in our bosoms, to
hope that we shall end this controversy without the sharpest—sharpest
conflicts; to flatter ourselves that popular resolves, popular
harangues, popular acclamations and popular vapour will vanquish our
foes. Let us consider the issue—let us look to the end.”

Mr. Smith was a man that looked at both the beginning and the end. He
was a man who examined closely causes, effects, and results. He also
understood human nature and knew well the disposition of the colonists.
He was convinced the bone and sinew of the land would never yield to
the tyranny of mother Britain without a “sharp conflict.” For that
conflict he was prepared.

The first step taken in Pennsylvania relative to the existing
oppressions, was the assembling of a convention of delegates from each
county, in order to ascertain the feelings of the people generally
relative to the course proposed by the patriots of New England, where
the revolutionary storm had already commenced its precursory droppings.
Of this convention Mr. Smith was a delegate, and was one of the
committee that prepared the instructions to the members of the next
general assembly of the province, recommending, among other things,
the appointment of delegates to the general Congress to be convened at
Philadelphia, with instructions from which the following is an extract,
sufficient to inform the reader of the grievances most particularly
complained of at that early period.

“We desire of you therefore—that the deputies you appoint may be
instructed by you strenuously to exert themselves at the ensuing
Congress to obtain a renunciation on the part of Great Britain of all
the powers under the statute of the 35th of Henry the Eighth, ch.
2nd—of all powers of internal legislation—of imposing taxes or duties
internal or external and of regulating trade, except with respect to
any new articles of commerce which the colonies may hereafter raise,
as silk, wine, &c., reserving a right to carry them from one colony to
another—a repeal of all statutes for quartering troops in the colonies
or subjecting them to any expense on account of such troops—of all
statutes imposing duties to be paid in the colonies, that were passed
at the accession of his present majesty, or before this time, which
ever period shall be judged most advisable—of the statutes giving the
courts of admiralty in the colonies greater power than the courts of
admiralty have in England—of the statutes of the 5th of George the
Second, ch. 22nd, and of the 23d of George the Second, ch. 29th—of the
statute for shutting up the port of Boston—and of every other statute
particularly affecting the province of Massachusetts bay, passed in
the last session of parliament. If all the terms above mentioned
cannot be obtained, it is our opinion that the measures adopted by the
Congress for our relief, should never be relinquished or intermitted,
until those relating to the troops—internal legislation—imposition of
taxes or duties hereafter—the 35th of Henry the Eighth, ch. 2nd,—the
extension of admiralty courts—the port of Boston and the province of
Massachusetts bay are obtained. Every modification, or qualification of
these points, in our judgment should be inadmissible.”

By the statute of the 35th of Henry the Eighth, ch. 2nd, a citizen of
America was liable to be arrested and carried to England to be tried,
when accused of high crimes. By the 5th of George the Second, ch.
23d, the colonists were prohibited from exporting hats, and hatters
were even limited as to the number of apprentices they should keep to
learn this trade; in order, as the statute declares, “that hatting
may be better encouraged in Great Britain.” The other acts referred
to infringements of sundry local arrangements of the colonies equally
obnoxious with the above; and when the final list of grievances was
completed at a subsequent time, many statutes under George the Third
were complained of as violating the constitution of England and the
charters predicated upon it, which had grown sacred by long and
acknowledged usage, by learned and legal construction, and by numerous
declaratory acts of the British parliament, passed when sitting under
the mantle of reason, equity, justice and sound policy.

By these instructions, directly from the people, we can judge of the
feeling that pervaded the great mass of the yeomanry at that time; and
by referring to the instructions given to the delegates appointed by
the assembly of the province to Congress, it will be seen that royal
influence still pervaded that body, as they contain scarcely a definite
feature or point similar to those from the primary convention of the

    [E] See them at large in the biography of George Ross.

So fully convinced was Mr. Smith of the issue between the colonies and
mother Britain, that on his return home he immediately raised a company
of volunteers, and was elected its captain by acclamation. This was the
pioneer company of Pennsylvania, raised for the purpose of resisting
tyranny. This company was organized about nine months before the bloody
affair at Lexington; showing deep penetration and sagacious foresight
in its original. He introduced thorough discipline in the corps, and
imparted to its members the same holy fire of patriotism that was
illuminating his own soul. Around this military nucleus accumulating
force continued to increase, until it formed a regiment. Mr. Smith
accepted the honorary title of its colonel, but imposed the actual
commanding duties upon a younger man. He had given a momentum to the
ball, and was gratified to see it rolling onward towards the temple of
liberty with an increased impetus.

Mr. Smith was a member of the next convention that convened in January,
1775, at Philadelphia. He was among the foremost to oppose force to
force, and peril life for freedom. He was then called an _ultra_
whig, and considered as treating the government of his majesty with
disrespect. His patriotism had carried him six months in advance of
most of the leading men, and no one could outstrip him in zeal for
the cause of equal rights. His course was onward—right onward to
action. For this the time soon arrived. During the year 1775 he took a
conspicuous part in public measures, and in the spring of the ensuing
year was appointed upon a committee, with Dr. Rush and Colonel Bayard,
to organize a camp of four thousand five hundred troops, to be raised
in Pennsylvania. No man was better calculated to render efficient aid
in this important business. The committee immediately prepared, and,
under the sanction of Congress, published an address to the volunteer
and yeomen military of Pennsylvania, urging them to rally under the
standard of liberty. In order that the reader may have a sample of
every kind of proceeding and address that characterized the revolution
that gave to us freedom, I insert an extract from this.

“We need not remind you that you are now furnished with new motives to
animate and support your courage. You are not about to contend against
the power of Great Britain in order to displace one set of villains to
make room for another. Your arms will not be enervated in the day of
battle with the reflection that you are to risk your lives or shed your
blood for a British tyrant, or that your posterity will have your work
to do over again. You are about to contend for permanent freedom, to be
supported by a government which will be derived from yourselves, and
which will have for its object, not the emolument of one man or class
of men only, but the safety, liberty and happiness of every individual
in the community. We call upon you, therefore, by the respect and
obedience which are due to the authority of the UNITED COLONIES, to
concur in this important measure. The present campaign will probably
decide the fate of America. It is now in your power to immortalize your
names by mingling your achievements with the events of the year 1776—a
year which, we hope, will be famed in the annals of history to the
end of time, for establishing, on a lasting foundation, the liberties
of one quarter of the globe. Remember the honour of our colony is at
stake. Should you desert the common cause at the present juncture,
the glory you have acquired by your former exertions of strength and
virtue will be tarnished; and our friends and brethren, who are now
acquiring laurels in the most remote parts of America, will reproach
us, and blush to own themselves natives or inhabitants of Pennsylvania.
But there are other motives before you. Your houses, your fields, the
legacies of your ancestors, or the dear bought fruits of your own
industry and your liberty, now urge you to the field. These cannot
plead with you in vain, or we might point out to you further—your
wives, your children, your aged fathers and mothers, who now look up to
you for aid, and hope for salvation in this day of calamity only from
the instrumentality of your swords.”

This appeal had a most powerful and salutary effect, and met with a
response from the people that drove the royal power from Pennsylvania
like chaff before the wind. Simultaneous with the preparation of the
declaration of independence in Congress, delegates were elected to
raise the arch of a republican constitution and government over the
keystone state. The members of the convention for this purpose convened
on the 15th of July, and in the declaration of rights just promulged
from Congress Hall, had a polar star to guide them—a master piece for a
pattern to direct them.

In this convention Mr. Smith took his seat, and was immediately placed
upon the committee appointed to prepare a declaration of rights. His
_ultraism_ had become an admired quality, and assumed the baptismal
name of _patriotism_. His worth and zeal were now duly appreciated,
and he became one of the most influential men in his state. On the 20th
of July he was called to higher duties than those of the convention, by
his appointment to the Continental Congress. This was as unexpected to
him as it was pleasing to his friends. He immediately enrolled his name
with the apostles of liberty upon the chart of freemen. Anxious to see
the foundations of the new government firmly laid in Pennsylvania, he
continued his services in the convention until the constitution assumed
a visible form. He was one of the committee that remodelled the penal
code. He was as humane in his feelings as he was ardent in the cause of
his country. Justice and mercy were blended in his heart.

Early in October he assumed fully his congressional duties. The first
part of the instructions to the delegation of the keystone state
is worthy of particular notice; and if general obedience could be
enforced, would be quite apropos at the present day. It is as follows:

“The immense and irreparable injury which a free country may sustain
by, and the great inconveniences which always arise from a delay of its
councils, induce us, in the first place, strictly to enjoin and require
you to give not only a _constant_, but a _punctual_ attendance in

At the commencement of our free government, the will of the people
was respected and obeyed. Their public servants were not then their
political masters. Committee rooms were not then diverted from their
proper use by partisan caucuses. The halls of legislation were not then
the forum of personal recrimination and unparliamentary procedure. The
mantle of infantile purity was then spread over those in high stations.
_Pro bono publico_ was the order of the day—_pro libertate patriæ_ was
the motto of each freeman.

Mr. Smith obeyed his instructions to the letter. He entered heart and
soul into the labours of the house and committee room. A dark gloom was
at that time spread over the cause of liberty, and many of its warmest
friends considered success a paradox. At such a time the sprightliness
and drollery of Mr. Smith was a powerful antidote against despondency.
Always cheerful and elastic, always seasoning his conversation and
speeches in the forum with original wit and humour, he imparted
convivial life to those around him. Amidst the waves of misfortune and
the breakers of disappointment, he floated like a buoy on the ocean,
above them all. The following letter written to his wife, when General
Howe was bending his triumphant course towards Philadelphia, from which
place Congress was soon after compelled to retreat before him, shows
that no hyppish feelings pervaded his imagination.

  “If Mr. Wilson should come through York, give him a flogging—he
  should have been here a week ago. I expect, however, to come home
  before election—my three months are nearly up. General left this
  on Thursday—I wrote to you by Colonel Kennedy.

  “This morning I put on the red jacket under my shirt. Yesterday
  I dined at Mr. Morris’s, and got wet going home and my shoulder
  got troublesome—but by running a hot smoothing iron over it three
  times, it got better. This is a new and cheap cure. My respects
  to all friends and neighbours-my love to the children.

      I am your loving husband, whilst
            “JAMES SMITH.

  “_Congress Chamber, 11 o’clock._”

On the 23d of November, he was on the committee with Messrs. Clymer,
Chase, and Stockton, appointed to devise means for reinforcing the
American army, and for arresting the victorious and destructive career
of General Howe. The powers of this committee were soon after very
properly transferred to Washington. Mr. Smith was also on the committee
that laid before Congress the testimony of the inhuman treatment of the
British towards the American prisoners at New York.

Having suffered severe losses by being absent from his private
business, he declined a re-election to Congress for the ensuing year,
but was made to understand by his constituents that he was public
property and must be used. He was continued at his post and abated none
of his zeal. So devoted was he in the service of his country, that
when Congress was compelled to fly to York, his place of residence, he
closed his office against his clients and gave it up to the board of
war. He sacrificed every private consideration that he believed would
promote the public good.

In November, 1778, he resigned his seat in Congress, and once more
enjoyed for a season the comforts of retirement. He deemed his advanced
age an ample excuse, after he was convinced that the independence of
his country was rendered doubly sure by the French alliance.

In 1780, Mr. Smith was induced to take a seat in the legislature of
his state. He entered upon his duties with the same activity that
had characterized his whole public career. After completing his term
of service he retired finally from political life. He continued to
pursue his professional business with great success and profit, until
1800, having been an active member of the bar for sixty years. His
eccentricity, wit and humour, retained their originality to the last
years of his existence. He was a great admirer of the illustrious
Washington. A castigation from his ironical tongue, was the sure
consequence to any one, at any time or place, who spoke against
religion or Washington, two points upon which he was extremely
sensitive. The former he adored, the latter he revered. He corresponded
regularly with Franklin, Samuel Adams, and several others of the
patriarch patriots, and had preserved a valuable cabinet of letters
from those apostles of liberty, which was destroyed by fire, with his
office and its contents, about a year before his death. Surrounded
by an affectionate family and a large circle of ardent and admiring
friends, this happy son of Erin glided smoothly down the stream of life
until the eleventh day of July, 1806, when his frail bark was anchored
in the bay of death, and his immortal spirit was transferred to the
realms of glory.

In life he had lived usefully and esteemed; in his exit from earth he
left a blank not readily filled. His public and private reputation were
untarnished and unsullied. He had contributed much towards the freedom
of his country; he was the life of every circle in which he moved.
Ennui could not live in his presence. He was warm hearted, kind, and
affectionate, and a friend to the poor. He never entertained malice,
but used his enemies very much as a playful kitten does a mouse—teasing
without a desire to hurt them—a propensity that rendered him more
formidable than a knight of the sword and pistols. Such pure originals
as JAMES SMITH are like the inimitable paintings of the ancient
artists—few in market and difficult to be copied.


The cardinal virtue of charity, like the patriotism of ’76, is more
frequently professed than practised. It is placed at the head of
all the christian virtues by St. Paul, one of the ablest divines
that ever graced a pulpit or wielded a pen. Charity is a child of
heaven—the substratum of philanthropy, the brightest star in the
christian’s diadem—the connecting link between man and his Creator—the
golden chain that reaches from earth to mansions of bliss. It spurns
from its presence the scrofula of green-eyed jealousy—the canker of
self-tormenting envy— the tortures of heart-chilling malice, and the
typhoid of foaming revenge. It neutralizes and tames the fiercer
passions of man and prepares him for that brighter world where this
darling attribute reigns triumphant without a rival. Could its benign
influence reach the hearts of all mankind, the partition walls of
sectarianism would crumble and disappear—national and individual
happiness would increase, and many of the dark clouds of human woe and
misery would vanish before its heart-cheering and soul-enlivening rays,
like the morning fog before the rising sun. It is a true and impartial
mirror set in the frame of love and resting on equity and justice.

These preliminary remarks are elicited from a review of the life of the
subject of this biographette, whose father was among the persecuted
Quakers of New England, and was compelled to fly from Connecticut
to New Jersey in consequence of his religious tenets. It is an
inconsistency of human nature that when those who have suffered by
religious persecution from superior force obtain the reigns of power,
they often become the persecutors of all who will not succumb to their
authority and dogmatical notions. In the biography of Charles Carroll
the reader has recognised one example. Under the administration of
the “Cambridge Platform,” commenced by the ecclesiastical convention
of New England in 1646, and completed in 1648, a sterner policy was
pursued towards the Quakers than against the Roman Catholics. On this
“Platform” the municipal and legislative regulations were based for
about sixty years. In 1656, the legislature of Massachusetts passed a
law prohibiting every master of a vessel from bringing a Quaker into
the colony under a penalty of one hundred pounds. The next year a law
was passed by the same body, inflicting the most barbarous cruelties
upon the members of this sect, such as cutting off their ears, boring
their tongues with a hot iron, &c., unless they would desist from their
mode of worship and doff their straight coats and ugly bonnets. In
1669, a law was passed banishing them on pain of death, and four of
them who refused to go were executed. Some historians have endeavoured
to excuse this cruelty on the ground that the Quakers provoked their
persecutors by promulgating their doctrines too boldly. This reason
is too far-fetched, and shrinks at once from the scrutiny of charity
and justice. No apology can be found until we can convert the baser
passions of human nature into virtues. By recurring to the ignorance,
bigotry and fanaticism of that period, we can readily discover _why_
such a course was pursued, but this affords no healing balm for the
mind of a true philanthropist. We can only regret the past and rejoice
that charity has so far triumphed as to restore men to a degree of
reason that has paralyzed persecution unto blood for opinion’s sake—one
of the happy traits of a free and liberal government.

To avoid the penalties of the “Platform” and the dangers of Indian
incursions, Aaron Hewes and Providence his wife, the parents of the
subject of this narrative, took up their residence near Kingston, New
Jersey, where they lived peacefully and died happily. When they crossed
the Housatonic river in their flight, they were so closely pursued
by the savages that Providence was severely wounded in the neck by a
bullet from one of their guns.

JOSEPH HEWES, their son, was born at the residence of his parents near
Kingston, in 1730. After receiving a good education in the Princeton
school, he commenced his commercial apprenticeship in the city of
Philadelphia. After completing this he entered into the mercantile
business and soon became an enterprising and successful merchant. For
several years he spent his time alternately at Philadelphia and New
York, and during that period was extensively engaged in the shipping

He was a man of a lively disposition, penetrating mind and industrious
in all his undertakings. He was fond of social intercourse, convivial
parties, and sometimes joined in the dance. His figure was elegant, his
manners polished, his countenance intelligent and attractive, and his
whole course highly honourable and just.

At the age of thirty he located at Edenton, North Carolina, and was
soon after called to a seat in the assembly of that province. He became
a substantial and useful member, but made no pretensions to oratory. He
was a faithful working man, a correct voter, and was uniformly in the
assembly until elected to Congress.

When the revolutionary storm commenced, Mr. Hewes was among those who
pledged their lives, fortunes and honours to support the cause of
equal rights. He was a member of the Congress of 1774, and was placed
upon the important committee appointed to report the rights of the
American colonies, the manner they had been infringed and the best
means of obtaining their restoration. From this fact, and from the
report of the committee, we may infer that Mr. Hewes was possessed of
a clear head, a sound and deliberate judgment, and understood well the
principles of constitutional law and chartered privileges.

The report of this committee is a lucid and elaborate document. By
referring to the declaration of independence the reader will learn
the features of its first part—by referring to the instructions from
the primary convention of the delegates of Pennsylvania, in the
biography of James Smith, the nature of the second part will be seen.
The preliminary means of obtaining redress are fully set forth in the
following extract. After reciting the injuries of the mother country,
the report proceeds,

“Therefore we do, for ourselves and the inhabitants of the several
colonies whom we represent, firmly agree and associate under the sacred
ties of virtue, honour and love of our country, as follows:

_First._ That from and after the first day of December next, we will
not import into British America, from Great Britain or Ireland, any
goods, wares or merchandise whatsoever, or from any other place any
such goods, wares or merchandise as shall have been exported from Great
Britain or Ireland; nor will we, after that day, import any East India
tea from any part of the world, nor any molasses, sirups, coffee, or
pimento from the British plantations or from Dominico, nor wine from
Madeira or the West Indies, nor foreign indigo.

_Second._ We will neither import nor purchase any slaves imported
after the first day of December next; after which time we will wholly
discontinue the slave trade, and will neither be concerned in it
ourselves, nor will we hire our vessels, nor sell our commodities or
manufactures to those who are concerned in it.

_Third._ As a non-consumption agreement, strictly adhered to, will be
an effectual security for the observation of the non-importation, we
as above solemnly agree and associate, that from this day we will not
purchase or use any tea imported on account of the East India Company,
or any on which a duty has been or shall be paid—and from the first day
of March next, we will not purchase or use any East India tea whatever;
nor will we, nor shall any person for or under us, purchase or use any
of these goods, wares or merchandise we have agreed not to import,
which we shall know, or have cause to suspect, were imported after
the first day of December, except such as come under the rules and
directions of the tenth article hereafter mentioned.

_Fourth._ The earnest desire we have not to injure our fellow subjects
in Great Britain, Ireland or the West Indies, induces us to suspend
a non-importation until the tenth day of September, 1775, at which
time, if the said acts and parts of acts of the British parliament
thereinafter mentioned[F] are not repealed, we will not, directly or
indirectly, export any merchandise or commodities whatsoever to Great
Britain, Ireland or the West Indies, except rice to Europe.

    [F] See biography of James Smith, p. 260, for the acts referred
        to in substance.

_Fifth._ Such as are merchants, and use the British and Irish trade,
will give orders as soon as possible to their factors, agents and
correspondents in Great Britain and Ireland, not to ship any goods
to them on any pretence whatsoever, as they cannot be received in
America; and if any merchants residing in Great Britain or Ireland
shall, directly or indirectly, ship any goods, wares or merchandise
for America, in order to break the said non-importation agreement, or
in any manner contravene the same, on such unworthy conduct being well
tested, it ought to be made public; and on the same being so done,
we will not from henceforth have any commercial connexion with such

_Sixth._ That such as are owners of vessels will give positive orders
to their captains or masters, not to receive on board their vessels
any goods prohibited by the said non-importation agreement, on pain of
immediate dismission from their service.

_Seventh._ We will use our utmost endeavours to improve the breed of
sheep and increase their number to the greatest extent, and to that
end we will kill them as seldom as may be, especially those of the
most profitable kind, nor will we export any to the West Indies or
elsewhere; and those of us who are, or may become overstocked with
or can conveniently spare any sheep, will dispose of them to our
neighbours, especially to the poorer sort, on moderate terms.

_Eighth._ We will in our several stations encourage frugality, economy
and industry, and promote agriculture, arts and the manufactures of
this country, especially that of wool, and will discountenance and
discourage every species of extravagance and dissipation, especially
all horse racing and all kinds of gaming, cock fighting, exhibitions
of shows, plays, and other expensive diversions and entertainments,
and on the death of any relation or friend, none of us or any of our
families will go into any further mourning dress than a black crape or
ribbon on the arm or hat for gentlemen, and a black ribbon and necklace
for ladies, and we will discontinue the giving of gloves and scarfs at

_Ninth._ Such as are venders of goods and merchandise will not take
the advantage of the scarcity of goods that may be occasioned by
this association, but will sell the same at the rate we have been
respectively accustomed to do for twelve months last past: and if any
vender of goods or merchandise shall sell any such goods on higher
terms, or shall in any manner or by any device whatsoever depart from
this agreement, no person ought, nor will any of us deal with any such
person, or his or her factor or agent at any time hereafter, for any
commodity whatever.

_Tenth._ In case any merchant, trader, or other persons shall import
any goods or merchandise after the first day of December, and before
the first day of February next, the same ought forthwith, at the
election of the owners, to be either re-shipped or delivered up to
the committee of the county or town wherein they shall be imported,
to be stored at the risk of the importer, until the non-importation
agreement shall cease, or be sold under the direction of the committee
aforesaid; and in the last mentioned case the owner or owners of such
goods shall be reimbursed out of the sales, the first cost and charges,
the profits, if any, to be applied towards relieving and employing
such poor inhabitants of the town of Boston as are immediate sufferers
by the Boston port bill, and a particular account of all goods so
returned, stored or sold, to be inserted in the public paper; and if
any goods or merchandise shall be imported after the said first day
of February, the same ought forthwith to be sent back again without
breaking any of the packages thereof.

_Eleventh._ That a committee be chosen in every county, city and
town, by those who are qualified to vote for representatives in the
legislature, whose business it shall be attentively to observe the
conduct of all persons touching this association, and when it shall be
made to appear to the satisfaction of a majority of any such committee,
that any person within the limits of their appointment has violated
this association, that such majority do forthwith cause the truth of
the case to be published in the gazette, to the end that all such foes
to the rights of British America may be publicly known and universally
condemned as the enemies of American liberty, and henceforth we
respectively will break off all dealings with him or her.

_Twelfth._ That the committee of correspondence in the respective
colonies do frequently inspect the entries of the custom house, and
inform each other from time to time of the true state thereof, and
of every other material circumstance that may occur relative to this

_Thirteenth._ That all manufactures of this country be sold at
reasonable prices, so that no under-advantage be taken of a future
scarcity of goods.

_Fourteenth._ And we do further agree and resolve, that we will have no
trade, commerce, dealings, or intercourse whatsoever with any colony
or province in North America which shall not accede to, or which
shall have hereafter violated this association, but will hold them as
unworthy of the rights of freemen and inimicable to the rights of their

And we do solemnly bind ourselves and our constituents, under the
ties aforesaid, to adhere to this association until such parts of the
several acts of parliament passed since the close of the war, as impose
or continue duties on tea, wine, molasses, sirups, coffee, sugar,
pimento, indigo, foreign paper, glass, and painters’ colours, imported
into America, and extend the powers of the admiralty courts beyond
their ancient limits, deprive the American subjects of trial by jury,
authorize the judge’s certificate to indemnify the prosecutor from
damages that he might otherwise be liable to from a trial by his peers,
require oppressive security from a claimant of ships or goods before he
shall be allowed to defend his property, are repealed.

And we recommend it to the provincial conventions and to the committee
in the respective colonies, to establish such further regulations as
they may think proper for carrying into execution this association.”

Upon this report all the subsequent proceedings of the Congress
were predicated. We may readily suppose, that nothing but the most
unparalleled violations of their rights, could induce men to enter
into an agreement like the above. By every true patriot it was closely
adhered to.

After a session of about two months, Congress adjourned to meet the
ensuing May, when Mr. Hewes again took his seat in that body and became
conspicuous as a member of important committees. He was continued
at this post of honour the ensuing year and had the satisfaction of
hearing the discussion upon the momentous question of a separation from
Great Britain. He was decidedly in favour of the measure, and when the
set time arrived to strike for liberty, he sanctioned the declaration
of independence by his vote and signature.

He now became a very conspicuous actor upon committees. His industry,
his accurate knowledge of business, his systematic mode of performing
all his duties, gained for him the esteem and admiration of all the
members. It was remarked by one of his cotemporaries: “Mr. Hewes
was remarkable for a devotedness to the business of this” (the
secret) “committee, as ever the most industrious merchant was to his

He was upon the committee of claims, upon the secret committee, upon
the one to consult with Washington relative to military operations,
upon that of the treasury and several others. The one upon which he
rendered the most important services, was that which had charge of
fitting out a naval armament. The whole business eventually devolved
upon him and he was, _de facto_, the first secretary of the navy. With
the funds placed in his hands he fitted out with great despatch eight
armed vessels. He was also very active in obtaining supplies for his
own state. Indeed so deeply did he feel for his constituents in North
Carolina, that he declined his appointment to Congress in 1777, and
repaired to her assistance, where he remained until July, 1779, when
he again resumed his seat in the national legislature. He was then
worn down with fatigue and in poor health. He endeavoured to resume
his active duties, but disease had already shaken his physical powers
and sown the seeds of death. He continued to attend in the house, when
able, until the 29th of October, when he saw its hall for the last
time. On the 10th of November, his immortal spirit left its earthly
tabernacle and returned to Him who gave it. His premature death was
deeply lamented and sincerely mourned. Congress passed the usual
resolutions and its members wore the mourning badge for thirty days.
His remains were buried in Christ Church yard, Philadelphia, followed
by all the members and officers of Congress, the general assembly and
supreme executive council of Pennsylvania, the minister plenipotentiary
of France, the military and a large concourse of other persons. The
funeral ceremony was performed by the Reverend Mr. White, since Bishop
White, and the chaplain of the Continental Congress. His dust reposes
in peace, his name is recorded on the chart of our liberty, his fame
will live until the last vestige of American history shall be blotted
from the world. Not a blemish rests upon his private character or
public reputation.


Genuine moral courage is a sterling quality that ennobles and dignifies
the man. It invigorates the mind like an impregning cloud—shedding its
gentle dews on the flowers of spring. It is a heavenly spark, animating
the immortal soul with the fire of divinity that illuminates the path
of rectitude. It is an attribute that opposes all wrong and propels
its subject right onward to the fearless performance of all right. It
is based upon virtue and equity, and spurns vice in all its borrowed
and delusive forms. It courts no servile favours—it fears no earthly
scrutiny. No flattery can seduce it, no eclat can allure it, no bribe
can purchase it, no tyrant can awe it, no misfortune can bend it, no
intrigue can corrupt it, no adversity can quench it, no tortures can
subdue it. Its motto is—“_Fiat justitia, ruat cœlum_.” [Let justice be
done though the heavens should fall.] Without it, fame is ephemeral
and renown transient. It is the saline basis of a good name that gives
richness to its memory. It is a pillar of light to revolving thought,
and the polar star that points to duty and leads to merit. It is the
soul of reason, the essence of wisdom, and the crowning glory of mental
power. It was this that influenced the signers of the declaration of
independence and nerved them for the conflict.

No one among them was more fully imbued with it than JOHN ADAMS. He was
a native of Quincy, Massachusetts, and born on the 19th of October,
(O. S.) 1735. He was the fourth in descent from Henry Adams, whose
tomb bears this singular inscription—“He took his flight from the
dragon persecution, in Devonshire, England, and alighted, with eight
sons, near Mount Wollaston.” In childhood the career of John Adams was
marked with a rapid developement of strong intellectual powers, which
were skilfully cultivated by Mr. Marsh, at Braintree, a celebrated and
successful teacher. At the age of sixteen years he entered Harvard
College, at Cambridge, where he became a finished scholar and graduated
at the age of twenty. He gained a high reputation for frankness,
honesty and untiring industry, and was greatly esteemed by the
professors and his classmates.

From college he proceeded to Worcester, commenced the study of law
under Mr. Putnam, and finished with Mr. Gridley, supporting himself
in the mean time by teaching a grammar class. At that early age he
possessed wisdom to perceive right, and moral courage to pursue it.
In view of the past and present, he made a philosophic grasp at the
future, as will appear from the following extract from a letter written
by him on the 12th of October, 1755, shortly after he took up his
residence at Worcester.

“Soon after the reformation a few people came over into this new world
for conscience sake. Perhaps this apparently trivial incident may
transfer the great seat of empire into America. It looks likely to me,
if we can remove the turbulent Gallics, our people, according to the
exactest computations, will, in another century, become more numerous
than England herself. Should this be the case, since we have, I may
say, all the naval stores of the nation in our hands, it will be easy
to obtain the mastery of the seas, and then the united force of all
Europe will not be able to subdue us. The only way to keep us from
setting up for ourselves—is to disunite us. * * * Keep us in distinct
colonies, and then some men in each colony, desiring the monarchy of
the whole, will destroy each other’s influence and keep the country in

This broad and expansive view of the future, conceived by a youth, was
very remarkable. He saw the one thing needful to render our nation
powerful—the creation of a navy—for which nature has given us all
the stores. The paralysis that pervades our government in its naval
improvements has long astonished the nations of the old world, and a
_few_ of our own statesmen. The time _will_ arrive when our country
will be made to feel most keenly—that “a navy is the right arm of

After pursuing his studies three years, Mr. Adams was admitted to
the practice of law. He then commenced his professional career at
Braintree. Questions of constitutional right and law had already become
the subject of investigation and a root of bitterness between the
colonists and the officers of the crown. The latter, that were engaged
in the custom-house, claimed unlimited power to search the private
dwellings of all persons whom they suspected of having dutiable goods.
This suspicion, or pretended suspicion, often arose from personal
animosity, without a shadow of evidence or reasonable cause. The right
of search was of course resisted as arbitrary, unconstitutional and
assumed. This led to an application to the superior court for “writs of
assistance,” which may be considered as one of the first germs of the
revolution. Mr. Gridley, who had led Mr. Adams to the bar, and was then
his friend and admirer, maintained the legality of the proceeding, not
upon the ground of constitutional law, but from the necessity of the
case in order to protect the revenue. Mr. Adams took a deep interest
in the question, which was finally argued before the superior court at
Boston, by Mr. Gridley for the crown and Mr. Otis for the people. In
listening to the latter gentleman, a fire of patriotism was kindled in
the bosom of Mr. Adams, that death alone could extinguish. He asserted
in after life, that “Mr. Otis’s oration against writs of assistance,
breathed into this nation the breath of life. * * * American
independence was then and there born. * * * Every man of an immense
crowded audience appeared to me to go away, as I did, ready to take up
arms against writs of assistance. Then and there was the first scene of
the first act of opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain.”

The court _publicly_ decided against the writs, but _secretly_ issued
them. That people had their houses searched to satisfy revenge, will
appear from the following described incident.

“Mr. Justice Wally had called Mr. Ware, one of the persons in
possession of such a writ, before him, by a constable, to answer for a
breach of the Sabbath-day acts, or for profane swearing. As soon as he
had finished, Mr. Ware asked him if he had done. He replied—yes. Well,
then, said Mr. Ware, I will show you a little of _my_ power. I command
you to permit me to search your house for uncustomed goods—and went on
to search his house from garret to cellar—and then served the constable
in the same manner.”

We can readily imagine the natural consequences of such a procedure,
against which Mr. Adams at once took a bold and decided stand. The
assembly also interfered in behalf of the people, and in 1762 prepared
a bill to prevent these writs from being issued to any but custom-house
officers, and to them only upon a specific information on oath—which
bill was vetoed by the governor. As a blow at the royal authority this
was well aimed, and showed a disposition in the members to do the will
of their constituents. As a retaliative measure they reduced the salary
of the judges.

In 1761, Mr. Adams attained the rank of barrister and rose to eminence
in his profession. In 1764, he married the accomplished Miss Abigail,
the daughter of the Rev. William Smith, who participated with him in
the changing scenes of life for fifty-four years. The following extract
from a letter written by her to a friend, after the commencement of the
revolution, will exhibit the strength of her mind and the patriotic
feelings of the ladies at that eventful era.

“Heaven is our witness that we do not rejoice in the effusion of blood
or the carnage of the human species—but, having been forced to draw
the sword, we are determined never to sheathe it—_slaves to Britain_.
Our cause, sir, I trust, is the cause of truth and justice, and will
finally prevail, though the combined force of earth and hell should
rise against it. To this cause I have sacrificed much of my own
personal happiness, by giving up to the councils of America one of my
nearest connexions, and living for more than three years in a state of

When the stamp act was passed, the fire of indignation against lawless
oppression rose in the bosom of Mr. Adams to a luminous flame. He at
once became a public man, and entered into a defence of chartered
rights and rational freedom. He published an “Essay on the Canon and
Feudal Law,” which placed him on a lofty eminence as an able and
vigorous writer. Its raciness penetrated the joints and marrow of royal
power as practised, and the parliamentary legislation as assumed. He
traced the former law to its original source—the Roman clergy—by them
subtlely planned, extensively exercised and acutely managed, to effect
their own aggrandizement. He then delineated the servile dogmas of the
latter, that made each manor the miniature kingdom of a petty tyrant.
He then drew a vivid picture of their powerful but unholy confederacy,
by which they spread the mantle of ignorance over the world, drove
virtue from the earth, and commenced the era of mental obscurity.
He then explored the labyrinthian mazes of the dark ages, portrayed
the first glimmerings of returning light, travelled through the
gigantic struggles of the reformation amidst the bloody scenes of cruel
persecution, and finally placed his readers upon the granite shores of
New England, where, for a century, liberty had shed its happy influence
upon the sons and daughters of freemen, unmolested by canons or feuds.
That liberty was now invaded, and, unless the tyranny that had already
commenced its desolating course was arrested in its bold career,
slavery would be the consequence. This is the syllabus of a pamphlet of
over forty pages, written in a strong, bold and nervous style.

From that time forward Mr. Adams became a leading whig. He became
associated with Samuel Adams, Quincy, Otis and other kindred spirits,
all much older men, but not more zealous in the cause than him. The
repeal of the odious stamp act and the removal of Mr. Grenville from
the ministry was the result of the labours of the patriots in 1765.
A delusive calm ensued in parliamentary and ministerial proceedings,
openly avowed. Mr. Adams was among those who watched closely the signs
of the times. Governor Barnard occasionally showed the cloven foot,
and his officers put on airs that were far from being agreeable to
the yeomanry of the country. Festering wounds occasionally became
irritated, and no balm was found that restored them to perfect

In 1766 Mr. Adams removed to Boston, and at the end of two years
had become so conspicuous and had displayed so much talent that the
governor thought him worth purchasing. The lucrative and honourable
office of advocate-general in the court of admiralty was offered to
him, which was deemed a sufficient bribe to allure him. In this the
governor found himself mistaken. Moral courage was the firm basis
on which this devoted patriot stood. He spurned the royal harness,
glittering with gold, with as much disdain as the wild horse of the
prairie looks upon a moping mule.

In 1769 he was one of the committee appointed by the citizens of Boston
to propose instructions for their representatives in the legislative
body, which were highly spiced with free principles, and were very
unsavoury to the royal governor. Many of his measures were severely
censured, particularly that of quartering the mercenary soldiers in the
town. He was unbending in his purposes, and the people determined on
maintaining their rights. The consequences were tragical. On the fifth
of March, 1770, an affray occurred between the military and citizens,
in which five of the latter were killed and others wounded. The
following description of the scene that ensued is from the pen of Mr.
Adams, the present subject of this memoir.

“The people assembled first at Faneuil Hall and adjourned to the
old South Church, to the number, as was conjectured, of ten or
twelve hundred men, among whom were the most virtuous, substantial,
independent, disinterested and intelligent citizens. They formed
themselves into a regular deliberative body, chose their moderator and
secretary, entered into discussions, deliberations and debates, adopted
resolutions and appointed committees. Their resolutions in public were
conformable to every man in private who dared express his thoughts or
his feelings—‘that the regular soldiers should be banished from the
town at all hazards.’ Jonathan Williams, a very pious, inoffensive and
conscientious gentleman, was their moderator. A remonstrance to the
governor, or governor and council, was ordained, and a demand that
the regular troops should be removed from the town. A committee was
appointed to present this remonstrance, of which _Samuel Adams_ was

“This was a delicate and dangerous crisis. The question in the last
resort was—whether the town of Boston should become a scene of carnage
and desolation or not. Humanity to the soldiers conspired with a regard
for the safety of the town, in suggesting the measure in calling the
town together to deliberate, for nothing but the most solemn promises
to the people, that the soldiers should, at all hazards, be driven from
the town, had preserved its peace. Not only the immense assemblies of
the people from day to day, but military arrangements from night to
night were necessary to keep the people and the soldiers from getting
together by the ears. The life of a red coat would not have been
safe in any street or corner of the town; nor would the lives of the
inhabitants been much more secure. The whole militia of the city was in
requisition, and military watches and guards were every where placed.
We were all upon a level; no man was exempted; our military officers
were our only superiors. I had the honour to be summoned in my turn and
attended at the State-house with my musket and bayonet, my broad sword
and cartridge box, under the command of the famous Paddock. I know you
will laugh at my military figure; but I believe there was not a more
obedient soldier in the regiment, nor one more impartial between the
people and the regulars. In this character I was upon duty all night in
my turn. No man appeared more anxious or more deeply impressed with a
sense of danger on all sides than our commander Paddock. He called me,
common soldier as I was, frequently to his councils. I had a great deal
of conversation with him, and no man appeared more apprehensive of a
fatal calamity to the town, or more zealous by every prudent measure to
prevent it.”[G]

    [G] For the further proceedings, see Samuel Adams and John

Order was finally restored and the civil authorities again assumed
their functions. Captain Preston was arrested and brought before the
court, charged with giving the order to the regulars to fire upon
the citizens; and also the soldiers who committed the outrage. As is
uniformly the case, each party was charged with blame by the respective
friends of the other. Some inconsiderate citizens had thrown snowballs
at the king’s troops, who returned the change in blue pills. The former
were imprudent, the latter were revengeful.

Mr. Adams was employed by the accused to defend them. Some of his
friends were fearful that it might injure his popularity with the
people, whose excitement was still very great. But so ingeniously and
eloquently did he manage the case, that Captain Preston and all the
soldiers but two were acquitted, and those two were only convicted
of manslaughter, and Mr. Adams stood approved and applauded by the
citizens, having performed his professional duty to his clients, and
at the same time vindicated the rights of the people; the result of
being guided entirely by the polar star of moral courage.

The same year he was elected to the legislative body, then called the
“General Court,” and was a bold opposer of the arbitrary measures
of Lieutenant-governor Hutchinson, who undisguisedly followed the
directions of the ministry in violation of the charter of the colony,
in all things that were necessary to carry out the plans of the British
cabinet, pleading his instructions as an excuse.

Mr. Adams was one of the committee that prepared an address to him,
the style of which induces me to think it was penned by him. From
the following extract the reader may judge. After vividly portraying
the violations of right complained of, the address concludes, “These
and other grievances and cruelties, too many to be here enumerated,
and too melancholy to _be much longer borne_ by this injured people,
we have seen brought upon us by the devices of ministers of state.
And we have, of late, seen and heard of _instructions_ to governors
which threaten to destroy all the remaining privileges of our charter.
Should these struggles of the house prove unfortunate and ineffectual,
this province will submit, with pious resignation, to the will of
_Providence_; but it would be a kind of suicide, of which we have the
utmost abhorrence, to be instrumental in our own servitude.” A blind
obstinacy on the part of the ministers increased the opposition of the
people and operated upon them with all the power of centrifugal force,
inducing them to refuse obedience to the king’s officers. Alarmed at
the boldness of the people of Boston, Governor Barnard had ordered
the general court to convene at Cambridge. This was contrary to the
charter which fixed its place of meeting at the former place. The
members convened but refused to proceed to business unless they were
permitted to adjourn to the proper place, to which Lieutenant-governor
Hutchinson, who had succeeded Governor Barnard, refused his assent. A
war of words and paper ensued, in which the patriots were uniformly
victorious. Mr. Adams was a leader of the sharp-shooters and made
great havoc among the officers of the crown. They induced the senior
member of their council, Mr. Brattle, to enter the field against him
with pen in hand. The conflict was short, Mr. Adams put him _hors de
combat_, and showed the people the fallacy of every pretext set up by
the hirelings of the ministry. In 1771, Mr. Hutchinson was appointed
governor, and the next year consented to the return of the legislative
body to Boston as a balm for the wounds he had inflicted. But in this
he gained no popularity—it was deemed an involuntary act forced upon
him by the popular will, or a mere stratagem to quiet the public mind.
There were other sources of complaint. The troops in the castle, that
were under the pay and control of the province, had been dismissed and
their place supplied by fresh regulars from the mother country: the
governor and judges received their salaries from England instead of
from the colony, as had always been the usage, thus aiming to render
the military, executive and judiciary independent of the people whom
they governed, which operated as a talisman to destroy all confidence
and affection for these officers on the part of the citizens. The tax
on tea was another source of grief that touched more tender chords.
Woe unto the ruler that rouses the indignation of the better part of
creation. He had better tempt the fury of Mars, or try his speed with
Atalanta. Tea soon became forbidden fruit, and several vessel loads
were sacrificed to Neptune as an oblation for the sins of ministers
and an oblectation for the fishes of Boston harbour. Royal authority
increased in insolence, and the patriots increased in boldness. At the
commencement of the session of the general court in 1773, Governor
Hutchinson sustained the odious doctrine of supremacy of the parliament
in his message, which was promptly replied to and denied by the members
of that body. A reply was as promptly returned by his excellency,
which was prepared with more than usual ability. Mr. Adams, although
not a member at that time, was employed to write a rejoinder, which
was adopted without any amendment. It paralyzed the pen and closed
the mouth of the governor. It was an exposition of British wrongs and
American rights so clearly exhibited, that no sophistry could impugn
it or logic confront it. So highly was it appreciated by Dr. Franklin,
that he had it republished in England and freely circulated. It was a
luminary to the patriots and confusion to their opponents.

Shortly after, Mr. Adams was elected to the general court and placed on
the list of committees. So vindictive was governor Hutchinson, that he
erased his name—an act that recoiled upon himself with redoubled force
and aided to hasten the termination of his power in the colony. In less
than a year from that time he was succeeded by governor Gage, who was
still better calculated to hasten on the revolutionary crisis—because
more authoritative and ministerial than his predecessor. With the
commencement of his limited administration in 1774, the Boston port
bill took effect. The consequences that followed are familiar to the
reader. Governor Gage embraced the first opportunity to pay a marked
attention to John Adams. His name was placed on the council list at
the first session of the legislature, after his excellency assumed the
helm of government, who at once placed his indignant cross upon it.
He also removed the assembly to Salem. The members proceeded to the
preliminary business of the session, and among other things requested
the governor to fix a day for general humiliation and prayer, which he
peremptorily refused to do. Here again tender chords were touched. The
people _en masse_ venerated religion, and an insult upon that or an
interruption of its usual and ancient usages, was like adding pitch to
a fire already vivid and flaming. The house then proceeded to consider
the project of a general Congress, and in spite of an attempt by the
governor to dissolve it, the door was locked against his secretary,
patriotic resolutions were passed, and five delegates appointed to
meet a national convention, one of which was John Adams. So bold had
been his course that some of his warmest friends and most ardent
admirers advised him to decline his appointment, as the adherents of
the crown had already hinted that he evidently aimed at establishing
an independent government, which they considered endangered the peace
of the country and his life, as the British could and would enforce
every measure they chose to adopt. But John Adams had weighed well the
subject of rights and wrongs and took his stand within the citadel of
MORAL COURAGE, against which the gates of hell can never prevail. He
had resolved to nobly perish in defending the liberty of his country,
or plant the standard of freedom on the ruins of tyranny.

At the appointed time he repaired to the city of Philadelphia and took
his seat in that assemblage of sages whose wisdom has been sung by the
ablest poets, applauded by the most eloquent orators, and admired by
the most sagacious statesmen of the two hemispheres. On reading the
proceedings of the American Congress of 1774, Lord Chatham remarked,
“that he had studied and admired the free states of antiquity, the
master spirits of the world—but that for solidity of reasoning, force
of sagacity and wisdom of conclusion, no body of men could stand in
preference to this congress.”

Mr. Adams, for whom his friends felt so much anxiety for fear his
ardour might lead him to rashness, was as calm as a summer morning, but
firm as the granite shores of his birth place. With all his ardent zeal
he was discreet, prudent and politic. He was the last man to violate
constitutional law, and the last man to submit to its violation. He
kept his helm hard up and ran close to the wind, but understood well
when to luff and when to take the larboard tack, and when to take in
sail. His soundings were deep and his calculations relative to future
storms were truly prophetic. He was one of the few that believed the
ministry would induce the king and parliament of the mother country
to remain incorrigible, and that petitions would be vain, addresses
futile, and remonstrances unavailing. That this Congress adopted the
proper course to pursue, he was fully aware—that dignity might grace
the cause of the people and justice be honoured. The following extract
from a letter written by him at a subsequent period, shows his, and the
conclusions of others at that time.

“When Congress had finished their business as they thought, in the
autumn of 1774, I had with Mr. Henry before we took leave of each other
some familiar conversation, in which I expressed a full conviction that
our resolves, declarations of rights, enumeration of wrongs, petitions,
remonstrances, addresses, associations and non-importation agreements,
however they might be accepted in America and however necessary to
cement the union of the colonies, would be waste water in England.
Mr. Henry said, they might make some impression among the _people_ of
England, but agreed with me that they would be totally lost upon the
_government_. I had just received a short and hasty letter, written
to me by Major Joseph Hawley of Northampton, containing ‘a few broken
hints,’ as he called them, of what he thought was proper to be done,
and concluding with these words, ‘_after all we must fight_.’ This
letter I read to Mr. Henry, who listened with great attention, and as
soon as I had pronounced the words:—‘_after all we must fight_’—he
raised his hand and with an energy and vehemence that I can never
forget, broke out with—‘by G—d I am of that man’s mind.’ * * * * *

The other delegates from Virginia returned to their state in full
confidence that all our grievances would be redressed. The last words
that Mr. Richard Henry Lee said to me when we parted, were ‘we shall
infallibly carry all our points. You will be completely relieved—all
the offensive acts will be repealed, the army and fleet will be
recalled and Britain will give up her foolish project.’ Washington
only was in doubt. He never spoke in public. In private he joined with
those who advocated a non-exportation, as well as a non-importation
agreement. With _both_ he thought we should prevail—with either he
thought it doubtful. Henry was clear in one opinion, Richard Henry Lee
in an opposite opinion, and Washington doubted between the two.”

Here is exhibited a striking picture of the minds of these four great
men, which appears to have escaped the notice of the several writers
that I have consulted. Adams and Henry, drawing their conclusions from
the past, the present and the future, diving into the depths of human
nature and grasping, at one bold view, all the multiform circumstances
that hung over the two nations, concluded truly, “_after all we must
fight_.” They concluded that the confidence inspired in the ministers
by the overwhelming physical force of Great Britain, would prevent
them from relaxing the cords of oppression, and that the independent
spirit of the hardy sons of Columbia would not be subdued without a
struggle. Lee, naturally bouyant, his own mind readily impressed by
reason and eloquence, did not reflect that inflated power, when deluded
by obstinacy and avarice, is callous to all the refined feelings of the
heart, is deaf to wisdom and blind to justice. He was as determined to
maintain chartered rights as them, but did not scan human nature as
closely. Washington, deep in reflection and investigation, his soul
overflowing with the milk of human kindness, did not arrive as rapidly
at conclusions. In weighing the causes of difference between the two
countries, reason, justice and hope on the one side, power, corruption,
and avarice on the other, held his mind, for a time, in equilibrio. He
plainly perceived and pursued the right, and fondly but faintly hoped
that England would see and pursue it too. He was as prompt to defend
liberty as either of the others.

On his return, Mr. Adams was congratulated by his anxious friends upon
the prudent course he had pursued, and was re-elected a member of
the ensuing Congress. During the interim his pen was again usefully
employed. Mr. Sewall, the king’s attorney-general, had written a
series of elaborate and ingenious essays, maintaining the supremacy
of parliament and censuring, in no measured terms, the proceedings of
the whigs. Under the name of “Novanglus,” Mr. Adams stripped the gay
ornaments and gaudy apparel from the high-varnished picture that Mr.
Sewall had presented to the public, and when he had finished his work,
a mere skeleton of visible deformity was left to gaze upon.

The attorney-general was made to tremble before the keen cuts of the
falchion quill of this devoted patriot. So deep was his reasoning, so
learned were his expositions, and so lucid and conclusive were his
demonstrations, that his antagonist exclaimed, as he retired hissing
from the conflict, “he strives to hide his inconsistencies under a huge
pile of learning.” The pile proved too huge for royal power, and was
sufficiently large to supply the people with an abundance of light.
The supremacy of parliament was an unfortunate issue for ministers. It
left the sages of liberty in a position to hurl their arrows freely at
_them_, without denying the allegiance of the colonists to the _king_.
The British cabinet worked out its own destruction, if not with fear
and trembling, it was with blindness and disgrace—a disgrace arising
from the grossest impolicy and injustice, if not to say ignorance and
infatuation. They were entirely mistaken in the people of America—they
awoke the wrong passengers.

In May, 1775, Mr. Adams again took his seat in Congress. The members
convened under quite different feelings from those that pervaded their
bosoms the previous autumn. Revolution was now rolling fearfully upon
their bleeding country, hope of redress was expiring like the last
flickerings of an exhausted taper, dark and portentous clouds were
accumulating, the ministerial ermine was already steeped in blood,
the chains of servitude were clanking in their ears, the dying groans
of their fellow citizens and the mournful lamentations of widows and
orphans were resounding through the land, and the prophetic conclusion
of Adams and Henry, drawn at the previous session, began to force
itself upon the minds of members, that “_after all we must fight_.” As
a preliminary measure, it was necessary to appoint a commander of the
military forces to be raised. To fix upon the _best_ man was of vital
importance. Many were yet chanting the song of peace and thought it
premature to make such an appointment, lest it should widen the breach
which they still hoped might be repaired. The New England delegates
were not of this class. When the purple current was wantonly diverted
from its original channel upon the heights of Lexington, they hung
their syren harps upon the weeping willows that shaded the tombs of
their murdered brethren. They were convinced that war was inevitable.
All soon became satisfied that prudence dictated a preparation for
such an event. A suitable man to lead the armies and direct their
course was a desideratum. The southern members were willing to submit
to any nomination made by the eastern delegates. General Artemas Ward
of Massachusetts was fixed upon by most of them, except John Adams.
In George Washington he had discovered the commingling qualities
of a philanthropist, a philosopher, a statesman and a hero. He was
prompted by the force of moral courage to at once urge his colleagues
to sanction his choice. They were all opposed to it, as were also the
other members of the northern and eastern delegation. Mr. Adams was
firm in his purpose, and met every objection with conclusive arguments.
These discussions were all private, not a word was uttered on the
floor of Congress as to who should be the man. At last Samuel Adams
became convinced that his junior colleague was right. The work was
soon accomplished. Satisfied that his measure would be supported by a
majority, John Adams rose in Congress and proposed that a commander
of the American armies should be appointed. When this resolution was
passed, he proceeded to portray the requisite qualities necessary
to fit a man for this important station, and emphatically remarked
“_such a man is within these walls_.” But few knew who he was about
to nominate, and could not imagine who among their own number was
possessed of all these noble attainments. A transient pause ensued. A
breathless anxiety produced a painful suspense. The next moment the
name of COLONEL GEORGE WASHINGTON of Virginia, was announced, at which
the colonel was more astonished than any other member of the house. He
had not received an intimation of the intended honour from any person.
He was nominated by John Adams about the middle of June, the nomination
was seconded by Samuel Adams, the next day the vote was taken and was
unanimous in his favour. This appointment originated entirely with Mr.
Adams; a high encomium upon his deep penetration and discernment of
human intellect, a clear demonstration of his moral courage manifested
in persevering in his choice although opposed at the threshold by
the entire New England delegation. So judicious and felicitous was
this selection, that the revered La Fayette remarked, “it was the
consequence of providential inspiration.” Be it so; Mr. Adams was the
happy medium through which it was communicated to the Continental
Congress, thereby placing at the head of the American armies just such
a man as the crisis required—prudent, dignified, bold, sagacious,
patient, persevering, and universally esteemed by the patriots, and
admired even by the most violent adherents of the crown.

After Mr. Adams had accomplished this important act, he remained
apparently quiescent during the residue of the session, viewing,
analyzing and scanning public feeling and public acts.

In the spring of 1776, he took his seat a third time in the National
Assembly. The period had then arrived for more decisive action.
Massachusetts had been declared out of the king’s protection by
parliament. England had hired legions of soldiers from German princes
to subdue the rebels in America, the last note of peace had died
upon the voice of echo, every ray of hope in favour of an amicable
settlement was banished, and every member became convinced that the
dilemma was, _resistance or slavery_; but there were many who shrunk
back with astonishment when independence was named to them.

At this juncture Mr. Adams marked out a bold course and had moral
courage to pursue it. On the sixth of May he offered a resolution
in Congress proposing that the colonies should organize governments
independent of the mother country. On the tenth of the same month its
substance was adopted in a modified form, recommending the formation of
such government by the colonies “as might be conducive to the happiness
and safety of their constituents in particular and America in general.”

This startling measure was at first ably opposed by many of the
patriots as premature, admitting its justice, and, but for the weakness
of the colonies, its propriety and necessity. But Mr. Adams knew no
middle course. He had succeeded in obtaining the adoption of the
preface to his broad and expanding folio of an independent compact,
and he proceeded to put the main matter to press. He rose like a
giant and commenced the mighty work of political regeneration. Each
succeeding day brought him new aid. From the legislature of his own
state he received full permission to strike for independence. North
Carolina had declared first, Virginia followed, and on the seventh of
June, Richard Henry Lee became the organ to lay the proposition fairly
before Congress. A most animated discussion ensued. Then it was that
the powers of Mr. Adams were fully developed. Mr. Jefferson said of him
when alluding to his able support of the declaration of independence,
“John Adams was the pillar of its support on the floor of Congress;
its ablest advocate and defender against the multifarious assaults
it encountered. He was our Colossus on the floor; not graceful, not
elegant, not always fluent in his public addresses; yet he came out
with a power, both of thought and of expression, that moved us from our
seats.” Another writer remarks, I think Mr. Trumbull, “The eloquence
of Mr. Adams resembled his general character. It was bold, manly and
energetic, such as the crisis required.” The noblest powers of the soul
of John Adams were raised to the zenith of their strength to accomplish
the mighty work before him. Although on the committee to prepare
the manifesto of eternal separation, he confided its preparation to
his colleagues and bent his whole force, eloquence and energy upon
the opponents to the measure. Most manfully did he contend, most
gloriously did he triumph. He bore down upon his adversaries like a
mountain torrent, a sweeping avalanche, prostrating their arguments
and answering their objections in a manner that left no trace behind.
He hurled the arrows of conviction so thick and fast, that every
heart was pierced and a majority subdued. At length the time arrived
when the momentous subject must be decided. The fourth of July, 1776,
dawned upon the patriots; they assembled, the past, the present and
the prospective future rushed upon their minds; moments flew, hearts
beat quicker, the question was put, independence was declared, America
was free, liberty was honoured, freedom was proclaimed and a nation

The following copy of a letter written by Mr. Adams to his wife on the
5th of July, will show the feelings of his mind on that occasion:

“Yesterday the greatest question was decided that was ever debated in
America, and greater, perhaps, never was or will be decided among men.
A resolution passed without one dissenting colony—‘that these United
States are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.’ The
day is passed. The fourth of July, 1776, will be a memorable epoch in
the history of America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated by
succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival. It ought to
be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion
to Almighty God. It ought to be solemnized with pomps, shows, games,
sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the
continent to the other, from this time forward and for ever. You will
think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of
the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost to maintain this
declaration and support and defend these states; yet, through all the
gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory. I can see that the end
is worth more than all the means, and that posterity will triumph,
although you and I may rue, which I hope we shall not.”

Early in the winter of 1776, Mr. Adams sketched a form of government
to be adopted by each colony, which was substantially the same as the
constitutions of the present time. It was in a letter to Richard Henry
Lee, by whom it was, by permission, published without a name, and may
be considered as the model of the constitutions now in force in the
different states. After the form he remarks, “A constitution founded on
these principles, introduces knowledge among the people and inspires
them with a conscious dignity becoming freemen. A general emulation
takes place which causes good humour, sociability, good manners and
good morals to be general. That elevation of sentiment inspired by
such a government, makes the common people brave and enterprising.
That ambition which is inspired by it makes them sober, industrious
and frugal. You will find among them some elegance perhaps, but
more solidity; a little pleasure but a great deal of business; some
politeness but more civility. If you compare such a country with the
regions of domination, whether monarchial or aristocratical, you will
fancy yourself in Arcadia or Elysium.”

Here, upon the canvass of truth, is a complete picture, exhibiting
the blessings derived from a government like our own in its
_principles_—that these principles are not strictly adhered to by all
politicians, is a fact too fully and fearfully demonstrated. Among all
the great men of the last century of increasing intellectual light,
no one appears to have taken a more comprehensive and at the same
time minute view of human nature and of human government, than John
Adams. He traced causes and effects through all their labyrinthian
meanderings, and drew conclusions as if by inspiration. Many of his
predictions of the future bear the impress of prophecy, and show how
deeply he investigated and the clearness of his perception.

On his return from Congress at the close of the session, he was chosen
a member of the council of Massachusetts under the new constitution,
and aided to organize a free government on a basis purely republican.
He was also appointed chief justice, but declined serving.

In 1777, Mr. Adams resumed his seat in Congress, and engaged in a
course of labour unparalleled in the history of legislation. He was an
acting member of ninety committees, chairman of twenty-five, chairman
of the board of war and of appeals, discharged all those multifarious
duties promptly, besides participating in the debates of the house upon
all important questions. In December of that year he was appointed a
commissioner to France, and embarked on board of the frigate Boston
in February following, from his native town at the foot of Mount
Wollaston. During the voyage a British armed ship was discovered,
and, by the consent of Mr. Adams, Captain Tucker gave chase, strictly
enjoining the commissioner to keep out of danger. No sooner had the
action commenced than Mr. Adams seized a musket and gave the enemy
a well directed shot. The captain discovering him in his exposed
situation, said to him, “I am commanded by the Continental Congress to
carry you in safety to Europe, and I will do it,” and very pleasantly
removed him and placed him out of danger.

On his arrival at France he had the satisfaction to learn that Dr.
Franklin and his colleagues had succeeded in concluding a treaty of
alliance with the French nation. He continued in Europe a little more
than a year and then returned home. Soon after his arrival he was
elected to a convention of his native state convened for the purpose
of perfecting a constitution for the more complete organization of its
government. He was upon the committee to prepare this document, and was
selected to make the draught. He produced an instrument similar to that
sketched for Richard Henry Lee in January 1776, which was sanctioned
and adopted. Before his duties had terminated in this convention he was
appointed by Congress “a minister plenipotentiary for negotiating a
treaty of peace and a treaty of commerce with Great Britain.”

In October, 1779, he embarked from Boston for Europe, and after a long
and tedious passage, he arrived at Paris in February following. The
British ministry were not yet sufficiently humbled to do right, and
Mr. Adams had too much sagacity to be ensnared, and too much moral
courage to consent to any thing wrong. Anxious to benefit his country,
on hearing that Mr. Laurens, the American commissioner to Holland, had
been captured, he immediately repaired to that kingdom, and in August
received a commission from Congress to negotiate a loan and to conclude
a treaty of amity and commerce with the States General of Holland, with
instructions to accede to any treaty of neutral rights that might arise
from regulations to be made by a congress of the European states, then
in contemplation. In a few months he was completely overwhelmed with
diplomatic powers. He was minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain—to
the States General—to the prince of Orange—to all the European states
for pledging the faith of the United States to the armed neutrality,
with letters of credit to the Russian, Swedish and Danish envoys in
Holland, and a commissioner to negotiate a loan of ten millions of
dollars for the support of the home department and foreign embassies.
The duties thus devolving upon him, all of which he discharged with
approbation, will give the reader some idea of the gigantic mental
powers of John Adams. He had the same kind of intrigue to encounter
as that alluded to in the biography of Franklin, which he met at the
threshold and crushed whilst in embryo.

In July, 1781, he received a summons from the court of France to repair
immediately to Versailles to deliberate upon a plan of peace with
England. On his arrival he had occasion for the exercise of that moral
courage that sustained him in every dilemma. The terms offered did
not fully recognise the rights of the United States as an independent
sovereign nation—peace was anxiously desired and ardently urged by the
Duke de Vergennes, who stood at the head of the French cabinet—Mr.
Adams desired it too, but only upon honourable and dignified terms.
The duke, who had uniformly showed a disposition to make the United
States at least _feel_ deeply a dependence upon France, undertook to
dictate to Mr. Adams, and placed him in the position of a subordinate
agent. In this project he was greatly mistaken. Mr. Adams recognised no
dictator but the Continental Congress and his own keen and penetrating
judgment. So chagrined was the French duke at the independence of the
American minister, that he wrote to the chevalier de la Luzerne, then
minister from France in America, to lay a formal complaint against Mr.
Adams before Congress. This he did in a very ingenious manner, but
without success. As a matter of deference to their new and important
ally, the members of Congress very partially modified the instructions
to their minister, but did not place him under the control of the duke
as requested. They knew the spirit of John Adams would never compromise
the dignity of the American name, and they reposed entire confidence
in his ability to perceive the right, and in his moral courage to
pursue it. It became evident that the motives of the French court in
giving assistance to the United States were based entirely on self.
Her objects were to humble her inveterate foe, and when that was
accomplished, to secure her own aggrandizement and that of Spain at the
expense of America. I speak of the _court_ of France, and not of the
good Lafayette and French patriots like him.

Finding that his presence could be of no service at Versailles, Mr.
Adams returned to Amsterdam. Soon after this, so powerfully did the
French minister operate upon Congress, taking the advantage of the
reverses of the American arms, that he induced that body to add to
the commission of Mr. Adams, Dr. Franklin, Messrs. Jefferson, Jay and
Laurens, with the humiliating direction, “that they should govern
themselves by the advice and opinion of the ministers of the king of
France.” The duke de Vergennes now exulted in his power, having been
made by Congress virtually the sovereign minister of the United States
to Great Britain. But his exultation was delusive. Nothing could bend
Mr. Adams or Franklin, and the other commissioners became convinced of
the propriety of the bold stand assumed. Mr. Adams wrote to Congress
and exposed the plans of the duke and his coadjutors, and was the bold
medium of communication that opened the eyes of its members to see and
permit the commissioner to maintain their true dignity, which enabled
them to finally obtain an honourable peace. He also succeeded, after
surmounting many Alpine barriers, in negotiating a loan in Holland of
eight millions of guilders, in September, 1782. The benefits of this
loan were two-fold—it enabled the United States to prosecute the war
with more vigour, and had a direct influence upon England, inducing her
to make proposals of peace soon after this was known to lord Shelburne,
then at the head of the British administration, which secured to
the United States the great privileges insisted on by Mr. Adams. A
provisional treaty was signed at Paris on the thirtieth of November,
1782, and a definitive treaty was signed on the third of September,
1783. This step was taken without consulting the duke de Vergennes,
and completely thwarted his golden schemes of finesse. He addressed a
letter of reproach to the American commissioners, because they dared
to proceed without his approbation, which they did not condescend to
answer. The three grand points in the plan of the court of France
were—in securing to themselves the trade and fisheries of the Unites
States, and for Spain—the sole right of navigating the Mississippi

After the important work of concluding peace with England was
accomplished, Mr. Adams returned to Holland, where he remained a part
of the year 1784, when he returned to France and assumed the duties of
a commission, at the head of which he was placed, having Dr. Franklin
and Mr. Jefferson associated with him, forming a trio of combined,
various and exalted talent, never surpassed if ever equalled. They were
empowered to negotiate commercial treaties with all foreign nations
that desired such an arrangement with the United States.

In 1785, Mr. Adams was appointed the first minister to Great Britain
after the acknowledgement of the independence of the United States
by that kingdom. He was received with marked attention and courtesy,
so far as courtly etiquette and ceremony were concerned, but found
the ministry morose and bitter in their feelings towards the new
republic. They were unwilling to enter into a commercial treaty, and
seemed to treat the peace as a mere truce between the two nations.
Mr. Adams performed the delicate duties of his mission with great
sagacity and wisdom, and patiently removed subsisting difficulties
between the two countries. Nor did he remain passive as to the internal
affairs of his country at home. To win independence he considered one
thing, to preserve it, was a different and more difficult matter. The
theories of a republican form of government that had been published
by Thurgot[H] and others, and freely circulated in America, he
considered wild and visionary, as the transient existence of the French
republic subsequently proved. To strip these delusive theories of
their sophistry, Mr. Adams published a learned and able disquisition
on republican constitutions, which operated as a polar light to his
own countrymen and had a powerful influence in correcting error and
allaying prejudices in England against the government of the United
States. His “Defence of the Constitutions” also placed him on a lofty
eminence in view of the literati of Europe.

    [H] Thurgot said of Franklin—“He first snatched the thunderbolt
        from Jove, and then the sceptre from kings.”

In 1788, he obtained permission to return home, and in the autumn
of the same year was elected the first vice-president of the United
States under the federal constitution, the duties of which station
he performed with dignity and great ability. He was a confidential
counsellor of Washington, who consulted him on all important questions.
He was re-elected in 1792, with but little opposition; and in 1796,
he was elected president of the republic, to establish which he had
perilled life, fortune and honour. At this time party spirit had
commenced its career of venality and his election was warmly contested.
His opponent, Mr. Jefferson, received sixty-eight votes and Mr. Adams
seventy-one. During all the effervescence of party feeling, which
arrayed father against son and cut asunder the long cherished ties of
friendship between thousands, these two great men remained personal
friends, showing at once the magnanimity of their minds and the folly
of low minded foaming partizans. It was then that the American press
first descended from its lofty and legitimate eminence and planted
it before unsullied feet in the obloquious quagmire of party spirit.
Since that time partisan presses have been sinking deeper and deeper,
until some of them, _pro et con._, have become so deeply planted in the
filth and scum of personal abuse and political slander, that, to use
a simile, Archimedes, with the mighty powers of his lever, could not
raise them to their pristine elevation in half a century. So far were
matters carried by his political friends against the public measures
of Mr. Adams in 1800, that Mr. Jefferson was compelled, from a sense
of duty, to rebuke the slanders that were uttered, in the following
emphatic language, which becomes more forcible from the fact that
his own private character had been shamefully attacked by those who
supported his political opponent.

“Gentlemen, you do not know that man—there is not upon earth a more
perfectly honest man than John Adams. Concealment is no part of his
character—of that, he is utterly incapable. It is not in his nature
to meditate any thing that he would not publish to the world. The
measures of the general government are a fair subject for difference of
opinion—but do not found your opinions on the notion that there is the
smallest spice of dishonesty, moral or political, in the character of
John Adams, for I know him well, and I repeat—that a man more perfectly
honest never issued from the hands of his Creator.”

Mr. Adams proceeded to the conscientious and independent discharge of
his presidential duties, prompted by the best motives for the glory
of his country. His administration, however, became unpopular, and
at the expiration of his term the democratic party triumphed, and
he retired to Quincy, to once more enjoy the long lost comforts of
retirement. Much has been written upon the causes that produced the
political overthrow of Mr. Adams. To my mind the solution is brief and
plain. His cabinet was not of his own choosing—he was too independent
to bend to party management—he opposed the humiliating demands of the
then self-styled democratic France—he advocated, most earnestly, the
augmentation of the navy of the United States, and recommended the law
for suppressing the venality of the press. In the two first points he
was impolitic as the head of a _party_—in the two next, he did what all
now acknowledge to be right—and in the last, he took the wrong method
to correct one of the most alarming evils of that day—an evil that
still hangs over our country like an incubus. The three last were the
strong points seized upon by partisans, and were rendered extremely
unpopular, and enabled his opponents to defeat his re-election. He
retired with a good grace, and remained the personal friend of his
rival until the day of his death. He supported the policy of Mr.
Jefferson towards England, and approved of the declaration of war in
1812. In writing to a friend, in July of that year, he remarked:

“To your allusion to the war, I have nothing to say—but that it is with
surprise that I hear it pronounced, not only in the newspapers, but
by persons in authority, ecclesiastical and civil, and political and
military—that the declaration of it was altogether unexpected * * *
How it is possible that a rational, a social or a moral creature can
say the war is unjust, is to me utterly incomprehensible. How it can be
said to be unnecessary, is very mysterious. I have thought it necessary
for five or six years. How it can be said to be unexpected, is another
wonder. I have expected it more than five-and-twenty years, and have
great reason to be thankful that it has been postponed so long.”

He attributed the opposition of the eastern states to the war to the
impolicy of the government in not cherishing the navy, and compared
them to Achilles, who, in consequence of his being deprived of Briseis,
withdrew from the Grecian confederacy. The augmentation of the navy
was the _ne plus ultra_ of his national policy, and had his views
upon this point been carried out by our government, our nation would
now have been mistress of the seas, instead of having scarcely armed
vessels enough to protect the expanding commerce of our enterprising
merchants—a fact that has become a by-word among other nations, and has
often crimsoned the cheeks of liberal minded Americans.

Soon after his retirement he was offered the gubernatorial chair of
his native state, but declined the honour on account of his advanced
age—but continued to take a deep interest in the welfare of his
country, and wrote many essays and letters in favour of liberal
principles and American rights. After the retirement of Mr. Jefferson,
a most happy and interesting correspondence was continued between these
two great apostles of liberty. In 1815, Mr. Adams had the gratifying
pleasure of seeing his son at the head of the diplomatic commission
to conclude a second treaty with Great Britain, which carried his
mind back, with all the enthusiastic force of an old man’s memory, to
the scenes of 1782–3, when he had performed and executed a similar
mission. In 1817, he was placed at the head of the list of presidential
electors, and three years after was elected president of the convention
that revised the constitution he had written forty years previous. The
compliment was duly appreciated by him, but his infirmities did not
permit him to preside over the deliberations of that body, although he
imparted his counsels and aided greatly in the revision. This was the
last public act of this great man—the curtain of the political drama
then closed upon him for ever. Two years previous the partner of his
bosom had gone to her final rest, which was an affliction most keenly
felt by him. For more than half a century she had shared with him the
pains and pleasures of their eventful career, and had always met the
events of life with christian fortitude. Surrounded by friends who
delighted to honour him, his country prosperous and happy, enjoying
the full fruition of divine grace, which had produced the fruits of
unsophisticated piety through a long life, political animosities
buried in oblivion, his now frail bark glided smoothly down the stream
of time until the fiftieth anniversary of independence dawned upon
his beloved country. On the morning of the fourth of July, 1826, an
unexpected debility seized him, and he was unable to leave his bed,
but no one imagined he was standing on the last inch of his time. He
was asked for a sentiment, to be given for him at the celebration on
that day—“INDEPENDENCE FOR EVER,” burst from his dying lips, which were
the last words that he ever uttered, with a loud and animated voice.
About four o’clock in the afternoon he expired—without an apparent
pain, a groan, a murmur or a sigh, with a full assurance of a happy
reception in that brighter world, where sin and sorrow never cross the
peaceful path of the angelic throng. On the same day, and but a few
hours previous, the immortal spirit of the illustrious Jefferson had
left its prison of clay, thrown off its mortal coil, and perhaps took
its kindred in its flight, and they together “ascended in essence to
an ecstatic meeting with the friends they had loved and lost, and whom
they should still love and never lose,” there to enjoy, through the
rolling ages of eternity, the blissful scenes of angelic purity—the
smiles and favours of their Saviour and their God.

This unparalleled combination of extraordinary circumstances produced
a deep and unusual sensation in the United States and in Europe. The
simultaneous departure of two of the noblest spirits that ever graced
the great theatre of human life, illuminating the world around them
with freedom—whose actions had resounded through the universe—whose
mighty deeds had been and will continue to be a theme of wonder and
admiration to the end of time—was an incident that seemed designed by
the great Jehovah, to impress their precepts, their examples and their
names upon the minds of men with all the force of god-like divinity.

Mr. Adams was a plain man; low in stature, not graceful in his
movements, and was sometimes abrupt and repulsive. His manners were
rather austere and unbending in public, but in the social circle, with
his relatives and friends, he was familiar, pleasing and entertaining.
He was not partial to ceremonious etiquette, and was averse to
pedantry. Plain strong common sense he practised and admired. He spoke
his sentiments freely, and could never have been transformed into a
_technical_ politican, even had he enjoyed the magic advantages of
modern schools. His open frankness was proverbial, and he often alluded
to it as one of his failings. When once in Stewart’s room of paintings,
he fixed his eyes upon the portrait of Washington, and then upon his
own, and observing the compressed mouth of the former and the open
lips of the latter, facetiously remarked as he pointed to it—“Ah! that
fellow never could keep his mouth shut.” This circumstance alone did
much to enhance his unpopularity as a party politician.

In the brilliant career of this great and good man the reader must
discover a higher and holier eulogy than language can express. For more
than fifty years he served his country ably and faithfully in a public
capacity, and continued to impart his counsels until the curtain of
death shut him from the world. In all the relations of private life he
stood upon a lofty eminence—beyond the reach of slander. The escutcheon
of his social name was too pure for the approach of the foulest of all
pestiferous atmospheres—that of party spirit. And now, as his ashes
rest in the peaceful grave, that hydra monster dare not impute to his
actions in life a spark of political dishonesty or impurity of motive,
however much he differed from other great men in his views, lest the
voice of Jefferson should proclaim to them from the tomb—AN HONESTER


This revered name stands associated with every amiable and noble
quality to which mortal man can attain on this dim revolving ball of
human action. A sacred halo encircles it, that renders it dear to every
philanthropist and respected by the whole civilized world. I am aware
that his merits cannot be enhanced by eulogy, nor could detraction
ever tarnish the glory of his fame. I am aware that the whole magazine
of language has been exhausted in his praise. I am aware that talents
of the highest order, hearts of the warmest devotion, imaginations of
the happiest conception, united with the most refined and thrilling
eloquence, have portrayed, in bold and glowing colours, the fair fame
of WASHINGTON. To delineate fully and clearly the virtues of this great
and good man, would require an angel’s pen dipped in etherial fire, and
an angel’s hand to guide it. His life cannot be too often reviewed; his
examples cannot be too closely imitated. Like some magnificent scenes
of nature, his history is

   “Ever charming, ever new,
    The prospect never tires the view.”

The lustre of his virtues was of that celestial character, that,
like the luminary of day, it is seen and felt, but cannot be fully
described. His picture is one on which we may gaze with increased
delight, and discover new beauties to the last. His memory should be
rehearsed by every print in our land; every new press and fount of
type should spread, in glowing capitals, the name of the beloved, the
illustrious WASHINGTON. The aged sire should impress it on the hearts
of the rising generation; the mother should teach it to her lisping
babe; the preceptor should point his pupils to this polar star of
virtue, goodness and magnanimity; and the friends of union, liberty and
order, should read often, carefully and attentively, the biography of
the father of our country. These are deemed reasons sufficiently strong
to prompt this humble effort to delineate the interesting career of the
man who was first in peace—terrible in war—the friend of humanity—the
HERO OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE—and the founder of our country’s glory.
To me, the subject possesses a peculiar zest, fraught with pleasure and

GEORGE WASHINGTON was born in the county of Fairfax, Virginia, on the
22nd of February, 1732. He lost his father at an early age, and to the
wisdom of his mother he declared himself indebted for the correct
formation of his youthful mind. Matrons of America, if the mother of
Washington moulded _his_ mind with such beauty and greatness, how
much may _you_ do to perpetuate, through your sons, the prosperity
and happiness of your favoured country! Train their youthful minds
in wisdom’s ways; guide them in the paths of virtue and patriotism;
teach them to love their country and its liberty; and to prize, dearer
than life, the sacred boon of freedom that was nobly won and sacredly
transmitted by the sages and patriots of ’76.

Washington, during his childhood and youth, exhibited a strong and
enquiring mind. His habits were those of industry, perseverance and
stability. He was assiduous in his studies and enriched his memory
with solid and useful knowledge. He possessed a large share of merit
and modesty, which gained for him the love and esteem of all who had
the pleasure of his acquaintance. He was frank, open, generous, humane
and honest. Nothing could induce him to utter a falsehood, practice
deceit, or disobey his fond mother. He soared above the vain and
trifling amusements that so often divert youth from wisdom’s ways. He
was designed to be a star of the first magnitude on the great theatre
of action; he studied well his part before he entered upon the stage,
and when the curtain rose, he was prepared for his audience, acquitted
himself nobly, and retired amidst the plaudits and cheers of astonished
and admiring millions.

His talents and merit attracted the attention of Governor Dinwiddie,
who then presided over Virginia, the frontiers of which were greatly
annoyed by the French and Indians. It was deemed necessary to send
a messenger to them, demanding the reasons for their unprovoked
hostility, and, if possible, to induce them to evacuate their forts,
smoke the pipe of peace and disperse. Young Washington, then only
twenty-one years of age, was selected to perform this important
mission, which was fraught with dangers on every side. His path lay
through a dense wilderness for four hundred miles, inhabited by roving
Indians seeking for prey. He undertook the hazardous enterprise and
arrived at his place of destination in safety. Whilst the French
commandant was writing an answer to Governor Dinwiddie, Washington,
unobserved, took the dimensions of the fort and returned unmolested.
It was soon found necessary to raise a regiment of troops to arrest
the bloody career of the savages on the frontiers. Washington was
placed in command over them with the commission of colonel, and marched
towards the Great Meadows in April, 1754. On his way he surprised and
captured a body of the enemy. On his arrival at the Great Meadows
he erected a small stockade fort, very appropriately naming it Fort
Necessity. Here he was reinforced, swelling his little army to four
hundred men. He then made preparations to attack Fort Du Quesne (now
Pittsburgh,) but soon learned that the enemy was advancing upon him
to the number of 1500 men, commanded by M. de Villiers. The attack
was soon commenced with great fury, and continued for several hours,
when the French commander offered terms of capitulation and was glad
to permit the young champion to march away unmolested. This brilliant
and bold adventure placed the talents of Washington high on the scale
of eminence, as a bold, skilful and prudent officer. It occurred on
the 4th of July, a happy prelude to the glorious 4th of ’76, the grand
birthday of American Independence.

The following year another expedition was sent against Fort Du Quesne
of about two thousand troops, under the command of the unfortunate
General Braddock, who had more courage than prudence, more self-conceit
than wisdom. He spurned the advice of the “beardless boy,” and rushed
into a snare, where he and nearly half of his army met the cold embrace
of death. The deliberate courage and superior skill of Washington, by
a judicious retreat, saved the remainder from the bloody tomahawk and
scalping-knife. He arrived with them safe at Fort Cumberland. By his
rashness, Braddock led his men into an ambuscade of about five hundred
French and Indians, who were secreted in three deep ravines forming a
triangle, secure from danger unless charged, where he remained with
them until he had five horses shot under him, nearly half of his men
cut down, himself mortally wounded, and not an enemy to be seen. One
hundred men headed by Washington, with fixed bayonets, would have
dispersed them in ten minutes.

Washington, unwilling to witness again such waste of human life,
resigned his military command and retired to private life. But his
sterling talents were not suffered to remain long inactive. He was
elected to the legislature from Frederick, and subsequently from
Fairfax, and was highly respected as a wise, discerning legislator,
exhibiting a mind imbued with philanthropy and liberal principles,
guided by a clear judgment and a sound discretion, adorned by a
retiring modesty, too rare in men of talent.

From this field of action, Washington entered one of greater magnitude
and importance, big with events, involving consequences of the deepest
interest to himself, to his country, and to the world. After serving
the mother country in the French war with blood and treasure, after
submitting to taxation, oppression, and insult for years, the colonists
resolved to burst the chains of slavery, throw off the shackles of
tyranny, and assume their native dignity. Every source of redress
had been exhausted; every avenue of conciliation had been explored;
more than reason could demand had been offered; all that was clearly
_right_, and much that was clearly _wrong_, the pilgrims had submitted
to, and still their ungracious, their unfeeling, their blinded mother,
cried give—give—give. They had not dreamed of independence; they had
only demanded sheer justice; this being denied, they resorted to the
last, the only alternative. Instead of submitting to taxation, without
representation—instead of yielding obedience to the pernicious stamp
act, they stamped their names with unfading glory, their country with
lasting fame. In the autumn of 1774, the first great Congress of the
American nation assembled at Philadelphia, of which Washington was a
member. The solemnities of that thrilling scene have been repeatedly
alluded to as of the most imposing character. No one felt them more
deeply than the father of our country. When the proceedings were opened
by prayer, Washington alone was upon his knees. His mind, on all
occasions, seems to have reached to heaven, his soul seemed to dwell
in the bosom of his God. Devoted, unsophisticated and humble piety
marked his whole life—a piety sincere in its motives and consistent in
all its exhibitions. But Washington was not to remain in the hall of
the Continental Congress. A mighty work was in store for him. On the
memorable 19th of April, 1775, on the heights of Lexington, American
blood was spilt by order of Major Pitcairn. Justice looked at the
purple current as it flowed, and sighed; mercy carried the sad news to
the etherial skies; the eagle of liberty caught the mournful sound,
descended in a stream of liquid fire, planted the torch of freedom in
the serum of the bleeding patriots and bid eternal defiance to the
British lion.

The effect was electrical. The alarm spread with the rapidity of
lightning. It was sounded from church-bells and signal-guns; echo
carried it from hills to dales, from sire to son. Vengeance was roused
from its lair; the hardy yeomanry left their ploughs in the furrow; the
merchant forsook his counting-house; the professional man his office;
the minister his pulpit; and with powder-horn and slug, shouldered
their rusty muskets, hastened to the scene of action determined to
avenge their injured rights, defend their bleeding country, or perish
in the attempt. The implements of husbandry were exchanged for those
of war; the mechanic shop, the bar, the desk and the forum, were
exchanged for the dangers and fatigues of the army. A band of veterans
arose, with “hearts of oak and nerves of steel,” headed by that bright
luminary the illustrious WASHINGTON, who stood forth the champions
of LIBERTY, the advocates of FREEDOM; resolved upon emancipation or
death; pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honours
in defence of their common country; looking to Heaven for strength,
guidance and support. Illustrious heroes! disinterested patriots! yours
exceeded all Greek, all Roman fame.

In June following, Washington was appointed by the unanimous voice of
the Continental Congress commander-in-chief of the American armies.
This appointment he accepted with diffidence and reluctance, feeling
that it involved responsibilities, consequences and results too mighty
for him to assume, too vast for him to encounter.

He did not view it as the field of glory, of conquest, of ambition, or
of fame. He did not thirst for human blood or exult in the profession
of arms. Love of country, of liberty, of human rights, of liberal
principles, and the oppressive chains of tyranny, prompted him to

Before his arrival at Cambridge, to enter upon the important duties of
his command, the fortress of Crown Point and Ticonderoga had fallen
into the hands of the colonists.

The sanguinary battle of Bunker Hill had been fought, which convinced
the British that men contending for their just rights, their dearest
interests, their bosoms fired with indignation and patriotism, could
not be made to yield to the glittering arms of a haughty monarch
without a bold and daring effort to maintain that liberty which they
had received at their birth from the hands of their Creator.

War now assumed a serious aspect, the bloody toils of the revolution
commenced. England poured in her legions by thousands, and, to cap
the climax of the terrific scene, called to her aid the blood-thirsty
Indian with his tomahawk and scalping-knife. The welkin rang with the
savage war-whoop and the expiring groans of mothers and babes. The
contest seemed to be that of an infant with a giant, a lamb with a
lion. The dark clouds blackened as they rose, charged with the fury of
demons and the lightning of revenge.

Washington viewed their fiery aspect with calm serenity, heard their
portentous roar without a tremor. With a soul reaching to heaven, he
met the awful crisis with firmness and wisdom before unknown; his
gigantic mind soared above the highest pinnacle difficulty could
rear; his course was onward towards the goal of LIBERTY; beneath his
conquering arm monarchy trembled, tottered and fell.

His whole energy was now directed to the organization of the army and
a preparation for future action. An important expedition was planned
against Canada, which was attended with great hardship, boldness and
perseverance. It was entrusted to Generals Montgomery and Schuyler,
who were subsequently followed by Arnold. It was crowned with success,
until an unfortunate attack was made upon Quebec, where the brave
Montgomery fell with many other valuable officers and soldiers. The
ensuing spring the American army evacuated Canada. The royal governors
in some of the colonies, by the aid of the king’s troops, still
maintained the authority of the crown, but they were soon compelled
to flee on board of the British ships of war, where they issued their
proclamations with about as much effect as the puffing of a porpoise.

Early in March, 1776, Washington appeared before Boston, where lord
Howe had concentrated his army, and took a position that induced the
English general to evacuate the town on the 17th of the same month. In
July, the fort on Sullivan’s Island was attacked by General Clinton
and Sir Peter Parker, and after an action of ten hours, Sir Peter
was compelled to retire with his silk breeches disfigured by the
rudeness of a cannon ball, his ships badly torn to pieces by the rebel
artillery, and two hundred of his men killed and wounded. The fort
was defended by Colonel Moultrie with about five hundred men, with
twenty-six nine and eighteen pounders. Sir Peter had two fifty gun
ships, four frigates and several small vessels, with three thousand
veteran troops. There was so much elasticity in the southern climate
on this occasion, that the royalists did not venture there again for
nearly two years.

On the 7th of June, Richard Henry Lee, a member from Virginia, made a
motion in Congress to break off all allegiance with the mother country,
and assume the rightful dignity of a free and independent nation. This
resulted in the appointment of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin
Franklin, Roger Sherman and Philip Livingston, a committee to draft a
declaration of independence; and, on the 4th of July, they arose in
all the majesty of greatness, and in view of an admiring heaven and an
astonished world, published that master-piece of composition which gave
us national birth, absolved us from kingly power, planted the tree of
liberty deep in our soil, and showed to anxious and gazing millions,
that a nation could be born in a day and live. Language can never
express, and none but those who witnessed the thrilling scene can fully
conceive with what enthusiastic joy this declaration was received by
the people. The bells sounded a requiem and funeral knell for monarchy;
illuminations and roaring artillery quickly conveyed the glad news from
the central arch of the union to its remotest bounds; the blazing torch
of liberty rose, like a pillar of fire, to guide the patriots in their
onward march; on the wings of thanksgiving and praise the happy tidings
ascended to the throne of heaven, received the sanction of Jehovah’s
high authority, and were recorded by the hand of justice, with an
angel’s pen, in the book of everlasting fame. Kindred hearts mingled in
joy and gratitude, and every FREEMAN shouted a hearty response—a loud

On the 2nd of July, Admiral and General Howe landed near the narrows,
nine miles below the city of New York, with twenty-four thousand men.
They sent an insulting communication to Washington, which he very
properly refused to receive. That part of the American army stationed
at Brooklyn, under the command of General Sullivan, was attacked and
defeated with great loss, on the 27th of August; and Generals Sullivan,
Sterling and Woodhull were taken prisoners. Two days after, Washington
planned and effected a retreat, and landed the troops from Long
Island safely in New York, before the movement was discovered by the
enemy. Chagrined and mortified at the loss of their prey, the British
prepared to attack the city, which induced the Americans to evacuate
it and retire to White Plains. Here they were attacked on the 28th of
September; the British were repulsed, a considerable loss was sustained
on both sides, neither party gaining a decided advantage. The disasters
of the patriots multiplied rapidly; fort Washington and fort Lee fell
into the hands of the English, and the American army was flying before
a barbarous and conquering foe.

Washington crossed the Hudson, and retreated through New Jersey into
Pennsylvania, with Lord Cornwallis pressing on his rear. His army was
now reduced to three thousand men, who were destitute of almost every
comfort of life; they could be tracked by blood from their naked feet
on the frozen ground; disaster had chilled the zeal of many leading
men who at first espoused the cause of liberty; a cloud of fiery
indignation hung over the bleeding colonies, ready to devour them. But
in the archives of heaven their FREEDOM was recorded; guardian angels
directed their destiny; the bold career of the lion was arrested; this
Spartan band was crowned with victory, and the red coats, in their
turn, beat a retreat.

On the night of the 25th of December, Washington recrossed the Delaware
amidst the floating ice, surprised and took one thousand of the enemy
prisoners at Trenton, pushed on to Princeton, killed sixty more, took
three hundred prisoners, and spread consternation in the ranks of the
British army. These successes removed much of the gloom and despondency
that hung over the cause. Washington retired to Morristown for the
winter; the English occupied Brunswick. In the spring of 1777, the army
of Washington amounted to about seven thousand men. No action occurred
between the main armies until in August, when the British landed in
Maryland with the intention of capturing Philadelphia.

On the 11th of September the two armies met at Brandywine; a desperate
battle ensued, and partial victory attended the English army. On the
approach of the enemy Philadelphia was abandoned and Congress retired
to Lancaster. Another severe battle was fought at Germantown on the 4th
of October, which proved disastrous to Washington, owing to a thick
fog, by which his troops became separated and thrown into confusion.
These keen misfortunes were much alleviated by the capture of the
whole British army in the north under Burgoyne, by General Gates, on
the 17th of October. The surrender of Burgoyne had a happy effect at
home and abroad. France, on the reception of this news, recognised the
independence of the United States, entered into a treaty of alliance,
and furnished important aid in advancing the glorious cause, and sent
many of her bravest sons to the rescue.

The treaty of alliance between the United States and France, and
the loss of their northern army, induced the English to evacuate
Philadelphia in the spring of 1778, and retreat to New York. From there
they made frequent descents upon various places, burning and destroying
property, murdering the inhabitants, and spreading desolation wherever
they went.

An expedition was sent to Georgia which proved successful, and the
south now became the principal theatre of action. Many feats of bravery
were performed, but no decisive battle occurred between the main
armies. The same mode of warfare characterized the campaign of 1779,
the British seeming to aim more at predatory excursions than pitched
battles, which they performed with a savage barbarity, disgraceful to
themselves and heart-rending to humanity.

The exertions of Washington were almost paralyzed for the want of men
and money; the French Admiral, D’Estaing, was unfortunate in all his
movements, and the British lion was prowling through the land in all
the majesty of cruelty. The anchor of hope could scarcely keep the
shattered bark of liberty to its moorings; the cable of exertion lost
thread after thread, until a small band of sages and heroes, who formed
the nucleus, were left to contend with the fury of the storm that
rolled its fiery and foaming surges over them.

The campaign of 1780 opened favourably to the royal arms, but more
exertion was used on the part of the Americans. General Sumpter gave
the British much trouble in the south, and a considerable force from
the north was on its march to avenge the blood of slaughtered victims.
The cruelties of the enemy had re-illumined the cause of freedom, and
the people once more rallied around her sacred banner, determined on
death or victory.

The southern army was now put under the command of General Gates,
the hero of Saratoga—fresh aid arrived from France and the conflict
was renewed with fury and desperation. On the 18th of August the two
armies met near Camden, S. C.,—a decided advantage was gained by Lord
Cornwallis. But defeat and misfortune no longer disheartened the
friends of liberty. In the midst of adversity they rose like a phœnix
from ashes, and hurled, with the fury of Mars, the thunderbolts of
vengeance amongst their enemies.

The battle of the Cowpens, on the 17th of January, 1781, shed new
lustre on the American arms. General Morgan there met the high-toned
Colonel Tarleton, killed rising of one hundred men, wounded two
hundred, took five hundred prisoners, two pieces of cannon, twelve
standards, eight hundred muskets, thirty-five baggage wagons, one
hundred dragoon horses, with a loss of only twelve killed and sixty
wounded. His force amounted to only five hundred militia and a few
regulars—that of Tarleton to over one thousand regulars, the flower of
the British army.

Morgan now effected a junction with General Green, who had succeeded
General Gates, and on the 8th of March they met the forces of Lord
Cornwallis at Guilford court-house, where an obstinate battle was
fought and the Americans compelled to leave the field. On the 9th of
April General Green again put his troops in motion—on the 25th the two
armies once more measured arms,—Green was compelled to retreat—not
before a pursuing foe, but towards the British garrison Ninety-Six,
which he reached and besieged on the 22nd of May, and gave it a
hearty salute; but on the approach of Lord Rawdon with a large force,
he modestly retired to the Santee hills to spend the hot and sickly
season. In the meantime the English army encamped at Eutaw Springs,
where Green renewed the attack on the 8th of September, and after
a hard fought action, in which neither gained a decided victory,
the enemy retired to Charleston, with a loss in killed, wounded and
prisoners, of eleven hundred men. The Americans lost five hundred and

Although General Green had not gained any decided victory, he had
gained many advantages and greatly weakened the enemy. Generals Lee
and Wayne had been more successful, and the British were annoyed and
harassed in every quarter—volunteers flocked around their beloved
Washington, and the tide of war turned in his favour.

The patriotic Lafayette was now in the field. Morgan, Wayne, Greene
and Lee were at their posts. Count de Grasse was co-operating with his
fleet; and, in their turn, the English lords, admirals and generals,
found themselves surrounded with impending danger. An awful crisis
awaited them—retribution stared them in the face—their deeds of blood
haunted their guilty souls, and consternation seized their troubled
minds. Lord Cornwallis hastened to concentrate his forces at Yorktown,
which he fortified in the best possible manner.

On the 6th of October the combined forces of Washington and Rochambeau
commenced a siege upon this place, which surrendered on the 19th of
the same month. The grand Rubicon was now passed, the colonies were
free—the work was finished. This was the dying struggle of British
monarchy in America. The last expiring hope of conquering the colonies
now fled for ever. Heaven had decreed they should be free—that decree
was now consummated. The eagle of liberty, like Jordan’s dove,
descended—pronounced a benediction upon the conquering heroes—snatched
the laurels from Britain’s brow and placed them triumphantly upon the
was grand and joyful—to the enemies of LIBERTY, it was painful and

The result of this victory was hailed with joy, and placed Washington
on the lofty summit of immortal fame—gave freedom to his bleeding
country—sealed the foundations of our republic, now towering to the
skies—prepared an asylum for the oppressed, and planted deep in
Columbia’s soil the long nursed tree of LIBERTY.

On the 30th of September, 1783, a definitive treaty was signed at Paris
by Mr. Fitzherbert and Mr. Oswald, on the part of Great Britain, and by
John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay and Henry Laurens, on the part
of the United States.

On the second of November, Washington issued his farewell orders to
his army, in terms of affectionate eloquence and parental solicitude.
On the 3d, the troops were disbanded by Congress, and, with mingling
tears of joy and gratitude, they once more repaired to their homes to
meet the warm embrace of friends, and reap the fruit of their toils
and fatigues—no longer embittered by the iron scourge of despotism.
On the 23d of December, Washington appeared in the hall of Congress
and resigned his commission. This last act was one of grandeur and
thrilling interest. The past, the present and the future, were all
in the mind of this great and good man, as he invoked the blessings
of Heaven to descend and guide the destinies of his beloved, his
emancipated country. Every heart beat quicker and higher—his commission
was laid upon the table—a burst of applause rent the air, a flood of
tears closed the scene.

The people of the United States, no longer under the paternal
care of their old mother, were now left to try the experiment
of self-government. Difficulties arose from local jealousies
and interests—a debt of forty millions of dollars had been
contracted—government paper became greatly depreciated—the public
credit could not be sustained, and the liberty that the patriots had
fought and bled to obtain, seemed doomed to a premature dissolution and
to be lost in the whirlpool of anarchy and confusion. In view of these
accumulating difficulties, commissioners from every state, except Rhode
Island, convened at Philadelphia, for the purpose of devising means to
preserve and perfect that freedom which had cost millions of treasure
and fountains of noble blood. Washington was unanimously elected
president of this august body. After long deliberation, the labours of
the delegates resulted in the production of the federal constitution,
one of the brightest specimens of legislation on record. It is the
polar star of freedom, the great palladium of our liberty, the golden
chain that connects our union, the grand rallying point of republicans,
a shield against innovation and corruption, a terror to tyrants, a
shining light to patriots, and stamps with immortal and lasting fame
the names of its illustrious authors.

This was reported to Congress on the 17th of September, received their
warm approbation, and was immediately sent to the several states for
their consideration, all of which gave it their sanction, except
North Carolina and Rhode Island—the former of which acceded to it in
1789, the latter in 1790. A degree of confidence was then restored,
and from that time down to the present our nation has rolled on in
the full tide of successful experiment, and enjoyed an increasing and
towering prosperity without a parallel in the annals of history. The
star-spangled banner waves on every sea, and is respected by every
nation in the civilized world: our improvements at home have marched
in advance of the boldest views of the most visionary projector, the
fondest anticipations of their most ardent friends.

By the unanimous voice of a free and grateful people, Washington was
elected the first president of the new republic, and, with the same
modest diffidence that had marked his whole career, he took the oath
of office on the 30th of April, 1789, in the city of New York, in the
presence of the first Congress under the new constitution, and in the
presence of a crowded assembly, who deeply felt and strongly expressed
their love and gratitude to him. He then entered upon the important
duties that devolved upon him.

A revenue was to be raised, the judiciary system to be organized, its
officers to be appointed, a cabinet to be formed and every department
of government to be established on a basis at once firm, impartial,
just and humane. In performing these various and arduous duties he
exhibited great wisdom, a sound discretion, a clear head and good
heart. In the cabinet, as in the field, prudence and deliberation
guided his every action. He was found equal to every emergency and
duty that his country demanded at his hands—he acted up to, but never
exceeded the bounds of delegated authority—an angel could do no
more—Washington did no less. During his administration of eight years
he put forth the noblest energies of his lucid mind to advance the
prosperity of his country—meliorate the condition of those who were
suffering from the effects of a protracted war—improve the state of
society, arts, science, agriculture and commerce—disseminate general
intelligence—allay local difficulties—and render the infant republic as
happy and glorious as it was free and independent.

His exertions were crowned with success; his fondest anticipations were
realized; he finished the work his country had called him to perform;
the government stood on a basis firm as the rock of ages, and, on the
4th of March, 1797, he resigned his power to the sovereign people,
retired from public life, honoured and loved by his fellow-citizens,
respected and admired by a gazing world, and crowned with an unsullied
fame that will endure unimpaired the revolutions of time.

He then retired to Mount Vernon to enjoy once more the felicity of
domestic retirement and the sweets of his own fireside. He had served
his country long and ably; he could look back upon a life well and
nobly spent in the cause of human rights, liberal principles and
universal philanthropy.

For his arduous services during the revolution Washington took no
compensation, and virtually paid about three-fourths of his own
expenses. He only charged his actual disbursements, for each item of
which he produced a written voucher. He made a book entry of every
business transaction with as much system as if he had enjoyed the quiet
of a counting-room. A fac simile of his journal is now before me, which
has been politely furnished by Timothy Caldwell, Esq. of the city of
Philadelphia, one of the few survivors of “the times that tried men’s

The first entry is dated the 22nd of June, 1775, and marked No. 1.
£239. It commences with the outfit of the commander-in-chief and his
staff at Philadelphia, and the expenses of the journey to Cambridge,
immediately after his appointment by Congress, amounting to £466 2_s._
10_d._ lawful money. But £3 of this amount was drawn from government at
that time. The balance was furnished from his own pocket and credit,
having received from Thomas Mifflin, Esq., £129 8_s._ 2_d._ The account
current which is before me runs through a period of eight years, at
the end of which time a balance was due to him of £1972 9_s._ 4_d._
His expenses for the eight years amounted to £16311 17_s._ 1_d._ He
received $104,364 paper money, after March 1780, and passed it to the
credit of the United States at forty for one, agreeably to the scale of
depreciation, for which he did not obtain one for a hundred, by reason
of which a large proportion of his expenses were actually paid with his
own private money, for which he refused any remuneration. His expenses
during his presidential terms exceeded his salary over five thousand
dollars a year, which he paid from his private funds.

Had I time and power to trace the fair lines of Washington’s private
worth and routine of life, I would present the picture of a man graced
with native dignity, reducing all things around him to as perfect
a system of order, economy, harmony and peace, as was ever devised
by man. It should be chastened with sterling merit and magnanimity,
and mellowed with benevolence and charity. It should be enlivened by
the richest colours of virtue and consistency, and finished with the
finest touches of a master’s hand. I would crown it with an amaranthine
bouquet, richer and sweeter than the epic or civic wreath that decked
his brow in the public view of an admiring world. He was a pattern of
all that was great and good—the widow’s solace, the orphan’s father,
the bountiful benefactor, the faithful friend, the kind husband, the
true patriot, the humble christian, the worthy citizen and the honest

With the exception of his appointment to preside over the American army
in 1798, when France threatened an invasion, Washington was relieved
from any further participation in public affairs. He continued to live
at Vernon’s sacred mount until the 14th of December, 1799, when his
immortal spirit left its tenement of clay, soared aloft on angel’s
wings to realms of ceaseless bliss, there to receive a crown of
unfading glory, as the reward of a spotless life spent in the service
of his country and his God.

His body was deposited in the family tomb, where its ashes slumber in
peace, amidst the groves of his loved retreat.[I] This hallowed spot
is visited yearly by large numbers, who approach it with veneration,
gratitude and awe. Foreigners are proud to say they have visited the
tomb of Washington—all nations revere his memory, unborn millions will
perpetuate his praise.

    [I] Since writing this sketch I have been informed, that when
        the remains of Washington were placed in the sarcophagus
        prepared for their reception, in the autumn of 1837, his
        face retained its fleshy appearance and was but slightly
        changed—a fact as remarkable as the history of his life.

_His_ history, like that of our nation, is without a parallel.
Unblemished virtue marked his whole career, philanthropy his whole
course, justice and integrity his every action. A calm resignation, to
the will of God, under the most trying circumstances and under every
dispensation, added a brilliant lustre to all his amiable qualities.
His course was not tarnished with bold strides of misguided ambition,
or base attempts at self-aggrandizement. He was consistent to the last.
His character, like a blazing luminary, outdazzles the surrounding
stars, and illuminates, with meridian splendour, the horizon of
biography. His brilliant achievements were not stained with that
unnecessary effusion of human blood which characterized the ambitious
Cæsar, the conquering Alexander and the disappointed Bonaparte. His
fame is beyond the reach of slander or the attacks of malice. He has
left an example of human conduct worthy the contemplation and imitation
of all who move in the private walks of life or figure on the stage
of public action. His sacred memory will live through the rolling
ages of time, until the wreck of worlds and the dissolution of nature
shall close the drama of human action, Gabriel’s dread clarion rend
the vaulted tomb, awake the sleeping dead, and proclaim to astonished


This distinguished name stands conspicuous upon the pages of the
history of our country, and shines with peculiar brilliancy amidst the
constellations of the revolution. Time and the critic’s pen have not
detracted from the lustre of its fame—the patriot delights to dwell
upon the bright and bold career of PATRICK HENRY.

He was a native of Studley, Hanover county, Virginia, born on the
29th of May, 1736. His father was a highly respectable man, of Scotch
descent; his mother was the sister of Judge Winston, who was justly
celebrated as an eloquent and forcible orator.

During his childhood and youth Patrick Henry was remarkable for
indolence and a love of recreation—consequently, he arrived at manhood
with a limited education and unaccustomed to industry. His native
talents were not developed, his mind was not cultivated, nor his genius
expanded, until after he was a husband and a father. His friends
endeavoured in vain to direct his course to a close application to
business by setting him up in the mercantile line. In this he soon
failed, preferring his fishing rod and gun to the business of his
store. After finding himself a bankrupt, he concluded that the toils
of life and the troubles of his pilgrimage were too much to bear
alone, and accordingly married a wife, the daughter of a respectable
planter, and became a tiller of the ground. Unacquainted with this
new vocation, he soon found himself in the quagmire of adversity, and
again tacked about and entered into the mercantile business. Still
he was unfortunate, and poverty claimed him as one of her favourite
children. An increasing family needed increased means of support,
creditors became clamorous, duns showered in upon him, and in a short
time Patrick Henry was reduced to misery and want. At last he was
driven to his books, and resolved on the study of law. He now felt
most keenly the misspent time of his childhood and youth, and saw many
of his age who had already ascended high on the ladder of fame, whose
native powers of mind he knew to be inferior to his. He accordingly
commenced the study he had chosen, and in six weeks after, at the age
of twenty-four, he was admitted to the bar, more as a compliment to
his respectable connexions and his destitute situation, than from the
knowledge he had obtained of this lucid but laborious science during
the brief period he had been engaged in its investigation.—The ensuing
three years, folded in the coil of extreme want, he made but slow
advances in his profession, and obtained the necessaries of life by
assisting his father-in-law at a _tavern_ bar, instead of shining at
the bar of the court. He was still ardently attached to his gun, and
often carried his knapsack of provisions and remained several days
and nights in the woods. On his return, he would enter the court in
his coarse and blood-stained hunting dress, when he would take up his
causes, carry them through with astonishing adroitness and skill, and
finally succeeded in gaining a popular reputation as an advocate.

In 1764, he was employed as counsel in a case of contested election
to be tried at the seat of the government of his native state, which
introduced him among the fashionable and gay, whose exterior appearance
and manners formed a great contrast with his. He made no preparation
for meeting his learned and polished adversaries, and as he moved
awkwardly around among them, was looked upon by some who were gazing
at his coarse habiliments and his eccentric actions, as _non compos
mentis_. When the case came up for trial, the astonished audience and
the court were completely electrified by his bursts of native eloquence
and the cogency of his logic. Judges Tyler and Winston who tried the
case, declared they had never before witnessed so happy and triumphant
an effort, in point of sublime rhetoric and conclusive argument, by
any man. From that time forward the fame of Patrick Henry spread its
expansive wings, and he was enabled to banish want and misery from his
door by a lucrative and increasing practice. From his childhood he had
been a close observer of human nature; the only remarkable trait in
favour of his juvenile character. He had always cultivated and improved
this advantageous propensity, which was of great use to him in after
life. So well versed had he become with the nature, propensities, and
operations of the human mind, that he seemed to comprehend and divine,
at a single glance, all its intricacies, impulses and variations. This
gave him a great advantage over many of his professional brethren,
who had studied Latin and Greek _more_, but human nature _less_, than
this self-made man. He took a deep and comprehensive view of the
causes that impel men to action, and of the results produced by the
multifarious influences that control and direct them. He investigated
the designs of creation, the duty of man to his fellow and his God,
the laws of nature, reason and revelation, and became a bold advocate
for liberty of conscience, equal rights and universal freedom. Nor did
he bury these principles of philanthropy in his own bosom. In the
expansive view he had taken of the rights of man, of the different
modes of government, of the oppression of kings, of the policy pursued
by the mother country towards the American colonies, he came to the
conclusion, that any nation to be great and happy, must be free and

He had viewed, with a statesman’s eye, the growing oppressions of the
crown; they had reached his very soul, and roused that soul to action.
In Virginia, Patrick Henry first charged the revolutionary ball with
patriotic fire, and gave it an impetus that increased and gathered new
force as it rolled along. Had not the mighty theme of freedom engaged
the mind of this bold and elevated patriot, he might have closed his
career with its gigantic powers half unspent, and left his noblest
qualities of soul to expire in embryo. Nature had so moulded him, that
the ordinary concerns of life never roused him to vigorous action. It
required occasions of deep and thrilling interest to awaken and put in
motion his stronger energies. The exciting cause of the revolution was
exactly calculated to bring him out in all the majesty of his native

In 1765, he was chosen a member of the Virginia Assembly, and at
once took a bold and decisive stand against British oppression. He
introduced resolutions against the stamp act that were so bold and
independent as to alarm the older members, who, although they approved
and applauded the principles and liberal views of this young champion
of liberty, wanted his moral courage to design and execute. To impart
this to them, and stamp the impress of his own upon their trembling
hearts, was now the great business of Patrick Henry. In this he
succeeded, and his resolutions were passed. Each resolution was drawn
from the translucent fountain of eternal justice, equity and law, and
was based upon the principles of Magna Charta, which had been the polar
star of England for centuries. The following is a correct copy:

“Resolved, That the first adventurers and settlers of this his
majesty’s colony and dominion, brought with them, and transmitted to
their posterity, and all other his majesty’s subjects, since inhabiting
in this, his majesty’s said colony, all the privileges, franchises and
immunities, that have, at any time, been held, enjoyed and possessed by
the people of Great Britain.

“Resolved, That by two royal charters granted by King James I., the
colonists aforesaid are declared entitled to all the privileges,
liberties and immunities of denizens and natural born subjects, to all
intents and purposes, as if they had been abiding and born within the
realm of England.

“Resolved, That the taxation of the people by themselves, or by persons
chosen by themselves to represent them, who can only know what taxes
the people are able to bear, and the easiest mode of raising them, and
are equally affected by such taxes themselves, is the distinguishing
characteristic of British freedom, and without which the ancient
constitution cannot subsist.

“Resolved, That his majesty’s liege people of this most ancient
colony, have uninterruptedly enjoyed the right of being thus governed
by their own Assembly, in the article of their taxes and internal
police, and that the same hath never been forfeited, or in any other
way given up, but hath been constantly recognised by the King and
people of Great Britain.

“Resolved therefore, that the general assembly of this colony has the
sole right and power to lay taxes and impositions upon the inhabitants
of this colony: and that every attempt to vest such power in any person
or persons whosoever, other than the general assembly aforesaid, has a
manifest tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom!”

The justice of these resolutions, based as they were upon the well
known principles of the English constitution, confined within the
limits of the ancient landmarks of that sacred instrument, could not be
denied by the cringing sycophants of a corrupt and corrupting ministry,
and were hailed by every patriot as the firm pillars of the temple of
American liberty. They were enforced by the overwhelming eloquence and
logic of the mover, and seconded by Mr. Johnston, who sustained them
by arguments and conclusions that imparted new strength and courage to
many a bosom that was, a few moments before, poising on the agonizing
pivot of hesitation. They were strongly opposed by several members,
who subsequently espoused the cause of equal rights, and affixed their
names to the great charter of our independence. This opposition brought
forth, for the first time, the gigantic powers of Patrick Henry. In
all the sublimity of his towering genius, he stood among the great,
the acknowledged champion of that legislative hall which he had but
recently entered. Astonishment and admiration held his electrified
audience in deep suspense as he painted, in bold and glowing colours,
the increasing infringements of the hirelings of the crown upon the
chartered rights and privileges of the colonists, who had waded through
torrents of blood and seas of trouble and toil, to plant themselves
in the new world. He pointed to the chains forged by the hands of
tyranny, already clanking, with terrific sound, upon every ear. To be
free or slaves, was the great, the momentous question. He, for one,
was prepared and determined to unfurl the banner of freedom, drive
from his native soil the task masters of oppression, or perish in the
glorious attempt. His opponents were completely astounded, and found it
impossible to stem the strong current of popular feeling put in motion
by the proceedings of that eventful crisis. Seconded and supported by
the cool and deep calculating Johnston, the resolutions passed amidst
the cry of “_treason_,” from the tories, and “_liberty or death_,” from
the patriots.

The seeds of freedom were deeply planted on that glorious day, and old
Virginia proved a congenial soil for the promotion of their future
growth. From that time forward, Patrick Henry was hailed as the
great advocate of human rights and rational liberty. He stood on the
loftiest pinnacle fame could rear, unmoved and unscathed by the fire of
persecution, calmly surveying the raging elements of the revolutionary
storm, already in commotion around him.

In August, 1774, the Virginia convention met at Williamsburg, and
passed a series of resolutions, pledging themselves to sustain
their eastern brethren in the common cause of their common country.
As delegates to the first colonial Congress they appointed Peyton
Randolph, Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, Richard Bland, Patrick
Henry, Benjamin Harrison and Edmund Pendleton.

On the 4th of September following, this august assembly of patriotic
sages and heroes met in Carpenters’ Hall, at the city of Philadelphia.
The object for which they had convened was one of imposing and
thrilling interest, big with events, absorbing in character and full
of importance. The eyes of gazing millions were turned upon them, the
kindling wrath of the crown was flashing before them, the anathemas of
tyranny were pronounced against them. But they still resolved to go on.
Liberty or death had become the watchword—the hallowed fire of freedom
had warmed their bosoms and impelled them to action. After an address
to the throne of grace, they commenced their proceedings by appointing
Peyton Randolph, of Virginia, president of their body. A deep and
solemn silence ensued, as if each member was appealing to Heaven for
aid and direction. At length Patrick Henry rose, as echo lingered to
catch a sound. With the eloquence of a Demosthenes, the philosophy of
a Socrates, the justice of an Aristides, and the wisdom of a Solon, he
took a broad, impartial and expansive view of the past, the present and
the future; exhibited, in their true light, the relations between the
mother country and her distant colonies; unveiled the designs of the
base and unprincipled ministry that claimed the high and unwarranted
prerogative of wielding an iron sceptre over America, and of reducing
her sons to unconditional submission, and painted, in the most vivid
and lively colours, a nation’s rights and a nation’s wrongs. The
dignity and calmness of his manner, the clearness of his logic, the
force of his eloquence and the solemnity of his voice and countenance
combined to inspire an admiration and awe until then unknown to the
astonished audience. On that occasion his powers of thought seemed
supernatural; he seemed commissioned by Heaven to rouse his countrymen
to a sense of approaching danger. He sat down amidst repeated bursts
of applause, the acknowledged Demosthenes of the new world, the most
powerful orator of his day and generation.

The succeeding year he was a member of the convention of Virginia that
convened at Richmond, where he proposed immediate measures of defence,
sufficient to repel any invasion from the mother country. In this he
was strenuously opposed by several of the most influential members, who
still felt a disposition to cringe to royal power.

That power, based as it was upon wrongs and injury, Patrick Henry held
in utter contempt. His dauntless soul soared above the trappings of a
crown, backed by military pomp and show, and looked for rest only in
the goal of liberty.

The following extract from his speech in that convention will best
convey a correct idea of his feelings and emotions, deeply felt and
strongly told.

“Mr. President, it is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of
hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen
to the song of that syren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this
the part of wise men engaged in a great and arduous struggle for
liberty! Are we disposed to be of the number of those, who, having eyes
see not, and having ears hear not the things that so nearly concern
their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it
may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth—to know the worst and
provide for it.

“I have but one lamp to guide my feet, and that is the lamp of
experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.
Judging from the past, I wish to know what there has been in the
conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those
hopes with which gentlemen are pleased to solace themselves and the
house? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has lately
been received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet.
Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed by a kiss. Ask yourselves how
this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike
preparations that cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets
and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we
shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be
called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir.
These are the implements of war and subjugation—the last arguments
to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial
array if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen
assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy
in this quarter of the world to call for all this accumulation of
navies and armies? No, sir; she has none. They are meant for us—they
can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon
us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging.
And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we
have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we any thing new to
offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every
light of which it is capable, but it has been all in vain. Shall we
resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find
which have not already been exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir,
deceive ourselves longer. Sir, we have done every thing that could be
done to avert the storm that is coming on. We have petitioned—we have
remonstrated—we have supplicated—we have prostrated ourselves before
the throne and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical
hands of the ministry and parliament. Our petitions have been slighted,
our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult, our
supplications have been disregarded, and we have been spurned with
contempt from the foot of the throne.

“In vain after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and
reconciliation. _There is no longer any room for hope._ If we wish to
be free; if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges
for which we have been so long contending; if we mean not basely to
abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and
which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious
object of our contest shall be obtained, _we must fight_! I repeat it,
sir, _we must fight_! An appeal to arms and the God of Hosts is all
that is left us! It is vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen
may cry peace, peace; but there is no peace. The war is actually begun.
The next gale that comes from the north, will bring to our ears the
clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field. Why
stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they
have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the
price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what
course others may take, but as for me, _give me liberty or death_!”

The effect of this speech was electrical. The cry, “_to arms_,” burst
from every quarter—“_liberty or death_,” resounded and rang through
every ear and was responded by every patriot. The resolutions were
seconded and supported by Richard Henry Lee, and were adopted without
further opposition. A committee was immediately appointed to carry them
into effect. From that time forward, the old dominion was renewed,
regenerated, and free. Her richest blood was poured out freely in the
cause of liberty and equal rights.

Soon after this convention had adjourned, Lord Dunmore removed a part
of the powder from the magazine at Williamsburg on board of one of his
majesty’s ships. On being informed of this transaction, Patrick Henry
collected a military force in Hanover and King William counties, and
repaired to the seat of government, demanding the restoration of the
powder or its equivalent in cash. An order for the amount in money was
received, and no blood shed. A proclamation was issued against these
daring rebels, which only seemed to unite the people more strongly in
favour of their orator and soldier, whose conduct they highly approved
at several public meetings convened on the occasion.

In August, 1775, Mr. Henry was again chosen a delegate to the
Continental Congress, and in June of the following year, governor of
his native state. He held this important office during that and the
ensuing year, but declined serving the third year, although unanimously
re-elected. His zeal in the glorious cause he had espoused did not
languish or grow cold. In 1780 he took his seat in the assembly of his
state, and manifested all the activity and vigour that characterized
the commencement of his bold and useful career. In 1788 he was a
member of the Virginia convention convened for the consideration of
the constitution of the United States, then submitted for approval or
rejection. To that instrument Mr. Henry was then strongly opposed,
because, as he contended, it consolidated the states into one
government, thereby destroying the sovereignty of each. His eloquence
on that occasion was raised to its highest pitch, but could not
prevail. His resolution against it was lost. His closing speech on
that now revered instrument, was said to have surpassed either of his
former efforts, and operated so powerfully, that but a small majority
voted for the new constitution. During his remarks an incident occurred
which enabled him to almost paralyze his audience. After describing
the magnitude of the question, on the determination of which hung the
happiness or woe of the present generation, and millions yet unborn,
with a voice and countenance solemn as eternity, and his eyes raised
upwards, he appealed to the God of heaven and to angels then hovering
over their heads, to witness the thrilling scene, and invoked their aid
in the mighty work before him. At that moment a sudden thunder gust
commenced its fury and shook the very earth. Upon the wings of the
tempest his stentorian voice continued to rise—he figuratively seized
the artillery of the elements as by supernatural power, hurled the
liquid lightning at the heads of his opponents, and seemed commissioned
by the great Jehovah to execute a deed of vengeance. The scene was
awfully sublime, the effect tremendous. The purple current rushed back
upon the fountain of life, every countenance was pale, every eye was
fixed, every muscle was electrified, every vein was contracted, every
heart was agonized, the scene became insupportable, the members rushed
from their seats in confusion and left the house without the formality
of an adjournment.

He remained in the assembly until 1791, when he declined a re-election,
and expressed a strong desire to retire from public life. He had toiled
long, faithfully and successfully, and wished for that repose found
only in the bosom of our families.

In 1795, president Washington, for whom he had an unbounded veneration,
offered him the high station of secretary of state. With becoming
gratitude to his friend and the father of his country, he declined the
proffered honour, and chose to remain in retirement. The following
year he was again elected governor of his native state, but declined
serving. In 1799 he was appointed by president Adams an envoy to France
in conjunction with Messrs. Murray and Ellsworth. His declining health
would not permit him to accept of this last appointment with which he
was honoured. Disease was fast consummating the work of death, and
destroying rapidly the hardy constitution and athletic frame that had
enabled him to perform his duty so nobly during the trying scenes of
the revolution. He was aware that the work of dissolution was going
on, and awaited his final exit with calm submission and Christian
fortitude. On the 6th of June, 1799, he resigned his spirit to Him who
gave it, threw off the mortal coil and was numbered with the dead,
aged but 61 years. His loss was deeply mourned by the American nation,
and most strongly felt by those who knew him best. The following
affectionate tribute is from the pen of one who knew him well.

“Mourn, Virginia, mourn! your Henry is gone. Ye friends to liberty
in every clime, drop a tear. No more will his social feelings spread
delight through his happy house. No more will his edifying example
dictate to his numerous offspring the sweetness of virtue and the
majesty of patriotism. No more will his sage advice, guided by zeal
for the common happiness, impart light and utility to his caressing
neighbours. No more will he illuminate the public councils with
sentiments drawn from the cabinet of his own mind, ever directed to
his country’s good, and clothed in eloquence sublime, delightful and
commanding. Farewell, first rate patriot, farewell. As long as our
rivers flow, or mountains stand, so long will your excellence and worth
be the theme of our homage and endearment; and Virginia, bearing in
mind her loss, will say to rising generations—imitate my Henry.”

In reviewing the character of this truly great man from the
commencement of his public career, his examples in public and private
life are worthy of veneration and the closest imitation. The rust of
his youth was soon removed, and he became in all respects a brilliant
and polished man. His habits were rigidly temperate, his conduct, as
a gentleman, a public functionary, an amiable citizen and a devoted
christian, was beyond reproach. Although when he believed himself in
the right, he maintained his position with great zeal and ardour, he
was always open to conviction. Although he opposed the adoption of the
federal constitution when it was under consideration, he subsequently
became convinced of its utility, and highly approved of its form and

As a husband, a father, a master, a neighbour and a friend, he had no
superior. As an advocate, an orator, a statesman and a patriot, his
fame stands in all its glory, uneclipsed and unsurpassed. As Grattan
said of Pitt, there was something in Patrick Henry that could create,
subvert, or reform; an understanding, a spirit, an eloquence to summon
mankind to society, or to break the bonds of slavery asunder, and to
rule the wilderness of free minds with unbounded authority; something
that could establish or overwhelm empire, and strike a blow in the
world that should resound through the universe.

He was twice married and the father of fifteen children. The closing
paragraph of his will is worthy of record, and shows the veneration he
felt for the religion of the Cross.

“I have now disposed of all my property to my family; there is one
thing more I wish I could give them, and that is the christian
religion. If they had this and I had not given them one shilling,
they would be rich; and if they had not that, and I had given them
all the world, they would be poor.” This short paragraph, coming from
one of the most gigantic minds that ever investigated the truths of
revelation, speaks volumes in favour of that religion which is despised
by some—neglected by millions—and is the one thing needful to fit us
for heaven and prepare us for the

   “Great day for which all other days were made,
    For which earth rose from chaos,—man from earth,
    And an eternity—the date of gods,
    Descended on poor earth-created man!”




  Friends and Fellow Citizens,

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive
government of the United States being not far distant, and the time
actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the
person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to
me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression
of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I
have formed—to decline being considered among the number of those out
of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured, that
this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the
considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful
citizen to his country, and that, in withdrawing the tender of service,
which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no
diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful
respect for your past kindness—but am supported by a full conviction
that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which
your suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform sacrifice
of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what
appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped, that it would have
been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was
not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which
I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do
this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation
of an address to declare it to you. But mature reflection on the then
perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and
the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me
to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as
internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible
with the sentiment of duty or propriety; and am persuaded, whatever
partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present
circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination
to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust, were
explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust I will
only say, that I have with good intentions contributed towards the
organization and administration of the government the best exertions
of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious, in the
outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own
eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the
motives to diffidence of myself: and every day the increasing weight
of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement
is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any
circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were
temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that while choice and
prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not
forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the
career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend
the deep acknowledgement of that debt of gratitude which I owe to
my beloved country, for the many honours it has conferred upon me;
still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported
me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my
inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in
usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country
from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and
as an instructive example in our annals, that, under circumstances
in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to
mislead; amidst appearances sometimes dubious; vicissitudes of fortune
often discouraging; in situations in which not unfrequently want of
success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of
your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee
of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with
this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement
to unceasing vows that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens
of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may
be perpetual! that a free constitution, which is the work of your
hands, may be sacredly maintained, that its administration, in every
department, may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the
happiness of the people of these states, under the auspices of Heaven,
may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use
of liberty, as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the
applause, the affection and the adoption of every nation which is yet a
stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare,
which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger,
natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present,
to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your
frequent review, some sentiments, which are the result of much
reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me
all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These
will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in
them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly
have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an
encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a
former, and not dissimilar occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your
hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm
the attachment.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people, is also now
dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of
your real independence; the support of your tranquillity at home, your
peace abroad—of your safety—of your prosperity—of that very liberty
which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee, that from
different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken,
many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this
truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which
the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly
and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of
infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of
your national Union, to your collective and individual happiness; that
you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it;
accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the Palladium of
your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation
with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a
suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly
frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any
portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties
which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest.
Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has
a right to concentrate your affections. The name of AMERICAN, which
belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just
pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local
discrimination.—With slight shades of difference, you have the same
religion, manners, habits and political principles. You have, in a
common cause, fought and triumphed together. The independence and
liberty you possess are the work of joint councils and joint efforts;
of common dangers, sufferings and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves
to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more
immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds
the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the
union of the whole.

The NORTH, in an unrestrained intercourse with the SOUTH, protected
by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions
of the latter, great additional resources of maritime and commercial
enterprise, and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The
SOUTH, in the same intercourse benefitting by the agency of the NORTH,
sees its agriculture grow, and its commerce expand. Turning partly
into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular
navigation invigorated; and while it contributes, in different ways,
to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation,
it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which
itself is unequally adapted. The EAST, in a like intercourse with the
west, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior
communications, by land and water, will more and more find a valuable
vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures
at home. The WEST derives from the EAST supplies requisite to its
growth and comfort; and what is, perhaps, of still greater consequence,
it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets
for its own production, to the weight, influence, and the future
maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the union, directed by an
indissoluble community of interest, as one nation. Any other tenure, by
which the west can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from
its own separate strength, or from an apostate or unnatural connexion
with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While then every part of our country thus feels an immediate and
particular interest in union, all the parties combined cannot fail
to find, in the united mass of means and efforts, greater strength,
greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger,
a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations.
And, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an
exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so
frequently afflict neighbouring countries, not tied together by the
same government; which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient
to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments and
intrigues, would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will
avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which
under any form of government are inauspicious to liberty, and which
are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In
this sense it is, that your union ought to be considered as a main prop
of your liberty, and that love of the one ought to endear to you the
preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting
and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance in the UNION as a
primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt, whether a common
government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it.
To listen to mere speculation, in such a case, were criminal. We are
authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole, with the
auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will
afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and
full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to Union,
affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have
demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to
distrust the patriotism of those, who, in any quarter, may endeavour to
weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our union, it occurs, as
a matter of serious concern, that any ground should have been furnished
for characterizing parties by GEOGRAPHICAL discriminations; NORTHERN
and SOUTHERN; ATLANTIC and WESTERN; whence designing men may endeavour
to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests
and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within
particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other
districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies
and heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they
tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together
by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our western country have
lately had a useful lesson on this head; they have seen, in the
negotiation by the executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the
senate of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at
that event throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded
were the suspicions propagated among them, of a policy in the general
government, and in the Atlantic states, unfriendly to their interest in
regard to the Mississippi. They have been witnesses to the formation
of two treaties: that with Great Britain and that with Spain; which
secure to them every thing they could desire, in respect to our foreign
relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their
wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the union
by which they were procured? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those
advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren
and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the
whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the
parts, can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience
the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times
have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved
upon your first essay by the adoption of a constitution of government
better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the
efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the
offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon
full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its
principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with
energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment,
has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its
authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are
duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis
of our political systems is the right of the people to make and alter
their constitutions of government. But the constitution which at any
time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole
people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and
the right of the people to establish government, presupposes the duty
of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and
associations, under whatever plausible character, with a real design
to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation
and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this
fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize
faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in
the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party,
often a small, but artful and enterprising minority of the community;
and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to
make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and
incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent
and wholesome plans, digested by common counsels, and modified by
mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now
and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time
and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious
and unprincipled men, will be enabled to subvert the power of the
people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying
afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of
your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily
discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority,
but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its
principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may
be to effect in the forms of the constitution, alterations which will
impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be
directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited,
remember, that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the
true character of governments as of other human institutions; that
experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of
the existing constitution of a country; that facility in change upon
the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change
from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember,
especially, that for the efficient management of your common interests
in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigour as
is consistent with the perfect security of liberty, is indispensable.
Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly
distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little
else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the
enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within
the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure
and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state,
with the particular reference to the founding of them on geographical
discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn
you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit
of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having
its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under
different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled,
or repressed. But in those of the popular form, it is seen in its
greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate dominion of one faction over another, sharpened by the
spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which, in different ages
and countries, has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a
frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a formal and permanent
despotism. The disorders and miseries which result, gradually incline
the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power
of an individual: and, sooner or later, the chief of some prevailing
faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this
disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of
public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which,
nevertheless, ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and
continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it
the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the
public administration. It agitates the community with ill founded
jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against
another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection; and opens the door
to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to
the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the
policy and will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks
upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive
the spirit of liberty. This, within certain limits, is probably true:
and in governments of a monarchial cast, patriotism may look with
indulgence, if not with favour, upon the spirit of party. But in those
of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a
spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain
there will always be enough of this spirit for every salutary purpose.
And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by
force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be
quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a
flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking, in a
free country, should inspire caution in those intrusted with its
administration, to confine themselves within their respective
constitutional spheres, avoiding, in the exercise of the power of
one department, to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment
tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and
thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A
just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which
predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the
truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks, in the
exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into
different depositories, and constituting each the guardian of public
weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments
ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own
eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If,
in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the
constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected
by an amendment in the way which the constitution designates. But let
there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance,
may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which
free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly
overbalance, in permanent evil, any partial or transient benefit which
the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity,
religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that
man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labour to subvert
these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the
duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the
pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not
trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it be
simply asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for
life, if the sense of religious obligations desert the oaths, which
are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us
with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained
without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined
education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both
forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of
religious principle. It is substantially true, that virtue or morality
is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends
with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that
is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to
shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the
general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a
government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public
opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public
credit. One method of preserving it, is to use it as sparingly as
possible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace; but
remembering also that timely disbursements to _prepare_ for danger
frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding
likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of
expense, but by vigorous exertions, in time of peace, to discharge the
debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned; not ungenerously
throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.
The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives; but it
is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to
them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should
practically bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must
be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes
can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant;
that the intrinsic embarrassment inseparable from the selection of
the proper object, (which is always a choice of difficulties,) ought
to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of
the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the
measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any
time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace
and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct:
and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will
be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great
nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a
people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can
doubt that in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan
would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a
steady adherence to it? Can it be that providence has not connected the
permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment at least
is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is
it rendered impossible by its vices!

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that
permanent inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and
passionate attachment for others, should be excluded; and that in place
of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated.
The nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or
an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to
its animosity or to its affections, either of which is sufficient
to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one
nation against another, disposes each more readily to offer insult and
injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and
intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur.
Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed and bloody contests.
The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to
war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The
government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and
adopts through passion, what reason would reject; at other times, it
makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility
instigated by pride, ambition and other sinister and pernicious
motives. The peace, often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations
has been the victim. So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation
for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favourite
nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest,
in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one
the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in
the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or
justification. It leads also to concessions to the favourite nation,
of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the
nation making the concessions, by unnecessarily parting with what
ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a
disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are
withheld: and it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens,
(who devote themselves to the favourite nation,) facility to betray or
sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes
even with popularity; gilding with the appearances of a virtuous sense
of obligations, commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable
zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition,
corruption or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments
are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent
patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic
factions, to practise the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion,
to influence or awe the public councils! Such an attachment of a small
or weak, towards a great and powerful nation, dooms the former to be
the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, (I conjure you to
believe me, fellow citizens,) the jealousy of a free people ought to
be CONSTANTLY awake; since history and experience prove that foreign
influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But
that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes the
instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence
against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive
dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only
on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence
on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the
favourite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools
and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender
their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is,
in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little
_political_ connection as possible. So far as we have already formed
engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very
remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies,
the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns.
Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves
by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics,
or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or
enmities. Our detached and distant situation invites and enables
us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an
efficient government, the period is not far off when we may defy
material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an
attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon,
to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the
impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard
the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our
interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own
to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with
that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the
toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humour, or caprice.

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any
portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty
to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing
infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable
to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best
policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in
their genuine sense. But in my opinion it is unnecessary and would be
unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, in
a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary
alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony and a liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended
by policy, humanity and interest. But even our commercial policy
should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting
exclusive favours or preferences; consulting the natural course of
things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of
commerce, but forcing nothing: establishing, with powers so disposed,
in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our
merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional
rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual
opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time
abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate;
constantly keeping in view, that it is folly in one nation to look for
disinterested favours from another; that it must pay with a portion
of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character;
that by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having
given equivalents for nominal favours, and yet of being reproached with
ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to
expect or calculate upon real favours from nation to nation. It is an
illusion which experience must cure—which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and
affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and
lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual
current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course
which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations! but, if I may even
flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit,
some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate
the fury of party spirit; to warn against the mischiefs of foreign
intrigue; to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this
hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by
which they have been dictated.

How far, in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided
by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and
other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To
myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least
believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of
the 22nd of April, 1793, is the index to my plan. Sanctioned by your
approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both houses
of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me,
uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After a deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I
could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the
circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in
duty and interest, to take a neutral position. Having taken it, I
determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it with
moderation, perseverance and firmness. The considerations which respect
the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to
detail. I will only observe, that according to my understanding of the
matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent
powers, has been virtually admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred without any thing
more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every
nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the
relations of peace and amity towards other nations.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will be best
referred to your own reflections and experience. With me, a predominant
motive has been to endeavour to gain time to our country to settle
and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress, without
interruption, to that degree of strength and consistency, which is
necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am
unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of
my defects, not to think it probable that I may have committed many
errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to
avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry
with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with
indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to
its service, with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities
will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions
of rest.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by
that fervent love towards it which is so natural to a man who views
in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several
generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat, in
which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment
of partaking in the midst of my fellow-citizens the benign influence
of good laws under a free government; the ever favourite object of my
heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labours
and dangers.

            G. WASHINGTON.

_United States, 17th September, 1796._




_Directed to be published by General Washington, upon his arrival
before Boston._

If it was possible for men, who exercise their reason, to believe that
the Divine author of our existence intended a part of the human race to
hold an absolute property in and an unbounded power over others, marked
out by his infinite goodness and wisdom as the objects of a legal
domination never rightfully resistible, however severe and oppressive,
the inhabitants of these colonies might at least require from the
parliament of Great Britain some evidence that this dreadful authority
over them has been granted to that body. But a reverence for our great
Creator, principles of humanity and the dictates of common sense,
must convince all those who reflect upon the subject, that government
was instituted to promote the welfare of mankind, and ought to be
administered for the attainment of that end. The legislature of Great
Britain, however, stimulated by an inordinate passion for a power, not
only unjustifiable, but which they know to be peculiarly reprobated by
the very constitution of that kingdom, and desperate of success in any
mode of contest, where regard should be had to truth, law or right,
have at length, deserting those, attempted to effect their cruel and
impolitic purpose of enslaving these colonies by violence, and have
thereby rendered it necessary for us to close with their last appeal
from reason to arms. Yet, however blinded that assembly may be, by
their intemperate rage for unlimited domination, so to slight justice
and the opinion of mankind, we esteem ourselves bound by obligations
of respect to the rest of the world, to make known the justice of our

Our forefathers, inhabitants of the island of Great Britain, left
their native land to seek on these shores a residence for civil and
religious freedom. At the expense of their blood, at the hazard of
their fortunes, without the least charge to the country from which
they removed, by unceasing labour and an unconquerable spirit, they
effected settlements in the distant and inhospitable wilds of America,
then filled with numerous and warlike nations of barbarians. Societies
or governments, vested with perfect legislatures, were formed under
charters from the crown, and an harmonious intercourse was established
between the colonies and the kingdom from which they derived their
origin. The mutual benefits of this union became in a short time so
extraordinary as to excite astonishment. It is universally confessed
that the amazing increase of the wealth, strength and navigation of
the realm arose from this source; and the minister, who so wisely and
successfully directed the measures of Great Britain in the late war,
publicly declared, that these colonies enabled them to triumph over her
enemies. Towards the conclusion of that war it pleased our sovereign to
make a change in his counsels. From that fatal moment the affairs of
the British empire began to fall into confusion, and gradually sliding
from the summit of glorious prosperity, to which they had been advanced
by the virtues and abilities of one man, are at length distracted by
the convulsions that now shake it to its deepest foundations. The new
ministry finding the brave foes of Britain, though frequently defeated,
yet still contending, took up the unfortunate idea of granting them a
hasty peace, and of then subduing her faithful friends.

These devoted colonies were judged to be in such a state as to present
victories without bloodshed, and all the easy emoluments of statuteable
plunder. The uninterrupted tenor of their peaceable and respectful
behaviour from the beginning of colonization, their dutiful, zealous
and useful services during the war, though so recently and amply
acknowledged in the most honourable manner by his majesty, by the
late king and by parliament, could not save them from the meditated
innovations. Parliament was influenced to adopt the pernicious project,
and, assuming a new power over them, have, in the course of eleven
years, given such decisive specimens of the spirit and consequences
attending this power, as to leave no doubt concerning the effects of
acquiescence under it. They have undertaken to give and grant our
money without our consent, though we have ever exercised an exclusive
right to dispose of our own property; statutes have been passed for
extending the jurisdiction of courts of admiralty and vice-admiralty
beyond their ancient limits; for depriving us of the accustomed and
inestimable privilege of trial by jury, in cases affecting both life
and property; for suspending the legislature of one of the colonies;
for interdicting all commerce to the capital of another; and for
altering, fundamentally, the form of government established by charter,
and secured by acts of its own legislature solemnly confirmed by the
crown; for exempting the “murderers” of colonists from legal trial,
and, in effect, from punishment; for erecting in a neighbouring
province, acquired by the joint arms of Great Britain and America, a
despotism dangerous to our very existence; and for quartering soldiers
upon the colonists in time of profound peace. It has also been resolved
in parliament that colonists, charged with committing certain offences,
shall be transported to England to be tried.

But why should we enumerate our injuries in detail? By one statute
it is declared, that parliament can “of right make laws to bind us
in all cases whatsoever.” What is to defend us against so enormous,
so unlimited a power? Not a single man of those who assume it is
chosen by us, or is subject to our control or influence; but, on the
contrary, they are all of them exempt from the operation of such
laws, and an American revenue, if not diverted from the ostensible
purposes for which it is raised, would actually lighten their own
burthens in proportion as they increase ours. We saw the misery to
which such despotism would reduce us. We for ten years incessantly
and ineffectually besieged the throne as supplicants; we reasoned, we
remonstrated with parliament in the most mild and decent language.

The administration, sensible that we should regard these oppressive
measures as freemen ought to do, sent over fleets and armies to enforce
them. The indignation of the Americans was roused, it is true—but it
was the indignation of a virtuous, loyal and affectionate people.
A Congress of delegates from the united colonies was assembled at
Philadelphia on the fifth day of last September. We resolved again to
offer an humble and dutiful petition to the king, and also addressed
our fellow subjects of Great Britain. We have pursued every temperate,
every respectful measure; we have even proceeded to break off our
commercial intercourse with our fellow subjects, as the last peaceable
admonition, that our attachment to no nation upon earth should supplant
our attachment to liberty. This we flattered ourselves was the ultimate
step of the controversy: but subsequent events have shown how vain was
this hope of finding moderation in our enemies.

Several threatening expressions against the colonies were inserted in
his majesty’s speech; our petition, though we were told it was a decent
one, and that his majesty had been pleased to receive it graciously,
and to promise laying it before his parliament, was huddled into both
houses among a bundle of American papers and there neglected. The
lords and commons in their address, in the month of February, said,
that a rebellion at that time actually existed within the province of
Massachusetts Bay; and that those concerned in it had been countenanced
and encouraged by unlawful combinations and engagements, entered
into by his majesty’s subjects in several of the other colonies;
and therefore they besought his majesty that he would take the most
effectual measures to enforce due obedience to the laws and authority
of the supreme legislature. Soon after, the commercial intercourse of
whole colonies with foreign countries and with each other was cut off
by an act of parliament: by another, several of them were entirely
prohibited from the fisheries in the seas near their coast, on which
they always depended for their sustenance; and large reinforcements of
ships and troops were immediately sent over to General Gage.

Fruitless were all the intreaties, arguments, and eloquence of an
illustrious band of the most distinguished peers and commoners, who
nobly and strenuously asserted the justice of our cause, to stay,
or even to mitigate the heedless fury with which these accumulated
and unexampled outrages were hurried on. Equally fruitless was the
interference of the city of London, of Bristol, and many other
respectable towns in our favour. Parliament adopted an insidious
manœuvre calculated to divide us, to establish a perpetual auction
of taxations, where colony should bid against colony, all of them
uninformed what ransom would redeem their lives; and thus to extort
from us, at the point of the bayonet, the unknown sums that would be
sufficient to gratify, if possible to gratify, ministerial rapacity,
with the miserable indulgence left to us of raising, in our own mode,
the prescribed tribute. What terms more rigid and humiliating could
have been dictated by remorseless victors to conquered enemies? In our
circumstances to accept them, would be to deserve them.

Soon after the intelligence of these proceedings arrived on this
continent, General Gage, who in the course of the last year had taken
possession of the town of Boston, in the province of Massachusetts Bay,
and still occupied it as a garrison, on the 19th day of April, sent out
from that place a large detachment of his army, who made an unprovoked
assault on the inhabitants of the said province, at the town of
Lexington, as appears by the affidavits of a great number of persons,
some of whom were officers and soldiers of that detachment, murdered
eight of the inhabitants, and wounded many others. From thence the
troops proceeded in warlike array to the town of Concord, where they
set upon another party of the inhabitants of the same province, killing
several and wounding more, until compelled to retreat by the country
people suddenly assembled to repel this cruel aggression. Hostilities,
thus commenced by the British troops, have been since prosecuted by
them without regard to faith or reputation. The inhabitants of Boston
being confined within that town by the general, their governor, and
having, in order to procure their dismission, entered into a treaty
with him, it was stipulated that the said inhabitants, having deposited
their arms with their own magistrates, should have liberty to depart,
taking with them their other effects. They accordingly delivered up
their arms; but, in open violation of honour, in defiance of the
obligation of treaties, which even savage nations esteem sacred, the
governor ordered the arms deposited as aforesaid, that they might
be preserved for their owners, to be seized by a body of soldiers;
detained the greatest part of the inhabitants in the town, and
compelled the few who were permitted to retire, to leave their most
valuable effects behind.

By this perfidy, wives are separated from their husbands, children from
their parents, the aged and the sick from their relations and friends,
who wish to attend and comfort them; and those who have been used to
live in plenty and even elegance, are reduced to deplorable distress.

The general, further emulating his ministerial masters, by a
proclamation bearing date on the 12th day of June, after venting the
grossest falsehoods and calumnies against the good people of these
colonies, proceeds to “declare them all, either by name or description,
to be rebels and traitors, to supersede the course of the common law,
and instead thereof to publish and order the use and exercise of the
law martial.” His troops have butchered our countrymen, have wantonly
burnt Charlestown, besides a considerable number of houses in other
places; our ships and vessels are seized; the necessary supplies of
provisions are intercepted, and he is exerting his utmost power to
spread destruction and devastation around him.

We have received certain intelligence, that general Carleton, the
governor of Canada, is instigating the people of that province, and the
Indians, to fall upon us; and we have but too much reason to apprehend,
that schemes have been formed to excite domestic enemies against us. In
brief, a part of these colonies now feel, and all of them are sure of
feeling, as far as the vengeance of administration can inflict them,
the complicated calamities of fire, sword and famine. We are reduced to
the alternative of choosing an unconditional submission to the tyranny
of irritated ministers, or resistance by force. _The latter is our
choice. We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so
dreadful as voluntary slavery._ Honour, justice, and humanity, forbid
us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant
ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive
from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding
generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them, if we
basely entail hereditary bondage upon them.

Our cause is just. Our union is perfect. Our internal resources are
great, and, if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable.
We gratefully acknowledge, as a signal instance of the divine favour
towards us, that his providence would not permit us to be called
into this severe controversy until we were grown up to our present
strength, had been previously exercised in warlike operations, and
possessed the means of defending ourselves. With hearts fortified
with these animating reflections, we most solemnly before God and the
world DECLARE, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers which
our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we
have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of
every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance, employ for the
preservation of our liberties—_being with one mind resolved to die_
FREEMEN _rather than to live_ SLAVES.

Lest this declaration should disquiet the minds of our friends and
fellow subjects in any part of the empire, we assure them that we mean
not to dissolve that union which has so long and so happily subsisted
between us, and which we sincerely wish to see restored. Necessity has
not yet driven us into that desperate measure, or induced us to excite
any other nation to war against them. We have not raised armies with
ambitious designs of separating from Great Britain and establishing
independent states. We fight not for glory or for conquest. We exhibit
to mankind the remarkable spectacle of a people attacked by unprovoked
enemies, without any imputation or even suspicion of offence. They
boast of their privileges and civilization, and yet proffer no milder
conditions than servitude or death.

In our own native land, in defence of the freedom that is our
birthright, and which we ever enjoyed till the late violation of it,
for the protection of our property, acquired solely by the honest
industry of our forefathers and ourselves, against violence actually
offered, we have taken up arms. We shall lay them down when hostilities
shall cease on the part of the aggressors, and all danger of their
being renewed shall be removed, and not before.

With an humble confidence in the mercies of the supreme and impartial
Judge and Ruler of the universe, we most devoutly implore his divine
goodness to protect us happily through this great conflict, to dispose
our adversaries to reconciliation on reasonable terms, and thereby to
relieve the empire from the calamities of civil war.


            IN CONGRESS, JULY 8, 1778.


  _Between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode
    Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New
    Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North
    Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia._

ARTICLE 1. The style of this confederacy shall be, “_The United States
of America_.”

Art. 2. Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence,
and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this
confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress

Art. 3. The said states hereby severally enter into a firm league of
friendship with each other, for their common defence, the security
of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding
themselves to assist each other against all force offered to, or
attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion,
sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever.

Art. 4. § 1. The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and
intercourse among the people of the different states in this union,
the free inhabitants of each of these states, paupers, vagabonds, and
fugitives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges
and immunities of free citizens in the several states; and the people
of each state shall have free ingress and regress to and from any
other state, and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and
commerce, subject to the same duties, impositions, and restrictions, as
the inhabitants thereof respectively; provided that such restrictions
shall not extend so far as to prevent the removal of property
imported into any state, to any other state, of which the owner is an
inhabitant; provided also, that no imposition, duties, or restriction,
shall be laid by any state on the property of the United States, or
either of them.

§ 2. If any person guilty of, or charged with, treason, felony, or
other high misdemeanor in any state, shall flee from justice, and
be found in any of the United States, he shall, upon the demand of
the governor or executive power of the state from which he fled, be
delivered up, and removed to the state having jurisdiction of his

§ 3. Full faith and credit shall be given, in each of these states,
to the records, acts, and judicial proceedings of the courts and
magistrates of every other state.

Art. 5. § 1. For the more convenient management of the general
interests of the United States, delegates shall be annually appointed
in such a manner as the legislature of each state shall direct, to meet
in Congress on the first Monday in November, in every year, with a
power reserved to each state to recall its delegates, or any of them,
at any time within the year, and to send others in their stead, for the
remainder of the year.

§ 2. No state shall be represented in Congress by less than two, nor
more than seven members: and no person shall be capable of being a
delegate for more than three years, in any term of six years; nor shall
any person, being a delegate, be capable of holding any office under
the United States, for which he, or any other for his benefit, receives
any salary, fees, or emolument of any kind.

§ 3. Each state shall maintain its own delegates in a meeting of the
states, and while they act as members of the committee of these states.

§ 4. In determining questions in the United States in Congress
assembled, each state shall have one vote.

§ 5. Freedom of speech and debate in Congress shall not be impeached
or questioned in any court or place out of Congress, and the members
of Congress shall be protected in their persons from arrests and
imprisonments during the time of their going to and from, and
attendance on, Congress, except for treason, felony, or breach of the

Art. 6. § 1. No state, without the consent of the United States,
in Congress assembled, shall send any embassy to, or receive any
embassy from, or enter into any conference, agreement, alliance, or
treaty, with any king, prince, or state; nor shall any person holding
any office of profit or trust under the United States, or any of
them, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title of any kind
whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state; nor shall the United
States, in Congress assembled, or any of them, grant any title of

§ 2. No two or more states shall enter into any treaty, confederation,
or alliance whatever, between them, without the consent of the United
States, in Congress assembled, specifying accurately the purposes for
which the same is to be entered into, and how long it shall continue.

§ 3. No state shall lay any imposts or duties which may interfere with
any stipulations in treaties entered into by the United States, in
Congress assembled, with any king, prince, or state, in pursuance of
any treaties already proposed by Congress to the courts of France and

§ 4. No vessels of war shall be kept up in time of peace, by any
state, except such number only as shall be deemed necessary by the
United States, in Congress assembled, for the defence of such state,
or its trade: nor shall any body of forces be kept up, by any state,
in time of peace, except such number only as, in the judgment of the
United States, in Congress assembled, shall be deemed requisite to
garrison the forts necessary for the defence of such state; but every
state shall always keep up a regular and well disciplined militia,
sufficiently armed and accoutred, and shall provide and constantly
have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of field pieces and
tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition, and camp equipage.

§ 5. No state shall engage in any war without the consent of the United
States, in Congress assembled, unless such state be actually invaded
by enemies, or shall have received certain advice of a resolution
being formed by some nation of Indians to invade such state, and the
danger is so imminent as not to admit of delay till the United States,
in Congress assembled, can be consulted; nor shall any state grant
commissions to any ships or vessels of war, nor letters of marque or
reprisal, except it be after a declaration of war by the United States,
in Congress assembled, and then only against a kingdom or state, and
the subjects thereof, against which war has been so declared, and
under such regulations as shall be established by the United States,
in Congress assembled, unless such state be infested by pirates, in
which case vessels of war may be fitted out for that occasion, and kept
so long as the danger shall continue, or until the United States, in
Congress assembled, shall determine otherwise.

Art. 7. When land forces are raised by any state for the common
defence, all officers of, or under the rank of colonel, shall be
appointed by the legislature of each state respectively by whom such
forces shall be raised, or in such manner as such state shall direct,
and all vacancies shall be filled up by the state which first made the

Art. 8. All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be
incurred for the common defence or general welfare, and allowed by the
United States, in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common
treasury, which shall be supplied by the several states, in proportion
to the value of all land within each state, granted to, or surveyed
for, any person, as such land and the buildings and improvements
thereon shall be estimated, according to such mode as the United
States, in Congress assembled, shall, from time to time, direct and
appoint. The taxes for paying that proportion shall be laid and levied
by the authority and direction of the legislatures of the several
states, within the