Thomas Jefferson Constitutional Powers Usurped by the Supreme Court

Thomas Jefferson Supreme Court Usurpation of Power (Click to enlarge)

Thomas Jefferson Supreme Court Usurpation of Power (Click to enlarge)

For anyone who doesn’t know the Supreme Court itself in the United States has become Unconstitutional, from ruling things Constitutional that are anything but, to assuming powers not delegated to it by the Federal Constitution, nor intended for it by the Framers. Wake up people! The House of Representatives in Congress are the People’s Power in the Federal Government. The Senate and Senators represent their respective states and the interest of those states. When you let the Executive or Senate Encroach you nullify that Power. The People’s Power: One of the House of Representatives Powers is of the Purse i.e. Funding or Defunding those things the Executive branch puts forth. People you’re letting the Media con you into thinking a government shut down because of funding disputes is a bad thing. The people are the real power in the United States, we are the final arbitrators of the Constitution. If we find the things the Executive, Legislative or Judicial powers of the United States are doing to be Unconstitutional, we can view them as null and void ourselves. We don’t need the Supreme Court to rule them Unconstitutional.  The Constitution begins with:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It does not say We the Executive, We the Legislature, or We the Judiciary, it says WE THE PEOPLE!

“All power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people. That government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty and the right of acquiring property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their government whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purpose of its institution.” ~ James Madison; June 8, 1789

 

Article IX of the Constitution says: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Article X says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

In a letter to Mr. M. M. Coray, under date of October 21, 1823, Thomas Jefferson said:

At the establishment of our Constitution the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the Government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a free hold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors, only passed silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions, nevertheless, become law by precedent, sapping by little and little the foundations of the Constitution and working its change by construction before any has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm had been visibly employed in consuming its substance.

“Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. I say the same as to the opinion of those who consider the grant of the treaty-making power as boundless. If it is, then we have no Constitution. If it has bounds, they can be no others than the definitions of the powers which that instrument gives. It specifies and delineates the operations permitted to the Federal Government, and gives all the powers necessary to carry these into execution. Whatever of these enumerated objects is proper for a law. Congress may make the law; whatever is proper to be executed by way of a treaty, the President and Senate may enter into the treaty; whatever is to be done by a judicial sentence, the Judges may pass the sentence. Nothing is more likely than that their enumeration of powers is defective. This is the ordinary case of all human works. Let us then go on perfecting it, by adding, by way of amendment to the Constitution those powers which time and trial show are still wanting.”Thomas Jefferson to Wilson C. Nicholas,Writings of Jefferson, Paul L. Ford Ed., viii. 247. (Monticello, Sep. 1803.)

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Judge Roane

Popular Forest, September 6, 1819.

Dear Sir,—I had read in the Enquirer, and with great approbation, the pieces signed Hampden, and have read them again with redoubled approbation, in the copies you have been so kind as to send me. I subscribe to every title of them. They contain the true principles of the revolution of 1800, for that was as real a revolution in the principles of our government as that of 1776 was in its form ; not effected indeed by the sword, as that, but by the rational and peaceable instrument of reform, the suffrage of the people. The nation declared its will by dismissing functionaries of one principle, and electing those of another, in the two branches, executive and legislative, submitted to their election. Over the judiciary department, the constitution had deprived them of their control. That, therefore, has continued the reprobated system, and although new matter has been occasionally incorporated into the old, yet the leaven of the old mass seems to assimilate to itself the new, and after twenty years’ confirmation of the federated system by the voice of the nation, declared through the medium of elections, we find the judiciary on every occasion, still driving us into consolidation.

In denying the right they [the Supreme Court] usurp [comandeer; take a position of power or importance illegally or by force] of exclusively explaining the constitution, I go further than you do, if I understand rightly your quotation from the Federalist, of an opinion that ” the judiciary is the last resort in relation to the other departments of the government, but not in relation to the rights of the parties to the compact under which the judiciary is derived.” If this opinion be sound, then indeed is our constitution a complete felo de se [one who commits suicide or who dies from the effects of having committed an unlawful malicious act: an act of deliberate self-destruction.]. For intending to establish three departments, co-ordinate and independent, that they might check and balance one another, it has given, according to this opinion, to one of them alone, the right to prescribe rules for the government of the others, and to that one too, which is unelected by, and independent of the nation. For experience has already shown that the impeachment it has provided is not even a scare-crow; that such opinions as the one you combat, sent cautiously out, as you observe also, by detachment, not belonging to the case often, but sought for out of it, as if to rally the public opinion beforehand to their views, and to indicate the line they are to walk in, have been so quietly passed over as never to have excited animadversion, even in a speech of any one of the body entrusted with impeachment. The constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please. It should be remembered, as an axiom of eternal truth in politics, that whatever power in any government is independent, is absolute also ; in theory only, at first, while the spirit of the people is up, but in practice, as fast as that relaxes. Independence can be trusted nowhere but with the people in mass. They are inherently independent of all but moral law. My construction of the constitution is very different from that you quote. It is that each department is truly independent of the others, and has an equal right to decide for itself what is the meaning of the constitution in the cases submitted to its action ; and especially, where it is to act ultimately and without appeal. I will explain myself by examples, which, having occurred while I was in office, are better known to me, and the principles which governed them.

Thomas Jefferson: Confidence in Government (Click to enlarge)

Thomas Jefferson: Confidence in Government; Sedition Act (Click to enlarge)

A legislature had passed the sedition law. The federal courts had subjected certain individuals to its penalties of fine and imprisonment. On coming into office, I released these individuals by the power of pardon committed to executive discretion, which could never be more properly exercised than where citizens were suffering without the authority of law, or, which was equivalent, under a law unauthorized by the constitution, and therefore null. In the case of Marbury and Madison, the federal judges declared that commissions, signed and sealed by the President, were valid, although not delivered. I deemed delivery essential to complete a deed, which, as long as it remains in the hands of the party, is as yet no need, it is in posse [what is possible] only, but not in esse [what is real], and I withheld delivery of the commissions. They cannot issue a mandamus [“writ of mandate” which orders a public agency or governmental body to perform an act required by law when it has neglected or refused to do] to the President or legislature, or to any of their officers. [The constitution controlling the common law in this particular.]

When the British treaty arrived, without any provision against the impressments [recruitment by force] of our seamen, I determined not to ratify it. The Senate thought I should ask their advice. I thought that would be a mockery of them, when I was predetermined against following it, should they advise its ratification. The constitution had made their advice necessary to confirm a treaty, but not to reject it. This has been blamed by some; but I have never doubted its soundness. In the cases of two persons, antenati [ancestors], under exactly similar circumstances, the federal court had determined that one of them (Duane) was not a citizen; the House of Representatives nevertheless determined that the other (Smith, of South Carolina) was a citizen, and admitted him to his seat in their body. Duane was a republican, and Smith a federalist, and these decisions were made during the federal ascendancy.

These are examples of my position, that each of the three departments has equally the right to decide for itself what is its duty under the constitution, without any regard to what the others may have decided for themselves under a similar question. But you intimate a wish that my opinion should be known on this subject. No, dear Sir, I withdraw from all contests of opinion, and resign everything cheerfully to the generation now in place. They are wiser than we were, and their successors will be wiser than they, from the progressive advance of science. Tranquillity is the summum bonum [the highest good] of age. I wish, therefore, to offend no man’s opinion, nor to draw disquieting animadversions [criticism or censure] on my own. While duty required it, I met opposition with a firm and fearless step. But loving mankind in my individual relations with them, I pray to be permitted to depart in their peace; and like the superannuated [old fashioned, out of date] soldier, “quadragenis stipendiis emeritus”[not sure on translation: “After forty serving their terms, retire”] to hang my arms on the post. I have unwisely, I fear, embarked in an enterprise of great public concern, but not to be accomplished within my term, without their liberal and prompt support. A severe illness the last year, and another from which I am just emerged, admonish me that repetitions may be expected, against which a declining frame cannot long bear up. I am anxious, therefore, to get our University so far advanced as may encourage the public to persevere to its final accomplishment. That secured, I shall sing my nunc demittis [the prayer of Simeon in Luke 2:29–32]. I hope your labors will be long continued in the spirit in which they have always been exercised, in maintenance of those principles on which I verily believe the future happiness of our country essentially depends. I salute you with affectionate and great respect.

In a letter to Thomas Ritchie, under date of December 25, 1820, Mr. Jefferson said: “But it is not from this branch of government [the House of Representatives] we have most to fear. Taxes and short elections will keep them right.

“The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working underground to undermine the foundations of our constitutional fabric. They are construing our Constitution from a coordination of a general [federal] and special [local] government to a general and supreme one alone. This will lay all things at their feet, and they are too well versed in English law to forget the maxim, ‘Boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem.’ [‘it is the duty of a good judge to enlarge his jurisdiction.’ It denotes that a good judge’s duty is to amplify the remedies of the law] We shall see if they are bold enough to take the daring strides these five lawyers (judges) have lately taken. Having found from experience that impeachment is an impracticable thing, a mere scarecrow, they consider themselves secure for life; they skulk for responsibility to public opinion, the only remaining hold upon them, under a practice first introduced into England by Lord Mansfield. An opinion is huddled up in conclave (perhaps by a majority of one), delivered as if unanimous, and with the silent acquiescence of lazy or timid associates by a crafty chief judge (Marshall), who sophisticates the law to his mind by the turn of his own reasoning. A judiciary law was once reported by the Attorney General to Congress requiring each judge to deliver his opinion seriatim and openly, and then to give it in writing to the clerk to be entered on the record. A judiciary independent of a king or executive alone is a good thing, but independence of the will of the nation is a solecism, at least in a republican government.”

In a letter to Archibald Thweat. under date of January 19, 1821, Mr. Jefferson further said:

I am sensible of the inroads daily making by the Federal into the jurisdiction of its coordinate associates, the State governments. The legislative and executive branches may sometime err, but elections and dependents will bring them to rights. The judiciary branch is the instrument which, working like gravity, without intermission, is to press us at last into one consolidated mass. Against this I know no one who, equally with Judge Roane himself, possesses the power and the courage to make resistance, and to him I look and have long looked as our strongest bulwark. If Congress fails to shield the States from danger so palpable and so imminent, the States must shield themselves, and meet the invader foot to foot.

In a letter to Mr. C. Hammond, under date of August 18, 1821, Mr. Jefferson declared:

“It has long, however, been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression, that the germ of dissolution of our Federal Government is in the constitution of the Federal judiciary, an irresponsible body, working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little to-day and a little to-morrow, and advancing its noiseless steps like a thief over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States and the government of all be consolidated into one. To this I am opposed, because when all governments, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the check provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the Government from which we separated. It will be as in Europe, where every man must either be pike or gudgeon, hammer or anvil. Our functionaries and theirs are wares from the same workshop, made of the same material and by the same hand. If the States look with apathy on this silent descent of their Government into the gulf which is to swallow all, we have only to weep over the human character formed uncontrollable but by a rod of iron, and the blasphemers of man as incapable of self-government become his true historians.”

In a letter to Colonel Nicholas, under date of December 11, 1821, Mr. Jefferson said:

“I fear, dear sir, we are now in such another crisis, with this difference only, that the judiciary branch is alone and single handed in the present assaults on the Constitution. But its assaults are more sure and deadly as from an agent seemingly passive and unassuming. May you and your contemporaries meet them with the same determination and effect that your father and his did the alien and sedition laws, and preserve inviolate a Constitution which, cherished in all its chastity and purity, will prove in the end a blessing to all the nations of the earth.”

In a letter to William T. Barry, under date of July 2, 1822, Mr. Jefferson said:

“We already see the power installed for life, responsible to no authority, advancing with a noiseless and steady pace to the great object of consolidation. The foundations are already deeply laid by their decisions for the annihilation of constitutional States’ rights and the removal of every check, every counterpoise, to the engulfing power of which themselves are to make a sovereign part. If ever this vast country is brought under a single government, it will be one of the most extensive corruptions, indifferent and incapable of a wholesome care over so wide a spread of surface. This will not be borne, and you will have to choose between reformation and revolution. If I know the spirit of this country, the one or the other is inevitable. Before the canker is become inveterate, before its venom has reached so much of the body politic as to get beyond control, remedy should be applied. Let the future appointment of judges be for four or six years, and renewable by the President and Senate. This will bring their conduct at regular periods under revision and probation, and may keep them in equipoise between the general and special government. We have erred in this point by copying England, where certainly it is a good thing to have the judges independent of the King. But we have omitted to copy their caution, also, which makes a judge removable on the address of both legislative houses. That there should be public functionaries independent of the nation, whatever be their demerit, is a solecism in a republic of the first order of absurdity and inconsistency.”

In a letter to Judge Johnson, under the date of March 4, 1823, Mr. Jefferson said:

“I can not lay down my pen without recurring to one of the subjects of my former letter, for in truth there is no danger I apprehend so much as the consolidation of our Government by the noiseless and therefore unalarming instrumentality of the Supreme Court. * * * For in truth there is at this time more hostility to the Federal judiciary than any other organ of the Government.”

In a letter to Edward Livingston, under date of March 25, 1825, Mr. Jefferson wrote:

“Time and changes in the condition and constitution of society may require occasional and corresponding modifications. One single object, if your provision attains it, will entitle you to the endless gratitude of society, that of restraining judges from usurping legislation. And with no body of men is this restraint more wanting than with the judges of what is commonly called our General [Federal] Government, but what I call our foreign department. They are practicing on the Constitution by inferences, analogies, and sophisms [a fallacious argument, especially one used deliberately to deceive] as they would an ordinary law. They do not seem aware that it is not even a Constitution formed by a single authority, and subject to a single superintendence and control, but that it is a compact of many independent powers every single one of which claims an equal right to understand it and to require its observance. However strong the cord of compact may be, there is a point of tension at which it will break. A few such doctrinal decisions as barefaced as that of the Cohens happening to bear immediately on two or three of the large States may induce them to join in arresting the march of Government and in arousing the co-States to pay some attention to what is passing to bring bark the compact to its original principles or to modify it legitimately by the expressed consent of the parties themselves, and not by the usurpation of their created agents. They imagine they can lead us into a consolidate government, while their road leads directly to dissolution. This member of the Government was at first considered as the most harmless and helpless of all its organs, but it has proved that the power of declaring what the law is ad libitum [“at pleasure” or at the discretion of the performer] by sapping and mining slyly and without alarm the foundations of the Constitution can do what open force would not dare to attempt.”

These opinions and warnings of Jefferson are very pertinent at this time. The pity is that all have not paid heed to them for the past half a century. Now, let us see what another great expounder of the Constitution has said. In a speech at Fort Hill, July 26, 1831, Mr. Calhoun said:

“No one has been so hardy as to assert that Congress or the President ought to have the right or to deny that if vested finally and exclusively in either, the consequences which I have stated would not necessarily follow; but its advocates have been reconciled to the doctrine on the supposition that there is one department of the General Government which, from its peculiar organization, affords an independent tribunal through which the Government may exercise the high authority which is the subject of consideration with perfect safety to all. I yield, I trust, so few in my attachment to the judiciary department. I am fully sensible of its importance and would maintain it to the fullest extent in its constitutional powers and independence, but it is impossible for me to believe that it was ever intended by the Constitution that it should exercise the power in question, or that it is competent to do so, and if it were it would be a safe depository of the power. Its powers are judicial and not political, and are expressly confined by the Constitution to all cases in law and equity arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and the treaties made or which shall be made under its authority, and which I have high authority in asserting excludes political questions and comprehends those only where there are parties amenable to the process of the court.”

Governor Pingree, of Michigan, expressed himself in these words:

* * * I consider government by injunction, unless stopped, the beginning of the end of liberty. Tyranny on the bench is as objectionable as tyranny on the throne. It is even more dangerous, because judges claim immunity from criticism, and foolish people acquiesce in their claims. To enjoin people from assembling peaceably to discuss their wrongs is a violation of first principles. * * * (Railroad Trainmen’s Journal for September, 1897, p. 832.)

Sources: The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia: A Comprehensive Collection of the Views of Thomas Jefferson by Thomas Jefferson
The Life and Writings of Thomas Jefferson Including all his most important public utterances on Public Questions by Samuel Eagle Forman
Hearing Before the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives by House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary

Copyright © 2014 © 2015 TeaPartyEdu http://teapartyedu.net Foundation Truths http://captainjamesdavis.net The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

Sons of Liberty: The New York Tea Party Resolutions

Lady Liberty carrying Liberty Pole with Liberty Cap

Lady Liberty carrying Liberty Pole with Liberty Cap

It is often claimed that Massachusetts and Virginia originated the scheme of Revolutionary Committees of Correspondence, but the fact is that the General Assembly of New York on the 18th of October, 1764, appointed a Committee of Correspondence, of which Robert R. Livingston was the chairman. This was the earliest movement of the kind in America, anticipating the action of Massachusetts by six years and that of Virginia by nine. It is also true that the New York committee was more active and less timid than that of Massachusetts.

The organization known as the Sons of Liberty originated in New York and spread to nearly all the other colonies. It was made up of men who gave their time, their means, and their energies to the cause of liberty. Their sufferings and sacrifices were great, and many of them gave up their lives for their country. They were foremost in every struggle, shrank from no danger, and suffered many privations without complaint. They acted as a unit and made their influence widely felt. The two leading members of this organization were John Lamb of New York City, and William Bradford of Philadelphia. Another prominent member was Hugh Gaines of New York, who wrote largely for the patriot press, and was active on committees and as member of various organizations. He served in the army with distinction and at the close of the war became a prominent member of the Society of the Cincinnati. It was one of the New York Sons of Liberty, who, so far as is known, was the first to distinctly point to independence in any written document. It was John Morin Scott who in May, 1765, said, “If the welfare of the mother country necessarily requires a sacrifice of the most natural rights of the colonies—their right of making their own laws, and disposing of their own property by representatives of their own choosing—if such is really the case between Great Britain and her colonies, then the connection between them ought to cease and sooner or later it must inevitably cease.”

Events were shaping themselves for the final outbreak in 1769, as will be seen by the following extracts from a circular headed “To the Betrayed Inhabitants of the City and Colony of New York,” and signed “A Son of Liberty,” in possession of the New York Historical Society: “My Dear Fellow-Citizens and Countrymen:

“In a Day when the Minions of Tyranny and Despotism in the Mother Country, and the Colonies, are indefatigable in laying every Snare that their malevolent and corrupt Hearts can suggest, to enslave a free people; when this unfortunate Country has been striving under many Disadvantages for three Years past, to preserve their Freedom; . . . when the Merchants of this City and the Capital towns on the Continent, have nobly and cheerfully sacrificed their private Interests to the publick Good, rather than to promote the Designs of the Enemies of our happy Constitution; it might justly be expected, that in this day of Constitutional Light, the Representatives of this Colony, would not be so hardy, nor so lost to all sense of Duty to their Constituents . . . as to betray the Trust committed to them [in passing the vote to give the troops £1,000 out of the Treasury and £1,000 out of the money to be put out on loan, and which the colony would be obliged to make good]. And that they have betrayed the Liberties of the People. . . . And what makes the Assembly’s granting this Money the more grievous, is, that it goes to the Support of the Troops kept here, not to protect, but to enslave us. . . . Is this a State to be rested in when our all is at Stake? No, my Countrymen, Rouse! imitate the noble Example of the Friends of Liberty in England, who rather than be enslaved contend for their right with the K—g, Lords and Commons. And will you suffer your Liberties to be torn from you by your own Representatives? Tell it not in Boston; publish it not in the Streets of Charleston! . . . Assemble in the Fields on Monday next, where your sense ought to be taken on this important Point.”

After the meeting of the following day, which disapproved the action of the Assembly, another handbill, signed “Legion,” appeared, which “caused the Assembly much annoyance, was declared libelous, and a reward of £150 was offered for the discovery of the writer.” Through information given by James Parker, a printer, in whose office the printing was done, and who was threatened with the loss of his place as Secretary of the Postoffice if he did not give the name of the writer, Alexander Macdougal was arrested and imprisoned. New York honors him by naming a street for him, and the historian names him as the first martyr to the cause of liberty. Here is an extract from a letter sent to London from New York on January 22, 1770, which tells of the troublous times in the city:

“We are all in Confusion in this City; the Soldiers have cut and blowed up Liberty Pole, and have caused much Trouble between the Inhabitants. On Friday last between Burling Slip and the Fly Market, was an Engagement between the Inhabitants and the Soldiers, when much Blood was spilt. One Sailor got run through the Body, who since Died. One man got his Skull cut in the most Cruel Manner. On Saturday the Hall Bell rang for an Alarm, when was another Battle between the Inhabitants and Soldiers; but the Soldiers met with Rubbers, the Chiefest part being Sailors and Clubs to revenge the Death of their Brother, which they did with Courage and made them all run to their Barracks. What will be the end of this God knows!”

The trouble referred to in this letter culminated in the two days’ battle of Golden Hill, which has been glorified and perpetuated in history.

LibertyPole

Liberty Pole

[A Liberty pole is a tall wooden pole, often used as a type of flagstaff, planted in the ground, which may be surmounted by an ensign or a liberty cap.]

Battle of Golden Hill

Golden Hill was on John Street, near William, and was so called because of the effect produced by the ripening of the wheat grown there. The stamp act greatly aroused the Sons of Liberty in New York. They erected a liberty pole on the common near Golden Hill, and it was a rallying point for the patriots, their headquarters being near by. The pole was cut down by the British soldiers, and replaced by the Sons of Liberty. Twice after this the pole was cut down by the soldiers and erected again by the Sons of Liberty. The fourth pole was fastened with iron braces and protected by filling it with nails, but on the 16th of January the soldiers destroyed this, cut it in pieces, and piled them before the door of La Montayne’s Tavern. This led to the collision between the Sons of Liberty and the British that is spoken of as the Battle of Golden Hill. One citizen was killed, three severely wounded, and a considerable number injured. Many of the soldiers were badly beaten.

The New York Tea Party.

The Liberty Boys were not to be balked by the action of Mayor Hicks and the Common Council on January 30, 1770, in refusing them a site on which to erect a fifth Liberty Pole; nor were they at a loss to find a house in which to meet when the owner of the property which they had previously used as a headquarters was won over to the opposition. To meet the first emergency, they purchased a piece of ground near where the fourth pole stood, and erected thereon what was destined to be the last rallying point previous to the Revolution. To meet the second emergency they purchased a house on what is now the corner of Broadway and Ann street, and christened it Hampden Hall. They consecrated it to the cause of liberty, and on March 19, 1770, celebrated the anniversary of the colony’s triumph over the exactions of the mother country.

Lord Dunmore superseded Colden as Governor on October 25, 1770. His instructions from the home government to the colonists, or rather their representatives, were similar to those of his predecessors—”to continue in well-doing and not to forget to make due appropriations for the troops quartered among them.” During his reign the case of Macdougal was tried, George Clinton, future Governor of New York and Vice-President of the United States, defending him. Later he was released through the influence of friends.

On July 8, 1771, William Tryon was appointed Governor, Lord Dunmore having been transferred to Virginia. This new Governor was voted an income of £2,000 by the complacent Assembly, but refused it, saying he was forbidden to receive any gifts from the Assembly—a new scheme by the home government for securing the submission of the colonies, as the salary of the Governor was to be paid from his majesty’s treasury, and the treasury to be supplied from the colonial taxes.

For the next two years—1772 and 1773—complete stagnation prevailed in New York. Few records of public improvements are to be found, commerce was only partially resumed, and the use of tea by the inhabitants was obsolete. The people thought only of resistance and awaited the day of deliverance from oppression. Only one street—Warren—was laid out and regulated in 1771, and an “iron railing made round the Bowling Green for £800.”- Murray street was regulated the following year.

Much has been written of the Boston Tea Party. New York also had a Tea Party in 1773. In order to entrap the colonists and unguardedly gain their assent to the principle of Parliamentary taxation, the home Ministry passed a law permitting the East India Company to export tea to the colonies free of the duty which before had been paid in England, but retaining the duty which was paid in America. This, of course, reduced the price of tea to the colonists. The bill was declared obnoxious, and measures were decided on to prevent the landing of the large shipments ordered to America. England was alarmed, especially as her Tea Commissions in New York had resigned their commissions. Strong resolutions were passed on November 27, 1773, by the Sons of Liberty condemnatory of the Revenue Act relating to tea, and pledging fealty to one another in the maintaining of a strict quarantine against its introduction in the colony: “Resolved, That, whether the duties imposed by this act be paid in Great Britain or in America, our liberties are equally affected.”

Here is the first record of a boycott;

“Resolved, That whoever shall aid and abet, or in any manner assist in the introduction of tea from any place whatsoever into this colony, while it is subject by a British Parliament to the payment of a duty for the purpose of raising a revenue in America, shall be deemed an enemy to the liberties of America.”

“Resolved, That whoever shall be aiding or assisting in the landing or carting of such tea from any ship or vessel, or shall hire any house, storehouse, or cellar, or any place whatsoever to deposit the tea, subject to such duty, as aforesaid, shall be deemed an enemy to the liberties of America.”

“Resolved, That whoever shall sell or buy, or in any manner contribute to the purchase of tea subject to duty, as aforesaid, or shall aid or abet in transporting such tea by land or water from the city until the 7th, Geo. Ill, Chapter 46, commonly called the Revenue Act, shall be totally and clearly repealed, shall be deemed an enemy to the liberties of America.”

“Resolved, That whether the duties imposed by this act be paid in Great Britain or in America, our liberties are equally affected.”

“Resolved, That whoever shall transgress any of these resolutions, we will not deal with or employ, or have any connection with him.”

On the 16th of December, 1773, the very day of the Boston Tea Party, the New York Sons of Liberty met in the City Hall and unanimously resolved that no tea should be allowed to be landed on any pretext whatever.

The first tea ship to reach Sandy Hook was the Nancy, commanded by Captain Lockyer. It arrived the 18th of April, 1774. On the advice of the pilot, Captain Lockyer decided to go to the city before attempting to land his cargo. He consulted with the Vigilance Committee and became satisfied that it would not be possible for him to land his tea, and he made no attempt to do so. While he was in the city Captain Chambers of the ship London arrived having on board eighteen chests of tea. He declared that he had no tea on board, but the Sons of Liberty made a search and found it, when he declared that it was a private venture and brought without knowledge of the East India Company. This did not satisfy the patriots and the tea was thrown into the harbor. He took the advice of the authorities and left with Lockyer. As the two captains left the people crowded the wharf, hurrahed, fired cannon, and hoisted a flag on the liberty pole as tokens of triumph. The people of New York were not less active, vigilant, or energetic, nor did they stand less firmly for principle than did their brethren at Boston, yet little has been said or written about their part in resisting the tax on tea.

Sources & References:
The Journal of the New York State Teachers Association, Volumes 3-4
Cradle days of New York: (1609-1825) By Hugh Entwistle McAtamney
Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association…Volume 15
The Military and Naval Magazine of the United States, Volume 5

Copyright © 2014 © 2015 TeaPartyEdu http://teapartyedu.net Foundation Truths http://captainjamesdavis.net The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

Virginia Protest Prepared by Jefferson for the Legislature of Virginia

ThomasJeffersonQuoteFederalGovtAdministration

Jefferson Tells How the Federal Government should be Administered

Protest Prepared by Thomas Jefferson for the Legislature of Virginia; December, 1825

The solemn Declaration and Protest of the Commonwealth of Virginia, on the principles of the Constitution of the United Stales of America, and on the violations of them. We, the General Assembly of Virginia, on behalf, and in the name of the people thereof, do declare as follows:

The States in North America which confederated to establish their independence on the Government of Great Britain, of which Virginia was one, became, on that acquisition, free and independent States, and, as such, authorized to constitute Governments, each for itself, in such forms as it thought best.

They entered into a compact, (which is called the Constitution of the United States of America,) by which they agreed to unite in a single Government, as to their relations with each other, and with foreign nations, and as to certain other articles particularly specified. They retained at the same time, each to itself, the other rights of independent government, comprehending, mainly, their domestic interests.

For the administration of their Federal branch, they agreed to appoint, in conjunction, a distinct set of functionaries. Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary, in the manner settled in that compact: while to each, severally and of course, remained its original right of appointing, each for itself, a separate set of functionaries, Legislative, Executive, aud Judiciary, also, for administering the domestic branch of their respective Governments.

These two sets of officers, each independent of the other, constitute thus a whole of government, for each State separately; the powers ascribed to the one, as specifically made Federal, exercised over the whole; the residuary powers, retained to the other, exercisable exclusively over its particular States, foreign herein, each to the other, as they were before the original compact.

To this construction of government and distribution of its power, the Commonwealth of Virginia does religiously and affectionately adhere, opposing with equal fidelity and firmness, the usurpation of either set of functionaries on the rightful powers of the other.

But the Federal branch has assumed, in some cases, and claimed in others, a right of enlarging its own powers by constructions, inferences, and indefinite -deductions from those directly given, which this Assembly does declare to be usurpations of the powers retained to the independent branches; mere interpolations into the compact, and direct infractions of it.

They claim, for example, and have commenced the exercise of, a right to construct roads, open canals, and effect other internal improvements within the territories and jurisdictions exclusively belonging to the several States, which this Assembly does declare has not been given to that branch by the constitutional compact, but remains to each State, among its domestic and unalienated powers, exercisable within itself, and by its domestic authorities alone.

This Assembly does further disavow and declare to be most false and unfounded, the doctrine that the compact, in authorizing its Federal branch to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises; to pay all debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States, has given them thereby a power to do whatever they may think, or pretend, would promote the general welfare; which construction would make that, of itself, a complete government, without limitation of powers; but that the plain sense and obvious meaning was, that they might levy the taxes necessary to provide for the general welfare, by the various acts of power therein specified and delegated to them, and by no others.

Nor is it admitted, as has been said, that the people of these States, by not investing their Federal branch with all the means of bettering their condition, have denied to themselves any which may effect that purpose, since, in the distribution of these means, they have given to that branch those which belong to its departments, and to the States have reserved, separately, the residue which belong to them separately. And thus, by the organization of the two branches taken together, have completely secured the first object of human association, the full improvement of their condition, and reserved to themselves all the faculties of multiplying their own blessings.

Whilst the General Assembly thus declares the rights retained by the State, rights which they never have yielded, and which tho Stale never will voluntarily yield, they do not mean to raise the banner of disaffection, or of separation from their sister States, co-parties with themselves to this compact. They know and value too highly the blessings of their Union, as to foreign nations and questions arising among themselves, to consider every infraction to be met by actual resistance. They respect too affectionately the opinions of those possessing the same rights, under the same instrument, to make every difference of construction a ground of immediate rupture. They would, indeed,consider such a rupture as among the greatest calamities which could befall them; but not the greatest. There is yet One Greater—submission to a Government of Unlimited Powers.

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KENTUCKY RESOLUTIONS by Thomas Jefferson 1798

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Resolutions of Kentucky, written by Thomas Jefferson 1798

1. Resolved, That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General [Federal] Government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of Amendments thereto, they constituted a General Government for special purposes,—delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the Government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers: but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.

2. Resolved, That the Constitution of the United States, having delegated to Congress a power to punish treason, counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States, piracies, and felonies committed on the high seas, and offences against the law of nations, and no other crimes whatsoever: and it being true as a general principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”, therefore the act of Congress, passed on the 14th day of July, 1798, and intituled “An Act in addition to the act intituled ‘An Act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States ‘ “, as also the act passed by them on the day of June, 1789, intituled ” An Act to punish frauds committed on the Bank of the United States” (and all their other acts which assume to create, define, or punish crimes, other than those so enumerated in the Constitution), are altogether void, and of no force: and that the power to create, define, and punish such other crimes is reserved, and, of right, appertains solely and exclusively to the respective States, each within its own territory.

3. Resolved, That it is true as a general principle, and is also expressly declared by one of the amendments to the Constitution, that ” the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people “; and that no power over the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or freedom of the press being delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, all lawful powers respecting the same did of right remain, and were reserved to the States or the people; that thus was manifested their determination to retain to themselves the right of judging how far the licentiousness of speech and of the press may be abridged without lessening their useful freedom, and how far those abuses which cannot be separated from their use should be tolerated, rather than the use be destroyed. And thus also they guarded against all abridgment by the United States of the freedom of religious opinions and exercises, and retained to themselves the right of protecting the same, as this State, by a law passed on the general demand of its citizens, had already protected them from all human restraint or interference. And that in addition to this general principle and express declaration, another and more special provision has been made by one of the amendments to the Constitution, which expressly declares, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press “; thereby guarding in the same sentence, and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press: insomuch, that whatever violated either, throws down the sanctuary which covers the others, and that libels, falsehoods, and defamation, equally with heresy and false religion, are withheld from the cognizance of Federal tribunals. That, therefore, the act of Congress of the United States, passed on the 14th day of July, 1798, intituled “An Act in addition to the act intituled ‘ An Act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States'” which does abridge the freedom of the press, is not law, but is altogether void, and of no force.

ThomasJeffersonQuoteRightsEncroachment

4. Resolved, That alien friends are under the jurisdiction and protection of the laws of the State wherein they are; that no power over them has been delegated to the United States, nor prohibited to the individual States, distinct from their power over citizens. And it being true as a general principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people “, the act of the Congress of the

United States, passed on the day of July, 1798, intituled “An Act concerning aliens”, which assumes powers over alien friends, not delegated by the Constitution, is not law, but is altogether void, and of no force.

5. Resolved, That in addition to the general principle, as well as the express declaration, that powers not delegated are reserved, another and more special provision, inserted in the Constitution from abundant caution, has declared that “the migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year 1808″: that this Commonwealth does admit the migration of alien friends, described as the subject of the said act concerning aliens: that a provision against prohibiting their migration, is a provision against all acts equivalent thereto, or it would be nugatory: that to remove them when migrated, is equivalent to a prohibition of their migration, and is, therefore, contrary to the said provision of the Constitution, and void.

6. Resolved, That the imprisonment of a person under the laws of this Commonwealth, on his failure to obey the simple order of the President to depart out of the United States, as is undertaken by said act intituled “An Act concerning aliens” is contrary to the Constitution, one amendment to which has provided that “no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law “: and that another having provided that “in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to public trial by an impartial jury, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence “, the same act, undertaking to authorize the President to remove a person out of the United States, who is under the protection of the law, on his own suspicion, without accusation without jury, without public trial, without confrontation of the witnesses against him, without hearing witnesses in his favor, without defence, without counsel, is contrary to the provision also of the Constitution, is therefore not law, but utterly void, and of no force: that transferring the power of judging any person, who is under the protection of the laws, from the courts to tie ‘resident of the United States, as is undertaken by the same act concerning aliens, is against the article of the Constitution which provides that ” the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in courts, the judges of which shall hold their offices during good behavior “; and that the said act is void for that reason also. And it is further to be noted, that this transfer of judiciary power is to that magistrate of the General Government who already possesses all the Executive and a negative on all Legislative powers.

7. Resolved, That the construction applied by the General Government (as is evidenced by sundry of their proceedings) to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which delegate to Congress a power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States”, and “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested by the Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof”, goes to the destruction of all limits prescribed to their power by the Constitution: that words meant by the instrument to be subsidiary only to the execution of limited powers, ought not to be so construed as themselves to give unlimited powers, nor a part to be so taken as to destroy the whole residue of that instrument: that the proceedings of the General Government under color of these articles, will be a fit and necessary subject of revisal and correction, at a time of greater tranquillity, while those specified in the preceding resolution call for immediate redress.

8. Resolved, That a committee of conference and correspondence be appointed, who shall have in charge to communicate the preceding resolutions to the Legislatures of the several States: to assure them that this Commonwealth continues in the same esteem of their friendship and union which it has manifested from that moment at which a common danger first suggested a common union: that it considers union, for specified national purposes, and particularly to those specified in their late Federal compact, to be friendly to the peace, happiness and prosperity of all the States: that faithful to that compact, according to the plain intent and meaning in which it was understood and acceded to by the several parties, it is sincerely anxious for its preservation: that it does also believe, that to take from the States all the powers of self-government and transfer them to a general and consolidated government, without regard to the special delegations and reservations solemnly agreed to in that compact, is not for the peace, happiness or prosperity of these States; and that, therefore, this Commonwealth is determined, as it doubts not its co-States are, to submit to undelegated, and consequently unlimited powers in no man, or body of men on earth: that in cases of an abuse of the delegated powers, the members of the General Government, being chosen by the people, a change by the people would be the constitutional remedy; but, where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy; that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact (casus non foederis), to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them: that nevertheless, this Commonwealth, from motives of regard and respect for its co-States, has wished to communicate with them on the subject: that with them alone it is proper to communicate, they alone being parties to the compact, and solely authorized to judge in the last resort of the powers exercised under it, Congress being not a party, but merely the creature of the compact, and subject as to its assumptions of power to the final judgment of those by whom, and for whose use itself and its powers were all created and modified: that if the acts before specified should stand, these conclusions would flow from them; that the General Government may place any act they think proper on the list of crimes, and punish it themselves whether enumerated or not enumerated by the Constitution as cognizable by them; that they may transfer its cognizance to the President, or any other person, who may himself be the accuser, counsel, judge, and jury, whose suspicions may be the evidence, his order the sentence, his officer the executioner, and his breast the sole record of the transaction: that a very numerous and valuable description of the inhabitants of these States being, by this precedent, reduced, as outlaws, to the absolute dominion of one man. and the barrier of the Constitution thus swept away from us all, no rampart now remains against the passions and the powers of a majority in Congress to protect from a like exportation, or other more grievous punishment, the minority of the same body, the legislatures, judges, governors, and councillors of the States, nor their other peaceable inhabitants, who may venture to reclaim the constitutional rights and liberties of the States and people, or who for other causes, good or bad. may be obnoxious to the views, or marked by the suspicions of the President, or be thought dangerous to his or their election, or other interests, public or personal: that the friendless alien has indeed been selected as the safest subject of a first experiment; but the citizen will soon follow, or rather, has already followed, for already has a Sedition Act marked him as its prey;that these and successive acts of the same character, unless arrested at the threshold, necessarily drive these States into revolution and blood, and will furnish new calumnies against republican government, and new pretexts for those who wish it to be believed that man cannot be governed but by a rod of iron; that it would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights: that confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism—free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence: it is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power: that our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no further, our confidence may go; and let the honest advocate of confidence read the Alien and Sedition Acts, and say if the Constitution has not been wise in fixing limits to the government it created, and whether we should be wise in destroying those limits. Let him say what the government is, if it be not a tyranny, which the men of our choice have conferred on our President and President of our choice has assented to, and accepted over the friendly strangers to whom the mild spirit of our country and its laws have pledged hospitality and protection: that the men of our choice have more respected the bare suspicions of the President, than the solid right of innocence, the claims of justification, the sacred force of truth, and the forms and substance of law and justice. In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. That this Commonwealth does, therefore, call on its co-States for an expression of their sentiments on the acts concerning aliens, and for the punishment of certain crimes herein before specified, plainly declaring whether these acts are or are not authorized by the Federal compact. And it doubts not that their sense will be so announced as to prove their attachment unaltered to limited government, whether general or particular. And that the rights and liberties of their co-States will be exposed to no dangers by remaining embarked in a common bottom with their own. That they will concur with this Commonwealth in considering the said acts as so palpably against the Constitution as to amount to an undisguised declaration that that compact is not meant to be the measure of the powers of the General Government, but that it will proceed in the exercise over these States, of all powers whatsoever: that they will view this as seizing the rights of the States, and consolidating them in the hands of the General Government, with a power assumed to bind the States (not merely in the cases made Federal (casus faderis) but) in all cases whatsoever, by laws made, not with their consent, but by others against their consent; that this would be to surrender the form of government we have chosen, and live under one deriving its powers from its own will, and not from our authority; and that the co-States, recurring to their natural right in cases not made Federal, will concur in declaring these acts void, and of no force, and will each take measures of its own for providing that neither these acts, nor any others of the General Government not plainly and intentionally authorized by the Constitution, shall be exercised within their respective territories.

9. Resolved, That the said committee be authorized to communicate by writing or personal conferences, at any times or places whatever, with any person or persons who may be appointed by any one or more co-States to correspond or confer with them; and that they lay their proceeding before the next session of Assembly.—Writings of Jefferson; Paul Ford Ed., vii, 289. (1798.)

Copyright © 2014 © 2015 TeaPartyEdu http://teapartyedu.net Foundation Truths http://captainjamesdavis.net The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

Thomas Jefferson Defines What a True Republic Is

ThomasJeffersonQuoteRepublicanConstitution

We shall now be so strong that we shall certainly split again; for freemen thinking differently and speaking and acting as they think, will form into classes of sentiment, but it must be under another name; that of Federalism is to become so scanted that no party can rise under it.

As the division between 1. Tory [Democrats & GOP] is founded in the nature of men, the weakly [cowardly] and nerveless, the rich and the corrupt, seeing more safety and accessibility in a strong executive;

and 2. Whig [Tea Party Republicans] the healthy, firm and virtuous feeling confidence in their physical and moral resources, and willing to part with only so much power as is necessary for their good government, and therefore to retain the rest in the hands of the many, the division will substantially be into Whig and Tory, as in England, formerly. ~ Thomas Jefferson to Joel Barlow, 1802

It was to escape the oppression resulting from governments controlled by the select few, so often ruling under the assumption that “might makes right,” that gave birth to republics. Monarchial rulers refuse to recognize their accountability to the people governed by them. In a republic the converse is the rule. The tenure of office may be for a short or a long period, or even for life, yet those in office are at all times answerable, either directly or indirectly, to the people, and in proportion to their responsibility to those for whom they may be the public agents, and the nearer the power to enact laws and control public servants lies with the great body of the people [This is referring to the House of Representatives, they are the closest to the American people because they are up for re-election every 2 years, instead of 6 like the Senate and 4 like the President. This  is also the reason the House of Representatives have the  Power of the Purse, because they are more accountable to the people and it is through the House of Reps that the people are supposed to be able to weld that power by defunding something the President is doing that the people disagree with], the more nearly does a government take unto itself the form of a republic—not in name alone, but in fact. From this it follows that each republic may differ in its political system or in the political machinery by which it moves, but, so long as the ultimate control of its officials and affairs of state remain in its citizens, , it will in the eye of all republics be recognized as a government of that class. Of this we have many examples in Central and South America. It becomes then a matter of degree, and the fear manifested by the briefs filed in this case would seem to indicate, not that we are drifting from the secure moorings of a republic, but that our State, by the direct system of legislation complained of, is becoming too democratic—advancing too rapidly towards a republic pure in form. This, it is true, counsel for petitioner does not concede, but under any interpretation of which the term is capable, or from any view thus far found expressed in the writings of the prominent statesmen who were members of the Constitutional Convention, or who figured in the early upbuilding of the nation, it follows that the system here assailed brings us nearer to a State republican in form than before its adoption. Mr. Thomas Jefferson, in 1816, when discussing the term republic, defined and illustrated his view thereof as follows:

Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, May 28, 1816

”Indeed, it must be acknowledged that the term ‘republic’ is of very vague application in every language. Witness the self-styled republics of Holland, Switzerland, Genoa, Venice, Poland. Were I to assign to this term a precise and definite idea, I would say, merely and simply, it means a government by its citizens in mass, acting directly and personally, according to rules established by the majority; and that every other government is more or less Republican, in proportion as it has in its composition more or less of this ingredient of the direct action of the citizens. Such a government is evidently restrained to very narrow limits of space and population. I doubt if it would be practicable beyond the extent of a New England township. The first shade from the pure which, like that of pure vital air, cannot sustain life itself, would be where the powers of the government, being divided, should be exercised each by representatives chosen either, pro hoc vice, or for such short terms as should render secure the duty of expressing the will of their constituents. This I should consider as the nearest approach to a pure Republic, which is practicable on a large scale of country or population. * * * In the general government, the House of Representatives is mainly Republican; the Senate scarcely so at all, as not elected by the people directly, and so long secured even against those who do elect them; the Executive more Republican than the Senate, from its shorter term, its election by the people, in practice (for they vote for A only on an assurance that he will vote for B) and because, in practice also, a principle of rotation seems to be in a course of establishment; the judiciary independent of the nation, their coercion by impeachment being found nugatory (nugatory = worthless or unimportant). [Coercion of the judiciary by impeachment, this means if judges are doing anything the people find unacceptable they can be impeached. As I pointed out earlier the House of Representatives better represent the will of the people because they are closest to the peoples will, since they are subject to re-election every two years. The Founders in their wisdom also gave the House of Representatives the  power of impeachment. As we have seen the House of Representatives have been bullied by the media and the democrat party to all but surrender the power of impeachment, i.e. they never use it out of fear of what the media is going to tar them with. However the House can not only impeach the president, they can also impeach anyone in government, including judges, which in my estimation should happen quite often where government employees are concerned. Do not forget, everyone in government in the U.S.A. is supposed to be servants of the people. Far too often the people in government act as if, it is the people who are supposed serve government, or those in government. After the House was given the power of impeachment, the Senate was given the sole responsibility of trying those who are impeached. The Founding Fathers did this because the Senate is supposed to be more methodical and deliberative than either the President or House of Reps. Originally the Senate was made up of two State Senators from each respective state. The senators could be recalled at any time by each states senate, which also made them closer to the will of the people than they are now, because the state senates are closer to the people than the Senate in Washington D.C. We now see the radical leftwing media and the democrat party trying to shame, bully and coerce the House of Representatives into giving up the Power of the Purse. As with the DHS funding where the House of Representatives are trying to take away or eliminate funding from the Presidents unconstitutional immigration actions, where he is trying to give 5,000,000+ illegal aliens amnesty. The people (through their lack of knowledge of the Constitution and the Founding Principles of this Nation) are letting the media and those in government take away their power by the House of Represetatives giving up their power, again it is the House of Representatives that are closest to the will of the American people. The American people should really wake up to this fact before they let those in media and politics eliminate all the peoples power through the elimination of the House’s power.]

If, then, the control of the people over the organs of their government be the measure of its Republicanism, and I confess I know no other measure, it must be agreed that our governments have much less of Republicanism than ought to have been expected; in other words, that the people have less regular control over their agents, than their rights and their interests require. And this I ascribe, not to any want of Republican dispositions in those who formed these constitutions, but to a submission of true principle to European authorities, to speculators on government, whose fears of the people have been inspired by the populace of their own great cities, and were unjustly entertained against the independent, the happy, and therefore orderly citizens of the United States. Much I apprehend that the golden moment is past for reforming these heresies. The functionaries of public power rarely strengthen in their disposition to abridge it, and an organized call for timely amendment is not likely to prevail against an organized opposition to it. We are always told that things are going on well; why change them? “Chi sta bene, non si muore,” said the Italian, “let him who stands well, stand still.” This is true; and I verily believe they would go on well with us under an absolute monarch, while our present character remains, of order, industry and love of peace and restrained, as he would be, by the proper spirit of the people. But it is while it remains such, we should provide against the consequences of its deterioration. And let us rest in hope that it will yet be done, and spare ourselves the pain of evils which may never happen.

On this view of the import of the term Republic, instead of saying, as has been said, “that it may mean anything or nothing,” we may say with truth and meaning, that governments are more or less Republican, as they have more or less of the element of popular election and control in their composition; and believing, as I do, that the mass of the citizens is the safest depository of their own rights, and especially, that the evils flowing from the duperies of the people, are less injurious than those from the egoism of their agents, I am a friend to that composition of government which has in it the most of this ingredient. And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”

Copyright © 2014 © 2015 TeaPartyEdu http://teapartyedu.net Foundation Truths http://captainjamesdavis.net The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

THE SPIRIT OF DESPOTISM vs THE RIGHTS OF MAN

TheEducatorAnarchy

NOTE: Not Sure Which Was the True Author, it was published as The Spirit of Despotism by Knox and The Rights of Man by Branagan, in reading them both I would determine Knox to be the author since Branagan starts every paragraph with a quotation mark as seen in this piece.

THE SPIRIT OF DESPOTISM & THE RIGHTS OF MAN by Vicesimus Knox, Thomas Branagan

“Man in a state of simplicity, uncorrupted by the influence of bad education, bad examples, and bad government, possesses capacity for all that is good and beautiful. He is capable of a degree of moral and intellectual improvement, which advances his nature to a participation with the divine. The world in all its magnificence, appears to him one vast theatre, richly adorned and illuminated, into which he is freely admitted to enjoy the glorious spectacle. Acknowledging no natural superior, but the great architect of the whole fabric, he partakes the delight with conscious dignity, and glows with gratitude. Pleased with himself and all around him, his heart dilates with benevolence, as well as piety; and he finds his joys augmented by communication. His countenance cheerful, his mien erect, he rejoices in existence. Life is a continual feast to him, highly seasoned by virtue, by liberty and mutual affection. God formed him to be happy and he becomes so, thus fortunately unmolested by false policy and oppression. Religion, reason, nature, are his guides through the whole of his existence, and the whole is happy. Virtuous Independence, the sun, which irradiates the morning of his day, warms its noon, tinges the serene evening with every beautiful variety of color, and on the pillow of religious hope, he sinks to repose in the bosom of Providence.

But where is man to be found, thus noble, thus innocent, thus happy? Wherever the rights of nature, and the virtues of simplicity are not violated or banished by the false refinements, the base artifices of corrupted government.

Unhappily for man, society has been almost universally corrupted, even by the arts intended for its improvement; and human nature is gradually depraved in its very progress to civilization. Metamorphosed by the tampering of unskillful or dishonest politicians, and the craft of interested priests, co-operating with politicians, Man at present appears, in many countries, a diminutive and distorted animal, compared with what he was in his primeval state. He has become the dwarf and the cripple of courts and cities, instead of the well-formed, beautiful creature, who once bounded in the glory of health and strength, over the forest and the mountain, glowing with the warmth of virtue, and breathing the spirit of independence.

“Various are the causes which contribute to the factitious depravity of man. Defective and erroneous education corrupts him; the prevalent examples of a degenerate community corrupt him; but bad government corrupts him more than all other causes combined. The grand adversary of human virtue and happiness is Despotism. Look over the surface of the whole earth, and behold man, the glory and deputed lord of the creation, withering under the influence of despotism, like the plant of temperate climes scorched by the sun of a torrid zone. The leaf is sickly, the blossom dares not expand its beauty, and no fruit arrives at its just size and maturity.

“Turkey, Italy, Egypt! how changed from what ye were when inhabited by ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians! Nature, indeed, still smiles upon them with unaltered favor. The blue mantle of the skies is still spread over them in all its luminous magnificence. There is no reason to suppose the earth less fertile. The corn laughs in the valleys. The tree aspires to Heaven with all its original verdure and majesty. But Man decays; withered, shrunk, enervated; a form without spirit, an animal less happy than the beasts of the field, and more ignoble, inasmuch as degeneracy is baser than native, original, created inferiority. Fallen with the columnar ruins of better times, over which, in these countries, he often tramples, Man himself appears little better than a ruin, displaying all the deformity of the mouldering pile, with scarcely any vestige of its former magnificence.

“Government (so called) has counteracted the beneficence of nature. The Men are fallen; while the human figures, with their internal and external organization, continue yet, in a great measure, the same. They are inactive and pusillanimous. They aspire at no extraordinary excellence or achievements, but crouch beneath their despot, glad of the poor privilege allowed them by a fellow-creature, as weak and more wicked than themselves, to eat, drink, sleep, and die. Any pre-eminent degree of merit among them would render the distinguished possessor of it fatally illustrious, the certain object of a tyrant’s vengeance; and they find their best security in their want of virtue. By a voluntary submission to contempt, they retain and transmit the privilege of breathing, and build the bulwark of their safety on their personal insignificance.

“Fear must, of necessity, become the predominant passion in all countries subject to the uncontrolled dominion of an individual and his ministers: but fear chills the blood and freezes the faculties. Under its icy influence there can arise no generous emulation, no daring spirit of adventure. Enterprise is considered as dangerous, not merely from the general casualty of all human affairs, but because it excites notice, and alarms the jealousy of selfish power. Under a despotic government, to steal through life unobserved, to creep, with timid caution, through the vale of obscurity, is the first wisdom; and to be suffered to die in old age, without the prison, the chain, the dagger, or the poisoned bowl, is the highest pitch of human felicity.

“Ignorance of the grossest kind, ignorance of man’s nature and rights, ignorance of all that tends to make and keep us happy, disgraces and renders wretched more than half the earth, at this moment, in consequence of its subjugation to despotic power. Ignorance, robed in imperial purple, with Pride and Cruelty by her side, sways an iron sceptre over nearly both hemispheres. In the finest and largest regions of this planet which we inhabit, are no liberal pursuits and professions, no contemplative delights, nothing of that pure, intellectual employment which raises man from the mire of sensuality and sordid care, to a degree of excellence and dignity which we conceive to be angelic and celestial. Without knowledge, or the means of obtaining it; without exercise or excitements, the mind falls into a state of infantine imbecility and dotage, or acquires a low cunning, intent only on selfish and mean pursuits, such as is visible in the more ignoble of the irrational creatures—in foxes, apes, and monkeys. Among nations so corrupted, the utmost effort of genius is a court intrigue or a ministerial cabal.

“A degradation of the understanding, like this, is usually accompanied with depravity of heart. From an inability to find pleasure and honorable employment in the energies of thought, in noble and virtuous actions, in refined conversation, in arts, in commerce, in learning, arises a mischievous activity in trifles, a perversion of nature, a wantonness of wickedness, productive of flagitious habits, which renders the partaker of reason the most despicable and detestable animal in the whole circle of existence. Thus sunk under the pressure of despotism, who can recognize, notwithstanding the human shape they bear, the lineal descendants of Egyptian, Grecian, Roman worthies, the glory of their times, the luminaries of their own country and the world, the instructors and benefactors of human nature? Thus the image of the Deity, stamped on man at his creation, is defiled or utterly effaced by government, instituted and exercised by man over his fellow-man; and his kindred to Heaven is known no more by the divine resemblance. A bad government is therefore the curse of the earth, the scourge of man, the grand obstacle to the divine will, the most copious source of all moral evil, and for that reason, of all misery; but of bad governments, none are comparable, in their mischievous effects, to the despotic.

“But if despotism in its extreme produces consequences thus malignant, reason will infer, and experience will justify the inference, that all the subordinate degrees of despotism are proportionally destructive. However it may be disguised by forms, it is ever seeking its own increase and aggrandizement, by openly crushing or secretly undermining the fabric of liberty: it is ever encroaching on the privileges and enjoyments of those who are subjected to it; greedily, though foolishly, wishing to engross every good of every kind in this sublunary state, except the good of virtue.

“Power, though limited by written laws, in the hands of mortal men, poorly educated, and surrounded by sycophants and flatterers, who wish, by partaking the power, to partake also of its profits and distinctions, and thus gratify at once their pride and avarice, is always endeavouring to extend itself beyond the limitations; and requires to be watched with the most jealous eye, by all who are subject to it, and to be restrained within its bounds by the manifest efforts, and the most determined resolution of virtue. Every engine of artifice and terror will be used to repress such virtue: but the friend of man and of his country will defy persecution, fines, imprisonment, and death, in attempting, by every lawful and rational means, to push back the gigantic strides of encroaching despotism, more destructive of happiness than an earthquake or a pestilence. A country deserves no love, when it ceases to be a country of liberty. Human beings constitute a country, and not a soil in a certain latitude; and an attachment to liberty is the truest patriotism.

“It is therefore highly expedient, whenever a people, free by law and constitution, appear in the smallest degree to remit their attention to the preservation of freedom, to urge them, by the most serious admonition, to an immediate resumption of their vigilance. While they slumber and sleep, lulled by the Circean cup of corruption, the enemy is awake, and busily making his insidious approaches to the citadel. Every inch of ground, they carelessly relinquish, is eagerly seized by the covetous possessor of dominion; the love of which, like the love of money, increases by accession. Nor are there ever wanting numbers of artful men, who stimulate a weak or a wicked ruler in his encroachments; sensible as they are, that their own power and privileges will be augmented with those of said ruler, whose exclusive favour they have gained by sycophantic arts, and by co-operations in the fallacious service of enlarging his power. The more the power of the ruler is augmented, the greater will be the emoluments of office. In the view of American, as well as European tories, a star shines with higher lustre, a riband displays a brighter hue, a title soothes the ear with sweeter music, when conferred by a mighty potentate far exalted above vulgar control, and who holds his power in contempt of the people. If kings can be once elevated to the rank of Heaven’s vicegerents, how must admiring plebians idolize their choice favours and their prime favourites? There is always, therefore, a set of men (to whom pomp and vanity are the chief good) who are continually endeavouring to add glory and greatness to the orb from which they derive their own lustre. Moons and satellites would shine faintly indeed, unless the sun of the system glittered with intolerable effulgence. If the sun were shorn of its beams, their native opaqueness would pass without notice.

“Natural rights are those which appertain to man, in right of his existence. Of this kind are all the intellectual rights, or rights of acting as an individual for his own comfort and happiness, which are not injurious to the natural rights of others.—Civil rights are those which appertain to man in right of his being a member of society. Every civil right has for foundation, some natural right pre-existing in the individual, but to the enjoyment of which his individual power is not, in all cases, sufficiently competent. Of this kind are all those which relate to security and protection.

“From this short review, it will be easy to distinguish between that class of natural rights which man retains after entering into society, and those which he throws into the common stock as a member of society.

“The natural rights which he retains, are all those in which the power to execute is as perfect in the individual as the right itself. Among this class, as is before-mentioned, are all the intellectual rights, or rights of the mind: consequently, religion is one of those rights. The natural rights which are not retained, are all those in which, though the right is perfect in the individual, the power to execute them is defective. They answer not this purpose. A man, by natural right, has a right to judge in his own cause; and so far as the right of the mind is concerned, he never surrenders it: but what availeth it him to judge, if he has not the power to redress? He therefore deposits this right in the common stock of society, and takes the arm of society, of which he is a part, in preference and in addition to his own. Society grants him nothing. Every man is a proprietor in society, and draws on the capital as a matter of right.

“From these premises, two or three certain conclusions will follow.

“First, That every civil right grows out of a natural right; or, in other words, is a natural right enchanged, (or extended.)

“Secondly, That civil power, properly considered as such, is made up of the aggregate of that class of the natural rights of man, which becomes defective in the individual in point of power, and answers not his purpose; but when collected to a focus, becomes competent to the purpose of every one.

“Thirdly, That the power produced from the aggregate of natural rights, (imperfect in power in the individual,) cannot be applied to invade the natural rights which are retained in the individual, and in which the power to execute is as perfect as the right itself.

“We have now, in a few words, traced man from a natural individual to a member of society, and shown, or endeavoured to show, the quality of the natural rights retained, and of those which are exchanged for civil rights. Let us now apply these principles to governments.

“In casting our eyes over the world, it is extremely easy to distinguish the governments which have arisen out of society, or out of the social compact, from those which have not: but to place this in a clearer light than what a single glance may afford, it will be proper to take a review of the several sources from which governments have arisen and on which they have been founded.

“They may all be comprehended under three heads. First, Superstition. Secondly, Power. Thirdly, The common interest of society, and the common rights of man.

“The first was a government of priestcraft, the second of conquerers, and the third of reason.

“When a set of artful men pretended, through the medium of oracles, to hold intercourse with the Deity, as familiarly as they now march up the back-stairs in European courts, the world was completely under the government of superstition. The oracles were consulted, and whatever they were made to say, became the law; and this sort of government lasted as long as this sort of superstition lasted.

“After these a race of conquerors arose, whose government, like that of William the Conquerer, was founded in power, and the sword assumed the name of a sceptre. Governments thus established, last as long as the power to support them lasts; but that they might avail themselves of every engine in their favour, they united fraud to force, and set up an idol which they called Divine Right, and which in imitation of the Pope, who affects to be spiritual and temporal, and in contradiction to the founder of the Christian religion, twisted itself afterwards into an idol of another shape, called Church and State. The key of St. Peter, and the key of the Treasury, became quartered on one another, and the wondering, cheated multitude, worshipped the invention.

“When I contemplate the natural dignity of man; when I feel (for nature has not been kind enough to me to blunt my feelings) for his honor and happiness, I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools, and can scarcely avoid disgust at those who are thus imposed upon.

“We have now to review the governments which arise out of society, in contradistinction to those which arose out of superstition and conquest.

“It has been thought a considerable advance towards establishing the principles of freedom to say, that government is a compact between those who govern and those who are governed: but this cannot be true, because it is putting the effect before the cause; for, as man must have existed before governments existed, there necessarily was a time when governments did not exist, and consequently there could originally exist no governors to form such a compact with. The fact therefore must be, that the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a compact with each other to produce a government; and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.

“To possess ourselves of a clear idea of what government is, or ought to be, we must trace it to its origin. In doing this, we shall easily discover that governments must have arisen, either out of the people, or over the people. Mr. Burke has made no distinction. He investigates nothing to its source, and therefore he confounds every thing; but he has signified his intention of undertaking, at some future opportunity, a comparison between the constitutions of England and France. As he thus renders it a subject of controversy, by throwing the gauntlet, I take him upon his own ground. It is in high challenges that high truths have the right of appearing; and I accept it with the more readiness because it affords me, at the same time, an opportunity of pursuing the subject with respect to governments arising out of society.

“But it will be first necessary to define what is meant by a constitution. It is not sufficient that we adopt the word: we must fix also a standard signification to it.

“A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and whenever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting a government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article, and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established, the manner in which it shall be organized, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, the duration of parliaments, or by what other name such bodies may be called; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and, in fine, every thing that relates to the complete organization of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound. A constitution, therefore, is to a government, what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them. It only acts in conformity to the laws made, and the government is, in like manner, governed by the constitution.”

“Toleration is not the opposite of intolerance, but is the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms. The one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, and the other of granting it. The one is the pope, armed with fire and faggot, and the other is the selling or granting indulgences. The former is church and state, and the latter is church and traffic.

“But toleration may be viewed in a much stronger light. Man worships not himself, but his Maker; and the liberty of conscience which he claims is not for the service of himself, but of his God. In this case, therefore, we must necessarily have the associated idea of two beings: the mortal who renders the worship, and the Immortal Being who is worshipped. Toleration, therefore, places itself, not between man and man, nor between church and church, nor between one denomination of religion and another, but between God and man; between the being who worships, and the Being who is worshipped; and by the same act of assumed authority by which it tolerates man to pay his worship, it presumptuously and blasphemously sets itself up to tolerate the Almighty to receive it.

“Were a bill brought into any parliament, entitled, ‘An Act to tolerate or grant liberty to the Almighty to receive the worship of a Jew or a Turk, or prohibit the Almighty from receiving it,’ all men would startle, and call it blasphemy. There would be an uproar. The presumption of toleration in religious matters would then present itself unmasked; but the presumption is not less because the name of ‘man’ only appears to those laws, for the associated idea of the worshipper and the worshipped cannot be separated. Who, then, art thou, vain dust and ashes! by whatever name thou art called—whether a king, a bishop, a church or a state, a parliament, or any thing else, that obtrudest thine insignificance between the soul of man and its Maker? Mind thine own concerns. If he believes not as thou believest, it is a proof that thou believest not as he believeth, and there is no earthly power can determine between you.

“With respect to what are called denominations of religion, if every one is left to judge of their own religion, there is no such thing as a religion that is wrong; but if they are to judge of each others religion, there is no such a thing as a religion that is right, and therefore all the world is right, or all the world is wrong. But with respect to religion itself, without regard to names, and as directing itself from the universal family of mankind to the Divine object of all adoration, it is man bringing to his Maker the fruits of his heart; and though those fruits may differ from each other, like the fruits of the earth, the grateful tribute of every one is accepted.

“A bishop of Durham, or a bishop of Winchester, or the archbishop who heads the dukes, will not refuse a tythe-sheaf of wheat because it is not a cock of hay, nor a cock of hay because it is not a sheaf of wheat, nor a pig because it is neither one nor the other; but these same persons, under the figure of an established church, will not permit their Maker to receive the varied tythes of man’s devotion.”

“It is attributed to Henry the Fourth, of France, a man of an enlarged and benevolent heart, that he proposed, about the year 1610, a plan for abolishing war in Europe. The plan consisted in constituting an European Congress, or, as the French author styles it, a Pacific Republic, by appointing delegates from the several nations, who were to act as a court of arbitration in any disputes that might arise between nation and nation. .

“Had such a plan been adopted at the time it was proposed, the taxes of England and France, as two of the parties, would have been at least ten millions sterling annually to each nation less than they were at the commencement of the French Revolution.

“To conceive a cause why such a plan has not been adopted, (and that instead of a congress for the purpose of preventing war, it has been called only to terminate a war, after a fruitless expense of several years,) it will be necessary to consider the interest of governments as a distinct interest to that of nations.

“Whatever is the cause of taxes to a nation, becomes also the means of revenue to a government. Every war terminates with an addition of taxes, and consequently with an addition of revenue; and in any event of war, in the manner they are now commenced and concluded, the power and interest of governments are increased. War, therefore, from its productiveness, as it easily furnishes the pretence of necessity for taxes and appointments to places and offices, becomes a principal part of the system of old governments; and to establish any mode to abolish war, however advantageous it might be to nations, would be to take from such governments the most lucrative of its branches. The frivolous matters upon which war is made, show the disposition and avidity of governments to uphold the system of war., and betray the motives upon which they act.”

“Many, who have arisen to high elevation of rank or fortune, seem to think that their nature has undergone a real metamorphosis; that they are refined by a kind of chemical process, sublimed by the sunshine of royal favor, and separated from the feces, the dross, and the dregs of ordinary humanity—that humanity of which the mass of mankind partake, and which, imperfect as it is, God created. They seem to themselves raised to a pinnacle, from which they behold, with sentiments of indifference or contempt, all two-legged and unfeathered beings of inferior order, placed in the vale, as ministers of their pride and slaves of their luxury, or else burdens of the earth, and superfluous sharers of existence.

“The endeavor of their lives, never employed in the essential service of society, is to keep the vulgar at a distance, lest their own pure nature should be contaminated by the foul contagion. Their offspring must be taught, in the first instance, to know and revere, not God, not man, but their own rank in life. The infants are scarcely suffered to breathe the common air, to feel the common sun, or to walk upon the common earth. Immured in nurseries till the time for instruction arrives, they are then surrounded by a variety of domestic tutors. And what is the first object in their education? Is it the improvement of their minds, the acquisition of manly sentiment, useful knowledge, expanded ideas, piety, philanthropy? No; it is the embellishment of their persons, an accurate attention to dress, to their teeth, to grace in dancing, attitude in standing, uprightness; not the uprightness of the heart, but the formal and unnatural perpendicularity of a soldier drilled on the parade. The first object with the pupil, and the last, the lesson to be got by heart, and to be repeated by night and by day, is an adequate conception of his own native consequence, a disposition to extend the influence of rank and riches, and to depress and discourage the natural tendency of personal merit to rise to distinction by its own elastic force.

“Their masters themselves are to be dependent on the caprice of wealthy pupils, or a rebellion may ensue. Such an event, indeed, is sometimes devoutly wished, as it affords opportunities for embryo heroes to show their prowess and their noble pride. Every ebullition of spirits, as it is candidly called, displaying itself in insolence or ill usage of the inferior ranks—defenceless old men or women, and the poor in general—is remembered and cherished with care, as a flattering prognostic of future eminence in the cabinet, the senate, at the bar, or in the field. Justice, generosity, humility, are words, indeed, in the Dictionary, and may adorn a declamation; but insolence, extravagance, and pride, must mark the conduct of those who are sent, rather to support the dignity of native grandeur by the spirit of arrogance, than to seek wisdom and virtue with the docility of modest and ingenuous disciples. Practical oppression of inferiors is one of the first elements of aristocratical education, and the order of Faggs (as they are called) contributes much to familiarize the exercise of future despotism. Mean submissions prepare the mind, in its turn, to tyrannize.”

“Those who are possessed of exorbitant power, who pant for its extension, and tremble at the apprehension of losing it, are always sufficiently artful to dwell with emphasis on the evils of licentiousness, under which opprobrious name they wish to stigmatize liberty. They describe the horrors of anarchy and confusion in the blackest colors, and boldly affirm that they are the necessary consequences of intrusting the people with power. Indeed, they hardly condescend to recognize the idea of a People; but, whenever they speak of the mass of the community, denominate them the mob, the rabble, or the swinish multitude. Language is at a loss for appellatives, significant of their contempt for those who are undistinguished by wealth or titles, and is obliged to content itself with such words as reptiles, scum, dregs, or the many headed monster.

“Man, that noble animal, formed with powers capable of the sublimest virtues, possessed of reason, and tremulously alive to every finer feeling, is degraded by his fellow-man, when dressed in a little brief authority, to a rank below that of the beast of the field; for the beasts of the field are not treated with epithets of contumely, but regarded with a degree of esteem. The proud grandee views the horses in his stable, and the dogs in his kennel, with affection, pampers them with food, lodges them in habitations, not only commodious, but luxurious; and, at the same time, despises his fellow creatures, scarcely fed, wretchedly clothed, and barely sheltered in the neighboring cottage. And if his fellow creature dares to remonstrate, his complaint is contumacy and sedition, and his endeavor to meliorate his own state and that of his miserable neighbor, by the most lawful means, downright treason and rebellion.

“Villainous oppression on one hand, and, on the other, contemptible submission! If such acquiescence, under the most iniquitous inequality; such wretchedness, without the privilege of complaint, is the peace, the order, and the tranquillity of despotism; then peace, order, and tranquility change their nature, and become the curse and bane of human nature. Welcome, in comparison, all the feuds, animosities, and revolutions attributed to a state of freedom, for they are symptoms of life and robust health, while the repose of despotism is the deadness of a palsy. Life, active, enterprising life, with all its tumult, disaster, and disappointment, is to be preferred to the silence of death, the stillness of desolation.

“But I deny that a love of liberty, or a state of liberty, is, of necessity, productive of any injurious or fatal disorder. I presuppose that the minds of the people, even the lowest of the people, are duly enlightened; that the savageness of gross ignorance is mitigated by culture—by that culture which all well-regulated states are solicitous to bestow on every partaker of the rational faculty.

“In a state of liberty, every man learns to value himself as man; to consider himself as of importance in the system which himself has approved and contributed to establish, and therefore resolves to regulate his own behavior consistently with its safety and preservation. He feels as a proprietor, not as a tenant. He loves the state because he participates in it. His obedience is not the cold, reluctant result of terror, but the lively, cheerful, and spontaneous effect of love. The violation of laws formed on the pure principle of general beneficence, and to which he has given his full assent by a just and perfect representation, he considers as a crime of the deepest dye. He will think freely, and speak freely, of the constitution. He will incessantly endeavor to improve it, and enter seriously into all political debates. In the collision of agitated minds sparks will sometimes be emitted, but they will only give a favorable light and a genial warmth. They will never produce any injurious conflagration.

“But I repeat that the people should be enlightened, in every rank, the highest as well as the lowest, to render them capable of perfect liberty, without danger of those evils which its enemies are always asserting to be its unavoidable consequences. The vulgar must be instructed not merely in the arts which tend to the acquisition, increase, and preservation of money, but in a generous philosophy. They must be liberalized. They must early learn to view human life and society in their just light; to consider themselves as essential parts of a whole, the integrity of which is desirable to every component member. Their taste will improve with their understanding; and they will see the beauty of order, while they are convinced of its utility. Thus principled by virtue, and illuminated with knowledge, they will eagerly return, after every deviation, which even a warmth of virtue may cause, to regular obedience, and to all the functions of citizens; valuing the public peace and prosperity, because they understand clearly that the public happiness is intimately combined with their own. They may infringe laws, from the imperfection of their nature; but they will return to their obedience without force, having” been convinced that no laws are made but such as are necessary to their well-being in society. They will consider laws, not as chains and fetters, but as helmets and shields for their protection. The light of the understanding will correct the eccentricities of the heart; and all deviations, however rapid at their commencement, will be short in extent and transitory in duration.

“Such would be the effect of enlightening the people with political knowledge, and enlarging their minds by pure philosophy. But what say the despots? Like the tyrannical son of Philip, when he reprimanded Aristotle for publishing his Discoveries, they whisper to their myrmidons, ‘Let us diffuse darkness round the land. Let the people be kept in a brutal state. Let their conduct, when assembled, be riotous and irrational as ignorance and our Spies can make it, that they may be brought into discredit, and deemed unfit for the management of their own affairs. Let power be rendered dangerous in their hands, that it may continue unmolested in our own. Let them not taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge, lest they become as we are, and learn to know good and evil.’ ‘Darken your doctrines,’ said the despot Alexander to the great philosopher.

“That such are the sentiments of the men who wish for the extension of royalism or aristocracy, and the depression of the people, is evident from the uneasiness they have shown at all benevolent attempts to diffuse knowledge among the poor. They have expressed, in terms of anger and mortification, their dislike of Sunday schools. The very newspapers which they have engaged in the service of falsehood and toryism, have endeavored to discountenance, by malignant paragraphs, the progress of those patriotic institutions. Scribbiers of books and pamphlets, in the same vile cause, have intimated their apprehensions that the poor may learn to read political books in learning to read their Bible, and that the reading of political books must unavoidably produce discontent. A wretched compliment to the cause which they mean to defend! It is impossible not to infer from their apprehensions, that as men increase in understanding and knowledge, they must see reason to disapprove the systems established. These men breathe the very spirit of despotism, and wish to communicate it. But their conduct, in this instance, is an argument against the spirit which they endeavor to diffuse. Their conduct seems to say, The spirit of despotism is so unreasonable, that it can never be approved by the mass of the people when their reason is suffered to receive its proper cultivation. Their conduct seems to say, Let there be light, and the deformity of despotism will create abhorrence.

“Be the consequence what it may, let the light of knowledge be diffused among all who partake of reason; and let us remember that it was the Lord God Almighty who first said, ‘Let There Be Light.'”

“There is nothing which I can so reluctantly pardon in the great ones of this world, as the little value they entertain for the life of a man. Property, if seized or lost, may be restored; and, without property, man may enjoy a thousand delightful pleasures of existence. The sun shines as warmly on the poor as on the rich, and the gale of health breathes its balsam into the cottage casement on the heath no less sweetly and salubriously than into the portals of the palace; but can the lords of this world, who are so lavish of the lives of their inferiors, with all their boasted power, give the cold heart to beat again, or relume the light of the eye once dimmed by the shades of death? Accursed despots, show me your authority for taking away that which ye never gave, and cannot give; for undoing the work of God, and extinguishing the lamp of life which was illuminated with a ray from heaven. Where is your charter to privilege murder? You do the work of Satan, who was a destroyer; and your right, if you possess any, must have originated from the father of mischief and misery.

“Yet take a view of the world, and you will immediately be led to conclude that scarcely any thing is viler than human life. Crimes which have very little moral evil, if any, and which, therefore, cannot incur the vengeance of a just and merciful Deity, are punished with death at a human tribunal. I mean state crimes—such actions, conduct, speeches, as are made crimes by despots, but are not recognized as such in the decalogue; such as may proceed from the purest and most virtuous principle, from the most enlarged benevolence, from wisdom and unaffected patriotism; such as may proceed from mere warmth of temper, neither intending nor accomplishing any mischief; the mere effects of error, as innocent, too, in its consequences as its origin. But the despot is offended or frightened; for guilt trembles at the least alarm, and nothing but the blood of the accused can expiate the offence.

“Yet, numerous as are the innocent victims of the tribunal, where to offend the state is the greatest abomination that man can commit, they are lost and disappear when compared to the myriads sacrificed to the demon of war. Despotism delights in war. It is its element. As the bull knows, by instinct, that his strength is in his horns, and the eagle trusts in his talons, so the despot feels his puissance most when surrounded by soldiery arrayed for battle. With the sword in his hand, and his artillery around him, he rejoices in his might and glories in his greatness. Blood must mark his path; and his triumph is incomplete till death and destruction stalk over the land, the harbingers of his triumphant cavalcade.

“We hear much of necessary wars; but it is certainly true, that a real, absolute, unavoidable necessity for war, such as alone can render it just, has seldom occurred in the history of man. The pride, the wanton cruelty of absolute princes, caring nothing for human life, have, in all ages, without the least necessity, involved the world in war; and therefore it is the common duty of all mankind to abolish absolute power, and to discourage, by every lawful means, the spirit that leads to any degree of it. No individual, however good, is fit to be trusted with so dangerous a deposit. His’ goodness may be corrupted by the magnitude of the trust; and it is the nature of power, uncontrolled by fear or law, to vitiate the best dispositions. He who would have shuddered to spill a drop of blood in a hostile contest, as a private man, shall deluge whole provinces, as an absolute prince, and laugh over the subjugated plains which he has fertilized with human gore.

“What are the chief considerations with such men, previously to going to war and at its conclusion? Evidently the expense of Money. Little is said or thought of the lives lost, or devoted to be lost, except as matters of pecuniary value. Humanity, indeed, weeps in silence and solitude in the sequestered shade of private life; but is a single tear shed in courts, and camps, and cabinets? When men high in command, men of fortune and family, fall, their deeds are blazoned, and they figure in history; but who, save the poor widow and the orphan, inquire after the very names of the rank and file? There they lie, a mass of human flesh, not so much regretted by the despots as the horses they rode, or the arms they bore. While ships often go down to the bottom, struck by the iron thunderbolts of war, and not a life is saved, the national loss is estimated by the despot according to the weight of metal wasted, and the magnitude and expense of the wooden castle.

“God, we read, made man in his own image, and our Saviour taught us that he was the heir of immortality. God made no distinction of persons; but behold a being, born to a sceptre, though a poor, puny, shivering mortal like the rest, presumes to sell, and let out for hire, these images of God, to do the work of butchers, in any cause and for any paymaster, on any number of unoffending fellow-creatures, who are standing up in defence of their hearths, their altars, their wives, their children, and their liberty. Great numbers of men, trained to the trade of human butchery, are constantly ready to be let to hire, to carry on the work of despotism, and to support, by the money they earn in this hellish employment, the luxurious vices of the wretch who calls them his property. Can that state of human affairs be right and proper which permits a miscreant, scarcely worthy the name of a man, sunk in effeminacy, the slave of vice—often the most abominable kind of vice—ignorant and illiterate, debilitated with disease, weak in body as in mind, to have such dominion of hundreds of thousands, his superiors by nature, as to let them out for pay, to murder the innocent stranger in cold blood?

“What shall we think of the practice of what is called kidnapping? Is it to be allowed in a free country? Are not men bought, inveigled, or forced by it, as if they were cattle, beasts of the field or the forest, and capable of becoming the property of the purchaser or the captor? .If a nation should behold with patience such a practice increasing and encouraged by the great, would there not be reason to suspect that it had lost the spirit of freedom, and was preparing to submit its neck to the yoke of despotism? Is not an African one of the images of God? Is he not entitled to all the rights of nature, and the society of which he is a member? Does poverty disfranchise a man, rob him of his rights, and render his life a commodity to be bought and sold, or thrown away, at the will of a rich man, who is enabled to take advantage of his want, and add to the misfortune of indigence the curse of slavery? Are a few pieces of silver to be allow. ed, by connivance if not by legal permission, as the price of blood, when poverty, but not the will, consents to the sale?

“Even if boxing were ever to become a spectacle patronized by Congress, and encouraged by a people, there would be reason to fear lest man, as man, had lost his value; lest life were estimated of little price; and lest the spirit of despotism were gradually insinuating itself into the community. There would be reason to fear lest times, like those of the latter Roman emperors, were returning, and that men might be kept like wild beasts, to be brought on the stage and fight for public diversion, and to be murdered for the evening’s amusement of fashionable lords and ladies at an opera-house.

“The dignity of human nature, in despotical countries, is treated as a burlesque. A man is less dignified than a pampered horse, and his life infinitely less valued. But in a land of liberty, like ours, every man should learn to venerate himself and his neighbour, as a noble creature, dependent only on God, on reason, on law. Life, under such circumstances, is a pearl of great price. Every human being, under such circumstances, is of equal value in the sight of God, They, therefore, who, in consequence of civil elevation, hold any man’s life cheap and vile, unless he has forfeited his rights by enormous crimes, are guilty of rebellion against God and nature.”

“Men who undertake to defend any thing contrary to the common sense and common interest of mankind, may hurt the side they intend to defend by promoting a discussion, and calling forth common sense, excited by the common interest, to defend its own cause. Thus, Sir Robert Filmer’s book gave rise both to Sidney’s and Locke’s Defence of Liberty. Thus, Mr. Burke’s Reflections on France drew forth Mr. Paine’s Rights of Man, in which is much excellent matter. Thus, Salmasius’s mercenary invective against the republicans of England in the last century, provoked the great Milton, scarcely less eloquent in prose than in poetry, to defend the right of the people of England to manage in their own country their own concerns, according to their own judgment and inclination.

“Milton and Locke are great names on the side of liberty. But Milton has been treated contemptuously; and some have shown a spirit illiberal enough to detract from his poetry, in revenge for his politics. His last biographer, Dr. Johnson, who had many early prejudices which his most vigorous reason could not to the last subdue, was, by early prejudice, a violent Tory and Jacobite. I think there is reason to believe, that he would easily have been made a convert to popery. I venerate his abilities and virtues; but I cannot help remarking, that his high-church and high-prerogative principles led him to speak less honorably of Milton than he must have done if he had viewed him through a medium undiscolored. Milton was a greater man than Johnson, though I think he went not sufficiently far in his hatred to monarchy and episcopacy. Milton discovered a noble spirit of independence, and his writings contain some of the finest passages that ever were written in vindication of civil liberty. They contributed to raise that spirit which afterwards produced our happy revolution; and I have no doubt but that Milton would have rejoiced under the federal constitution of the United States. It is to writings and a spirit like his, mankind are indebted for liberty. If honest and able minds like Paine’s and Milton’s had not appeared on the part of the people, it is probable that no such thing as a republic would have been found on the face of the earth.

“Free spirits are therefore to be pardoned in some errors, which the propensity of human nature to err must ever render venial ; and the general tendency of their writings to make the mass of mankind free and happy, ought to secure attention to their doctrines and honor to their names. The enemies to the spirit of despotism have seen, with pain, the attempts to lessen these great men in the eyes of the world extended to writers of less renown, but of more recent date. They have seen men, good men in private life, and philosophers, whose discourses and letters have gained the notice and esteem of every enlightened country, reproached, vitified, persecuted, and almost destroyed, because, in consequence of that fine understanding which had done so much in philosophy, they made some discoveries in politics which must forever militate powerfully against the spirit of despotism. Paine, Voltaire, Rosseau, Raynal, Price, Priestley, however different their characters, attainments, and abilities, are all vilified together, (because they have written admirably on the side of liberty,) all involved in one discriminate torrent of obloquy. The partizans of monarchy would persuade us, not only that they were knaves, but fools. Some of them have very exceptionable passages in their works; but where they treat of civil liberty, they plead the cause of human nature. They have not pleaded it unsuccessfully. Political artifices cannot always stifle truth and common sense.

“The independent part of mankind, who detest parties and faction, and mean nothing but the happiness of their fellow creatures, will do well to be upon their guard against the misrepresentations of those who would vilify a Penn, a Locke, a Milton, and a Sidney. Let them read and judge for themselves. The men who are anxious to withhold or extinguish the light, may fairly be suspected of intending to do evil.”

“Civil government does not consist in executions, but in making such provision for the instruction of youth, and the support of age, (and the necessitous,) as to exclude, as much as possible, profligacy from the one, and despair from the other. Hence the cogent necessity of public seminaries of learning being established in the United States by the national and state legislatures. Instead of this, the resources of a country are lavished upon kings, upon courts, upon hirelings, imposters, and prostitutes; and even the poor themselves, with all their wants upon them, are compelled to support the fraud that oppresses them.

“Why is it that scarcely any are executed but the poor? The fact is a proof, among other things, of a wretchedness in their condition. Bred up without morals or information, and cast upon the world without a prospect, they are the exposed sacrifice of vice and legal barbarity. The millions that are superfluously wasted upon governments are more than sufficient to reform those evils, and to benefit the condition of every man in a nation, not included within the purlieus of a court.”

“Man is a progressive animal, and his advance towards improvement is a pleasurable state. Hope cheers his path as he toils up the hill that leads him to something better than he has yet experienced, on its gay summit gilded with sunshine. The labor of the ascent is a delight. But if he cannot help conceiving, from a sense of grievances which he feels, something excellent, to which he is prohibited by coercion from approaching, hope sickens, and ill-humor succeeds to complacency. Hence arises a disagreement between the governed and governors; and the governors, being possessed of the present power, use force and rigor to stifle the rumors of complaint. Coercion but increases the ill-humor, which often lies latent, like the fires of a volcano, for a considerable time, but at last bursts forth with irresistible fury. It is wise, therefore, as well as just, in all governors who have a regard for any thing but their present and private interest, to encourage discussion, to seek improvement of the system, and to reject no reform proposed by great numbers without a cool, a temperate, and a long deliberation. The reasons for rejection should be clearly stated, with the utmost regard to open and ingenuous behavior; and those who remain unconvinced, after all, should not be treated with asperity. Every individual, in a free country, has a right to approve or disapprove the system under which he lives, without peril or control, while he preserves the peace. His peaceable deportment and acquiescence in the opinion of others, contrary to his own conviction, renders him a very meritorious character. He may be won over by gentleness, but force only tends to excite the violence which it would imperiously repel.

“But to tell a man of sense, reading, and reflection, that he must not venture to entertain an opinion on political matters, or the existing government, different from that of the president, the consul, or the king, is an impotent endeavor to exercise a despotism over his mind against which nature revolts, and a manly spirit must rebel. Such a man can usually judge of governments, and all the institutions of social life, better than mere men of business, however high their rank or important their employments—far better than overgrown rich, occupied in vain ceremonies, and usually as little able as inclined to enter into deep disquisition.

“Despotism is so ugly in its form, and so hostile in its nature, to human happiness, that no wonder those who wish to diffuse its spirit are inclined to check and discourage among the people all political investigation. But let it be a rule among those who really value liberty and the rights of man, to use the more diligence in political discussion, in proportion as tories and traitors display a wish to suppress political writings and conversations, and disseminate the doctrine that things are so well constituted as neither to require nor admit any improvement. The representative system takes society and civilization for its basis, reason and experience for its guide.

“As this is the order of nature, the order of government must necessarily follow it, or government will, as we see it does, degenerate into ignorance. The hereditary system, therefore, is as repugnant to human wisdom as to human rights, and is as absurd as it is unjust.

“As the republic of letters brings forward the best literary productions, by giving to genius a fair and universal chance, so the representative system of government is calculated to produce the wisest laws, by collecting wisdom from where it can be found. I smile to myself when I contemplate the ridiculous insignificance into which literature and all the sciences would sink, were they made hereditary; and I carry the same idea into governments. An hereditary governor is as inconsistent as an hereditary author. I know not whether Homer or Euclid had sons; but I will venture an opinion, that if they had, and had left their works unfinished, those sons could not have completed them.

“Do we need a stronger evidence of the absurdity of hereditary government than is seen in the descendants of those men, in any line of life, who once were famous? Is there scarcely an instance in which there is not a total reverse of the character? It appears as if the tide of mental faculties flowed as far as it could in certain channels, and then forsook its course and arose in others. How irrational, then, is the hereditary system which establishes channels of power, in company with which wisdom refuses to flow! By continuing this absurdity, man is perpetually in contradiction with himself. He accepts, for a king, or a chief magistrate, or a legislator, a person whom he would not elect for a constable.

“It appears, to general observation, that revolutions create genius and talents; but those events do no more than bring them forward. There is, existing in man, a mass of sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition, to the grave. As it is to the advantage of society that the whole of its faculties should be employed, the construction of government ought to be such as to bring forward, by a quiet and regular operation, all that extent of capacity which never fails to appear in revolutions.

“This cannot take place in the insipid state of hereditary government, not only because it prevents, but because it operates to benumb. When the mind of a nation is bowed down by any political superstition in its government, such as hereditary succession is, it loses a considerable portion of its powers on all other subjects and objects. Hereditary succession requires the same obedience to ignorance as to wisdom; and when once the mind can bring itself to pay this indiscriminate reverence, it descends below the stature of mental manhood. It is fit to be great only in little things. It acts a treachery upon itself, and suffocates the sensations that urge to detection.”

“Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society, and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependance and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and all the parts of a civilized community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together. The landholder, the farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, the tradesman, and every occupation, prospers by the aid which each receives from the other, and from the whole. Common interest regulates their concerns, and forms their law; and the laws which common usage ordains, have a greater influence than the laws of government. In fine, society performs for itself almost every thing which is ascribed to government.

“To understand the nature and quantity of government proper for man, it is necessary to attend to his character. As nature created him for social life, she fitted him for the station she intended. In all cases she made his natural wants greater than his individual powers. No one man is capable, without the aid of society, of supplying his own wants; and those wants, acting upon every individual, impel the whole of them into society, as naturally as gravitation acts to a centre.

“But she has gone further. She has not only forced man into society, by a diversity of wants’, which the reciprocal aid of each other can supply, but she has implanted in him a system of social affections, which, though not necessary to his existence, are essential to his happiness. There is no period in life when this love for society ceases to act. It begins and ends with our being.

“If we examine, with attention, into the composition and constitution of man, the diversity of his wants, and the diversity of talents in different men for reciprocally accommodating the wants of each other, his propensity to society, and consequently to preserve the advantages resulting from it, we shall easily discover that a great part of what is called government is mere imposition.

“Government is no farther necessary than to supply the few cases to which society and civilization are not conveniently competent; and instances are not wanting to show, that every thing which government can usefully add thereto has been performed by the common consent of society, without government.

“For upwards of two years from the commencement of the American war, and for a longer period in several of the American states, there were no established forms of government. The old governments had been abolished, and the country was too much occupied in defence to employ its attention in establishing new governments; yet, during this interval, order and harmony were preserved as inviolate as in any country in Europe. There is a natural aptness in man, and more so in society, because it embraces a greater variety of abilities and resource to accommodate itself to whatever situation it is in. The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.

“So far is it from being true, as has been pretended, that the abolition of any formal government is the dissolution of society, that it acts by a contrary impulse, and brings the latter the closer together. All that part of its organization which it had committed to its government devolves again upon itself, and acts through its medium. When men, as well from natural instinct as from reciprocal benefits, have habituated themselves to social and civilized life, there is always enough of its principles in practice to carry them through any changes they may find necessary or convenient to make in their government. In short, man is so naturally a creature of society, that it is almost impossible to put him out of it.

“Formal government makes but a small part of civilized life; and when even the best that human wisdom can devise is established, it is a thing more in name and idea, than in fact. It is to the great and fundamental principles of society and civilization—to the common usage universally consented to, and mutually and reciprocally maintained—to the unceasing circulation of interest, which, passing through its million channels, invigorates the whole mass of civilized man—it is to these things, infinitely more than to any thing which even the best instituted government can perform, that the safety and prosperity of the individual and of the whole depend.

“The more perfect civilization is, the less occasion has it for government, because the more does it regulate its own affairs, and govern itself: but so contrary is the practice of old governments to the reason of the case, that the expenses of them increase in the proportion they ought to diminish. It is but few general laws that civilized life requires, and those of such common usefulness, that whether they are enforced by the forms of government or not, the effect will be nearly the same. If we consider what the principles are that first condense men into society, and what the motives that regulate their mutual intercourse afterwards, we shall find, by the time we arrive at what is called government, that nearly the whole of the business is performed by the natural operation of the parts upon each other.

“Man, with respect to all those matters, is more a creature of consistency than he is aware, or than governments would wish him to believe. All the great laws of society are laws of nature. Those of trade and commerce, whether with respect to the intercourse of individuals, or of nations, are laws of mutual and reciprocal interest. They are followed and obeyed, because it is the interest of the parties so to do, and not on account of any formal laws their government may impose or interpose.

“But how often is the natural propensity to society disturbed or destroyed by the operations of government? When the latter instead of being ingrafted on the principles of the former, assumes to exist for itself, and acts by partialities of favour and oppression, it becomes the cause of the mischiefs it ought to prevent.

“If we look back to the riots and tumults, which at various times have happened in England, we shall find that they did not proceed from the want of a government, but that government was itself the generating cause; instead of consolidating society it divided it; it deprived it of its natural cohesion, and engendered discontents and disorders, which otherwise would not have existed. In those associations, which men promiscuously form for the purpose of trade, or of any concern, in which government is totally out of the question, and in which they act merely on the principles of society, we see how naturally the various parties unite; and this shows, by comparison, that government, so far from being always the cause or means of order, are often the destruction of it. The riots of 1780 had no other source than the remains of those prejudices, which the government itself had encouraged. But with respect to England there are also other causes.

“Excess and inequality in taxation, however disguised in the means, never fail to appear in their effects. As a great mass of the community are thrown thereby into poverty and discontent, they are constantly on the brink of commotion; and, deprived, as they unfortunately are, of the means of information, are easily heated to outrage. Whatever the apparent cause of any riots may be, the real one is always want of happiness. It shows. that something is wrong in the system of government, that hires the felicity by which society is to be preserved.

“But as fact is superior to reasoning, the instance of America presents itself to confirm these observations.—If there is a country in the world, where concord, according to common calculation, would be least expected, it is America.

“Can we possibly suppose that if governments had originated in a right principle, and had not an interest in pursuing a wrong one, that the world could have been in the wretched and quarrelsome condition we have seen it? What inducement has the farmer, while following the plough, to lay aside his peaceful pursuits, and go to war with the farmer of another country? or what inducement has the manufacturer? What is dominion to them, or to any class of men in a nation? Does it add an acre to any man’s estate, to raise its value? Are not conquest and defeat each of the same price, and taxes the never-failing consequence?—Though this reasoning may be good to a nation, it is not so to a government. War is the Pharo table of governments, and nations the dupes of the game.

“If there is any thing to wonder at in this miserable scene of governments, more than might be expected, it is the progress which the peaceful arts of agriculture, manufacture, and commerce have made, beneath such a long accumulating load of discouragement and oppression. It serves to show, that instinct in animals does not act with stronger impulse, than the principles of society and civilization operate in man.”

“To meliorate the condition of human nature can be the only rational end of government. It cannot be designed to favour one description of men, a Minority of men, at the expense of all others; who having received life from him who alone can give it, received at the same time a right to enjoy it in liberty and security. This was the charter of God and nature; which no mortal, however elevated by conquest or inheritance, can annul or violate without impiety. All government which makes not the advancement of human happiness, and the comfort of the individuals who are subject to its control, the prime purpose of its operations, partakes of despotism; and governments which boast of a free constitution, the views even of statesmen and politicians who espoused the cause of liberty, have been too circumscribed. They have been attached to names and families. They seem not to have opened either their eyes or hearts to objects truly great, and affections sincerely catholic and philanthropic. 1 hate to hear public men, who certainly can have no right to their offices, but for the public good, professing themselves of the democratic party, the federal party, the quid party, and appearing to forget, in their zeal for a few distinguished persons, the great mass of the people, the party of human nature. The majority of men are poor and obscure. To them all party attachments to names and families, little known as public benefactors, must appear at once absurd and injurious. They are the persons who stand in most need of protection and assistance from the powerful. The rich under all governments, have a thousand means of procuring either comfort or defence. It is the mass, the poor and middling ranks, unknown to, and unknowing courts or kings, or senators, or legislators, who require all the alleviation which men enlightened by knowledge, furnished with opulence, elevated by office, can afford to lessen the natural evils of life, aggravated by the moral and artificial. Government possesses the power of alleviating and sometimes of removing, that moral and physical evil which embitters existence.—How deplorable, when government become so perverted, as to increase the evil it was designed to cure. Yet this has been, and is now the case on a great part of the globe; insomuch that the learned and judicious Dr. Prideaux, whose integrity is as well known as his ability, used to say, ‘That it was a doubt with him, whether the benefit which the world receives from government, was sufficient to make amends for the calamities which it suffers from the follies, mistakes, and mal-administration of those who manage it.’

“When it is considered how little the most boasted governments have been able or inclined to prevent the greatest calamity of the world, the frequent recurrence of War, it is natural to conclude, that there has been some radical defect or error in all government, hitherto instituted on the face of the earth. Violence may be used where there is no government. Governments pretend to direct human affairs by reason; but war is a dereliction of reason, a renunciation of all that refines and improves human nature, and an appeal to brute force. Man descends from the heights to which philosophers and legislators had raised him in society; takes the sword, und surpasses the beasts of the forest in ferocity. Yet, so far from thinking himself culpable, he deems his destructive employment the most honorable of all human occupations, because governments have politically contrived to throw a glossy mantle, covered with tinsel and spangles, over the horrors of bloodshed and devastation. If governments with all their riches and power, all their vaunted arts and sciences, all the mysterious policy of cabinets, all the wisdom and eloquence of deliberating senates, are unable to preserve the blessing of peace, uninterrupted, during the short space of twenty years together, they must be dreadfully faulty, either in their constitution or their administration. In what consists the fault? I think in the selfish spirit of despotism, pursuing the sordid or vain-glorious purposes of the governors, with little regard to the real, substantial happiness of the governed. Despotism in some mode or degree, has transformed the shepherds of the flock into wolves; has appropriated the fleeces, shed the blood of the innoxious animals, tore down the fences of the sheepfold, and laid waste the pasture.

“Where is the government that has distributed property so equitably, as that none to whom existence has been given should want the necessaries of existence; and where helpless age and infirmity, as well as helpless infancy, should find a pillar to repose on, and plenty to nourish it, without supplicating a Man, equal by nature, for the cold scanty relief of eleemosynary charity? The truth is, power gradually engrosses property; and the selfish spirit of despotism is ever striving to appropriate all the good, of every kind, which the earth is able to produce.

“The truth is, national glory, the trappings of a court, the parade of armies, the finery of external appearance, have been the silly objects of state solicitude; while Man was left to bewail, in the recesses of want and obscurity, that his mother had brought him into a world of woe, without means of comfort or support, with little other prospect than to labour without ceasing, to fight those who never injured him, and to die prematurely, unknown and unlamented. All his wretchedness has been aggravated by the insults of unfeeling pride; the neglect of aristocratic grandeur, which, under the spirit of despotism, mocked by the false pageantry of life, those who were doomed to feel its real misery. The vain pomp and glory of the world, held out the finger of scorn to that wretchedness which itself contributed to create, and would not relieve.

“After all the language of court adulation, the praises of poets and orators, the statues and monuments erected to the fame (of conquerors and rulers,) the malignant consequences of their actions prove them to have been no other than conspirators against the improvement and happiness of the human race. What were their means of conducting their governments, of exercising this office of Heaven’s vicegerents? Crafty, dishonest arts, oppression, extortion; and above all Fire and Sword. They dared to ape the thunder and lightning of Heaven, and, assisted by the machinations of the Grand Adversary of man, rendered their imitative contrivances for destruction more terrible and deadly than the original. Their imperial robe derived its deep crimson color from human blood; and the gold and diamonds of their diadems were accumulated treasures wrung from the famished bowels of the poor, born only to toil for others, to be robbed, to be wounded, to be trodden under foot and forgotten in an early grave. How few, in comparison, have reached the age of three score and ten, and yet, in the midst of youth and health, their days have been full of labor and sorrow. Heaven’s vicegerents seldom bestowed a thought upon them, except when it was necessary either to inveigle or to force them to take the sword and march to slaughter. Where God caused the sun to shine gaily, and scattered plenty over the land, his vicegerents diffused famine and solitude. The valley which laughed with corn, they watered with the tear of artificial hunger and distress; the plain that was bright with verdure, and gay with flowrets, they dyed red with gore. They operated on the world as the blast of an east wind, as a pestilence, as a deluge, as a conflagration, And have they yet ceased from the earth? Cast your eyes over the plains of Europe, the wilds of Africa’, and the gardens of Asia, European despotism has united with oriental, to unparadise the provinces of India.

“Thus, if God, in his wisdom, has thought fit to allot us a few evils for the purpose of discipline, the Great Ones of the world have endeavored to make the whole of life an evil to the despised and neglected Million. The world is now old, and may profit by the lessons of Experience. She has decisively declared, that Monarchy is the grand source of human misfortune, the Pandora’s box out of which every curse has issued, and scarcely left even Hope behind. Despotism, in its extreme, is fatal to human happiness, and, in all its degrees and modifications, injurious. The spirit of it ought therefore to be suppressed on the first and slightest appearance. It should be the endeavor of every good man, pro virili, as far as his best abilities will extend, to extirpate all arbitrary government from the globe. It should be swept from the earth, or trampled under foot, from China to Peru. But no power is capable of crushing the Hydra, less than the Herculean arm of a whole People.

“I lay it down as an incontrovertible axiom, that all who are born into the world have a right to be as happy in it as the unavoidable evils of nature, and their own disordered passions, will allow. The grand object of all good government, of all government that is not an usurpation, must be to promote this happiness, to assist every individual in its attainment and security. A government chiefly anxious about the emoluments of office, chiefly employed in augmenting its own power and aggrandizing its obsequious instruments, while it neglects the comfort and safety of individuals in middle or low life, is despotic and a nuisance. It is founded on folly as well as wickedness, and like the freaks of insanity, deals mischief and misery around, without being able to ascertain or limit its extent and duration. If it should not be punished as criminal, let it be coerced as dangerous. Let the straight waistcoat be applied; but let Men, judging fellow men, always spare the axe.

“For what rational purpose could we enter into life? To vex, torment, and slay each other with the sword? No, by the sweet mercy of Heaven! I firmly believe, that the great King of Kings, intended every son and daughter of Adam to be as happy as the eternal laws of Nature, under his control, permit them to be in this sublunary state. Execrated and exploded be all those politics, with Machiavel, or the Evil Being, their author, which introduce systems of government and manners among the great, inconsistent with the happiness of the majority. Must real tragedies be forever acting on the stage of human life? Must men go on forever to be tormentors and executioners of men? Is the world never to profit by the experience of ages? Must not even attempts be made to improve the happiness of life, to improve government, though all arts and sciences are encouraged in their progress to perfection? Must the grand art, the sublimest science, that of meliorating the condition of human nature, be stationary? No; forbid it reason, virtue, benevolence, religion! Let the world be made more and more comfortable, to all who are allowed the glorious privilege of seeing the sun and breathing the liberal air. Our forefathers were oppressed by priests and despots, and driven from their natal country to seek an asylum among the more merciful savages of North America. Let us explode that folly, that priest-craft, that bigotry which compelled them to embark on a stormy sea, and seek refuge in a howling wilderness; and let every mortal under the cope of heaven enjoy existence, as long as nature will allow the feasts to continue, without any restraints on liberty, but such as the majority of uncorrupted guests unite in agreeing to be salutary, and therefore conducive to the general festivity.”

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A SUMMARY VIEW OF THE RIGHTS OF BRITISH AMERICA by Thomas Jefferson 1774

ThomasJeffersonQuoteAristocracy

On the instructions given to the first delegation of Virginia to Congress, in August, 1774.

The Legislature of Virginia happened to be in session, in Williamsburg, when news was received of the passage, by the British Parliament, of the Boston Port Bill, which was to take effect on the first day of June then ensuing. The House of Burgesses, thereupon, passed a resolution, recommending to their fellow-citizens, that that day should be set apart for fasting and prayer to the Supreme Being, imploring him to avert the calamities then threatening us, and to give us one heart and one mind to oppose every invasion of our liberties. The next day, May the 20th, 1774, the Governor dissolved us. We immediately repaired to a room in the Raleigh tavern, about one hundred paces distant from the Capitol, formed ourselves into a meeting, Peyton Randolph in the chair, and came to resolutions, declaring, that an attack on one colony, to enforce arbitrary acts, ought to be considered as an attack on all, and to be opposed by the united wisdom of all. We, therefore, appointed a Committee of correspondence, to address letters to the Speakers of the several Houses of Representatives of the colonies, proposing the appointment of deputies from each, to meet annually in a General Congress, to deliberate on their common interests, and on the measures to be pursued in common. The members then separated to their several homes, except those of the Committee, who met the next day, prepared letters according to instructions, and despatched them by messengers express, to their several destinations. It had been agreed, also, by the meeting, that the Burgesses, who should be elected under the writs then issuing, should be requested to meet in Convention, on a certain day in August, to learn the results of these letters, and to appoint delegates to a Congress, should that measure be approved by the other colonies. At the election, the people reelected every man of the former Assembly, as a proof of their approbation of what they had done. Before I left home, to attend the Convention, I prepared what I thought might be given, in instruction, to the Delegates who should be appointed to attend the General Congress proposed. They were drawn in haste, with a number of blanks, with some uncertainties and inaccuracies of historical facts, which I neglected at the moment, knowing they could be readily corrected at the meeting. I set out on my journey, but was taken sick on the road, and was unable to proceed. I therefore sent on, by express, two copies, one under cover to Patrick Henry, the other to Peyton Randolph, who I knew would be in the chair of the Convention. Of the former, no more was ever heard or known. Mr. Henry probably thought it too bold, as a first measure, as the majority of the members did. On the other copy being laid on the table of the Convention, by Peyton Randolph, as the proposition of a member, who was prevented from attendance by sickness on the road, tamer sentiments were preferred, and, 1 believe, wisely preferred: the leap I proposed being too long, as yet, for the mass of our citizens. The distance between these, and the instructions actually adopted, is of some curiosity, however, as it shews the inequality of pace with which we moved, and the prudence required to keep front and rear together. My creed had been formed on unsheathing the sword at Lexington. They printed the paper, however, and gave it the title of ‘ A summary view of the rights of British America.’ In this form it got to London, where the opposition took it up, shaped it to opposition views, and, in that form, it ran rapidly through several editions.

Mr. Marshall, in his history of General Washington, chapter 3, speaking of this proposition for Committees of correspondence and for a General Congress, says, ‘ this measure had already been proposed in town meeting, in Boston,’ and some pages before, he had said, that’ at a session of the General Court of Massachusetts, in September, 1770, that Court, in pursuance of a favorite idea of uniting all the colonies in one system of measures, elected a Committee of correspondence, to communicate with such Committees as might be appointed by the other colonies.’ This is an error. The Committees of correspondence, elected by Massachusetts, were expressly for a correspondence among the several towns of that province only. Besides the text of their proceedings, his own note X, proves this. The first proposition for a general correspondence between the several states, and for a General Congress, was made by our meeting of May, 1774. Botta, copying Marshall, has repeated his error, and so it will be handed on from copyist to copyist, ad infinitum. Here follows my proposition, and the more prudent one which was adopted.

A SUMMARY VIEW OF THE RIGHTS OF BRITISH AMERICA

by Thomas Jefferson;

Editor Descriptive Notes in [Brackets and Italics]

“It is the indispensable duty of the supreme magistrate to consider himself as acting for the whole community, and obliged to support its dignity, and assign to the people, with justice, their various rights, as he would be faithful to the great trust reposed in him.” ~ Cicero

Resolved, that it be an instruction to the said deputies, when assembled in general congress with the deputies from the other states of British America, to propose to the said congress that an humble and dutiful address be presented to his majesty, begging leave to lay before him, as chief magistrate of the British empire, the united complaints of his majesty’s subjects in America; complaints which are excited by many unwarrantable encroachments and usurpations, attempted to be made by the legislature of one part of the empire, upon those rights which God and the laws have given equally and independently to all. To represent to his majesty that these his states have often individually made humble application to his imperial throne to obtain, through its intervention, some redress of their injured rights, to none of which was ever even an answer condescended; humbly to hope that this their joint address, penned in the language of truth, and divested of those expressions of servility which would persuade his majesty that we are asking favours, and not rights, shall obtain from his majesty a more respectful acceptance. And this his majesty will think we have reason to expect when he reflects that he is no more than the chief officer of the people, appointed by the laws, and circumscribed with definite powers, to assist in working the great machine of government, erected for their use, and consequently subject to their superintendance. And in order that these our rights, as well as the invasions of them, may be laid more fully before his majesty, to take a view of them from the origin and first settlement of these countries.

To remind him that our ancestors, before their emigration to America, were the free inhabitants of the British dominions in Europe, and possessed a right which nature has given to all men, of departing from the country in which chance, not choice, has placed them, of going in quest of new habitations, and of there establishing new societies, under such laws and regulations as to them shall seem most likely to promote public happiness. That their Saxon ancestors had, under this universal law, in like manner left their native wilds and woods in the north of Europe, had possessed themselves of the island of Britain, then less charged with inhabitants, and had established there that system of laws which has so long been the glory and protection of that country. Nor was ever any claim of superiority or dependence asserted over them by that mother country from which they had migrated; and were such a claim made, it is believed that his majesty’s subjects in Great Britain have too firm a feeling of the rights derived to them from their ancestors, to bow down the sovereignty of their state before such visionary pretensions. And it is thought that no circumstance has occurred to distinguish materially the British from the Saxon emigration. America was conquered, and her settlements made, and firmly established, at the expence of individuals, and not of the British public. Their own blood was spilt in acquiring lands for their settlement, their own fortunes expended in making that settlement effectual; for themselves they fought, for themselves they conquered, and for themselves alone they have right to hold. Not a shilling was ever issued from the public treasures of his majesty, or his ancestors, for their assistance, till of very late times, after the colonies had become established on a firm and permanent footing. That then, indeed, having become valuable to Great Britain for her commercial purposes, his parliament was pleased to lend them assistance against an enemy, who would fain have drawn to herself the benefits of their commerce, to the great aggrandizement of herself, and danger of Great Britain. Such assistance, and in such circumstances, they had often before given to Portugal, and other allied states, with whom they carry on a commercial intercourse; yet these states never supposed, that by calling in her aid, they thereby submitted themselves to her sovereignty. Had such terms been proposed, they would have rejected them with disdain, and trusted for better to the moderation of their enemies, or to a vigorous exertion of their own force. We do not, however, mean to under-rate those aids, which to us were doubtless valuable, on whatever principles granted; but we would shew [show] that they cannot give a title to that authority which the British parliament would arrogate over us, and that they may amply be repaid by our giving to the inhabitants of Great Britain such exclusive privileges in trade as may be advantageous to them, and at the same time not too restrictive to ourselves. That settlements having been thus effected in the wilds of America, the emigrants thought proper to adopt that system of laws under which they had hitherto lived in the mother country, and to continue their union with her by submitting themselves to the same common sovereign, who was thereby made the central link connecting the several parts of the empire thus newly multiplied.

But that not long were they permitted, however far they thought themselves removed from the hand of oppression, to hold undisturbed the rights thus acquired, at the hazard of their lives, and loss of their fortunes. A family of princes was then on the British throne, whose treasonable crimes against their people brought on them afterwards the exertion of those sacred and sovereign rights of punishment reserved in the hands of the people for cases of extreme necessity, and judged by the constitution unsafe to be delegated to any other judicature. While every day brought forth some new and unjustifiable exertion of power over their subjects on that side the water, it was not to be expected that those here, much less able at that time to oppose the designs of despotism, should be exempted from injury.

Accordingly that country, which had been acquired by the lives, the labours, and the fortunes, of individual adventurers, was by these princes, at several times, parted out and distributed among the favourites and followers of their fortunes,(See Footnote 1) and, by an assumed right of the crown alone, were erected into distinct and independent governments; a measure which it is believed his majesty’s prudence and understanding would prevent him from imitating at this day, as no exercise of such a power, of dividing and dismembering a country, has ever occurred in his majesty’s realm of England, though now of very antient [ancient] standing; nor could it be justified or acquiesced under there, or in any other part of his majesty’s empire.

That the exercise of a free trade with all parts of the world, possessed by the American colonists, as of natural right, and which no law of their own had taken away or abridged, was next the object of unjust encroachment. Some of the colonies having thought proper to continue the administration of their government in the name and under the authority of his majesty king Charles the first, whom, notwithstanding his late deposition by the commonwealth of England, they continued in the sovereignty of their state; the parliament for the commonwealth took the same in high offence, and assumed upon themselves the power of prohibiting their trade with all other parts of the world, except the island of Great Britain. This arbitrary act, however, they soon recalled, and by solemn treaty, entered into on the 12th day of March, 1651, between the said commonwealth by their commissioners, and the colony of Virginia by their house of burgesses, it was expressly stipulated, by the 8th article of the said treaty, that they should have “free trade as the people of England do enjoy to all places and with all nations, according to the laws of that commonwealth.” But that, upon the restoration of his majesty king Charles the second, their rights of free commerce fell once more a victim to arbitrary power; and by several acts of his reign, as well as of some of his successors, the trade of the colonies was laid under such restrictions, as shew what hopes they might form from the justice of a British parliament, were its uncontrouled power admitted over these states. History has informed us that bodies of men, as well as individuals, are susceptible of the spirit of tyranny. A view of these acts of parliament for regulation, as it has been affectedly called, of the American trade, if all other evidence were removed out of the case, would undeniably evince the truth of this observation. Besides the duties they impose on our articles of export and import, they prohibit our going to any markets northward of Cape Finesterre, in the kingdom of Spain, for the sale of commodities which Great Britain will not take from us, and for the purchase of others, with which she cannot supply us, and that for no other than the arbitrary purposes of purchasing for themselves, by a sacrifice of our rights and interests, certain privileges in their commerce with an allied state, who in confidence that their exclusive trade with America will be continued, while the principles and power of the British parliament be the same, have indulged themselves in every exorbitance which their avarice could dictate, or our necessities extort; have raised their commodities, called for in America, to the double and treble of what they sold for before such exclusive privileges were given them, and of what better commodities of the same kind would cost us elsewhere, and at the same time give us much less for what we carry thither than might be had at more convenient ports. That these acts prohibit us from carrying in quest of other purchasers the surplus of our tobaccoes remaining after the consumption of Great Britain is supplied; so that we must leave them with the British merchant for whatever he will please to allow us, to be by him reshipped to foreign markets, where he will reap the benefits of making sale of them for full value. That to heighten still the idea of parliamentary justice, and to shew with what moderation they are like to exercise power, where themselves are to feel no part of its weight, we take leave to mention to his majesty certain other acts of British parliament, by which they would prohibit us from manufacturing for our own use the articles we raise on our own lands with our own labour. By an act passed in the 5th Year [1732] of the reign of his late majesty king George the second, an American subject is forbidden to make a hat for himself of the fur which he has taken perhaps on his own soil; an instance of despotism to which no parallel can be produced in the most arbitrary ages of British history. By one other act, passed in the 23d year [1750] of the same reign, the iron which we make we are forbidden to manufacture, and heavy as that article is, and necessary in every branch of husbandry, besides commission and insurance, we are to pay freight for it to Great Britain, and freight for it back again, for the purpose of supporting not men, but machines, in the island of Great Britain. In the same spirit of equal and impartial legislation is to be viewed the act of parliament, passed in the 5th year of the same reign, by which American lands are made subject to the demands of British creditors, while their own lands were still continued unanswerable for their debts; from which one of these conclusions must necessarily follow, either that justice is not the same in America as in Britain, or else that the British parliament pay less regard to it here than there. But that we do not point out to his majesty the injustice of these acts, with intent to rest on that principle the cause of their nullity; but to shew that experience confirms the propriety of those political principles which exempt us from the jurisdiction of the British parliament. The true ground on which we declare these acts void is, that the British parliament has no right to exercise authority over us.

That these exercises of usurped power have not been confined to instances alone, in which themselves were interested, but they have also intermeddled with the regulation of the internal affairs of the colonies. The act of the 9th of Anne [9th year in the Reign of Queen Anne, 1711] for establishing a post office in America seems to have had little connection with British convenience, except that of accommodating his majesty’s ministers and favourites with the sale of a lucrative and easy office.

That thus have we hastened through the reigns which preceded his majesty’s, during which the violations of our right were less alarming, because repeated at more distant intervals than that rapid and bold succession of injuries which is likely to distinguish the present from all other periods of American story. Scarcely have our minds been able to emerge from the astonishment into which one stroke of parliamentary thunder has involved us, before another more heavy, and more alarming, is fallen on us. Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate and systematical plan of reducing us to slavery.

That the act passed in the 4th year [1731] of his majesty’s reign, intitled “An act for granting certain duties in the British colonies and plantations in America, &c.”

One other act, passed in the 5th year [1732] of his reign, intitled “An act for granting and applying certain stamp duties and other duties in the British colonies and plantations in America, &c.” [Stamp Act]

One other act, passed in the 6th year [1733] of his reign, intitled “An act for the better securing the dependency of his majesty’s dominions in America upon the crown and parliament of Great Britain;” [Act declared the right of the British Parliament over the American Colonies] and

one other act, passed in the 7th year [1734] of his reign, intitled “An act for granting duties on paper, tea, &c.”

form that connected chain of parliamentary usurpation, which has already been the subject of frequent applications to his majesty, and the houses of lords and commons of Great Britain; and no answers having yet been condescended to any of these, we shall not trouble his majesty with a repetition of the matters they contained.

But that one other act, passed in the same 7th year of the reign, having been a peculiar attempt, must ever require peculiar mention; it is intitled “An act for suspending the legislature of New York.”

One free and independent legislature hereby takes upon itself to suspend the powers of another, free and independent as itself; thus exhibiting a phoenomenon unknown in nature, the creator and creature of its own power. Not only the principles of common sense, but the common feelings of human nature, must be surrendered up before his majesty’s subjects here can be persuaded to believe that they hold their political existence at the will of a British parliament. Shall these governments be dissolved, their property annihilated, and their people reduced to a state of nature, at the imperious breath of a body of men, whom they never saw, in whom they never confided, and over whom they have no powers of punishment or removal, let their crimes against the American public be ever so great? Can any one reason be assigned why 160,000 electors in the island of Great Britain should give law to four millions in the states of America, every individual of whom is equal to every individual of them, in virtue, in understanding, and in bodily strength? Were this to be admitted, instead of being a free people, as we have hitherto supposed, and mean to continue ourselves, we should suddenly be found the slaves, not of one, but of 160,000 tyrants, distinguished too from all others by this singular circumstance, that they are removed from the reach of fear, the only restraining motive which may hold the hand of a tyrant.

That by “an act to discontinue in such manner and for such time as are therein mentioned the landing and discharging, lading or shipping, of goods, wares, and merchandize, at the town and within the harbour of Boston, in the province of Massachusetts Bay, in North America,” which was passed at the last session of British parliament; a large and populous town, whose trade was their sole subsistence, was deprived of that trade, and involved in utter ruin. Let us for a while suppose the question of right suspended, in order to examine this act on principles of justice: An act of parliament had been passed imposing duties on teas, to be paid in America, against which act the Americans had protested as inauthoritative. The East India company, who till that time had never sent a pound of tea to America on their own account, step forth on that occasion the assertors of parliamentary right, and send hither many ship loads of that obnoxious commodity. The masters of their several vessels, however, on their arrival in America, wisely attended to admonition, and returned with their cargoes. In the province of New England alone the remonstrances [protests] of the people were disregarded, and a compliance, after being many days waited for, was flatly refused. Whether in this the master of the vessel was governed by his obstinancy [stubborn, inflexible], or his instructions, let those who know, say. There are extraordinary situations which require extraordinary interposition. An exasperated people, who feel that they possess power, are not easily restrained within limits strictly regular. A number of them assembled in the town of Boston, threw the tea into the ocean, and dispersed without doing any other act of violence. If in this they did wrong, they were known and were amenable to the laws of the land, against which it could not be objected that they had ever, in any instance, been obstructed or diverted from their regular course in favour of popular offenders. They should therefore not have been distrusted on this occasion. But that ill fated colony had formerly been bold in their enmities against the house of Stuart, and were now devoted to ruin by that unseen hand which governs the momentous affairs of this great empire. On the partial representations of a few worthless ministerial dependents, whose constant office it has been to keep that government embroiled, and who, by their treacheries, hope to obtain the dignity of the British knighthood, without calling for a party accused, without asking a proof, without attempting a distinction between the guilty and the innocent, the whole of that antient and wealthy town is in a moment reduced from opulence to beggary. Men who had spent their lives in extending the British commerce, who had invested in that place the wealth their honest endeavours had merited, found themselves and their families thrown at once on the world for subsistence by its charities. Not the hundredth part of the inhabitants of that town had been concerned in the act complained of; many of them were in Great Britain and in other parts beyond sea; yet all were involved in one indiscriminate ruin, by a new executive power, unheard of till then, that of a British parliament. A property, of the value of many millions of money, was sacrificed to revenge, not repay, the loss of a few thousands. This is administering justice with a heavy hand indeed! and when is this tempest to be arrested in its course? Two wharfs are to be opened again when his majesty shall think proper. The residue which lined the extensive shores of the bay of Boston are forever interdicted the exercise of commerce. This little exception seems to have been thrown in for no other purpose than that of setting a precedent for investing his majesty with legislative powers. If the pulse of his people shall beat calmly under this experiment, another and another will be tried, till the measure of despotism be filled up. It would be an insult on common sense to pretend that this exception was made in order to restore its commerce to that great town. The trade which cannot be received at two wharfs alone must of necessity be transferred to some other place; to which it will soon be followed by that of the two wharfs. Considered in this light, it would be an insolent [an arrogant lack of respect] and cruel mockery at the annihilation of the town of Boston.

By the act for the suppression of riots and tumults in the town of Boston, passed also in the last session of parliament, a murder committed there is, if the governor pleases, to be tried in the court of King’s Bench, in the island of Great Britain, by a jury of Middlesex. The witnesses, too, on receipt of such a sum as the governor shall think it reasonable for them to expend, are to enter into recognizance to appear at the trial. This is, in other words, taxing them to the amount of their recognizance, and that amount may be whatever a governor pleases; for who does his majesty think can be prevailed on to cross the Atlantic for the sole purpose of bearing evidence to a fact? His expences are to be borne, indeed, as they shall be estimated by a governor; but who are to feed the wife and children whom he leaves behind, and who have had no other subsistence but his daily labour? Those epidemical disorders, too, so terrible in a foreign climate, is the cure of them to be estimated among the articles of expence, and their danger to be warded off by the almighty power of parliament? And the wretched criminal, if he happen to have offended on the American side, stripped of his privilege of trial by peers of his vicinage, removed from the place where alone full evidence could be obtained, without money, without counsel, without friends, without exculpatory proof, is tried before judges predetermined to condemn. The cowards who would suffer a countryman to be torn from the bowels of their society, in order to be thus offered a sacrifice to parliamentary tyranny, would merit that everlasting infamy now fixed on the authors of the act! A clause for a similar purpose had been introduced into an act, passed in the 12th year [1739] of his majesty’s reign, intitled “An act for the better securing and preserving his majesty’s dockyards, magazines, ships, ammunition, and stores;” against which, as meriting the same censures, the several colonies have already protested.

That these are the acts of power, assumed by a body of men, foreign to our constitutions, and unacknowledged by our laws, against which we do, on behalf of the inhabitants of British America, enter this our solemn and determined protest; and we do earnestly entreat his majesty, as yet the only mediatory power between the several states of the British empire, to recommend to his parliament of Great Britain the total revocation of these acts, which, however nugatory they be, may yet prove the cause of further discontents and jealousies among us.

That we next proceed to consider the conduct of his majesty, as holding the executive powers of the laws of these states, and mark out his deviations from the line of duty: By the constitution of Great Britain, as well as of the several American states, his majesty possesses the power of refusing to pass into a law any bill which has already passed the other two branches of legislature. His majesty, however, and his ancestors, conscious of the impropriety of opposing their single opinion to the united wisdom of two houses of parliament, while their proceedings were unbiassed by interested principles, for several ages past have modestly declined the exercise of this power in that part of his empire called Great Britain. But by change of circumstances, other principles than those of justice simply have obtained an influence on their determinations; the addition of new states to the British empire has produced an addition of new, and sometimes opposite interests. It is now, therefore, the great office of his majesty, to resume the exercise of his negative power, and to prevent the passage of laws by any one legislature of the empire, which might bear injuriously on the rights and interests of another. Yet this will not excuse the wanton exercise of this power which we have seen his majesty practise on the laws of the American legislatures. For the most trifling reasons, and sometimes for no conceivable reason at all, his majesty has rejected laws of the most salutary tendency. The abolition of domestic slavery is the great object of desire in those colonies, where it was unhappily introduced in their infant state. But previous to the enfranchisement of the slaves we have, it is necessary to exclude all further importations from Africa; yet our repeated attempts to effect this by prohibitions, and by imposing duties which might amount to a prohibition, have been hitherto defeated by his majesty’s negative: Thus preferring the immediate advantages of a few African corsairs to the lasting interests of the American states, and to the rights of human nature, deeply wounded by this infamous practice. Nay, the single interposition of an interested individual against a law was scarcely ever known to fail of success, though in the opposite scale were placed the interests of a whole country. That this is so shameful an abuse of a power trusted with his majesty for other purposes, as if not reformed, would call for some legal restrictions.

With equal inattention to the necessities of his people here has his majesty permitted our laws to lie neglected in England for years, neither confirming them by his assent, nor annulling them by his negative; so that such of them as have no suspending clause we hold on the most precarious of all tenures, his majesty’s will, and such of them as suspend themselves till his majesty’s assent be obtained, we have feared, might be called into existence at some future and distant period, when time, and change of circumstances, shall have rendered them destructive to his people here. And to render this grievance still more oppressive, his majesty by his instructions has laid his governors under such restrictions that they can pass no law of any moment unless it have such suspending clause; so that, however immediate may be the call for legislative interposition, the law cannot be executed till it has twice crossed the atlantic, by which time the evil may have spent its whole force.

But in what terms, reconcileable to majesty, and at the same time to truth, shall we speak of a late instruction to his majesty’s governor of the colony of Virginia, by which he is forbidden to assent to any law for the division of a county, unless the new county will consent to have no representative in assembly? That colony has as yet fixed no boundary to the westward. Their western counties, therefore, are of indefinite extent; some of them are actually seated many hundred miles from their eastern limits. Is it possible, then, that his majesty can have bestowed a single thought on the situation of those people, who, in order to obtain justice for injuries, however great or small, must, by the laws of that colony, attend their county court, at such a distance, with all their witnesses, monthly, till their litigation be determined? Or does his majesty seriously wish, and publish it to the world, that his subjects should give up the glorious right of representation, with all the benefits derived from that, and submit themselves the absolute slaves of his sovereign will? Or is it rather meant to confine the legislative body to their present numbers, that they may be the cheaper bargain whenever they shall become worth a purchase.

One of the articles of impeachment against [Robert] Tresilian [Cornish lawyer, and Chief Justice of the King’s Bench between 1381 and 1387], and the other judges of Westminister Hall, in the reign of Richard the second, [ 1377-1399] for which they suffered death, as traitors to their country, was, that they had advised the king that he might dissolve his parliament at any time; and succeeding kings have adopted the opinion of these unjust judges. Since the establishment, however, of the British constitution, at the glorious revolution, on its free and antient principles, neither his majesty, nor his ancestors, have exercised such a power of dissolution in the island of Great Britain; and when his majesty was petitioned, by the united voice of his people there, to dissolve the present parliament, who had become obnoxious to them, his ministers were heard to declare, in open parliament, that his majesty possessed no such power by the constitution. But how different their language and his practice here! To declare, as their duty required, the known rights of their country, to oppose the usurpations of every foreign judicature, to disregard the imperious mandates of a minister or governor, have been the avowed causes of dissolving houses of representatives in America. But if such powers be really vested in his majesty, can he suppose they are there placed to awe the members from such purposes as these? When the representative body have lost the confidence of their constituents, when they have notoriously made sale of their most valuable rights, when they have assumed to themselves powers which the people never put into their hands, then indeed their continuing in office becomes dangerous to the state, and calls for an exercise of the power of dissolution. Such being the causes for which the representative body should, and should not, be dissolved, will it not appear strange to an unbiassed observer, that that of Great Britain was not dissolved, while those of the colonies have repeatedly incurred that sentence?

But your majesty, or your governors, have carried this power beyond every limit known, or provided for, by the laws: After dissolving one house of representatives, they have refused to call another, so that, for a great length of time, the legislature provided by the laws has been out of existence. From the nature of things, every society must at all times possess within itself the sovereign powers of legislation. The feelings of human nature revolt against the supposition of a state so situated as that it may not in any emergency provide against dangers which perhaps threaten immediate ruin. While those bodies are in existence to whom the people have delegated the powers of legislation, they alone possess and may exercise those powers; but when they are dissolved by the lopping off one or more of their branches, the power reverts to the people, who may exercise it to unlimited extent, either assembling together in person, sending deputies, or in any other way they may think proper. We forbear to trace consequences further; the dangers are conspicuous with which this practice is replete.

That we shall at this time also take notice of an error in the nature of our land holdings, which crept in at a very early period of our settlement. The introduction of the feudal tenures into the kingdom of England, though antient, is well enough understood to set this matter in a proper light. In the earlier ages of the Saxon settlement feudal holdings were certainly altogether unknown; and very few, if any, had been introduced at the time of the Norman conquest. Our Saxon ancestors held their lands, as they did their personal property, in absolute dominion, disencumbered with any superior, answering nearly to the nature of those possessions which the feudalists term allodial. [Allodial: title is a real property ownership system where the real property is owed free and clear of any superior landlord] William, the Norman, first introduced that system generally. The lands which had belonged to those who fell in the battle of Hastings, and in the subsequent insurrections of his reign, formed a considerable proportion of the lands of the whole kingdom. These he granted out, subject to feudal duties, as did he also those of a great number of his new subjects, who, by persuasions or threats, were induced to surrender them for that purpose. But still much was left in the hands of his Saxon subjects; held of no superior, and not subject to feudal conditions. These, therefore, by express laws, enacted to render uniform the system of military defence, were made liable to the same military duties as if they had been feuds; and the Norman lawyers soon found means to saddle them also with all the other feudal burthens [burdens]. But still they had not been surrendered to the king, they were not derived from his grant, and therefore they were not [be]holden of him. A general principle, indeed, was introduced, that “all lands in England were held either mediately or immediately of the crown,” but this was borrowed from those holdings, which were truly feudal, and only applied to others for the purposes of illustration. Feudal holdings were therefore but exceptions out of the Saxon laws of possession, under which all lands were held in absolute right. These, therefore, still form the basis, or ground-work, of the common law, to prevail wheresoever the exceptions have not taken place. America was not conquered by William the Norman, nor its lands surrendered to him, or any of his successors. Possessions there are undoubtedly of the allodial nature. Our ancestors, however, who migrated hither, were farmers, not lawyers. The fictitious principle that all lands belong originally to the king, they were early persuaded to believe real; and accordingly took grants of their own lands from the crown. And while the crown continued to grant for small sums, and on reasonable rents; there was no inducement to arrest the error, and lay it open to public view. But his majesty has lately taken on him to advance the terms of purchase, and of holding to the double of what they were; by which means the acquisition of lands being rendered difficult, the population of our country is likely to be checked. It is time, therefore, for us to lay this matter before his majesty, and to declare that he has no right to grant lands of himself. From the nature and purpose of civil institutions, all the lands within the limits which any particular society has circumscribed around itself are assumed by that society, and subject to their allotment only. This may be done by themselves, assembled collectively, or by their legislature, to whom they may have delegated sovereign authority; and if they are alloted in neither of these ways, each individual of the society may appropriate to himself such lands as he finds vacant, and occupancy will give him title.

That in order to enforce the arbitrary measures before complained of, his majesty has from time to time sent among us large bodies of armed forces, not made up of the people here, nor raised by the authority of our laws: Did his majesty possess such a right as this, it might swallow up all our other rights whenever he should think proper. But his majesty has no right to land a single armed man on our shores, and those whom he sends here are liable to our laws made for the suppression and punishment of riots, routs, and unlawful assemblies; or are hostile bodies, invading us in defiance of law. When in the course of the late war it became expedient that a body of Hanoverian troops should be brought over for the defence of Great Britain, his majesty’s grandfather, our late sovereign, did not pretend to introduce them under any authority he possessed. Such a measure would have given just alarm to his subjects in Great Britain, whose liberties would not be safe if armed men of another country, and of another spirit, might be brought into the realm at any time without the consent of their legislature. He therefore applied to parliament, who passed an act for that purpose, limiting the number to be brought in and the time they were to continue. In like manner is his majesty restrained in every part of the empire. He possesses, indeed, the executive power of the laws in every state; but they are the laws of the particular state which he is to administer within that state, and not those of any one within the limits of another. Every state must judge for itself the number of armed men which they may safely trust among them, of whom they are to consist, and under what restrictions they shall be laid.

To render these proceedings still more criminal against our laws, instead of subjecting the military to the civil powers, his majesty has expressly made the civil subordinate to the military. But can his majesty thus put down all law under his feet? Can he erect a power superior to that which erected himself? He has done it indeed by force; but let him remember that force cannot give right.

That these are our grievances which we have thus laid before his majesty, with that freedom of language and sentiment which becomes a free people claiming their rights, as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate: Let those flatter who fear; it is not an American art. To give praise which is not due might be well from the venal, but would ill beseem those who are asserting the rights of human nature. They know, and will therefore say, that kings are the servants, not the proprietors of the people. Open your breast, sire, to liberal and expanded thought. Let not the name of George the third be a blot in the page of history. You are surrounded by British counsellors, but remember that they are parties. You have no ministers for American affairs, because you have none taken from among us, nor amenable to the laws on which they are to give you advice. It behoves [to be necessary or fitting for, i.e. Requires] you, therefore, to think and to act for yourself and your people. The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counsellors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail. No longer persevere in sacrificing the rights of one part of the empire to the inordinate desires of another; but deal out to all equal and impartial right. Let no act be passed by any one legislature which may infringe on the rights and liberties of another. This is the important post in which fortune has placed you, holding the balance of a great, if a well poised empire. This, sire, is the advice of your great American council, on the observance of which may perhaps depend your felicity and future fame, and the preservation of that harmony which alone can continue both to Great Britain and America the reciprocal advantages of their connection. It is neither our wish, nor our interest, to separate from her. We are willing, on our part, to sacrifice every thing which reason can ask to the restoration of that tranquillity for which all must wish. On their part, let them be ready to establish union and a generous plan. Let them name their terms, but let them be just. Accept of every commercial preference it is in our power to give for such things as we can raise for their use, or they make for ours. But let them not think to exclude us from going to other markets to dispose of those commodities which they cannot use, or to supply those wants which they cannot supply. Still less let it be proposed that our properties within our own territories shall be taxed or regulated by any power on earth but our own. The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them. This, sire, is our last, our determined resolution; and that you will be pleased to interpose with that efficacy which your earnest endeavours may ensure to procure redress of these our great grievances, to quiet the minds of your subjects in British America, against any apprehensions of future encroachment, to establish fraternal love and harmony through the whole empire, and that these may continue to the latest ages of time, is the fervent prayer of all British America!

Footnote(s) 1. 1632 Maryland was granted to lord Baltimore, Pennsylvania to Penn, and the province of Carolina was in the year 1663 granted by letters patent of majesty, king Charles II. in the 15th year of his reign, in propriety, unto the right honourable Edward earl of Clarendon, George duke of Albemarle, William earl of Craven, John lord Berkeley, Anthony lord Ashley, sir George Carteret, sir John Coleton, knight and baronet, and sir William Berkeley, knight; by which letters patent the laws of England were to be in force in Carolina: But the lords proprietors had power, _with the consent of the inhabitants,_ to make bye-laws for the better government of the said province; so that no money could be received, or law made, without the consent of the inhabitants, or their representatives.

FINIS.

A DECLARATION BY THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN GENERAL CONGRESS ASSEMBLED.

The following extract is interesting as showing the influence of the “Proposed Instructions” on contemporary opinion:

Thomas Jefferson, who was one of the elected, was prevented by indisposition from attending. But he forwarded by express, for the consideration of its members, a series of resolutions. I distinctly recollect the applause bestowed on the most of them, when they were read to a large company at the house of Peyton Randolph, to whom they were addressed of all the approbation was not equal. From the celebrated letters of the Pennsylvanian Farmer (John Dickinson) we had been instructed to bow to the external taxation of parliament, as resulting from our migration and a necessary dependence on the mother country. But this composition of Mr. Jefferson shook this conceded principle, although it had been confirmed by a still more celebrated pamphlet of Daniel Dulaney of Maryland, and cited by Lord Chatham as a text-book of American rights. The young ascended with Mr. Jefferson to the source of those rights [Our Creator], the old required time for consideration before they could tread this lofty ground which, if it had not been abandoned, at least had not been fully occupied throughout America. From what cause it happened that the resolutions were not printed by order of the Convention does not appear; but as they were not adopted, several of the author’s admirers subscribed for their publication. When the time of writing is remembered, a range of inquiry not then very frequent, and marching far beyond the politics of the day will surely be allowed them.—[Edmund Randolph in MS. History of Virginia, quoted in Ford’s “Jefferson,” vol. I., p. 422, and reprinted here by permission of G. P. Putnam & Sons.]

 Sources:
The writings of Thomas Jefferson: being his autobiography, correspondence, reports, etc. by Thomas Jefferson from the original manuscripts deposited in the Department of State, Volume One; Published 1853 by Taylor & Maury, Washington
A summary view of the rights of British America: Set forth in some Resolutions intended for: The Inspection of the present Delegates of the People of Virginia, now in Convention. by Thomas Jefferson; 1774

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Thomas Jefferson Biography

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THOMAS JEFFERSON,  American statesman, third President of the United States; b. Shadwell, Albemarle County, Va., 13 April 1743; d. Monticello, Albemarle County, Va., 4 July 1826; student at William and Mary College, Williamsburg. Va., 1760-62; student of law 1762-67; member of house of burgesses 1769-74; member of Virginia Conventions 1774 and 1775; of the Continental Congress 1775-76; of Virginia legislature 1776-79: governor of Virginia 1779-81; member of Congress 1783-84; Minister to France 1784-89; Secretary of State 1790-93; Vice-President 1797-1801); President 1801-09; in retirement at Monticello 1809-26.

Thomas Jefferson was the son of Peter Jefferson, a planter & an Anglican vestryman of Albemarle County, Va. His mother was Jane Randolph, daughter of Isham Randolph, who was a descendant of William Randolph of Turkey Island, the progenitor of that family so well known in Virginia history. Jefferson’s birthplace was Shadwell, about four miles from the city of Charlottesville. At this homestead he resided until it was destroyed by fire in 1770; thereupon Jefferson selected a low mountain about two miles from Charlottesville, where he built that now famous mansion, “Monticello, Albemarle County, Va., has the proud distinction of being the section in which Jefferson was born, reared, lived, died and lies buried. Jefferson’s early education, as was usually the case with Virginia planters, was entrusted first to a private tutor, from whom he learned Latin, Greek, French and mathematics. At 14 his father died, and after two years in a school conducted by the Rev. James Maury, he entered in 1760 William and Mary College, at that time the best institution of learning in America. The student Jefferson is described as tall and rawboned, with reddish hair and grayish hazel eyes. He was not then regarded as handsome, though in after years he was considered as probably the most attractive in appearance of the great Virginia statesmen. As a youth he was noted for his intelligence, and while at college he was in constant association-with such men of culture as George Wythe (q.v.), the eminent lawyer; Prof. William Small, the profound scholar, and Gov. Francis Fauquier (q.v.), the gay and accomplished gentleman. With these gentlemen, many years his senior, he was accustomed to discuss the deepest questions of philosophy and government. In Williamsburg, Jefferson was one of the leaders in all social functions, and always attended the balls given in the Apollo Room of the Raleigh Tavern’. Probably his first year at college was spent among too many festivities, but during his second year he is said to have been a most diligent student, often devoting 15 hours a day to his books. After two years of college work he commenced the study of law under George Wythe, but did not apply for admission to practice before the General Court of Virginia till 1767. Jefferson was now 24 years of age; he had a large farm of 1,900 acres (soon increased to 5,000 acres) to which he gave his personal supervision. Though he devoted much time to this farm, he succeeded so well as a lawyer that his profession soon paid him $3,000 annually.

In 1769 he was returned by Albemarle County a member of the House of Burgesses, an honor which his father had had before him. This was Jefferson’s beginning as a statesman. He had stood in 1765 in the hallway of the House of Burgesses when Patrick Henry (q.v.) offered his famous resolution against the Stamp Act, and from Patrick Henry he imbibed the spirit of revolution. Just as soon as he became a member of the Burgesses, he joined the party of resistance to England. He was by nature a bold and fearless thinker, and when a mere boy he had had engraved on a seal as his motto, “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God,” a principle to which he held throughout his long and eventful life. Jefferson was present when the House of Burgesses passed the resolutions of 1769. He was one of those who signed the agreement not to import goods from England. He was also a member of the House of Burgesses when, in 1773, it established a Committee of Correspondence between Virginia and the other colonies. Some think that the resolutions for such a committee were drawn by Jefferson, though they were offered in the house by his kinsman, Dabney Carr (q.v.). Of this committee Jefferson was a member. He served again in the House of Burgesses in 1774, and was one of those who voted for the resolution appointing a day of fasting and prayer because of the oppressive measures which England had passed against the city of Boston. When the governor dissolved the assembly, Jefferson met with those discontented members who called for a general congress of the colonies and asked the freeholders of Virginia for a convention to consider the state of the colony. To this convention Jefferson was returned by the people of Albemarle. The convention of 1774 was the first extralegal assembly to meet in Virginia. Jefferson was unable to be present, having been taken ill on his way to Williamsburg. However, his influence was felt through a document called “The Summary View of the Rights of British America,” which was intended to be a series of instructions to the Virginia delegates to the First Continental Congress. The instrument marked him as a revolutionist, and as an advocate of independence from England, for in it he distinctly claimed that the colonies had a right to govern themselves without interference from the English Parliament. His views were too radical for the Virginia convention to give them its official stamp.

Jefferson was also elected a member of the convention of 1775, which met at Saint John’s Church, Richmond, and when Patrick Henry by his eloquence carried the colony into open rebellion against the mother country, Jefferson was appointed a member of the committee to devise a plan for organizing the militia of the colony. Shortly after this he became a member of the Second Continental Congress. When he entered that body he was 32 years of age, being one of the youngest three members. Here he was placed on such important committees as those which drafted a paper to explain the rebellious attitude of Massachusetts at Lexington and Concord, and to reply to Lord North’s “Conciliatory Policy.” On each committee he showed such a strong republican tendency that his suggestions were not accepted. The members of the Continental Congress of 1775 were not far-sighted enough to see that independence was the only course. Finally, in the spring of 1776, there came to the Virginia members of Congress instructions from the Virginia convention of 1776 that the united colonies should be declared free and independent States; and accordingly Richard Henry Lee, called the American Cicero, moved that a Declaration of Independence should be adopted. In accordance with the motion, a committee was appointed and the members were elected by ballot. Jefferson’s facility for writing was so well known to the Congress that he received the highest number of votes and was named as chairman of the committee over such men as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston. To him as chairman fell the task of drafting that immortal document which stands in the history of the world as the most revolutionary political paper ever written. On 4 July 1776, the instrument, practically as offered by Jefferson, was unanimously adopted and to it were placed the signatures of all the members of Congress then present, except one. The principles set forth in that document mean a government by and for the people, and show that Jefferson was far ahead of his day; for it is only at the dawn of the 20th century that we are beginning to comprehend the great and universal truths that Jefferson made known to the world. (See Declaration Of Independence). Jefferson retired from Congress in 1776, and, on returning to his native State, entered the Virginia legislature with the hope of revising and modifying her laws so that they might accord with republican government. For three years he served in the House of Delegates. During this time he succeeded in breaking down the laws of primogeniture and entail, in practically disestablishing the English Church and in passing one of the best laws that the. world has ever seen for public education providing an ideal system from the primary school to the university. Through his influence the legislature appointed a committee to revise thoroughly the laws of Virginia. The committee was composed of Edmund Pendleton, George Wythe and Jefferson. After two years the revision, chiefly done by Jefferson, was submitted to the General Assembly, but was not adopted in toto. Finally, however, in 1785, while Jefferson was in France, his faithful friend and political follower, James Madison, secured the passage of nearly all of Jefferson’s work. It was at this time that the legislature approved the famous Statute for Religious Freedom, by which the complete separation of Church and State was accomplished, except the taking away of the glebe lands, a thing which was done in 1802. Jefferson wished even more radical changes in Virginia, such as the equalizing of representation on population instead of having two representatives from each county. He also desired that the suffrage should not be restricted to landowners, but that it should be extended to all men who might be subject to military duty. He likewise advocated more local self-government in the counties and towns of the State. He even went so far as_ to advocate the emancipation and the deportation of the slaves from Virginia. These measures were too radical for the Virginia Assembly, and were rejected. It is interesting to note, however, that all of them have since been accomplished save the deportation of the negroes.

Jefferson was governor of Virginia from June 1779 to June 1781. These were trying times; Virginia was invaded by British troops under Cornwallis, and Jefferson lacked money and resources with which to defend properly the State. His administration has often been criticized, some claiming that he was a mere doctrinaire and not a practical man; but close scrutiny shows that he did all that then lay in his power.

In 1783 Jefferson entered the Congress of the United States. To this body he proposed in 1784 a plan for the government of the Northwest Territory which Virginia so generously gave to the Union. One clause of this plan provided for the prohibition of slavery in that territory after 1800, and for this reason the plan was not adopted. In 1787, however, Congress enacted a bill for the government of the Northwest much like the original draft of Jefferson. From him Congress had the plan of our present decimal monetary system. In 1784 Jefferson was sent to France to join Benjamin Franklin and John Adams in negotiating commercial matters with foreign countries, and in 1785 he succeeded Franklin as our Minister Plenipotentiary to the French court. Through his efforts many unjust impositions on American commerce were removed by the French government.

In October 1789 he returned to America and the following year became Secretary of State in Washington’s Cabinet, in which position he opposed Hamilton (q.v.), who favored the exercise of extensive powers by Congress. Jefferson believed in a real federal relation between the States, and in a restricting of the congressional powers to purely constitutional authorizations. The final line of cleavage came when Congress passed a bill to establish a national bank. Hamilton submitted to Washington a paper asserting that such a step was legal, while Jefferson made a vigorous written protest showing that the bill was unconstitutional. Washington approved the measure, thus accepting Hamilton’s views as correct. The Bank Bill, along with similar congressional acts, caused the establishment of two distinct parties — the Federalist or Loose Construction party, headed by Hamilton, and the Anti-Federalist or Strict Construction party, with Jefferson as its leader. Jefferson’s followers were usually called the Democratic-Republicans. 

In December 1793 Jefferson resigned from the cabinet and returned to Monticello, where he_ remained for four years, studying farming. His estate at this time contained 10,647 acres of land, worked by 154 slaves, and stocked with 34 horses, 5 mules and 249 cattle. Among the negroes he had a sort of industrial (manual-training) school, and taught them to be cabinetmakers, bricklayers, masons and smiths.

From his retirement at Monticello, Jefferson was called to become Vice-President in 1797, a position which he held till 1801. During these four years he bitterly opposed the so-called monarchical tendencies of the Federal party as seen in the Alien and Sedition Acts (q.v.), and he boldly asserted the compact theory of State sovereignty in the Kentucky resolutions of 1799. The Kentucky resolutions and Virginia resolutions of 1798-99 (the latter framed by Madison after a copy of the Kentucky resolutions sent him by Jefferson), made the platform, so to speak, of the Democratic-Republican party which elected Jefferson as President in 1801.

From 4 March 1801 to 4 March 1809 Jefferson was President. He was the first President to be inaugurated in Washington City. He believed in rotation in office, and in pursuance^ of this idea removed a number of Federalists from their positions. His great act, however, was the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France for the sum of $15,000,000. This vast territory was acquired for two reasons:

(1) In order that the United States might have control of the Mississippi River and the port of New Orleans; and (2) that the United States might not be hampered by European countries in the development of a republican form of government. As Secretary of State in Washington’s Cabinet, Jefferson had practically asserted what was afterward known as the Monroe Doctrine, when he claimed that the United States should see that no European countries, other than those already holding possessions, secure a foothold in America. In 1801 Jefferson viewed with alarm the transfer of the Louisiana Territory from Spain to France, for he feared that, with France added to Spain, England and Russia, in control of colonies in America, republican government would have a hard struggle. Jefferson was accused of inconsistency for having sanctioned the Louisiana Purchase (q.v.), for if he had applied the strict construction principle of the Constitution here as in such acts of Congress as the establishment of the national bank, this territory could not have been purchased, there being no provision in the Constitution allowing territorial expansion. But Jefferson’s political sagacity kept him from refusing this great opportunity, and his wish of expansion caused him to advocate earnestly the purchase of Florida from Spain. It was 13 years later before his desire was accomplished. The second administration of Jefferson was not so successful as the first. It opened with a war against the Tripolitan [Muslim] pirates who were plundering American commerce. The outcome of this war was to increase our influence among the nations of the world. The last years of the second term were marked with difficult complications arising out of the Napoleonic wars. Napoleon tried to prevent the United States from trading with England, and England retaliated by attempting to cut off all commercial relations between the United States and France. Many American vessels were seized by both England and France. Adding to this indignity, England claimed the right to search American vessels for English seamen, and an English war vessel actually fired on an American man-of-war, killing three of the crew and wounding 18. Jefferson tried to meet the restrictions on American commerce by the Non-Importation Bill and the Embargo Act. To enforce the measures all of the New England ships would have been shut up in American harbors. The New England merchants preferred .to run the risk of losing their ships to keeping them without traffic; therefore they began to abuse the President and his policy. The result was that Congress felt forced to repeal the Embargo Act. Jefferson always claimed that had the embargo been enforced the United States would have gained its rights without the second war with England in 1812.

On 4 March 1809, Jefferson retired from the White House, and spent the remaining 17 years of his life at Monticello. In these latter days he was known as the “Sage of Monticello,51 and to his home came people of prominence from all parts of the world to consult with him on great questions of politics and economics. Often his housekeeper had to provide beds for 50 guests. The demands which were made on his hospitality were so great that he died a bankrupt. During this period of his life he did all that he could to encourage better methods in agriculture, to reform the government of Virginia and to develop in it, a better system of education. The crowning event of his life was the establishment of the University of Virginia (q.v.) in 1819. He died on 4 July 1826, just 50 years from the day that has made him famous in all history, and by a singular coincidence his old rival and political antagonist, John- Adams, passed away on the same day, Jefferson asked that three things be inscribed on his tomb: ‘Author of the Declaration of Independence; of the Statute for Religious Liberty in Virginia, and Founder of the University of Virginia,’—three acts which have made him famous.

Jefferson stands in history for (1) Republican government and the sovereignty of the people; (2) Opposition to privileged orders of nobility and the entail system; (3) Universal education and local circulating libraries; (4) Separation of Church and State; [Misinterpreted by the Supreme Court & Liberal Democrats] (5) Freedom of thought and speech; (6) Local self-government ; (7) Economy in government and small public debt; (8) A-policy of peace; (9) Political equality and universal suffrage: (10) Strict construction of the Constitution and the sovereignty of the States; (11) Well-trained militia and small standing army; (12) Metallic money, either gold or silver, as a standard, and no paper legal tender; (13) Opposition to bounties and monopolies; (14) Emancipation and deportation of slaves; (15) Expansion of the United States to include Louisiana, Florida, Cuba and Canada; (16) Maintenance of Indian reservations; (17) Judiciary beyond the control of the legislative or executive branches of government; (18) Small navy; (19) Opposition to nepotism; (20) Rotation in office; (21) Opposition to all secession movements, North or South. This review will show that Jefferson probably gave to the world more broad principles of government than any other man. Whenever republican forms of government exist there the name of Jefferson will always be uttered with reverence and respect. Important monuments to Jefferson are as follows: by David d’Angers in the Capitol, Washington, a copy in the New York city-hall, and one at Angers, France; by Gait, at the University of Virginia; by Ezekiel, in Louisville, Ky.; by Hiram Powers, in Hall of Representatives, Washington; by Partridge, at Columbia University; and by Valentine, in Richmond, Va.

ADDRESS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF VIRGINIA AT THE END OF JEFFERSON’S PRESIDENCY

The ” Valedictory Address of the General Assembly of Virginia”, which was agreed to on the 7th of February, 1809, gives a good idea of the high estimation in which Jefferson was held by his party, and the great majority of his countrymen, when he retired from the Presidency. It is as follows:—

“Sir.—The General Assembly of your native State cannot close their session, without acknowledging your services in the office which you are just about to lay down, and bidding you a respectful and affectionate farewell.

“We have to thank you for the model of an administration conducted on the purest principles of republicanism; for pomp and state laid aside; patronage discarded; internal taxes abolished; a host of superfluous officers disbanded; the monarchic maxim that ‘ a national debt is a national blessing’, renounced, and more than thirty-three millions of our debt discharged; the native right to nearly one hundred millions of acres of our national domain extinguished; and, without the guilt or calamities of conquest, a vast and fertile region added to our country, far more extensive than her original possessions, bringing along with it the Mississippi and the port of Orleans, the trade of the West to the Pacific ocean, and in the intrinsic value of the land itself, a source of permanent and almost inexhaustible revenue. These are points in your administration which the historian will not fail to seize, to expand, and teach posterity to dwell upon with delight. Nor will he forget our peace with the civilized world, preserved through a season of uncommon difficulty and trial; the good will cultivated with the unfortunate aborigines of our country, and the civilization humanely extended among them; the lesson taught the inhabitants of the coast of Barbary, that we have the means of chastising their piratical encroachments, and awing them into justice; and that theme, on which, above all others, the historic genius will hang with rapture, the liberty of speech and of the press, preserved inviolate, without which genius and science are given to man in vain.

“In the principles on which you have administered the government, we see only the continuation and maturity of the same virtues and abilities, which drew upon you in your youth the resentment of Dunmore. From the first brilliant and happy moment of your resistance to foreign tyranny, until the present day, we mark with pleasure and with gratitude the same uniform, consistent character, the same warm and devoted attachment to liberty and the Republic, the same Roman love of your country, her rights, her peace, her honor, her prosperity.

“How blessed will be the retirement into which you are about to go! How deservedly blessed will it be! For you carry with you the richest of all rewards, the recollection of a life well spent in the service of your country, and proofs the most decisive, of the love, the gratitude, the veneration of your countrymen.

“That your retirement may be as happy as your life has been virtuous and useful; that our youth may see, in the blissful close of your days, an additional inducement to form themselves on your model, is the devout and earnest prayer of your fellow-citizens who compose the General Assembly of Virginia.”—Rayner’s Life of Jefferson, p. 494.

Reference(s): The Encyclopedia Americana: A Library of Universal Knowledge, Volume 16
The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia

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Thomas Jefferson: Encroaches on Liberty & Rights by Government

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From Thomas Jefferson to Noah Webster, Jr.

Philadelphia Dec. 4. 1790.

Sir

Your favor of Oct. 4, came to my hands on the 20th. of November. Application was made a day or two after to Mr. Dobson for the copies of your essays, which were recieved, and one of them lodged in the office. For that intended for myself be pleased to accept my thanks. I return you the order on Mr. Allen, that on Dobson having been made use of instead of it. I submit to your consideration whether it might not be adviseable to record a second time your right to the Grammatical institutes in order to bring the lodging of the copy in my office within the 6. months made a condition by the law? I have not at this moment an opportunity of turning to the law to see if that may be done: but I suppose it possible that the failure to fulfill the legal condition on the first record might excite objections against the validity of that.

In mentioning me in your essays, and canvassing my opinions, you have done what every man has a right to do, and it is for the good of society that that right should be freely exercised. No republic is more real than that of letters, and I am the last in principles, as I am the least in pretensions to any dictatorship in it. Had I other dispositions, the philosophical and dispassionate spirit with which you have expressed your own opinions in opposition to mine, would still have commanded my approbation. A desire of being set right in your opinion, which I respect too much not to entertain that desire, induces me to hazard to you the following observations. It had become an universal and almost uncontroverted position in the several states, that the purposes of society do not require a surrender of all our rights to our ordinary governors: that there are certain portions of right not necessary to enable them to carry on an effective government, and which experience has nevertheless proved they will be constantly incroaching on, if submitted to them. That there are also certain fences which experience has proved peculiarly efficacious against wrong, and rarely obstructive of right, which yet the governing powers have ever shewn a disposition to weaken and remove. Of the first kind for instance is freedom of religion: of the second, trial by jury, Habeas corpus laws, free presses. These were the settled opinions of all the states, of that of Virginia, of which I was writing, as well as of the others. The others had in consequence delineated these unceded portions of right, and these fences against wrong, which they meant to exempt from the power of their governors, in instruments called declarations of rights and constitutions: and as they did this by Conventions which they appointed for the express purpose of reserving these rights, and of delegating others to their ordinary legislative, executive and judiciary bodies, none of the reserved rights can be touched without resorting to the people to appoint another convention for the express purpose of permitting it. Where the constitutions then have been so formed by Conventions named for this express purpose they are fixed and unalterable but by a Convention or other body to be specially authorised. And they have been so formed by I believe all the states except Virginia. That state concurs in all these opinions, but has run into the wonderful error that her constitution, tho made by the ordinary legislature, cannot yet be altered by the ordinary legislature. I had therefore no occasion to prove to them the expediency of a constitution alterable only by a special convention. Accordingly I have not in my notes advocated that opinion, tho it was and is mine, as it was and is theirs. I take that position as admitted by them: and only proceed to adduce arguments to prove that they were mistaken in supposing their constitution could not be altered by the common legislature. Among other arguments I urge that the Convention which formed the constitution had been chosen merely for ordinary legislation, that they had no higher power than every subsequent legislature was to have, that all their acts are consequently repealable by subsequent legislatures, that their own practice at a subsequent session proved they were of this opinion themselves, that the opinion and practice of several subsequent legislatures had been the same, and so conclude ‘that their constitution is alterable by the common legislature.’ Yet these arguments urged to prove that their constitution is alterable, you cite as if urged to prove that it ought not to be alterable, and you combat them on that ground. An argument which is good to prove one thing, may become ridiculous when exhibited as intended to prove another thing. I will beg the favor of you to look over again the passage in my Notes, and am persuaded you will be sensible that you have misapprehended the object of my arguments, and therefore have combated them on a ground for which they were not intended. My only object in this is the rectification of your own opinion of me, which I repeat that I respect too much to neglect. I have certainly no view of entering into the contest whether it be expedient to delegate unlimited power to our ordinary governors? My opinion is against that expediency. But my occupations do not permit me to undertake to vindicate all my opinions, nor have they importance enough to merit it. It cannot however but weaken my confidence in them when I find them opposed to yours, there being no one who respects the latter more than Sir

Your most obedt. & most humble servt,

Th. Jefferson

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Thomas Jefferson Concerning His Personal Privacy Rights

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Thomas Jefferson to Colonel James Monroe

Monticello, May 20th, 1782

Dear Sir,—I have been gratified with your two favors of the 6th and 11th inst. It gives me pleasure that your county has been wise enough to enlist your talent into their service. I am much obliged by the kind wishes you express of seeing me also in Richmond, and am always mortified when anything is expected from me which I cannot fulfill, and more especially if it relate to the public service. Before I ventured to declare to my countrymen my determination to retire from public employment, I examined well my heart to know whether it were thoroughly cured of every principle of political ambition, whether no lurking particle remained which might leave me uneasy, when reduced within the limits of mere private life. I became satisfied that every fibre of that passion was thoroughly eradicated. I examined also, in other views, my right to withdraw. I considered that I had been thirteen years engaged in public service— that, during that time, I had so totally abandoned all attention to my private affairs as to permit them to run into great disorder and ruin—that I had now a family advanced to years which require my attention and instruction—that, to these, was added the hopeful offspring of a deceased friend, whose memory must be forever dear to me, and who have no other reliance for being rendered useful to themselves or their country—that by a constant sacrifice of time, labor, parental and friendly duties, I had, so far from gaining the affection of my countrymen, which was the only reward I ever asked or could have felt, even lost the small estimation I had before possessed.

That, however I might have comforted myself under the disapprobation of the well-meaning but uninformed people, yet, that of their representatives was a shock on which I had not calculated. That this, indeed, had been followed by an exculpatory declaration. But, in the meantime, I had been suspected in the eyes of the world, without the least hint then or afterwards being made public, which might restrain them from supposing that I stood arraigned for treason of the heart, and not merely weakness of the mind ; and I felt that these injuries, for such they have been since acknowledged, had inflicted a wound on my spirit which will only be cured by the all-healing grave. If reason and inclination unite in justifying my retirement, the laws of my country are equally in favor of it. Whether the State may command the political services of all its members to an indefinite extent, or, if these be among the rights never wholly ceded to the public power, is a question which I do not find expressly decided in England. Obiter dictums on the subject I have indeed met with, but the complexion of the times in which these have dropped would generally answer them. Besides that, this species of authority is not acknowledged in our possession. In this country, however, since the present government has been established, the point has been settled by uniform, pointed and multiplied precedents. Offices of every kind, and given by every power, have been daily and hourly declined and resigned from the Declaration of Independence to this moment. The General Assembly has accepted these without discrimination of office, and without ever questioning them in point of right. If the difference between the office of a delegate and any other could ever have been supposed, yet in the case of Mr. Thompson Mason, who declined the office of delegate, and was permitted so to do by the House, that supposition has been proved to be groundless. But, indeed, no such distinction of offices can be admitted. Reason, and the opinions of the lawyers, putting all on a footing as to this question, and so giving to the delegate the aid of all the precedents of the refusal of other offices. The law then does not warrant the assumption of such a power by the State over its members. For if it does, where is that law ? nor yet does reason. For though I will admit that this does subject every individual, if called on, to an equal tour of political duty, yet it can never go so far as to submit to it his whole existence. If we are made in some degree for others, yet, in a greater, are we made for ourselves. It were contrary to feeling, and indeed ridiculous to suppose that a man had less rights in himself than one of his neighbors, or indeed all of them put together. This would be slavery, and not that liberty which the bill of rights has made inviolable, and for the preservation of which our government has been charged. Nothing could so completely divest us of that liberty as the establishment of the opinion, that the State has a perpetual right to the services of all its members. This, to men of certain ways of thinking, would be to annihilate the blessings of existence, and to contradict the Giver of life, who gave it for happiness and not for wretchedness. And certainly, to such it were better that they had never been born. However, with these, I may think public service and private misery inseparably linked together, I have not the vanity to count myself among those whom the State would think worth oppressing with perpetual service. I have received a sufficient memento to the contrary. I am persuaded that, having hitherto dedicated to them the whole of the active and useful part of my life, I shall be permitted to pass the rest in mental quiet. I hope, too, that I did not mistake modes any more than the matter of right when I preferred a simple act of renunciation, to the taking sanctuary under those disqualifications (provided by the law for other purposes indeed but) affording asylum also for rest to the wearied. I dare say you did not expect by the few words you dropped on the right of renunciation to expose yourself to the fatigue of so long a letter, but I wished you to see that, if I had done wrong, I had been betrayed by a semblance of right at least. I take the liberty of enclosing to you a letter for General Chattellux, for which you will readily find means of conveyance. But I mean to give you more trouble with the one to Pelham, who lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and to ask the favor of you to send it by your servant—express—which I am in hopes may be done without absenting him from your person, but during those hours in which you will be engaged in the house. I am anxious that it should be received immediately. ****** it will give me great pleasure to see you here whenever you can favor us with your company. You will find me still busy, but in lighter occupations. But in these and all others you will find me to retain a due sense of your friendship, and to be, with sincere esteem, dear Sir, Your most obedient and most humble servant. of the 12th instant, renewing my appointment as one of their ministers plenipotentiary for negotiating a peace — and beg leave, through you, to return my sincere thanks to that august body, for the confidence they are pleased to repose in me, and to tender the same to yourself for the obliging manner in which you have notified it. I will employ in this arduous charge, with diligence and integrity, the best of my poor talents, which I am conscious are far short of what it requires. This, I hope, will ensure to me from Congress a kind construction of all my transactions. And it gives me no small pleasure, that my communications will pass through the hands of a gentleman with whom I have acted in the earlier stages of this contest, and whose candor and discernment I had the good fortune then to approve and esteem. Your letter finds me at a distance from home, attending my family under inoculation. This will add to the delay which the arrangements of my particular affairs would necessarily occasion. I shall lose no moment, however, in preparing for my departure, and shall hope to pay my respects to Congress and yourself at sometime between the 20th and the last of December.

I have the honor to be, with very great esteem and respect, dear Sir,

Your most obedient and most humble servant.

Jefferson was replying to the following letter by Monroe, dated

Richmond, 11th of May, 1782.

Dear Sir,—As I so lately wrote you by Mr. Short, and have since daily expected to see you here, I did not propose writing to you till after I should have that pleasure; but as I begin to fear you will not abate that firmness and decision which you have frequently shown in the service of your country, even upon this occasion, and as I have had an opportunity since I last wrote of being better informed of the sentiments of those whom I know you put the greatest value on, I think it my duty to make you acquainted therewith. It is publicly said here, that the people of your country informed you that they had frequently elected you in times of less difficulty and danger than the present to please you; but that now they had called you forth into public office to serve themselves. This is a language which has been often used in my presence ; and you will readily conceive that, as it furnishes those who argue on the fundamental maxims of a Republican government with ample field for declamation, the conclusion has always been, that you should not decline the service of your country. The present is generally conceived to be an important era, which, of course, makes your attendance particularly necessary. And as I have taken the liberty to give you the public opinion and desire upon this occasion, and as I am warmly interested in whatever concerns the public interest or has relation to you, it will be necessary to add, it is earnestly the desire of, dear Sir,

Your sincere friend and obedient servant.

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Resolutions of the freeholders of Albermarle County, Virginia July 26, 1774

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At a Meeting of the Freeholders of the County of Albemarle, assembled in their collective body, at the Court House of the said County, on the 26th of July, 1774:

Resolved, That the inhabitants of the Several States of British America are subject to the laws which they adopted at their first settlement, and to such others as have been since made by their respective Legislatures, duly constituted and appointed with their own consent. That no other Legislature whatever can rightly exercise authority over them; and that these privileges they hold as the common rights of mankind, confirmed by the political constitutions they have respectively assumed, and also by several charters of compact from the Crown.

Resolved, That these their natural and legal rights have in frequent instances been invaded by the Parliament of Great Britain and particularly that they were so by an act lately passed to take away the trade of the inhabitants of the town of Boston, in the province of Massachusetts Bay; that all such assumptions of unlawful power are dangerous to the right of the British empire in general, and should be considered as its common cause, and that we will ever be ready to join with our fellow-subjects in every part of the same, in executing all those rightful powers which God has given us, for the re-establishment and guaranteeing such their constitutional rights, when, where, and by whomsoever invaded.

It is the opinion of this meeting, that the most eligible means of affecting these purposes, will be to put an immediate stop to all imports from Great Britain, (cotton, osnabrigs, striped duffil, medicines, gunpowder, lead, books and printed papers, the necessary tolls and implements for the handicraft arts and manufactures excepted, for a limited term) and to all exports thereto, after the first day of October, which shall be in the year of our Lord, 1775; and immediately to discontinue all commercial intercourse with every part of the British Empire which shall not in like manner break off their commerce with Great Britain.

It is the opinion of this meeting, that we immediately cease to import all commodities from every part of the world, which are subjected by the British Parliament to the payment of duties in America.

It is the opinion of this meeting, that these measures should be pursued until a repeal be obtained of the Act for blocking up the harbour of Boston; of the Acts prohibiting or restraining internal manufactures in America; of the Acts imposing on any commodities duties to be paid in America; and of the Act laying restrictions on the American trade; and that on such repeal it will be reasonable to grant to our brethren of Great Britain such privileges in commerce as may amply compensate their fraternal assistance, past and future.

Resolved, However, that this meeting do submit these their opinions to the Convention of Deputies from the several counties of this Colony, and appointed to be held at Williamsburg on the first day of August next, and also to the General Congress of Deputies from the several American States, when and wheresoever held; and that they will concur in these or any other measures which such convention or such Congress shall adopt as most expedient for the American good; and we do appoint Thomas Jefferson and John Walker our Deputies to act for this county at the said Convention, and instruct them to conform themselves to these our Resolutions and Opinions.

Source: Resolutions Of Albemarle County. Writings of Jefferson; Paul L. Ford Ed., i, 419. (July 26, 1774.) & The Works of Thomas Jefferson Volume 2; By Thomas Jefferson.

 

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Prophetic Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison; Paris Dec 20, 1787

Thomas Jefferson concerning Separation of Powers

FROM THOMAS JEFFERSON TO JAMES MADISON.

Paris, December 20, 1787.

Dear Sir,

My last to you was of October the 8th, by the Count de Moustier. Yours of July the 18th, September the 6th, and October the 25th, were successively received, yesterday, the day before, and three or four days before that. I have only had time to read the letters; the printed papers communicated with them, however interesting, being obliged to lie over till I finish my despatches for the packet, which despatches must go from hence the day after to-morrow. I have much to thank you for, first and most for the cyphered paragraph respecting myself. These little informations are very material towards forming my own decisions. I would be glad even to know when any individual member thinks I have gone wrong in any instance. If I know myself it would not excite ill blood in me, while it would assist to guide my conduct, perhaps, to justify it, and to keep me to my duty alert. I must thank you, too, for the information in Thomas Burk’s case; though you will have found, by a subsequent letter, that I have asked of you a further investigation of that matter. It is to gratify the lady who is at the head of the convent wherein my daughters are, and who, by her attachment and attention to them, lays me under great obligations. I shall hope, therefore, still to receive from you the result of all the further inquiries my second letter had asked. The parcel of rice, which you informed me had miscarried, accompanied my letter to the delegates of South Carolina. Mr. Bourgoin was to be the bearer of both, and both were delivered together into the hands of his relation here, who introduced him to me, and who, at a subsequent moment, undertook to convey them to Mr. Bourgoin. This person was an engraver, particularly recommended to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Hopkinson. Perhaps he may have mislaid the little parcel of rice among his baggage. I am much pleased that the sale of western lands is so successful. I hope they will absorb all the certificates of our domestic debt speedily, in the first place, and that then, offered for cash, they will do the same by our foreign ones.

The season admitting of operations in the Cabinet, and those being in a great measure secret, I have little to fill a letter. I will therefore make up the deficiency by adding a few words on the constitution proposed by our Convention.

I like much the general idea of framing a Government which would go on of itself peaceably, without needing continual recurrence to the State Legislatures. I like the organization of the Government into legislative, judiciary, and executive. I like the power given the Legislature to levy taxes, and for that reason solely, I approve of the greater house being chosen by the people directly. For, though I think a house so chosen, will be very far inferior to the present Congress, will be very illy qualified to legislate for the Union, for foreign nations, &c, yet this evil does not weigh against the good of preserving inviolate the fundamental principle that the people are not to be taxed but by representatives chosen immediately by themselves. I am captivated by the compromise of the opposite claims of the great and little States, of the latter to equal, and the former to proportional influence. I am much pleased, too, with the substitution of the method of voting by persons instead of that of voting by States; and I like the negative given to the Executive, conjointly with a third of either House, though I should have liked it better had the judiciary been associated for that purpose, or invested separately with a similar power. There are other good things of less moment.

I will now tell you what I do not like: First, the omission of a bill of rights, providing clearly and without the aid of sophism for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies, restriction against monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trials by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the land, and not by the laws of nations. To say, as Mr. Wilson does, that a bill of rights was not necessary, because all is reserved in the case of the General Government which is not given, while in the particular ones all is given which is not reserved, might do for the audience to which it was addressed, but it is surely a gratis dictum, the reverse of which might just as well be said; and it is opposed by strong inferences from the body of the instrument, as well as from the omission of the clause of our present Confederation, which had made the reservation in express terms. It was hard to conclude, because there has been a want of uniformity among the States as to the cases triable by jury, because some have been so incautious as to dispense with this mode of trial in certain cases, therefore the more prudent States shall be reduced to the same level of calamity. It would have been much more just and wise to have concluded by the other way, that as most of the States had preserved with jealousy this sacred palladium of liberty, those which had wandered should be brought back to it; and to have established general right rather than general wrong. For I consider all the ill as established which may be established. I have a right to nothing which another has a right to take away; and Congress will have a right to take away trials by jury in all civil cases. Let me add, that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every Government on earth, general or particular, and which no just Government should refuse, or rest on inference. Roman Emperors, the Popes while they were of any importance, the German Emperors till they became hereditary in practice, the Kings of Poland, the Deys of the Ottoman dependencies. It may be said that if elections are to be attended with these disorders, the less frequently they are repeated the better. But experience says, that to free them from disorder they must be rendered less interesting by a necessity of change. No foreign Power, nor domestic party, will waste their blood and money to elect a person who must go out at the end of a short period. The power of removing every fourth year by the vote of the people is a power which they will not exercise, and if they were disposed to exercise it, they would not be permitted. The King of Poland is removable every day by the Diet, but they never remove him. Nor would Russia, the Emperor, Sic, permit them to do it. Smaller objections are, the appeals on matters of fact as well as law, and the binding all persons, legislative, executive, and judiciary, by oath to maintain that Constitution. I do not pretend to decide what would be the best method of procuring the establishment of the manifold good things in this Constitution, and of getting rid of the bad. Whether by adopting it in hopes of future amendments; or, after it shall have been only weighed and canvassed by the people, after seeing the parts they generally dislike and those they generally approve, to say to them: “We see now ‘what you wish. You are willing to give to your Federal Government such and such powers, but you wish at the same time to have ‘such and such fundamental rights secured to you, and certain sources ‘of convulsion taken away. Be it so. Send together your deputies ‘again. Let them establish your fundamental rights by a sacrosanct ‘declaration, and let them pass the parts of the Constitution you ‘have approved. These will give powers to your Federal Government sufficient for your happiness.”

The second feature I dislike, and strongly dislike, is the abandonment, in every instance, of the principle of rotation in office, and most particularly in the case of the President. Reason and experience tell us that the first magistrate will always be reelected, if he may be reelected. He is then an officer for life. This once observed, it becomes of so much consequence to certain nations to have a friend or a foe at the head of our affairs, that they will interfere with money and with arms. A Galloman or an Angloman will be supported by the nation he befriends. If once elected, and at a second or third election out-voted by one or two votes, he will pretend false votes, foul play, hold possession of the reins of Government, be supported by the States voting for him, especially if they be the central ones, lying in a compact body themselves, and separating their opponents; and they will be aided by one nation in Europe, while the majority are aided by another. The election of a President of America, some years hence, will be much more interesting to certain nations of Europe than ever the election of a King of Poland was. Reflect on all the instances in history, ancient and modern, of the elective Monarchies, and say if they do not give foundation for my fears; the Roman Emperors, the Popes while they were of any importance, the German Emperors till they became hereditary in practice, the Kings of Poland, the Deys of the Ottoman dependencies. It may be said that if elections are to be attended with these disorders, the less frequently they are repeated the better. But experience says, that to free them from disorder, they must be rendered less interesting by a necessity of change. No foreign power, nor domestic party, will waste their blood and money to elect a person who must go out at the end of a short period. The power of removing every fourth year by the vote of the people, is a power which they will not exercise, and if the were disposed to exercise it, they would not be permitted. The king of Poland is removeable every day by the Diet, but they never remove him. Nor would Russia, the Emperor, &0. permit them to do it. Smaller objections are, the appeals on matters of fact as well as law; and the binding all persons, legislative, executive, and judiciary, by oath to maintain the constitution. I. do not pretend to decide what would be the best method of procuring the establishment of the manifold good things in this constitution, and of getting rid of the bad. Whether by adopting it in hopes of future amendments; or after it shall have been only weighed and canvassed by the people, after seeing the parts they generally dislike, and those . they generally approve, to say to them, ‘We see now what you wish. You are willing to give to your federal government such and such powers, but you wish, at the same time, to have such and such fundamental rights secured to you, and certain sources of convulsion taken away. Be it so. Send together your deputies again. Let them establish your fundamental rights by a sacro-sancl declaration, and let them pass the parts of the constitution you have approved. These will give powers to your federal government sufficient for your happiness.’

This is what might be said, and would probably produce a speedy, more perfect, and more permanent form of Government. At all events I hope you will not be discouraged from making other trials, if the present one should fail. We are never permitted to despair of the Commonwealth. I have thus told you freely which I like and what I dislike, merely as a matter of curiosity; for I know it is not in my power to offer matter of information to your judgment, which has been formed after hearing and weighing everything which the wisdom of man could offer on these subjects. I own I am not a friend to a very energetic Government. It is always oppressive. It places the governors, indeed, more at ease, at the expense of the people. The late rebellion in Massachusetts has given more alarm than I think it should have done. Calculate that one rebellion in thirteen States in the course of eleven years is but one for each State in a century and a half. No country should be as long without one. Nor will any degree of power in the hands of Government prevent insurrection. In England, where the hand of power is heavier than with us, there are seldom half a dozen years without an insurrection. In France, where it is still heavier, but less despotic, as Montesquieu supposes, than in some other countries, and where there are always two or three hundred thousand men ready to crush insurrections, there have been three in the course of the three years I have been here, in every one of which greater numbers were engaged than in Massachusetts, and a great deal more blood spilt. In Turkey, where the sole nod of the despot is death, insurrections are the events of every day. Compare again the ferocious depredations of their insurgents with the order, the moderation, and the almost self-extinguishment of ours; and say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the Government or information to the people. This last is the most certain and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them. And it requires no very high degree of education to convince them of this. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. After all, it is my principle that the will of the majority should prevail. If they approve the proposed Constitution in all its parts, I shall concur in it cheerfully, in hopes they will amend it whenever they shall find it works wrong. This reliance cannot deceive us as long as we remain virtuous; and I think we shall be so as long as agriculture is our principal object, which will be the case while there remain vacant lands in any part of America. When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become corrupt as in Europe, and go to eating one another as they do there. I have tired you by this time with disquisitions which you have already heard repeated by others, a thousand and a thousand times, and therefore shall only add assurances of the esteem and attachment with which I have the honor to be, &c,

TH: JEFFERSON.

P. S. The instability of our laws is really an immense evil. I think it would be well to provide in our Constitution that there shall always be a twelvemonth between the engrossing a bill and passing it—that it should then be offered to its passage without changing a word; and that if circumstances should be thought to require a speedier passage, it should take two thirds of both Houses instead of a bare majority.

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Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms July 6, 1775

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June 23, 1775, John Rutledge of South Carolina, William Livingston of New Jersey, Franklin, Jay, and Thomas Johnson of Maryland, were appointed & committee ” to draw up a declaration, to be published by General Washington, upon his arrival at the camp before Boston.” The report was brought in the next day, and on the 26th, after debate, was recommitted, and Dickinson and Jefferson added to the committee. A draft prepared by Jefferson being thought by Dickinson too outspoken, the latter prepared a new one, retaining, however, the closing paragraphs as drawn by Jefferson. In this form the declaration was reported June 27, and agreed to July 6.

References.— Text in Journals of Congress (ed. 1800), I., 134-139. The case for the colonies in 1775 is best stated in John Adams’s Novanglus (Works, IV., 11-177), in reply to a series of newspaper articles by Daniel Leonard, over the signature of Massachusettensis. The two series were printed together at Boston in 1819. See also Chamberlain’s John Adams, the Statesman of the Revolution.

A declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, now met in Congress at Philadelphia, setting forth the causes and necessity of their taking up arms.

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 cause.

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 her 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 controul 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 burdens 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.

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 shewn, 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, tho’ 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 inforce 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 intirely prohibited from the fisheries in the seas near their co[a]sts, 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 entreaties, arguments, and eloquence of an illustrious band of the most distinguished peers, and commoners, who nobly and strenously 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 manoeuvre 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 should 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 is 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 esteemed 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 i2th 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 Carelton [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 [From this point the declaration follows Jefferson’s draft.]  are reduced to the alternative of chusing 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 signal instances 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 operation, and possessed of 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 perseverence, employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather then 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 birth-right, 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 fore-fathers 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.

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THOMAS JEFFERSON: VIRGINIA BILL FOR ESTABLISHING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

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Section I. Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested His supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint: that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to exalt it by its influence on reason alone: that the impious presumption of legislature and ruler, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men. have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time: That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness; and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which, proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labors for the instruction of mankind, that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; and therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to office of trust or emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injudiciously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminals who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty, because, he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless, by human interposition, disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

Sect, II. We, the General Assembly of Virginia, do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

Sect. III. And though we well know that this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that, therefore, to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter parsed to repeal the present or to narrow its operations, such act will be an infringement of natural right.—Writings of Jefferson: Paul Ford Ed., ii, 237. (1786.)

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Thomas Jefferson Notes on the Illuminati and Free Masons

Thomas Jefferson concerning Honest Ignorance

Thomas Jefferson concerning Honest Ignorance

—To Bishop James Madison. Writings of Jefferson; Paul Ford Ed., vii, 419. (Philadelphia., Jan. 31, 1800.)

DEAR SIR,

— I have received your favor of the 17th, & communicated it to Mr. Smith. I lately forwarded your letter from Dr. Priestley, endorsed `with a book’; I struck those words through with my pen, because no book had then come. It is now received, & shall be forwarded to Richmond by the first opportunity: but such opportunities are difficult to find; gentlemen going in the stage not liking to take charge of a packet which is to be attended to every time the stage is changed. The best chance will be by some captain of a vessel going round to Richmond. I shall address it to the care of Mr. George Jefferson there.

I have lately by accident got a sight of a single volume (the 3d) of the Abbe Barruel’s Antisocial Conspiracy”, which gives me the first idea I have ever had of what is meant by the Illuminatism against which “Illuminate Morse”, as he is now called, and his ecclesiastical and monarchical associates have been making such a hue and cry. Barruel’s own parts of the book are perfectly the ravings of a Bedlamite. But he quotes largely from Wishaupt whom he considers as the founder of what he calls the order. As you may not have had an opportunity of forming a judgment of this cry of “mad dog”, which has been raised against his doctrines, I will give you the idea I have formed from only an hour s reading of Barruel’s quotations from him, which, you may be sure, arc not the most favorable. Wishaupt seems to be an enthusiastic philanthropist. He is among those (as you know the excellent Price and Priestley also are) who believe in the infinite perfectability of man.

He thinks he may in time be rendered so perfect that he will be able to govern himself in every circumstance, so as to injure none, to do all the good he can, to leave government no occasion to exercise their powers over him, and, of course, to render political government useless. This, you know, is Godwin’s doctrine, and this is what Robinson, Barruel, and Morse had called a conspiracy against all government. Wishaupt believes that to promote this perfection of the human character was the object of Jesus Christ. That his intention was simply to reinstate natural religion, and by diffusing the light of his morality, to teach us to govern ourselves. His precepts are the love of God, and love of our neighbor. And by teaching innocence of conduct, he expected to place men in their natural state of liberty and equality. He says, no one ever laid a surer foundation for liberty than our grand master, Jesus of Nazareth.He believes the Free Masons were originally possessed of the true principles and objects of Christianity, and have still preserved some of them by tradition, but much disfigured. The means he proposes to effect this improvement of human nature are “to enlighten men, to correct their morals and inspire them with benevolence”.

As Wishaupt lived under the tyranny of a despot and priests, he knew that caution was necessary even in spreading information, and the principles of pure morality. He proposed, therefore, to lead the Free Masons to adopt this object, and to make the objects of their institution the diffusion of science and virtue. He proposed to initiate new members into his body by gradations proportioned to his fears of the thunderbolts of tyranny. This has given an air of mystery to his views, was the foundation of his banishment, the subversion of the Masonic Order, and is the color for the ravings against him of Robinson, Barruel, and Morse, whose real fears are that the craft would be endangered by the spreading of information, reason, and natural morality among men.

This subject being new to me, I imagine that if it be so to you also, you may receive the same satisfaction in seeing, which I have had in forming the analysis of it; and I believe you will think with me that if Wishaupt had written here, where no secrecy is necessary in our endeavours to render men wise and virtuous, he would not have thought of any secret machinery for that purpose; as Godwin, if he had written in Germany, might probably also have thought secrecy and mysticism prudent.

I will say nothing to you on the late revolution of France, which is painfully interesting. Perhaps when we know more of the circumstances which gave rise to it, & the direction it will take, Buonaparte, its chief organ, may stand in a better light than at present. I am with great esteem, dear sir,

your affectionate friend.

Th. Jefferson

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John Quincy Adams Speech on the Intent of the Declaration of Independence

John Quincy Adams Speech on the Intent of the Declaration of Independence:

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EDITORS NOTE: If You Can Read This Without Tears Rolling Down Your Cheeks By The Time You Are Finished; You Have Neither The Heart Of, Nor The Spirit Of A True American Patriot!

Isaiah 8:12 Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.

Oration to the Inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport Massachusetts from their Grateful Friend and Fellow Citizen John Quincy Adams; Independence Day: July 4,1837

WHY is it, Friends and Fellow Citizens, that you are here assembled? Why is it, that, entering upon the sixty-second year of our national existence, you have honored with an invitation to address you from this place, a fellow citizen of a former age, bearing in the records of his memory, the warm and vivid affections which attached him, at the distance of a full half century, to your town, and to your forefathers, then the cherished associates of his youthful days? Why is it that, next to the birth day of the Saviour of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day?—And why is it that, among the swarming myriads of our population,. thousands and tens of thousands among us, abstaining, under the dictate of religious principle, from the commemoration of that birth-day of Him, who brought life and immortality to light, yet unite with all their brethren of this community, year after year, in celebrating this, the birth-day of the nation?

Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birth-day of the Saviour? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfilment of the prophecies, announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Saviour and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before? Cast your eyes backwards upon the progress of time, sixty-one years from this day; and in the midst of the horrors and desolations of civil war, you behold an assembly of Planters, Shopkeepers, and Lawyers, the Representatives of the People of thirteen English Colonies, in North America, sitting in the City of Philadelphia.

These fifty-five men, on that day, unanimously adopt and publish to the world, a state paper under the simple title of “A DECLARATION.

The object of this Declaration was two-fold.

First, to proclaim the People of the thirteen United Colonies, one People, and in their name, and by their authority, to dissolve the political bands which had connected them with another People, that is, the People of Great Britain.

Secondly, to assume, in the name of this one People, of the thirteen United Colonies, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station, to which the Laws. of Nature, and of Nature’s God, entitled them.

With regard to the first of these purposes, the Declaration alleges a decent respect to the opinions of mankind, as requiring that the one people, separating themselves from another, should declare the causes, which impel them to the separation.—The specification of these causes, and the conclusion resulting from them, constitute the whole paper.

The Declaration was a manifesto, issued from a decent respect to the opinions of mankind, to justify the People of the North American Union, for their voluntary separation from the People of Great Britain, by alleging the causes which rendered this separation necessary.

The Declaration was, thus far, merely an occasional state paper, issued for a temporary purpose, to justify, in the eyes of the world, a People, in revolt against their acknowledged Sovereign, for renouncing their allegiance to him, and dissolving their political relations with the nation over which he presided.

For the second object of the Declaration, the assumption among the powers of the earth of the separate and equal station, to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitled them, no reason was assigned, — no justification was deemed necessary.

The first and chief purpose of the Declaration of Independence was interesting to those by whom it was issued, to the people, their constituents in whose name it was promulgated, and to the world of mankind to whom it was addressed, only during that period of time, in which the independence of the newly constituted people was contested, by the wager of battle. Six years of War, cruel, unrelenting, merciless War, —War, at once civil and foreign, were waged, testing the firmness and fortitude of the one People, in their inflexible adherence to that separation from the other, which their Representatives in Congress had proclaimed. By the signature of the Preliminary Articles of Peace, on the 30th of November 1782, their warfare was accomplished, and the Spirit of the Lord, with a voice reaching to the latest of future ages, might have exclaimed, like the sublime prophet of Israel,— Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. [Isaiah 40:2]

But, from that day forth, the separation of the one People from the other was a solitary fact in their common history; a mere incident in the progress of human events, not more deserving of special and annual commemoration by one of the separated parts, than by the other. Still less were the causes of the separation subjects for joyous retrospection by either of the parties. — The causes were acts of misgovernment committed by the King and Parliament of Great Britain. “In the exasperation of -the moment they were alleged to be acts of personal tyranny and oppression by the King. George the third was held individually responsible for them all. The real and most culpable oppressor, the British Parliament, was not even named, in the bill of pains and penalties brought against the monarch.—They were described only as “others” combined with him; and, after a recapitulation of all the grievances with which the Colonies had been afflicted by usurped British Legislation, the dreary catalogue was closed by the sentence of unqualified condemnation, that a prince, whose character was thus marked by every act which might define a tyrant, was unworthy to be the ruler of a free people.

The King, thus denounced by a portion of his subjects, casting off their allegiance to his crown, has long since gone to his reward. His reign was long, and disastrous to his people, and his life presents a melancholy picture of the wretchedness of all human grandeur; but we may now, with the candour of impartial history, acknowledge that he was not a tyrant. His personal character was endowed with many estimable qualities. His intentions were good; his disposition benevolent; his integrity unsullied; his domestic virtues exemplary; his religious impressions strong and conscientious; his private morals pure; his spirit munificent, in the promotion of the arts, literature and sciences; and his most fervent wishes devoted to the welfare of his people. But he was born to be a hereditary king, and to exemplify in his life and history the irremediable vices of that political-institution, which substitutes birth-for merit, as the only qualification for attaining the supremacy of power. George the third believed that the Parliament of Great Britain had the right to enact laws for the government of the people of the British Colonies in all cases. An immense majority of the people of the British Islands believed the same. That people were exclusively the constituents of the British House of Commons, where the project of taxing the people of the Colonies for a revenue originated; and where the People of the Colonies were not represented. The purpose of the project was to alleviate the burden of taxation bearing upon the people of Britain, by levying a portion of it upon the people of the Colonies. —At the root of all this there was a plausible theory of sovereignty, and unlimited power in Parliament, conflicting with the vital principle of English Freedom, that taxation and representation are inseparable, and that taxation without representation is a violation of the right of property. Here was a conflict between two first principles of government, resulting from a defect in the British Constitution: the principle that sovereign power in human Government is in its nature unlimited; and the principle that property can lawfully be taxed only with the consent of its owner. Now these two principles, carried out into practice, are utterly irreconcilable with each other. The lawyers of Great Britain held them both to be essential principles of the British Constitution. —In their practical application, the King and Parliament and people of Great Britain, appealed for the right to tax the Colonies to the unlimited and illimitable sovereignty of the Parliament.—The Colonists appealed to the natural right of property, and the articles of the Great Charter. The collision in the application of these two principles was the primitive cause of the severance of the North American Colonies, from the British Empire. The grievances alleged in the Declaration of Independence. were all secondary causes, amply sufficient to justify before God and man the separation itself; and that resolution, to the support of which the fifty-five Representatives of the One People of the United Colonies pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honour, after passing through the fiery ordeal of a six years war, was sanctioned by the God of Battles, and by the unqualified acknowledgment of the defeated adversary.

This, my countrymen, was the first and immediate purpose of the Declaration of Independence. It was to justify before the tribunal of public opinion, throughout the world, the solemn act of separation of the one people from the other.

But this is not the reason for which you are here assembled. The question of right and wrong involved in the resolution of North American Independence was of transcendent importance to those who were actors in the scene. A question of life, of fortune, of fame, of eternal welfare. To you, it is a question of nothing more than historical interest. The separation itself was a painful and distressing event; a measure resorted to by your forefathers with extreme reluctance, and justified by them, in their own eyes, only as a dictate of necessity.— They had gloried in the name of Britons: It was a passport of honour throughout the civilized world. They were now to discard it forever, with all its tender and all its generous sympathies, for a name obscure and unknown, the honest fame of which was to be achieved by the gallantry of their own exploits and the wisdom of their own counsels.

But, With the separation of the one people from the other, was indissolubly connected another event. They had been British Colonies, — distinct and separate subordinate portions of one great community. In the struggle of resistance against one common oppressor, by a moral centripetal impulse they had Spontaneously coalesced into One People. They declare themselves such in express terms by this paper. —The members of the Congress, who signed their names to the Declaration, style themselves the Representatives, not of the separate Colonies, but of the United States of America in Congress assembled. No one Colony is named in the Declaration, nor is there anything on its face, indicating from which of the Colonies, any one of the signers was delegated. They proclaim the separation of one people from another. — They affirm the right, of the People, to institute, alter, and abolish their Government: and their final language is, we do, in the name, and by the 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.” The Declaration was not, that each of the States was separately Free and Independent, but that such was their united condition. And so essential was their union, both in principle and in fact, to their freedom and independence, that, had one of the Colonies seceded from the rest, and undertaken to declare herself free and independent, she could have maintained neither her independence nor her freedom.

And, by this paper, this One People did notify the world of mankind that they thereby did assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station, to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitled them.

This was indeed a great and solemn event. The sublimest of the prophets of antiquity with the voice of inspiration had exclaimed, “Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once?” [Isaiah 66:8] In the two thousand five hundred years, that had elapsed since the days of that prophecy, no such event had occurred. It had never been seen before. In the annals of the human race, then, for- the first time, did one People announce themselves as a member of that great community of the powers, of the earth, acknowledging the obligations and claiming the rights of the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God. The earth was made to bring forth in one day! A Nation was born at once!

Well, indeed, may such a day be commemorated by such a Nation, from year to year! But whether- as a day of festivity and joy, or of humiliation and mourning,—— that, fellow-citizens, — that,

In the various turns of chance below, depends not upon the event itself, but upon its consequences; and after threescore years of existence, not so much upon the responsibilities of those who brought the Nation forth, as upon the moral, political and intellectual character of the present generation,— of yourselves. In the common intercourse of social life, the birth-day of individuals is often held as a yearly festive day by themselves, and their immediate relatives; yet, as early as the age of Solomon, that wisest of men told the people of Jerusalem, that, as a good name was better than precious ointment, so the day of death was better than the day of one’s birth.[ Ecclesiastes7:1]

Are-you then assembled here, my brethren, children of those who declared your National Independence, in sorrow or in joy? In gratitude for blessings enjoyed, or in affliction for blessings lost? In exultation at the energies of your fathers, or in shame and confusion of face at your own degeneracy from their virtues? Forgive the apparent rudeness of these enquiries:—they are not addressed to you under the influence of a doubt what your answer to them will be. You are not here to unite in echoes of mutual gratulation for the separation of your forefathers from their kindred freemen of the British Islands. You are not here even to commemorate the mere accidental incident, that, in the annual revolution of the earth in her orbit round the sun, this was the birth-day of the Nation. You are here, to pause a moment and take breath, in the ceaseless and rapid race of time;—to look back and forward; — to take your point of departure from the ever memorable transactions of the day of which this is the anniversary, and while offering your tribute of thanksgiving to the Creator of all worlds, for the bounties of his Providence lavished upon your fathers and upon you, by the dispensatories of that day, and while recording with filial piety upon your memories, the grateful affections of your darts to the good name, the sufferings, and the services of that age, to turn your final reflections inward upon yourselves, and to say: —These are the glories of a generation past away, —what are the duties which they devolve upon us?

The Declaration of Independence, in announcing to the world of mankind, that the People comprising the thirteen British Colonies on the continent of North America assumed, from that day, as One People, their separate and equal station among the powersof the earth, explicitly unfolded the principles upon which their national association had, by their unanimous consent, and by the mutual pledges of their faith, been formed. It was an association of mutual covenants. Every intelligent individual member of that self-constituted People did, by his representative in Congress, the majority speaking for the whole, and the husband and parent for- the wife and child, bind his and their souls to a promise, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of his intentions, covenanting with all the rest that they would for life and death be faithful members of that community, and bear true allegiance to that Sovereign, upon the principles set forth in that paper. The lives, the fortunes, and the honour, of every free human being forming a part of those Colonies, were pledged, in the face of God and man, to the principles therein promulgated.

My countrymen!—the exposition of these principles will furnish the solution to the-question of the purpose for which you are here assembled.

In recurring to those principles, let us remark,
First, that the People of the thirteen Colonies announced themselves to the world, and solemnly bound themselves, with an appeal to God, to be One People. And this One People, by their Representatives, declared the United Colonies free and independent States.

Secondly, they declared the People, and not the States, to be the only legitimate source of power; and that to the People alone belonged the right to institute, to alter, to abolish, and to re-institute government. And hence it follows, that as the People of the separate Colonies or States formed only parts of the One People assuming their station among the powers of the earth, so the People of no one State could separate from the rest, but by a revolution, similar to that by which the whole People had separated themselves from the People of the British Islands, nor without the violation of that solemn covenant, by which they bound themselves to support and maintain the United Colonies, as free and independent States.

An error of the most dangerous character, more than once threatening the dissolution by violence of the Union itself, has occasionally found countenance and encouragement in several of the States, by an inference not only unwarranted by the language and import of the Declaraion, but subversive of its fundamental principles. This inference is, that because by this paper the United Colonies were declared free and independent States, therefore each of the States, separately, was free, independent and sovereign. The pernicious and fatal malignity of this doctrine consists, not in the mere attribution of sovereignty to the separate States; for within their appropriate functions and boundaries they are sovereign;—but in adopting that very definition of sovereignty, which had bewildered the senses of the British Parliament, and which rent in twain the Empire;—that principle, the resistance to which was the vital spark of the American revolutionary cause, namely, that sovereignty is identical with unlimited and illimitable power.

The origin of this error was of a very early date after the Declaration of Independence, and the infusion of its spirit into the Articles of Confederation, first formed for the government of the Union, was the seed of dissolution sown in the soil of that compact, which palsied all its energies from the day of its birth, and exhibited it to the world only as a monument of impotence and imbecility.

The Declaration did not proclaim the separate States free and independent; much less did it announce them as sovereign States, or affirm that they separately possessed the war-making or the peace-making power. The fact was directly the reverse.

The Declaration was, that the UnitedColonies, forming one People, were free and independent States; that they were absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown; that all political connection, between them and the State of Great Britain, was and ought-to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent States, they had full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things, which independent States may of right do. But all this was affirmed and declared not of the separate, but of the United States. And so far was it from the intention of that Congress, or of the One People whom they represented, to declare that all the powers of sovereignty were possessed by the separate States, that the specification of the several powers of levying war, concluding peace, contracting alliances, and establishing commerce, was obviously introduced as the indication of powers exclusively possessed by the one People of the United States, and not appertaining to the People of each of the separate States. This distinction was indeed indispensable to the necessities of their condition. The Declaration was issued in the midst of a war, commenced by insurrection against their common sovereign, and until then raging as a civil war. Not the insurrection of one of the Colonies; not the insurrection of the organized government of any one of the Colonies; but the insurrection of the People of the Whole thirteen. The insurrection was one. The civil war was one. In constituting themselves one People, it could not possibly be their intention to leave the power of concluding peace to each of the States of which the Union was composed.. The war was waged against all. The war itself had united the inhabitants of the thirteen Colonies into one People. The lyre of Orpheus was the standard of the Union. By the representatives of that one People, and by them alone, could the peace be concluded. Had the people of any one of the States pretended to the right of concluding separate peace, the very fact would have operated as a dismemberment of the Union, and could have been carried into effect only by the return of that portion of the People to the condition of British subjects.

Thirdly, the Declaration of Independence announced the One People, assuming their station among the powers of the earth, as a civilized, religious, and Christian People, —acknowledging themselves bound by the obligations, and claiming the rights, to which they were entitled by the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.

They had formed a subordinate portion of an European Christian nation, in the condition of Colonies. The laws of social intercourse between sovereign communities constitute the laws of nations, all derived from three sources: — the laws of nature, or in other words the dictates of justice; usages, sanctioned by custom; and treaties, or national covenants. Superadded to these, the Christian nations, between themselves, admit, with various latitudes of interpretation, and little consistency of practice, the laws of humanity and mutual benevolence taughtin the gospel of Christ. The European Colonies in America had all been settled by Christian nations; and the first of them, settled before the reformation of Luther, had sought their justification for taking possession of lands inhabited by men of another race, in a grant of authority from the successor of Saint Peter at Rome, for converting the natives of the country to the Christian code of religion and morals. After the reformation, the kings of England, substituting themselves in the place of the Roman Pontiff, as heads of the Church, granted charters for the same benevolent purposes; and as these colonial establishments successively arose, worldly purposes, the spirit of adventure, and religious persecution took their place, together with the conversion of the heathen, among the motives for the European establishments in this Western Hemisphere. Hence had arisen among the colonizing nations, a customary law under which the commerce of all colonial settlements was confined exclusively to the metropolis or mother country. The Declaration of Independence cast off all the shackles of this dependency. The United States of America were no longer Colonies. They were an independent Nation of Christians, recognizing the general principles of the European law of nations.

But to justify their separation from the parent State, it became necessary for them to set forth the wrongs which they had endured. Their colonial condition had been instituted by charters from British kings. These they considered as compacts between the King as their sovereign and them as his subjects. In all these charters, there were stipulations for securing to the colonists the enjoyment of the rights of natural born Englishmen. The attempt to tax them by Act of Parliament was a violation of their charters. And as the Parliament, to sustain their right of taxing the Colonies had appealed to the prerogative of sovereign power, the colonists, to refute that claim, after appealing in vain to their charters, and to the Great Charter of England, were obliged to resort to the natural rights of mankind;—to the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.

And now, my friends and fellow citizens, have we not reached the cause of your assemblage here? Have we not ascended to the source of that deep, intense, and never-fading interest, which, to your fathers, from the day of the issuing of this Declaration,— to you, on this sixty-first anniversary after that event,—and to your children and theirs of the fiftieth generation, —has made and will continue to make it the first and happiest of festive days?

 

In setting forth the justifying causes of their separation from Great Britain, your fathers opened the fountains of the great deep. For the first time since the creation of the world, the act, which constituted a great people, laid the foundation of their government upon the unalterable and eternal principles of human rights.

They were comprised in a few short sentences, and were delivered with the unqualified confidence of self-evident truths. .

“We hold,” says the Declaration, “these truths to be self-evident:—that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among 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 a new government, laying its foundations on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

It is afterwards stated to be the duty of the People, when their governments become incorrigibly oppressive, to throw them off, and to provide new guards for their future security; and it is alleged that such was the condition of the British Colonies at that time, and that they were constrained by necessity to alter their systems of government.

The origin of lawful government among men had formed a subject of profound investigation and of ardent discussion among the philosophers of ancient Greece. The theocratic government of the Hebrews had been founded upon a covenant between God and man; a law, given by the Creator of the world, and solemnly accepted by the people of Israel It derived all its powers, therefore, from the consent of the governed, and gave the sanction of Heaven itself to the principle, that the consent of the governed is the only legitimate source of authority to man over man.

But the history of mankind had never before furnished an example of a government directly and expressly instituted upon this principle. The associations of men, bearing the denomination of the People, had been variously formed, and the term itself was of very indefinite signification. In the most ordinary acceptation of the word, a people, was understood to mean a multitude of human beings united under one supreme government, and one and the same civil polity. But the same term was equally applied to subordinate divisions of the same nation; and the inhabitants of every province, county, city, town, or village, bore the name, as habitually as the whole population of a kingdom or an empire. In the theories of government, it was never imagined that the people of every hamlet or subordinate district of territory should possess the power of constituting themselves an independent State; yet are they justly entitled to the appellation of people, and to exemption from all authority derived from any other source than their own consent, express or implied.

The Declaration of Independence constituted all the inhabitants of European descent in the thirteen English Colonies of North America, one People, with all the attributes of rightful sovereign power. They had, until then, been ruled by thirteen different systems of government; none of them sovereign; but all subordinate to one sovereign, separated from them by the Atlantic Ocean-. The Declaration of Independence altered these systems of government, and transformed these dependant Colonies into united, free, and independent States.

The distribution of the sovereign powers of government, between the body representing the whole People, and the municipal authorities substituted for the colonial governments, was left for after consideration. The People of each Colony, absolved by the People of the whole Union from their allegiance to the British crown, became themselves, upon the principles of the Declaration, the sovereigns to institute and organize new systems of government, to take the place of those which had been abolished by the will of the whole People, as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.

It will be remembered, that, until that time, the whole movement of resistance against the usurpations of the British government had been revolutionary, and therefore irregular. The colonial governments were still under the organization of their charters, except that of Massachusetts-Bay, which had been formally vacated, and the royal government was administered by a military commander and regiments of soldiers. The country was in a state of civil war. The people were in revolt, claiming only the restoration of their violated rights as subjects-of the British king. The members of the Congress had been elected by the Legislative assemblies of the-Colonies, or by self-constituted popular conventions or assemblies, in opposition to the Governors. Their original mission had been to petition, to remonstrate; to disclaim all intention or purpose of independence; to seek, with earnest entreaty, the redress of grievances, and reconciliation with the parent State. They had received no authority, at their first appointment, to declare independence, or to dissolve the political connection between the Colonies-and Great Britain. But they had petitioned once and again, and their petitions had been slighted. They had remonstrated, and their remonstrances had been contemned. They had disclaimed all intention of independence, and their disclaimer had been despised. They had finally recommended to the People to look for their redemption to themselves, and they had been answered by voluntary and spontaneous calls for independence. They declared it, therefore, in the name and by the authority of the People, and their declaration was confirmed from New-Hampshire, to Georgia with one universal shout of approbation.

And never, from that to the present day, has there been one moment of regret, on the part of the People, whom they thus declared independent, at this mighty change of their condition, nor one moment of distrust, of the justice of that declaration. In the mysterious ways of Providence, manifested by the course of human events, the feeble light of reason is often at a loss to discover the Coincidence between the laws of eternal justice, and the decrees of fortune or of fate in the affairs of men; In the corrupted currents of this world, not only is the race not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,[Ecclesiastes 9:11] but the heart is often wrung with anguish at the sight of the just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and of the wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness. [Ecclesiastes 7:15] Far different and happier is the retrospect upon that great and memorable transaction. Every individual, whose name was affixed to that paper, has finished his career upon earth; and who, at this day would not deem it a blessing to have had his name recorded on that list? The act of abolishing the government under which they had lived,—of renouncing and abjuring the allegiance by which they had been bound,—of dethroning their sovereign, and of discarding their country herself,—purified and elevated by the principles which they proclaimed, and by the motives which they promulgated as their stimulants to action,—stands recorded in the annals of the human race, as one among the brightest achievements of human virtue:—applauded on earth, ratified and confirmed by the fiat of Heaven.

The principles, thus triumphantly’ proclaimed and established, were the natural and unalienable rights of man, and the supreme authority of the People, as the only legitimate source of power in the institution of civil government. But let us not mistake the extent, nor turn our eyes from the limitations necessary for the application, of the principles themselves. Who were the People, thus invested by the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, with sovereign powers? And what were the sovereign powers thus vested in the People?

First, the whole free People of the thirteen United British Colonies in North America. The Declaration was their act; prepared by their Representatives; in their name, and by their authority. An act of the most transcendent sovereignty; abolishing the governments of thirteen Colonies; absolving their inhabitants from the bands of their allegiance, and declaring the whole People of the British Islands, theretofore their fellow subjects and countrymen, aliens and foreigners.

Secondly, the free People of each of the thirteen Colonies, thus transformed into united, free, and independent States. Each of these formed a constituent portion of the whole People; and it is obvious that the power acknowledged to be in them could neither be co-extensive, nor inconsistent with, that rightfully exercised by the whole People.

In absolving the People of the thirteen United Colonies from the bands of their allegiance to the British crown, the Congress, representing the whole People, neither did not could absolve them, or any one individual among them, from the obligation of any other contract by which he had been previously bound. They neither did, nor could, for example, release any portion of the People from the duties of private and domestic life. They could not dissolve the relations of husband and wife; of parent and child; of guardian and ward; of master and servant; of partners in trade; of debtor and creditor;—nor by the investment of each of the Colonies with sovereign power could they bestow upon them the power of dissolving any of those relations, or of absolving any one of the individual citizens of the Colony from the fulfillment of all the obligations resulting from them.

The sovereign authority, conferred upon the People of the Colonies by the Declaration of Independence, could not dispense them; nor any individual citizen of them, from the fulfillment of all their moral obligations; for to these they were bound by the laws of Nature’s God; not is there any power upon earth capable of granting absolution from them. The People, who assumed their equal and separate station among the powers of the earth by the laws of Nature’s God, by that very act acknowledged themselves bound to the observance of those laws, and could neither exercise nor confer any power inconsistent with them.

The sovereign authority, conferred by the Declaration of Independence upon the people of each of the Colonies, could not extend to the exercise of any power inconsistent with that Declaration itself. It could not, for example, authorize any one of the United States to conclude a separate peace with Great Britain; to connect itself as a Colony with France, or any other European power; to contract a separate alliance with any other State of the Union; or separately to establish commerce. These are all acts of sovereignty, which the Declaration of Independence affirmed the United States were competent to perform, but which for that very reason were necessarily excluded from the powers of sovereignty conferred upon each of the separate States. The Declaration itself was at once a social compact of the whole People of the Union, embracing thirteen distinct communities united in one, and a manifesto proclaiming themselves to the world of mankind, as one Nation, possessed of all the attributes of sovereign power. But this united sovereignty could not possibly consist with the absolute sovereignty of each of the separate States.

“ That were to make
Strange contradiction, which to God himself
Impossible is held, as argument
Of weakness, not of power.” [John Milton: Paradise Lost]

The position, thus assumed by this one People consisting of thirteen free and independent States, was new in the history of the world. It was complicated and compounded of elements never before believed susceptible of being blended together. The error of the British Parliament, the proximate cause of the Revolution, that sovereignty was in its nature unlimited and illimitable, taught as a fundamental doctrine by all the English lawyers, was too deeply imprinted upon the minds of the lawyers of our own country to be eradicated, even by the civil war, which it had produced. The most celebrated British moralist of the age, Dr. Samuel Johnson, in a controversial tract on the dispute between Britain and her Colonies, had expressly laid down as the basis of his argument, that—“All government is essentially absolute. That in sovereignty there are no gradations. That there may be limited royalty; there may be limited consulship; but there can be no limited government. There must in every society be some power or other from which there is no appeal; which admits no restrictions; which pervades the whole mass of the community; regulates and adjusts all subordination; enacts laws or repeals them; erects or annuls judicatures; extends or contracts privileges; exempts itself from question or control; and bounded only by physical necessity.” [Johnson’s Taxation no Tyranny]

The Declaration of Independence was founded upon the direct reverse of all these propositions. It did not recognize, but implicitly denied, the unlimited nature of sovereignty. By the affirmation that the principal natural rights of mankind are unalienable, it placed them beyond the reach of organized human power; and by affirming that governments are instituted to secure them, and may and ought to be abolished if they become destructive of those ends, they made all government subordinate to the moral supremacy of the People.

The Declaration itself did not even announce the States assovereign, but as united, free and independent, and having power to do all acts and things which independent States may of right do. It acknowledged, therefore, a rule of right, paramount to the power of independent States itself, and virtually disclaimed all power to do wrong. This was a novelty in the moral philosophy of nations, and it is the essential point of difference between the system of government announced in the Declaration of Independence, and those systems which had until then prevailed among men. A moral Ruler of the universe, the Governor and Controller of all human power, is the only unlimited sovereign acknowledged by the Declaration of Independence; and it claims for the United States of America, when assuming their equal station among the nations of the earth only the power, to do all that may be done of right.

Threescore and one years have passed away, since this Declaration, was issued, and we may now judge of the tree by its fruit.. It was a bold and hazardous step, when considered merely as the act of separation of the Colonies from Great Britain, Had the cause in which it was issued failed, it would have subjected every individual who signed it to the pains and penalties of treason; to a cruel and ignominious death. But, inflexible as were the spirits, and intrepid as were the hearts of the patriots, who by this act set at defiance the colossal power of the British Empire, bolder and more intrepid still were the souls, which, at that crisis in human affairs, dared to proclaim the new and fundamental principles upon which their incipient Republic was to be founded. It was an experiment upon the heart of man. All the legislators of the human race, until that day, had laid the foundations of all government among men in power; and hence it was, that, in the maxims of theory, as well as in the practice of nations, sovereignty was held to be unlimited and illimitable. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed another law. A law of resistance against sovereign power, when wielded for oppression. A law ascending the tribunal of the universal lawgiver and judge. A law of right, binding upon nations as well as individuals, upon sovereigns as well as upon subjects. By that law the colonists had resisted their sovereign. By that law, when that resistance had failed to reclaim him to the rule of right, they renounced him, abjured his allegiance, and assumed the exercise of rightful sovereignty themselves. But, in assuming the attributes of sovereign power, they appealed to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of their intentions, and neither claimed nor conferred authority to do anything but of right.

Of the war with Great Britain, by which the independence thus declared was maintained, and of the peace by which it was acknowledged, it is unnecessary to say -more. The war was deeply. distressing and calamitous, and its most instructive lesson was to teach the new confederate Republic the -inestimable value of the blessings of peace. When the peace came, all controversy with Great Britain, with regard to the principles upon which the Declaration of Independence had been issued, was terminated, and ceased forever. The main purpose for which it had been issued was accomplished. No idle exultation of victory was worthy of the holy cause in which it had been achieved. No ungenerous triumph over the defeat of a generous adversary was consistent with the purity of the principles upon which the strife had been maintained. Had that contest furnished the only motives for the celebration of the day, its anniversary should have ceased to be commemorated, and the Fourth of July would thenceforward have passed unnoticed from year to year, scarcely numbered among the dies fasti of the Nation.

But the Declaration of Independence- had- abolished the government of the thirteen British Colonies in North America. A new government was to be instituted in its stead. A task more trying had devolved upon the People of the Union than the defence of their country against foreign armies; a duty more arduous than that of fighting the battles of the Revolution.

The elements and the principles for the formation of the new government were all contained in the Declaration of Independence; but the adjustment of them to the condition of the parties to the compact was a work of time, of reflection, of experience, of calm deliberation, of moral and intellectual exertion; for those elements were far from being homogeneous, and there were circumstances in the condition of the parties, far from conformable to the principles proclaimed. The Declaration had laid the foundation of all civil government, in the unalienable natural rights of individual man, of which it had specifically named three:—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, declaring them to be among others not enumerated. The revolution had been exclusively popular and democratic and the Declaration had announced that the only object of the institution of governments among men was to secure their unalienable rights, and that they derived their just powers from the consent of the governed. The Declaration proclaimed the parties to the compact as one People, composed of united Colonies, thenceforward free and independent States, constrained by- necessity to alter their former systems of government. It would seem necessarily to follow from these elements .and these principles, that the government for the whole People should have been instituted by the whole People, and the government of each of the independent States by the People of that State. But obvious as that conclusion is, it is nevertheless equally true, that it has not been wholly accomplished even to this day.

On, the tenth of May preceding the day of the Declaration, the Congress had adopted a resolution, which may be considered as the herald to that Independence. After its adoption it was considered of such transcendent importance, that a special committee of three members was appointed to prepare a preamble to it. On the fifteenth of May this preamble was reported, adopted, and ordered to be published, with the resolution, which had been adopted on the tenth. The preamble and resolution are in the following words:

“Whereas his Britannic Majesty, in conjunction with the Lords and Commons of Great Britain, has, by a late Act of Parliament, excluded the inhabitants of these United Colonies from the protection of his crown; and whereas no answer whatever to the humble petitions of the Colonies, for redress of grievances and reconciliation with Great Britain, has been or is likely to be given, but the whole course of that kingdom, aided by foreign mercenaries, is to be exerted for the destruction of the good people of these Colonies; and whereas it appears absolutely irreconcilable to reason and good conscience for the people of these Colonies now to take, the oaths and affirmations necessary for the support of any government under the crown of Great Britain, and it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the Said crown should be totally suppressed, and all the powers government exerted under the authority of the people of the Colonies, for the preservation of internal peace, virtue, and good order, as well as for the defence of their lives, liberties, and properties, against the hostile invasions and cruel depredations of their enemies:— Therefore, Resolved,

“That it be recommended to the respective assemblies and conventions of the United Colonies, where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs hath been hitherto established, to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the Representatives of the People, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.”

The People of some of the Colonies had not waited for this recommendation, to assume all the powers of their internal government’ into their own hands. In some of them, the governments constituted by the royal charters were continued without alteration; or with the mere divestment of the portion of the public authority, exercised by the crown. In others, constitutions had been adopted, or were in preparation by representative popular conventions. Massachusetts was represented by a Provincial Congress, elected by the people as the General Court had been under the royal charter, and from that assembly the general Congress had been urgently invoked, for their advice in the formation of a government adapted to the emergency, and unshackled by transatlantic dependence.

The institution of civil government by the authority of the People, in each of the separate Colonies, was thus universally recognized as resulting from the dissolution of their allegiance to the British crown. But, that the union could be cemented and the national powers of government exercised of right, only by a constitution of government emanating from the whole People, was not yet discovered. The powers of the Congress then existing, were revolutionary and undefined; limited by no constitution; responsible to no common superior; dictated by the necessities of a death-struggle for freedom; and embracing all discretionary means to organize and maintain the resistance of the people of all the Colonies against the oppression of the British Parliament. In devising measures forgiving permanence, and, as far as human wisdom could provide, perpetuity, to the Union which had been formed by the common sufferings and dangers of the whole People, they universally concluded that a confederation would suffice; and that a confederation could be instituted by the authority of the States, without the intervention of the People.

On the twenty-first of July, 1775, nearly a year before the Declaration of Independence, a sketch of articles of confederation, and contingently perpetual union, had been presented to Congress by Doctor Franklin, for a confederacy, to be styled the United Colonies of North America. It was proposed that this confederacy should continue until a reconciliation with Great Britain should be effected, and only on failure of such reconciliation, to be perpetual. This project, contemplated only a partnership of Colonies to accomplish their common re-subjugation to the British crown. It made no provision for a community of independent States, and was encumbered with no burden of sovereignty. No further action upon the subject was had by Congress, till the eleventh of June, 1776.

Four days before this, that is, on the seventh of June, certain resolutions respecting independency had been moved and seconded. They were on the next day referred to a committee of the whole, and on Monday, the tenth of June, they were agreed to in the committee of the whole and reported to the Congress.

The first of these resolutions was that of independence.

The second was, that a committee be appointed to prepare and digest the form of a confederation, to be entered into between these Colonies.

The third, that a committee be appointed to prepare a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers.

The consideration of the first resolution, that of independence, was postponed to Monday the first day of July; and, in the meanwhile, that no time should be lost, in case the Congress should agree thereto, it was resolved, that a committee be appointed to prepare at Declaration, to the effect of the resolution.

On the next day, the eleventh of June, the committee to prepare the Declaration of Independence was appointed; and immediately afterwards, the appointment of two other committees was resolved; one to prepare and digest the plan of a confederation, and the other to prepare the plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers.

These committees were appointed on the twelfth of June. The one, to prepare and digest the plan for a confederation, consisted of one member from each Colony. They reported on the twelfth day of July, eight days after the Declaration of Independence, a draught of articles of confederation and perpetual union between the Colonies, naming them all from New-Hampshire to Georgia.

The most remarkable characteristic of this paper is the indiscriminate use of the terms Colonies and States, pervading the whole document, both the words denoting the parties to the confederacy. The title declared a confederacy between Colonies, but the first article of the draught was—“The name of this confederacy shall be the United States of America.” In a passage of the l8th article, it was said,—“ The United States assembled, shall never engage the United Colonies in a war, unless the delegates of nine Colonies freely assent to the same.” The solution to this singularity was that the draught was in preparation before, and reported after, the Declaration of Independence. The principle upon which it was drawn up was, that the separate members of the confederacy should still continue Colonies, and only in their united capacity constitute States. The idea of separate State sovereignty had evidently no part in the composition of this paper. It was not countenanced in the Declaration of Independence; but appears to have been generated in the debates upon this draught of the articles of confederation, between the twelfth of July, and the ensuing twentieth of August, when it was reported by the committee of’ the whole in a new draught, from which the term Colony, as applied to the contracting parties, was carefully and universally excluded. The revised draught, as reported by the committee of the whole, exhibits, in the general tenour of its articles, less of the spirit of union, and more of the separate and sectional feeling, than the draught prepared by the first committee; and far more than the Declaration of Independence. This was, indeed, what must naturally have been expected, in the progress of a debate, involving all the jarring interests and all the latent prejudices of the several contracting parties; each member now considering himself as the representative of a separate and corporate interest, and no longer acting and speaking, as in the Declaration of Independence, in the name and by the authority of the whole People of the Union. Yet in the revised draught itself, reported by the committee of the whole, and therefore exhibiting the deliberate mind of the majority of Congress at that time, there was no assertion of sovereign power as of right intended to be reserved to the separate States. But, in the original draught, reported by the select committee on the twelfth of July, the first words of the second article were, — “The said Colonies unite themselves so as never to be divided by any act whatever.” Precious words!—words, pronounced by the infant Nation, at the instant of her rising from the baptismal font!—words bursting from the hearts and uttered by lips yet glowing with the touch from the coal of the Declaration!—why were ye stricken out at the revisal of the draught, as reported by the committee of the whole?—There was in the closing article, both of the original and of the revised draught, a provision in these words, following a stipulation that the articles of confederation, when ratified, should be observed by the parties — “And the union is to be perpetual.”—Words, which, considered as a mere repetition of the pledge, the sacred pledge given in those first words of the contracting parties in the original draught, — “The said Colonies unite themselves so as never to be divided by any act whatever,”—discover only the intenseness of the spirit of union, with which the draught had been prepared; but which, taken by themselves, and stripped of that precious pledge, given by the personification of the parties announcing their perpetual union to the world, —how cold and lifeless do they sound!— “And the union is to be perpetual!”—as if it was an after-thought, to guard against the conclusion that an union so loosely compacted, was not even intended to be permanent.

The original draught, prepared by the committee e0temporaneously with the preparation, by the other committee, of the Declaration of Independence, was in twenty articles. In the revised draught reported by the committee of the whole on the twentieth of August, the articles were reduced to sixteen. The four articles omitted, were the very grappling hooks of the Union. They secured to the citizens of each State, the rights of native citizens in all the rest; and they conferred upon Congress the power of ascertaining the boundaries of the several States, and of disposing of the public lands which should prove to be beyond them. All these were stricken out of the revised draught. You have seen the mutilation of the second article, which constituted the Union. The third article contained the reserved rights of the several parties to the compact, expressed in the original draught thus:

“Each Colony shall retain and enjoy as much of its present laws, rights, and customs, as it may think fit; and reserves to itself the sole and exclusive regulation and government of its internal police, in all matters that shall not interfere with the articles of this confederation.”

In the revised draught, the first clause was omitted, and the article read thus :

“Each State reserves to itself the sole and exclusive regulation and government of its internal police, in all matters that shall not interfere with the articles of this confederation.”

From the twentieth of August, 1776, to the eighth of April, 1777, although the Congress were in permanent session, without recess but from day to day, no further action upon the revised draught reported by the committee of the whole was had. The interval was the most gloomy and disastrous period of the war. The debates, on the draught of articles reported by the first committee, had evolved and disclosed all the sources of disunion existing between the several sections of the country, aggravated by the personal rivalries, which, between the leading members of a deliberative assembly, animated by the enthusiastic spirit of liberty, could not fail to arise. When, instead of a constitution of government for a whole People, a confederation of independent States was assumed, as the fundamental principle of the permanent union to be organized for the American nation, the centripetal and centrifugal political powers were at once brought into violent conflict with each other. The corporation and the popular spirits assumed opposite and adversary aspects. The federal and anti-federal parties originated. State pride, State prejudice, State jealousy, were soon embodied under the banners of State sovereignty, and while the cause of freedom and independence itself was drooping under the calamities of, war and pestilence, with a pennyless treasury, and an all but disbanded army the Congress of the people had no heart to proceed in the discussion of a confederacy, overrun by a victorious enemy, and on the point, to all external appearance, of being crushed by the wheels of a conqueror’s triumphal car.

On the eighth of April, 1777, the draught reported by the committee of the whole, on the preceding twentieth of August, was ‘nevertheless taken up; and it was resolved that two days in each week should be employed on that subject, until it should be wholly discussed in Congress. The exigencies of the war, however, did not admit the regular execution of this order. The articles were debated only upon six days in the months of April, May, and June, on the twenty-sixth of which month the farther consideration of them was indefinitely postponed.

On the eighteenth of September of that year, the Congress were obliged to withdraw from the city of Philadelphia, possession of which Was immediately afterwards taken by the British army under the command of Sir William Howe. Congress met again on the thirtieth of September, at Yorktown, in the state of Pennsylvania, and there, on the second of October, resumed the consideration of the articles of confederation. From that time to the fifteenth of November, the debates were unremitting. The yeas and nays, of which there had until then been no example, were now taken upon every prominent question submitted for consideration, and the struggle between the party of the States and the party of the People became, from day to day, more vehement and pertinacious. The first question upon which the yeas and nays were called was, that the representation in the Congress of the confederation should be proportional to a ratio of population, which was presented in two several modifications, and rejected in both. The next proposal was, that it should be proportional to the tax or contribution paid by the several States to the public treasury. This was also rejected; and it was finally settled as had been reported by the committee, that each State should have one vote. Then came the question of the proportional contributions of the several States. This involved the primary principle of the Revolution itself, which had been the indissoluble connection between taxation and representation. It follows as a necessary consequence from this, that all just taxation must be proportioned to representation; and here was the first stumbling block of the confederation. State sovereignty, which in the collision of debate had become stiff and intractable, insisted that, in the Congress of the Union, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Virginia and Delaware, should each have one vote and no more. But when the burdens of the confederacy came to be apportioned, this equality could no longer be preserved; a different proportion became indispensable, and a territorial basis was assumed, apportioned to the value ‘of improved land in each State. From the moment that these two questions were thus settled, it might have been foreseen that the confederacy must prove an abortion. Inequality and injustice were at its root. It was inconsistent with itself, and the seeds of its speedy dissolution were sown at its birth.

But the question of the respective contributions of the several States, brought up another and still more formidable cause of discord and collision. What were the several States themselves? What was their extent, and where were their respective boundaries? They claimed their territory by virtue of charters from the British kings, and by cessions from sundry tribes of Indians. But the charters of the kings were grossly inconsistent with one another. The charters had granted lands to several of the States, by lines of latitude from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. Yet by the treaty of peace of February, 1763, between Great Britain and France, the King of Great Britain had agreed that the boundary of the British territories in North America should be the middle of the river Mississippi, from its source to the river Iberville, and thence to the ocean. The British colonial settlements had never been extended westward of the Ohio, and when the peace should come to be concluded, it was exceedingly doubtful what western boundary could be obtained from the assent of Great Britain. Besides which, there were claims of Spain, and a system of policy in France, in no wise encouraging to the expectation of an extended western frontier to the United States.

Here then were collisions of interest between the States narrowly and definitely bounded westward, and the States claiming to the South sea or to the Mississippi, which it was in vain attempted to adjust. In the original draught of the articles of confederation, reported on the twelfth of July, among the powers proposed to be within the exclusive right of the United States assembled, were those of “limiting the bounds of those Colonies, which, by charter, or proclamation, or under any pretence, are said to extend to the South sea; and ascertaining those bounds of any other Colony that appear to be in, determinate: assigning territories for new Colonies, either in lands to be thus separated from Colonies, and heretofore purchased or obtained by the crown of Great Britain of the Indians, or hereafter to be purchased or obtained from them: disposing of all such lands for the general benefit of all the United Colonies: ascertaining boundaries to suchnew Colonies, within which forms of government are to be established on the principles of liberty.” This had been struck out of the revised articles reported by the committee of the whole. A proposition was now made to require of the Legislatures of the several States, a description of their territorial lands, and documentary evidence of their claims, to ascertain their boundaries by the articles of the confederation. This was rejected. Another proposition was, to bestow upon Congress the power to ascertain and fix the western boundary of the States claiming to the South sea, and to dispose of the lands beyond this boundary for the benefit of the Union. This also was rejected; as was a similar proposal with regard to the States claiming to the Mississippi, or to the South sea.

These were all unavailing efforts to restore to the definitive articles of confederation, the provisions concerning the boundaries of the several States which had been reported in the original draught, and struck out of the draught reported by the committee of the whole, on the twentieth of August, 1776. An interval of fourteen months had since elapsed, which seemed rather to have weakened the spirit of union, and to have strengthened the anti-social prejudices, and the lofty pretensions of State sovereignty. The articles containing the grant of powers to Congress, and prescribing restrictions upon those of the States, were fruitful of controversial questions and of litigious passions, which consumed much of the time of Congress till the fifteenth of November, 1777, when the articles of confederation, as finally matured and elaborated, were concluded and sent forth to the State Legislatures for their adoption. They were to take effect only when approved by them all, and ratified with their authority by their Delegates in Congress. It was provided, by one of the articles, that no alteration of them should ever be admitted, unless sanctioned with the same unanimity. There was a solemn promise, inserted in the concluding article, that the articles of confederation should be inviolably observed by every State, and that the Union should be perpetual.

The consummation of the triumph of unlimited State sovereignty over the spirit of union, was seen in the transposition of the second and third of the articles reported by the committees, and the inverted order of their insertion in the articles finally adopted.

The first article in them all gave the name, or as it was at last called, the style, of the confederacy, “The United States of America” The name, by which the nation has ever since been known, and now illustrious among the nations of the earth. The second article, of the plans reported to the Congress by the original committee ,and by the committee of the whole, constituted and declared the Union, in the first project commencing with those most affecting and ever-memorable words,—“ The said Colonies unite themselves so as never to be divided by any act whatever:” In the project reported by the committee of the whole, these words were struck out, but the article still constituted and declared the Union. The third article contained, in both projects, the rights reserved by the respective States; rights of internal legislation and police, in all matters not interfering with the articles of the confederation.

But on the fifteenth of November, 1777, when the partial, exclusive, selfish and jealous spirit of State sovereignty had been fermenting and fretting over the articles, stirring up all the oppositions of the corporate interests and humours of the parties, when the articles came to be concluded, the order of the second and third articles was inverted. The reservation of the rights of the separate States was made to precede the institution of the Union itself. Instead of limiting the reservation to its municipal laws and the regulation and government of their internal police, in all matters not interfering with the articles of the confederation, they ascend the throne of State sovereignty, and make the articles of confederation themselves mere specific exceptions to the general reservation of all the powers of government to themselves. The article was in these words: “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 assembled.” How different from the spirit of the article, which began,—“The said Colonies unite themselves so as never to be divided by any act whatever!” The institution of the Union was now postponed to follow and not to precede the reservations; and cooled into a mere league of friendship and of mutual defence between the States. More than sixteen months of the time of Congress had been absorbed in the preparation of this document. More than three years and four months passed away before its confirmation by the Legislatures of all the States, and no sooner was it ratified, than its utter inefficiency to perform the functions of a government, or even to fulfill the purposes of a confederacy, became apparent to all ! In the Declaration of Independence, the members of Congress who signed it had spoken in the name and by the authority of the People of the Colonies. In the articles of confederation they had sunk into Representatives of the separate States; The genius of unlimited State Sovereignty had usurped the powers which belonged only to the People, and the State Legislatures, and their Representatives had arrogated to themselves the whole constituent power, while they themselves were Representatives only of fragments of the nation. ‘ ‘

The articles of confederation were satisfactory to no one of the States: they were adopted by many of them, after much procrastination, and with great reluctance. The State of Maryland persisted in withholding her ratification, until the question relating to the unsettled lands had been adjusted by cessions of them to the United States, for the benefit of them all, from the States separately claiming them to the South sea, or the Mississippi. The ratification of the articles was completed on the first of March, 1781, and the experiment of a merely confederated Union of the thirteen States commenced. It was the statue of Pygmalion before its animation,—beautiful and lifeless.

And where was the vital spark which was to quicken this marble into life’! It was in the Declaration of Independence. Analyze, at this distance of time, the two documents, with cool and philosophical impartiality, and you will exclaim,—Never, never since the creation of the world, did two state papers, emanating from the same body of men, exhibit more dissimilarity of character, or more conflict of principle! The Declaration, glowing with the spirit of union, speaking with one voice the vindication of one People for the act of separating themselves from another, and ascending to the First Cause, the dispenser of eternal justice, for the foundation of its reasoning:—The articles of confederation, stamped with the features of contention; beginning with niggardly [meager] reservations of corporate rights, and in the grant of powers, seeming to have fallen into the frame of mind described by the sentimental traveller, bargaining for a post chaise, and viewing his conventionist with an eye as if he was going with him to fight a duel !

Yet, let us not hastily charge our fathers with inconsistency“ for these repugnances between their different works. Let us never forget that the jealousy of power is the watchful handmaid to the spirit of freedom. Let the contemplation of these rugged and narrow passes of the mountains first with so much toil and exertion traversed by them, teach us that the smooth surfaces and rapid railways, which have since been opened to us, are but the means furnished to us of arriving by swifter conveyance to a more advanced stage of improvement in our condition. Let the obstacles, which they encountered and surmounted, teach us how much easier it is in morals and politics, as well as in natural philosophy and physics, to pull down than to build up, to demolish than to construct; then, how much more arduous and difficult was their task to form a system of polity for the people whom they ushered into the family of nations, than to separate them from the parent State; and lastly, the gratitude due from us to that Being whose providence watched over, protected, and guided our political infancy, and led our ancestors finally to retrace their steps, to correct their errors, and resort to the whole People of the Union for a constitution of government, emanating from themselves, which might realize that union so feelingly expressed by the first draught of their confederation, so as never to be divided by any act whatever.

The origin and history of this Constitution is doubtless familiar to most of my hearers, and should be held in perpetual remembrance by us all. It was the consummation of the Declaration of Independence. It has given the sanction of half a century’s experience to the principles of that Declaration. The attempt to sanction them by a confederation of sovereign States was made and signally failed. It was five years in coming to an immature birth, and expired after five years of languishing and impotent existence.

On the seventeenth of next September, fifty years will have passed away since the Constitution of the United States was presented to the People for their acceptance. On that day the twenty-fifth biennial Congress, organized by this Constitution, will be in session. And what a happy, what a glorious career have the people passed through in the half century of their and your existence associated under it! When that Constitution was adopted, the States of which it was composed were thirteen in number,—their whole population not exceeding three millions and a half of souls; the extent of territory within their boundary so large that it was believed too unwieldy to be manageable, even under one federative government, but less than one million of square miles ; without revenue; encumbered with a burdensome revolutionary debt, without means of discharging even the annual interest accruing upon it; with no manufactures; with a commerce scarcely less restricted than before the revolutionary war; denied by Spain the privilege of descending the Mississippi; denied by Great Britain the stipulated possession of a line of forts on the Canadian frontier; with a disastrous Indian war at the west; with a deep-laid Spanish intrigue with many of our own citizens, to dismember the Union, and subject to the dominion of Spain the whole valley of the Mississippi; with a Congress, imploring a grant of new powers to enable them to redeem the public faith, answered by a flat refusal, evasive conditions, or silent contempt; with popular insurrection scarcely extinguished in this our own native Commonwealth, and smoking into flame in several others of the States; with an impotent and despised government; a distressed, discontented, discordant people, and the fathers of the revolution burning with shame, and almost sinking into despair of its issue—Fellow citizens of a later generation! You, whose lot it has been to be born in happier times; you, who even now are smarting under a transient cloud intercepting the dazzling sun-shine of your prosperity;—think you that the pencil of fancy has been borrowed to deepen the shades of this dark and desolate picture? Ask of your surviving fathers, cotemporaries of him who now addresses you,—ask of them, whose hospitable mansions often welcomed him to their firesides, when he came in early youth to receive instruction from the gigantic intellect and profound learning of a Parsons,—ask of them, if there be any among you that survive, and they will tell you, that, far from being overcharged, the portraiture of that dismal day is only deficient in the faintness of its colouring and the lack of energy in the painter’s hand. Such was the Condition of this your beloved country after the close of the revolutionary war, under the blast of the desert, in the form of a confederacy; when, wafted, as on the spicy gales of Araby the blest, your Constitution, with WASHINGTON at its head,

“ Came o’er our cars like the sweet South
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour.”

And what, under that Constitution, still the supreme law of the land, is the condition of your country at this hour? Spare me the unwelcome and painful task of adverting to that momentary affliction, visiting you through the errors of your own servants, and the overflowing spring-tides of your fortunes. These afflictions, though not joyous but grievous, are but for a moment, and the remedy for them is in your own hands. But what is the condition of your country,—resting upon foundations, if you retain and transmit to your posterity the spirit of your fathers, firm as the everlasting hills? What, looking beyond the mist of a thickened atmosphere, fleeting as the wind, and which the first breath of a zephyr will dispel, — what is the condition of your country? Is a rapid and steady increase of population, an index to the welfare of a nation? Your numbers are more than twice doubled in the half century since the Constitution was adopted as your fundamental law. Would those of you whose theories cling more closely to the federative element of your government, prefer the multiplication of States, to that of the People, as the standard test of prosperous fortunes? The number of your free and independent States has doubled in the same space of half a century, and your own soil is yet teeming with more. Is extent of territory, and the enlargement of borders, a blessing to a nation? And are you not surfeited [consumed too much of something] with the aggrandizement of your territory? Instead of one million of square miles, have you not more than two? Are not Louisiana and both the Floridas yours? Instead of sharing with Spain and Britain the contested waters of the Mississippi, have you not stretched beyond them westward, bestrided the summits of the Rocky Mountains, and planted your stripes and your stars on the shores of the Pacific ocean? And, as if this were not enough to fill the measure of your greatness, is not half Mexico panting for admission to your Union? Are not the islands of the Western Hemisphere looking with wistful eyes to a participation of your happiness, and a promise of your protection? Have not the holders of the Isthmus of Panama sent messengers of friendly greeting and solicitation to be received as members of your confederation? Is not the most imminent of your dangers that of expanding beyond the possibility of cohesion, even under one federative government;——and of tainting your atmosphere with the pestilence of exotic slavery?

Are the blessings of good government manifested by the enjoyment of liberty, by the security of property, by the freedom of thought, of speech, of action, pervading every portion of the community? Appeal to your own experience my fellow citizens; and, after answering without hesitation or doubt, affirmatively, all these enquiries, save the last,—if, when you come to them, you pause before you answer,—if, within the last five or seven years of your history, ungracious recollections of untoward events crowd upon your memory, and grate upon the feelings appropriate to this consecrated day, let them not disturb the serenity of your enjoyments, or interrupt the harmony of that mutual gratulation, in which you may yet all cordially join. But fix well in your minds, what were the principles first proclaimed by your forefathers, as the only foundations of lawful government upon earth.— Postpone the conclusion, of their application to the requirements of your own duties, till to-morrow;—but then fail not to remember the warnings, while reaping in peace and pleasantness the rewards, of this happy day.

And this, my fellow citizens, or I have mistaken the motives by which you have been actuated, is the purpose for which you are here assembled. It is to enjoy the bounties of heaven for the past, and to prepare for the duties of the future. his to review the principles proclaimed by the founders of your empire; to examine what has been their operation upon your own destinies, and upon the history of mankind; to scrutinize with an observing eye, and a cool, deliberate judgment, your condition at this day; to compare it with that of your fathers on the day which you propose to commemorate; and to discern what portion of their principles has been retained inviolate,—what portion of them has been weakened, impaired, or abandoned; and what portion of them it is your first of duties to retain, to preserve, to redeem, to transmit to your offspring, to be cherished, maintained, and transmitted to their posterity of unnumbered ages to come.

We have consulted the records of the past, and I have appealed to your consciousness of the present; and what is the sound, which they send forth to all the echoes of futurity, but Union; — Union as one People, — Union so as to be divided by no act whatever. We have a sound of modern days, — could it have come from an American voice? —that the value of the Union is to be calculated! — Calculated? By what system of Arithmetic? By what rule of proportion? Calculate the value of maternal tenderness and of filial affection; calculate the value of nuptial vows, of compassion to human suffering, of sympathy with affliction, of piety to God, and of charity to man; calculate the value of all that is precious to the heart, and all that is binding upon the soul; and then you will have the elements with which to calculate the value of the Union. But if cotton or tobacco, rocks or ice, metallic money or mimic paper, are to furnish the measure, the stamp act was the invention of a calculating statesman.

“Great financier! Stupendous calculator .”

And what the result of his system of computation was to the treasury of Great Britain, that will be the final settlement of every member Of this community, who calculates, with the primary numbers of State sovereignty and nullification, the value of the Union.

Our government is a complicated machine. We hold for an inviolable first principle, that the People are the source of all lawful authority upon earth. But we have one People to be governed by a legislative representation of fifteen millions of souls, and twenty-six Peoples, of numbers varying from less than one hundred thousand to more than two millions, governed for their internal police by legislative and executive magistrates of their own choice, and by laws of their own enacting; and all forming in the aggregate the one People as which they are known to the other nations of the civilized world. We have twenty-six States, with governments administered by these separate Legislatures and Executive Chiefs, and represented by equal numbers in the general Senate of the nation. This organization is an anomaly in the history of the world. It is that, which distinguishes us from all other nations ancient and modern; from the simple monarchies and republics of Europe; and from all the confederacies, which have figured in any age upon the face of the globe. The seeds of this complicated machine, were all sown in the Declaration of Independence; and their fruits can never be eradicated but by the dissolution of the Union. The calculators of the value of the Union, who would palm upon you, in the place of this sublime invention, a mere cluster of sovereign confederated States, do but sow the wind to reap the whirlwind. One, lamentable evidence of deep degeneracy from the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, is the countenance, which has been occasionally given, in various parts of the Union, to this-doctrine ; but his consolatory to know that, whenever it has been distinctly disclosed to the people, it has been rejected by them withpointed reprobation. It has, indeed, presented itself in its most malignant form in that portion of the Union, the civilinstitutions of which are most infected with the gangrene of Slavery. The inconsistency of the institution of domestic slavery with the principles of the Declaration of Independence was seen and lamented by all the southern patriots of the Revolution; by no one with deeper and more unalterable conviction, than by the author of the Declaration himself. No charge of insincerity or hypocrisy can be fairly laid to their charge. Never from their lips was heard one syllableof attempt to justify the institution of slavery. They universally considered it as a reproach fastened upon them by the unnatural step-mother country, and they saw that’ before the principles of the Declaration of Independence, slavery, in common with every other mode of oppression, was destined sooner or later to be banished from the earth. Such was the undoubting conviction of Jefferson to his dying day. In the Memoir of his Life, written at the age of seventy-seven, he gave to his countrymen the solemn and emphatic warning, that the day was not distant when they must hear and adopt the general emancipation of their slaves. “Nothing is more certainly written,” said he, “in the book of fate, than that these people are to be free.” [Jefferson’s Writings, Vol. 1, p. 40] My countrymen! it is written in a better volume than the book of fate; it is written in the laws of Nature and of Nature‘s God.

We are now told, indeed, by the learned doctors of the nullification school, that colour operates as a forfeiture of the rights of human nature; that a dark skin turns a man into a chattel; that crispy hair transforms a human being into a four-footed beast. The master-priest informs you, that slavery is consecrated; and sanctified by the Holy Scriptures of the old and new Testament; that Ham was the father of Canaan, and that all his posterity were doomed by his own~ father to be hewers of wood and drawers of water to the descendants of Shem and Japhet; that the native Americans of African descent are the children of Ham, with the curse of Noah still fastened upon them; and the native Americans of European descent are children of Japhet, pure Anglo-Saxon blood, born to command, and to live by the sweat of another’s brow. The master-philosopher teaches you that slavery is no curse, but a blessing!—that Providence— Providence! has so ordered it that this country should be inhabited by two races of men, one born to wield the scourge, and the other to bear the record of its stripes upon his back, one to earn through a toilsome life the other’s bread, and to feed him on a bed of roses; that slavery is the guardian and promoter of wisdom and virtue; that the slave, by labouring for another’s enjoyment, learns disinterestedness, and humility, and to melt with tenderness and affection for his master; that the master, nurtured, clothed, and sheltered by another’s toils, learns to be generous and grateful to the slave, and sometimes to feel for him as a father for his child; that, released from the necessity of supplying his own wants, he acquires opportunity of leisure to improve his mind, to purify his heart, to cultivate his taste; that he has time on his hands to plunge into the depths of philosophy, and to soar to the clear empyrean of seraphic morality. The master-statesman, — ay, the statesman in the land of the Declaration of Independence,—in the halls of national legislation, with the muse of history recording his words as they drop from his lips,—with the colossal figure of American liberty, leaning on a column entwined with the emblem of eternity, over his head,—with the forms of Washington and La Fayette, speaking to hint from the canvass,—turns to the image of the father of his country, and forgetting that the last act of his life was to emancipate his slaves, to bolster the cause of slavery says,— That man was a slaveholder.

My countrymen! These are the tenets of the modem nullification school. Can you wonder that they shrink from the light of free discussion? That they skulk from the grasp of freedom and of truth? Is there among you one who hears me, solicitous above all things for the preservation of the Union so truly dear to us,—of that Union, proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. — of that Union, never to be divided by any act whatever,— and who dreads that the discussion of the merits of slavery will endanger the continuance of the Union? Let him discard his terrors, and be assured that they are no other than the phantom fears of nullification; that while doctrines like these are taught in her schools of philosophy, preached in her pulpits, and avowed in her legislative councils, the free and unrestrained discussion of the rights and wrongs of slavery, far from endangering the union of these States, is the only condition upon which that union can be preserved and perpetuated. What! Are you to be told with one breath, that the transcendent glory of this day consists in the proclamation that all lawful government is founded on the unalienable rights of man, and with the next breath that you must not whisper this truth to the winds, lest they should taint the atmosphere with freedom, and kindle the flame, of insurrection? Are you to bless the earth beneath your feet, because she spurns the footstep of a slave, and then to choke the utterance of your voice, lest the sound of liberty should be re-echoed from the palmetto groves, mingled with the discordant notes of disunion? No! no! Freedom of speech is the only safety Valve, which, under the high pressure of slavery, can preserve your political boiler from a fearful and fatal explosion. Let it be admitted that slavery is an institution of internal police, exclusively subject to the separate jurisdiction of the States where it is cherished as a blessing, or tolerated as an evil as yet irremediable. But let that slavery, which entrenches herself within the walls of her own impregnable fortress, not sally forth to conquest over the domain of freedom. Intrude not beyond the hallowed bounds of oppression ; but if you have by solemn compact doomed your ears to hear the distant clanking of the chain, let not the fetters of the slave be forged afresh upon your own soil; far less permit them to be riveted upon your own feet. Quench not the spirit of freedom. Let it go forth,—not in the panoply of fleshly wisdom, but with the promise of peace, and the voice of persuasion, clad in the whole armour of truth,—conquering and to conquer.

Friends and fellow citizens! I speak to you with the voice as of one risen from the dead. Were I now, as I shortly must be, cold in my grave, and could the sepulchre unbar its gates, and open to me a passage to this desk, devoted to the worship of almighty God, I would repeat the question with which this discourse was introduced: — “ Why are you assembled in this place”?; and one of you would answer me for all, —Because the Declaration of Independence, with the voice of an angel from heaven, “put to his mouth the sounding alchemy,” and proclaimed universal emancipation upon earth! It is not the separation of your forefathers from their kindred race beyond the Atlantic tide. It is not the union of thirteen British Colonies into one People and the entrance of that People upon the theatre, where kingdoms, and empires, and nations are the persons of the drama. It is not that this is the birth-day of the North American Union, the last and noblest offspring of time. It is that the first words uttered by the Genius [God] of our country, in announcing his existence to the world of mankind, was,— Freedom to the slave! Liberty to the captives! Redemption! redemption forever to the race of man, from the yoke of oppression! It is not the work of a day; it is not the labour of an age; it is not the consummation of a century, that we are assembled to commemorate. It is the emancipation of our race. It is the emancipation of man from the thralldom [Intellectually or morally enslaved; Servitude, or Bondage] of man!

And is this the language of enthusiasm? The dream of a distempered fancy’? Is it not rather the voice of inspiration? The language of holy writ? Why is it that the Scriptures, both of the old and new Covenant, teach you upon every page to look forward to the time, when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid? Why is it that six hundred years before the birth of the Redeemer, the sublimest of prophets, with lips touched by the hallowed fire from the hand of God, spake and said,—“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound ?” [Isaiah 61:1] And why is it, that, at the, first dawn of the fulfillment of this prophesy, —at the birth-day of the Saviour in the lowest condition of human existence,—the angel of the Lord came in a flood of supernatural light upon the shepherds, witnesses of the scene and said,—Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people? Why is it, that there was suddenly with that angel, a multitude of the heavenly hosts, praising God, and saying,— Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,—good will toward men? [Luke 2:9, 10, 13, 14]

What are the good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people? The prophet had told you six hundred years before, liberty to the captives,—the opening of the prison to them that are bound—The multitude of the heavenly host pronounced the conclusion, to be shouted hereafter by the universal choir of all intelligent created beings,—Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace,good will toward men.

Fellow citizens! Fellow Christians! Fellow men! Am I speaking to believers in the gospel of peace? To others, I am aware that the capacities of man for self or social improvement are subjects of distrust, or of derision. The sincere believer receives the rapturous promises of the future improvement of his kind, with humble hope and cheering confidence of their final fulfillment. He receives them too, with the admonition of God to his conscience, to contribute himself, by all the aspirations of his heart, and all the faculties of his soul, to their accomplishment. Tell not him of impossibilities, when human improvement is the theme. Nothing can be impossible, which may be effected by human will. See what has been effected! An attentive reader of the history of mankind, whether in the words of inspiration, or in the records of antiquity, or in the memory of his own experience, must perceive that the gradual improvement of his own condition upon earth is the inextinguishable mark of distinction between the animal man, I and every other animated being, with the innumerable multitudes of which every element of this sublunary globe is peopled. And yet, from the earliest records of time, this animal is the only one in the visible creation, who preys upon his kind. The savage man destroys and devours his captive foe. The partially civilized man spares his life, but makes him his slave. In the progress of civilization, both the life and liberty of the enemy vanquished or disarmed are spared; ransoms for prisoners are given and received. Progressing still in the paths to perpetual peace, exchanges are established, and restores the prisoner of war to his country and to the enjoyment of all his rights of property and of person. A custom, first introduced by mutual special convention, grows into a settled rule of the laws of nations, that persons occupied exclusively upon the arts of peace, shall with their property remain wholly unmolested in the conflicts of nations by arms. We ourselves have been bound by solemn engagements with one of the most warlike nations of Europe, to observe this rule, even in the utmost extremes of war; and in one of the most merciless periods of modern times, I have seen, towards the close of the last century, three members of the Society of Friends, with Barclay’s Apology and Penn’s Maxims in their hands, pass, peaceful travellers through the embattled hosts of France and Britain, unharmed, and unmolested, as the three children of Israel in the furnace of Nebuchadnezzar.

War, then, by the common consent and mere will of civilized man, has not only been divested of its most atrocious cruelties, but for multitudes, growing multitude: of individuals, has already been and is abolished. Why should it not be abolished for all? Let it be impressed upon the heart of every one of you,—impress it upon the minds of your children, that this, total abolition of war upon earth, is an improvement in the condition of man, entirely dependant on his own will. He cannot repeal or change the laws of physical nature. He cannot redeem himself from the ills that flesh is heir too; but the ills of war and slavery are all of his own creation. He has but to will, and he effects the cessation of them altogether.

The improvements in the condition of mankind upon: earth have been achieved from time to time by slow progression, sometimes retarded, by long stationary periods, and even by retrograde movements towards primitive barbarism. The invention of the alphabet and of printing are separated from each other by an interval of more than three thousand years. The art of navigation loses its origin in the darkness of antiquity; but the polarity of the magnet was yet undiscovered in the twelfth century of the Christian era; nor, when discovered, was it till three centuries later, that it disclosed to the European man, the continents of North and South America. The discovery of the laws of gravitation, and the still more recent application of the power of steam, have made large additions to the physical powers of man; and the inventions of machinery, within our own memory, have multiplied a thousand fold the capacities of improvement practicable by the agency of a single hand.

It is surely in the order of nature, as well as in the promises of inspiration, that the moral improvement in the condition of man, should keep pace with the multiplication of his physical capacities, comforts, and enjoyments. The mind while exerting its energies in the pursuit of happiness upon matter, cannot remain inactive or powerless to operate upon itself. The mind of the mariner, floating upon the ocean, dives to the bottom of the deep, and ascends to the luminaries of the skies. The useful manufactures exercise and sharpen the ingenuity of the workman; the liberal sciences absorb the silent meditations of the student; the elegant arts soften the temper and refine the taste of the artist; and all in concert contribute to the expansion of the intellect and the purification of the moral sense of our species. But man is a gregarious animal. Association is the second law of his nature, as self-preservation is the first. The most pressing want of association is government, and the government of nature is the patriarchal law, the authority of the parent over his children. With the division of families commences the conflict of interests. Avarice and ambition, jealousy and envy, take possession of the human heart and kindle the flames of war. Then it is that the laws of Nature become perverted, and the ruling passion of man is the destruction of his fellow-creature, man. This is the origin and the character of war, in the first stages of human societies. But war, waged by communities, requires a leader with absolute and uncontrolled command; and hence it is that monarchy and war have one and the same origin, and Nimrod, the mighty hunter before the Lord, was the first king and the first conqueror upon the record of time.

“A mighty hunter, and his prey was man.”

In process of time, when the passions of hatred, and fear, and revenge, have been glutted with the destruction of vanquished enemies,—when mercy claims her tribute from the satiated yet unsatisfied heart, and cupidity whispers that the life of the captive may be turned to useful account to the victor,—the practice of sparing his life on condition of his submission to perpetual slavery was introduced, and that was the condition of the Asiatic nations, and among them of the kingdoms of Israel and of Judah, when the prophesies of Isaiah were delivered. Then it was that this further great improvement in the condition of mankind was announced by the burning lips of the prophet. Then it was that the voice commissioned from Heaven proclaimed good tidings to the meek, mercy to the afflicted, liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.

It is generally admitted by Christians of all denominations, that the fulfillment of this prophesy commenced at the birth of the Redeemer, six hundred years after it was promulgated. That it did so commence was expressly affirmed by Jesus himself, who, on his appearance in his missionary character at Nazareth, we are told by the gospel of Luke, went into the synagogue on the sabbath-day, and stood up to read. And there was delivered to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found this very passage which I have cited. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound! And he closed the book, and gave it again to the minister, and sat down.” [Luke 4:17, 18, 20, 21]

This was the deliberate declaration of the earthly object of his mission. He merely read the passage from the book of Isaiah. He returned the book to the minister, and, without application of what he had read, sat down. But that passage had been written six hundred years before. It was universally understood to refer to the expected Messiah. With what astonishment then must the worshippers in the synagogue of Nazareth have seen him, an unknown stranger, in the prime of manhood, stand up to read; on receiving the book, deliberately select and read that particular passage of the prophet; and without another word, close the volume, return it to the minister, and sit down! The historian adds, “and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue, were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” [How Great and Glorious Our Savior Is…~CJD]

The advent of the Messiah, so long expected, was then self-declared. That day was that scripture fulfilled in their ears. They had heard him, at once reading from the book of the prophet, and speaking in the first person, declaring that the Spirit of the Lord God was upon himself. They heard him give a reason for this effluence of the Spirit of God upon him; because the Lord had anointed him to preach good tidings to the meek. They had heard him expressly affirm that the Lord had sent him to bind up the broken hearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. The prophesy will therefore be fulfilled, not only in the ears, but in the will and in the practice, of mankind. But how many generations of men, how many ages of time, will pass away before its entire and final fulfillment? Alas! more than eighteen hundred years have passed away since the fulfillment of that scripture, which. announced the advent of the Saviour, and the blessed object of his mission. How long—Oh! how long will it be before that object itself shall be accomplished? Not yet are we permitted to go out with joy, and to be led forth with peace. Not yet shall the mountains and the hills break forth before us into singing, and all the trees of the field clap their hands. Not yet shall the fir tree come up instead of the thorn, nor the myrtle-tree instead of the brier. But let no one despair of the final accomplishment of the whole prophesy. Still shall it be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. [Isaiah 55:12, 13] The prediction of the prophet, the self-declaration of the Messiah, and his annunciation of the objects of his mission, have been and are fulfilled, so far as depended upon his own agency. He declared himself anointed to preach good tidings to the meek; and faithfully was that mission performed. He declared himself sent to bind up the broken hearted; and this, too, how faithfully has it been performed! Yes, through all ages since his appearance upon earth, he has preached, and yet preaches, good tidings to the meek. He has bound up, he yet binds up the broken hearted. He said he was sent to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison doors to them that are bound. But the execution of that promise was entrusted to the will of man. Twenty centuries have nearly passed away, and it is yet to be performed. But let no one surrender his Christian faith, that the Lord of creation will, in his own good time, realize a declaration made in his name,—made in words such as were never uttered by the uninspired lips of man, —in words worthy of omnipotence. The progress of the accomplishment of the prophesy is slow. It has baffled the hopes, and disappointed the wishes, of generation after generation of men. Yet, observe well the history of the human family since the birth of the Saviour, and you will see great, remarkable, and progressive approximations towards it. Such is the prevalence, over so large a portion of the race of man, of the doctrines promulgated by Jesus and his apostles,—lessons of peace, of benevolence, of meekness, of brotherly love, of charity,— all utterly incompatible with the ferocious spirit of slavery. Such is the total extirpation of the licentious and romantic religion of the heathen world.

Such is the incontrovertible decline and approaching dissolution of the sensual [inclined to, or preoccupied with the gratification of the physical senses or sexual appetites; carnal; fleshly, lacking moral restraint] and sanguinary [involving or causing much bloodshed] religion of Mahomet. Such is the general substitution of the Christian faith for the Jewish dispensationof the Levitical law. Such is the modern system of the European law of nations, founded upon the laws of Nature, which is gradually reducing the intercourse between sovereign states to an authoritative code of international law. Such is the Wider and Wider expansion of public opinion, already commensurate with the faith of Christendom; holding emperors, and kings, and pontiffs, and republics, responsible before its tribunals, and recalling them from all injustice and all oppression to the standard maxims of Christian benevolence and mercy, always animated with the community of principles promulgated by the Gospel, and armed with a two edged sword, more rapid and consuming than the thunder bolt, by the invention of printing.

But of all the events tending to the blessed accomplishment of the prophesy so often repeated in the book of Isaiah, and re-proclaimed by the multitude of the heavenly host at the birth of the Saviour, there is not one that can claim, since the propagation of the Christian faith, a tenth, nay a hundredth part of the influence of the resolution, adopted on the second day of July, 1776, and promulgated to the world, in the Declaration of Independence, on the fourth of that month, of which this is the sixty-first anniversary. And to prove this has been the theme of my discourse.

And now, friends and fellow citizens, what are the duties thence resulting to yourselves? Need I remind you of them? You feel that they are not to waste in idle festivity the hours of this day,—to your fathers, when they issued their decree, the most solemn hours of their lives. It is because this day is consecrated to the cause of human liberty, that you are here assembled; and if the connection of that cause, with the fulfillment of those clear, specific predictions of the greatest of the Hebrew prophets, re-announced and repeated by the unnumbered voices of the heavenly host, at the birth of the Saviour, has not heretofore been traced and exhibited in the celebrations of this day, may I not hope for your indulgence in presenting to you a new ray of glory in the halo that surrounds the memory of the day of your national independence? Yes; from that day forth shall the nations of the earth hereafter say, with the prophet,— “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace?” [Isaiah 52:7] “From that day forth shall they exclaim, Sing, O heavens, and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains! for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” [Isaiah 49:13, 24, 25] “From that day forth, to the question,— Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive be delivered?”—shall be returned the answer of the prophet,— “But thus saith the Lord—Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for I will contend with him that contends with thee, and I will save thy children.”—“ From that day forth, shall they say, commenced the opening of the last seal of prophetic felicity to the race of man upon earth, when the Lord God shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” [Isaiah 2, 4]

My countrymen! I would anxiously desire, and with a deep sense of responsibility, bearing upon myself and upon you, to speak to the hearts of you all. Are there among you those, doubtful of the hopes or distrustful of the promises of the Gospel? Are there among you those, who disbelieve them altogether? Bear with me one moment longer. Let us admit, for a moment, that the prophesies of Isaiah have no reference to the advent of the Saviour;—let us admit that the passage in the Gospel of Luke, in which he so directly makes the application of this particular prophesy to himself, is an interpolation [interjection];—go further, and if, without losing your reverence for the God to whom your fathers, in their Declaration of Independence, made their appeal, you can shake off all belief, both of the prophesies and revelations of the Scriptures;—suppose them all to be fables of human invention; yet say with me, that thousands of years have passed away since these volumes were composed, and have been believed by the most enlightened of mankind as the oracles of truth;—say, that they contain the high and cheering promise, as from the voice of God himself, of that specific future improvement in the condition of man, which consists in the extirpation of slavery and war from the face of the earth. Sweep from the pages of history all the testimonies of the Scriptures, and believe no more in the prophesies of Isaiah, than in those of the Cumaean Sybil [a prophetess, asked Apollo for eternal life and he granted the boon]; but acknowledge that in both there is shadowed forth a future improvement in the condition of our race,—an improvement of good tidings to the meek; of comfort to the broken hearted; of deliverance to the captives; of the opening of the prison to them that are bound. Turn then your faces and raise your hands to God, and pray that, in the merciful dispensations of his providence, he would hasten that happy time. Turn to yourselves, and, in the Declaration of Independence of your fathers, read the command to you, by the unremitting exercise of your highest energies, to hasten, yourselves, its consummation!

ON the arrival of Mr. ADAMS in Newbury, on the day previous to the celebration, he was met by the Committee of Arrangements, accompanied by a large body of the citizens of Newbury and Newburyport, in behalf of whom he was addressed by Samuel T. Deford, Esq. as Chairman of the Committee of Arrangements, to the following effect:

Sir, — In behalf of the citizens of Newburyport, and at the request, also of the municipal authorities of the ancient town of Newbury, I congratulate you on your safe arrival amongst us. You see, in the glad countenances around you, a proof of the joy you confer upon your friends, who are present on this occasion, and also evidence of anticipated happiness, when they will soon behold you surrounded by numerous friends, who are impatient to greet you on your entrance into Newburyport.

To one, who, like yourself, has resided in early life amid these scenes, and those which you are now again about to witness after an absence of many years, —the recollection of incidents that may have laid their impressions too deep in your memory even now to be forgotten, — the remembrance of friends and acquaintances, who were of those days, but who now are passed away, the joys and the sorrows that may crowd upon your feelings on recurring to that period, will find response in the hearts of many, who, as I have said before, are ready to greet you.

Our friends may die, and those we love may leave us ; but still our fields are green and beautiful; and the Old Town bills will yet endure; and the Merrimack, free and fair, rolls on its wonted course, bearing its tribute of waters to the Ocean, as you may almost see but yonder, —to that Ocean, for whose rights of navigation and for whose free use your country owes you so much.

I again present to you the cordial welcome of your numerous friends, in whose behalf I act.

To which Mr Adams replied as follows: —

MR. CHAIRMAN — GENTLEMEN OF THE COMMITTEE OF ARRANGEMENTS: — When the heart is full, the power of expression is often found to fail, under the weight of feelings too intense to find utterance in words. So it is with me at. this moment: and if I am unable to express to you the sensibility with which I am affected, by the kindness with which the citizens of Newburyport, and you in their behalf, are pleased to welcome me to this place, endeared to me by the indelible impressions of [my] early youth, but from which the destinies of a long and wandering life have since kept me many years removed, I pray you to be assured that it is not the deep feeling of gratitude, but the power to express it, that is wanting.

The present season completes fifty years, since I came as a student at law, to reside for a term of three years at Newburyport. The beautiful natural scenery around me is familiar to my memory now, as it was to my frequent visitation them—The face of nature has so little changed, that, standing on this spot, I seem to fill the long interval of time since elapsed, as were it but one day;—but I look around me, and the faces are no longer the same.

Yet, this numerous assemblage of citizens, yon cavalcade of youthful horsemen, those cheerful and lively countenances of children before us, most forcibly remind me of a similar scene, of which, during my residence at Newburyport, I was on the same spot a witness, and a participator;—I mean, the reception of the first President of the United States, upon his visit, on the first year of his Presidency, to this place. As an inhabitant of Newburyport, I was one of those who then greeted him with a hearty welcome; and nothing is more deeply fixed in my memory than the procession of children of both sexes, through which he passed, upon his entrance into the town.

How naturally the question arises to my mind, where are now those children? And how affecting is the thought, surely more than a conjecture, that I see before me the representatives of many of them in their grand-children, now in my eye. Little did I then imagine that the day would come, when I should witness so delightful a repetition of the scene.

Gentlemen, I can but repeat the request, that if I am unable to express, in adequate language, my sense of the kindness of the citizens of Newburyport on the present occasion, you would attribute the deficiency, not to the emotions of the heart, but to the utterance of them in words; and if, as you have been pleased to intimate, it has been, in the course of my public life, in any station which I have occupied, my good fortune to render to the inhabitants of Newburyport, or to any one of them any acceptable service, their recollection of it is more than an adequate reward to me, and could my most earnest wishes he realized, they would be to have multiplied such services an hundred and a thousand fold.

LETTER addressed by MR ADAMS to the Chairman of the Committee of Arrangements:

Quincy, July 17th, 1837.

DEAR Sir, — I enclose herewith the manuscript of the Oration, prepared for delivery on the 4th instant, at Newburyport, in compliance with the invitation of the inhabitants of that town. The parts of it, omitted in the delivery, are pencil marked in the margin; the omissions were for the single purpose of sparing the time and patience of my respected auditory. The omitted parts are all cumulative illustrations of the double argument of the Discourse,— the principle of perpetual Union, inculcated by the Declaration of Independence, and the inseparable connection of the doctrines promulgated by that paper, with the progress and final consummation of the ancient prophesies and gospel promises of the Christian faith. The publication of the whole would be most satisfactory to me; but if the Committee of Arrangements would prefer the publication of only the parts delivered, the pencil marks will indicate them to the printer. I place the whole at your disposal.

I shall, for the remainder of my days, consider this visit to Newburyport as one of the most memorable incidents of my life. The mere circumstance of revisiting, after an interval of fifty years, the scene of my abode, at the time of life at once of the expansion of the mind, and of the deepest impressions upon the heart, was itself inexpressibly interesting. The kindness and cordiality of your reception, so congenial to that which I had ever experienced from the forefathers of the present town, linking, with a pleasing and a tender melancholy, the enjoyments of the passing day with most delightful’ associations of a departed age, will dwell upon my memory, while she holds a seat in my bosom. Circumstances in my own life have rendered the anniversary of our independence, to me, a day, not only of festive enjoyment, but of awful solemnity; for it is also the anniversary of my father’s death. Drawing, myself, so rapidly to the close of my own career, it will not be surprising that the impressions, under which the enclosed discourse was written, were of a religious character; and entertaining sincerely the opinion, that the continual appeal, in the Declaration of Independence, to a rule of right transcending all human power, and that the principles irresistibly flowing from the rule of right, or of eternal justice, must lead to the extinction of slavery and of war from the earth.

I deem it fortunate to have had the opportunity afforded by this invitation of the inhabitants of Newburyport, of disclosing to my countrymen, so shortly before I shall cease to be with them, not only my own adherence to the principles of the Declaration, but my firm belief that the hand of Providence [Almighty God] was in it, pointing to the fulfillment of the ecstatic promises of the Old Testament, and of the good tidings which shall be to all people, so solemnly promised in the New.

With the renewed expression of my warmest thanks to you, to all the members of the Committee of Arrangements, and to all the inhabitants of the town, I remain, dear Sir, your friend and servant, John Quincy Adams.
Copyright © 2014 © 2015 TeaPartyEdu http://teapartyedu.net Foundation Truths http://captainjamesdavis.net The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

An Alphabet of Lesson for Youth: The New England Primer 1777

the-new-england-primerThe New England Primer was the first textbook ever printed in America. Printed in 1690 in Boston, it was used for two hundred years in America‘s schools. In addition to teaching reading, writing and arithmetic, there was also a moral, biblical and spiritual dimension to its content. Here are some examples of how the alphabet was taught:

[A] Wise son maketh a glad father, but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

[B]etter is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure & trouble therewith.

[C]ome unto Christ all ye that labor and are heavy laden and he will give you rest.

[D]o not the abominable thing which I hate saith the Lord.

[E]xcept a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

[F]oolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

[G]odliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and that which is to come.

[H]oliness becomes GOD’s house for ever.

[I]t is good for me to draw near unto GOD.

[K]eep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.

[L]iars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.

[M]any are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivereth them out of them all.

[N]ow is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.

[O]ut of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

[P]ray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which sees in secret shall reward thee openly.

[Q]uit you like men, be strong, stand fast in the faith.

[R]emember thy Creator in the days of thy youth.

[S]eest thou a man wise in his own conceit, there is more hope of a fool than of him.

[T]rust in God at all times, ye people, pour out your hearts before him.

[U]pon the wicked, God shall rain an horrible tempest.

[W]oe to the wicked, it shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him.

e[X]hort one another daily while it is called to day, lest any of you be hardened thro’ the deceitfulness of sin.

[Y]oung men ye have overcome the wicked one.

[Z]eal hath consumed me, because thy enemies have forgotten the word of God.
Copyright © 2014 © 2015 TeaPartyEdu http://teapartyedu.net Foundation Truths http://captainjamesdavis.net The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

Daniel Webster: The Dignity and Importance of History; A Prophetic Warning

Daniel Webster: The Dignity and Importance of History; February 23, 1852

DanielWebsterQuotesHistory

if we and our posterity shall be true to the Christian religion, if we and they shall live always in the fear of God, and shall respect His commandments, if we and they shall maintain just moral sentiments and such conscientious convictions of duty as shall control the heart and life, we may have the highest hopes of the future fortunes of our country; and if we maintain those institutions of government and that political union, exceeding all praise as much as it exceeds all former examples of political associations, we may be sure of one thing… It will have no decline and fall. It will go on prospering and to prosper. But if we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity. Should that catastrophe happen, let it have no history! Let the horrible narrative never be written! Let its fate be like that of the lost books of Livy, which no human eye shall ever read, or the missing Pleiad, of which no man can ever know more than that it is lost, and lost forever!”

NOTE: This is long, I urge you to read the complete speech, however if you do not wish to, I would encourage you to scroll down to In the history of the United States there are three epochs.” and read from there.

An address delivered before the New York Historical Society. Printed from the pamphlet report: New York: Press of the Historical Society, MDCCCLII. It contains the following Dedication:

“I dedicate this address to Hon. Luther Bradish, President of the New York Historical Society, as a proof of private friendship and public regard.”

The object of your association, gentlemen, like that of others of similar character, is highly important Historical societies are auxiliary to historical compositions. They collect the materials from which the great narrative of events is, in due time, to be framed. The transactions of public bodies, local histories, memoirs of all kinds, statistics, laws, ordinances, public debates and discussions, works of periodical literature, and the public journals, whether of political events, of commerce, literature, or the arts, all find their places in the collections of historical societies. But these collections are not history; they are only elements of history. History is a higher name, and imports literary productions of the first order.

It is presumptuous in me, whose labors and studies have been so long devoted to other objects, to speak in the presence of those whom I see before me, of the dignity and importance of history, in its just sense; and yet I find pleasure in breaking in upon the course of daily pursuits, and indulging for a time in reflections upon topics of literature, and in the remembrance of the great examples of historic art.

Well written history must always be the result of genius and taste, as well as of research and study. It stands next to epic poetry, among the productions of the human mind. If it requires less of invention than that, it is not behind it in dignity and importance. The province of the epic is the poetical narrative of real or supposed events, and the representation of real, or at least natural, characters; and history, in its noblest examples, is an account of occurrences in which great events are commemorated, and distinguished men appear as agents and actors. Epic poetry and the drama are but narratives, the former partly, and the latter wholly, in the form of dialogue; but their characters and personages are usually, in part at least, the creations of the imagination.

Severe history sometimes assumes the dialogue, or dramatic form, and, without departing from truth, is embellished by supposed colloquies or speeches, as in the productions of that great master, Titus Livius, or that greater master still, Thucydides.

The drawing of characters, consistent with general truth and fidelity, is no violation of historical accuracy; it is only an illustration or an ornament.

When Livy ascribes an appropriate speech to one of his historical personages, it is only as if he had portrayed the same character in language professedly his own. Lord Clarendon’s presentation, in his own words, of the character of Lord Falkland, one of the highest and most successful efforts of personal description, is hardly different from what it would have been, if he had put into the mouth of Lord Falkland a speech exhibiting the same qualities of the mind and the heart, the same opinions, and the same attachments. Homer describes the actions of personages which, if not real, are so imagined as to be conformable to the general characteristics of men in the heroic ages. If his relation be not historically true, it is such, nevertheless, as, making due allowance for poetical embellishment, might have been true. And in Milton’s great epic, which is almost entirely made up of narratives and speeches, there is nothing repugnant to the general conception which we form of the characters of those whose sentiments and conduct he portrays.

But history, while it illustrates and adorns, confines itself to facts, and to the relation of actual events. It is not far from truth to say, that well written and classic history is the epic of real life. It places the actions of men in an attractive and interesting light. Rejecting what is improper and superfluous, it fills its picture with real, just, and well drawn images.

The dignity of history consists in reciting events with truth and accuracy, and in presenting human agents and their actions in an interesting and instructive form. The first element in history, therefore, is truthfulness; and this truthfulness must be displayed in a concrete form. Classical history is not a memoir. It is not a crude collection of acts, occurrences, and dates. It adopts nothing that is not true; but it does not embrace all minor truths and all minor transactions. It is a composition, a production, which has unity of design, like a work of statuary or of painting, and keeps constantly in view one great end or result. Its parts, therefore, are to be properly adjusted and well proportioned. The historian is an artist, as true to fact as other artists are to nature, and, though he may sometimes embellish, he never misrepresents; he may occasionally, perhaps, color too highly, but the truth is still visible through the lights and shades. This unity of design seems essential to all great productions. With all the variety of the Iliad, Homer had the wrath of Achilles, and its consequences, always before him; when he sang of the exploits of other heroes, they were silently subordinated to those of the son of Thetis. Still more remarkable is the unity in variety of the Odyssey, the character of which is much more complicated; but all the parts are artfully adapted to each other, and they have a common centre of interest and action, the great end being the restoration of Ulysses to his native Ithaca. Virgil, in the Aeneid, sang of nothing but the man, and his deeds, who brought the Trojan gods to Italy, and laid the foundation of the walls of imperial Rome; and Milton of nothing, but

“Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world and all our woes.”

And the best historical productions of ancient and of modern times have been written with equal fidelity to one leading thought or purpose.

It has been said by Lord Bolingbroke, that “History is Philosophy teaching by example;” and, before Bolingbroke,
Shakspeare has said:

“There is a history in all men’s lives,
Figuring the nature of the times deceas’d;
The which observ’d, a man may prophesy,
With a near aim, of the main chance of things
As yet not come to life, which in their seeds,
And weak beginnings, lie entreasured.
Such things become the hatch and brood of time;
And, by the necessary form of this,
King Richard might create a perfect guess,
That great Northumberland, then false to him,
Would, of that seed, grow to a greater falseness,
Which should not find a ground to root upon,
Unless on you.
Are these things, then, necessities?
Then let us meet them like necessities.”

And a wiser man than either Bolingbroke or Shakspeare, has declared:

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

These sayings are all just, and they proceed upon the idea that the essential characteristics of human nature are the same everywhere, and in all ages.

This, doubtless, is true; and so far as history presents the general qualities and propensities of human nature, it does teach by example. Bolingbroke adds, with remarkable power of expression, that ” the school of example is the world: and the masters of this school are history and experience.”

But the character of man varies so much, from age to age, both in his individual and collective capacity; there comes such a change of circumstances, so many new objects of desire and aversion, and so many new and powerful motives spring up in his mind, that the conduct of men, in one age, or under one state of circumstances, is no sure and precise indication of what will be their conduct, when times and circumstances alter; so that the example of the past, before it can become a useful instructor to the present, must be reduced to elementary principles in human nature, freed from the influence of conditions which were temporary and have changed, and applied to the same principles, under new relations, with a different degree of knowledge, and the impulses arising from the altered state of things. A savage has the passions of ambition, revenge, love, and glory; and ambition and love, revenge and the hope of renown, are also elements in the character of civilized life; but the development of these passions, in a state of barbarism, hardly instructs us as to the manner in which they will exhibit themselves in a cultivated period of society.

And so it is of religious sentiment and feeling. I believe man is everywhere, more or less, a religious being; that is to say, in all countries, and at all times, he feels a tie which connects him with an Invisible Power.

It is true indeed, and it is a remarkable fact in the history of mankind, that in the very lowest stage of human existence, and in the opposite extreme of high civilization, surrounded with everything luxurious in life, and with all the means of human knowledge, the idea of an unseen and supreme Governor of the Universe is most likely to be equally doubted or disregarded.

The lowest stage of human culture, that of mere savage existence, and the intellectual and refined atheism, exhibited in our own day, seem to be strangely coincident in this respect; though it is from opposite causes and influences that men, in these so different conditions, are led to doubt or deny the existence of a Supreme Power. But both these are exceptions to the general current of human thought and to the general conviction of our nature.

Man is naturally religious; but then his religion takes its character from his condition, his degree of knowledge, and his association; and thus it is true that the religious feeling, which operates in one state of society, and under one degree of light and knowledge, is not a safe example to prove its probable influence under circumstances essentially different. So that, when we regard history as our instructor, in the development of the perceptions and character of men, and in the motives which actuate them, there comes a concomitant rush of altered circumstances, which are all to be considered and regarded.

History, therefore, is an example which may teach us the general principles of human nature, but does not instruct us greatly in its various possible developments.

What Dr. Johnson said, in his comparison of Dryden and Pope, is not inapplicable to this topic, “Dryden,” said he, “knew more of man in his general nature, and Pope in his local manners.” Dryden’s sentiments, therefore, are the exemplar of human nature in general, Pope’s of human nature as modified in particular relations and circumstances; and what is true of individual man, in this respect, is true, also, of society and government.

The love of liberty, for instance, is a passion or sentiment which existed in intense force in the Grecian Republics, and in the better ages of Rome. It exists now, chiefly, and first of all, on that portion of the Western Continent in which we live. Here, it burns with heat and with splendor beyond all Grecian and all Roman example. It is not a light in the temple of Minerva, it is not the vestal flame of Rome; it is the light of the sun, it is the illumination of all the constellations. Earth, air, and ocean, and all the heavens above us, are filled with its glorious shining; and, although the passion and the sentiment are the same, yet he who would reason from Grecian liberty, or from Roman freedom, to our intelligent American liberty, would be holding a farthing candle to the orb of day.

The magnificent funeral oration of Pericles, over those who fell in the Peloponnesian War, is one of the grandest productions of antiquity. It contains sentiments and excites emotions congenial to the minds of all lovers of liberty, in all regions and at all times. It exhibits a strong and ardent attachment to country, which true patriots always feel; an undaunted courage in its defence, and willingness to pledge and hazard all, for the maintenance of liberty. I cannot deny myself the pleasure of quoting a few passages from that celebrated address, in a translation which I think much closer to the original Greek than that of Smith:

Mr. Webster here quoted at some length from the oration referred to, and then proceeded as follows:

How terse, how Doric, how well considered is the style of this unsurpassed oration! Gentlemen, does not every page, paragraph, and sentence of what I have read, go home to all our hearts, carrying a most gratified consciousness of its resemblance to what is near and dear to us in our own native land? Is it Athens, or America? Is Athens or America the theme of these immortal strains? Was Pericles speaking of his own country, as he saw it or knew it; or was he gazing upon a bright vision, then two thousand years before him, which we see in reality, as he saw it in prospect?

But the contests of Sparta  and Athens, what were they in lasting importance, and in their bearing on the destinies of the world, in comparison with that ever memorable struggle which separated the American colonies from the dominion of Europe? How different the result which betided Athens, from that which crowned the glorious efforts of our ancestors; and, therefore, this renowned oration of Pericles, what is it in comparison with an effort of historical eloquence which should justly set forth the merits of the heroes and the martyrs of the American Revolution?

The liberty of Athens, and of the other Grecian Republics, being founded in pure democracy, without any principle of representation, was fitted only for small states. The exercise of popular power in a purely democratic form cannot be spread over countries of large extent; because, in such countries, all cannot assemble in the same place to vote directly upon laws and ordinances, and other public questions. But the principle of representation is expansive; it may be enlarged, if not infinitely, yet indefinitely, to meet new occasions, and embrace new regions. While, therefore, the love of liberty was the same, and its general principle the same, in the Grecian Republics as with us, yet not only were the forms essentially different, but that also was wanting which we have been taught to consider as indispensable to its security: that is, a fixed, settled, definite, fundamental law, or constitution, imposing limitations and restraints equally on governors and governed. We may, therefore, inhale all the fulness and freshness of the Grecian spirit, but we necessarily give its development a different form, and subject it to new modifications.

But history is not only philosophy, teaching by example; its true purpose is, also, to illustrate the general progress of society in knowledge and the arts, and the changes of manners and pursuits of men.

There is an imperfection, both in ancient and modern histories, and those of the best masters, in this respect. While they recite public transactions, they omit, in a great degree, what belongs to the civil, social, and domestic progress of men and nations. There is not, so far as I know, a good civil history of Rome, nor is there an account of the manners and habits of social and domestic life, such as may inform us of the progress of her citizens, from the foundation of the city to the time of Livy and Sallust, in individual exhibitions of character.

We know, indeed, something of the private pursuits and private vices of the Roman people at the commencement of the Empire, but we obtain our knowledge of these chiefly from the severe and indignant rebukes of Sallust, and the inimitable satires of Juvenal. Wars, foreign and domestic, the achievements of arms, and national alliances fill up the recorded greatness of the Roman Empire.

It is very remarkable that, in this respect, Roman literature is far more deficient than that of Greece. Aristophanes, and other Grecian comic writers, have scenes richly filled with the delineation of the lives and manners of their own people. But the Roman imitators of the Grecian stage gave themselves up to the reproduction of foreign characters on their own stage, and presented in their dramas Grecian manners also, instead of Roman manners. How much wiser was Shakspeare, who enchained the attention of his audiences, and still enchains the attention of the whole Teutonic race, by the presentation of English manners and English history?

Falstaff, Justice Shallow, and Dogberry are not shrubs of foreign growth transplanted into the pages of Shakspeare, but genuine productions of the soil, the creations of his own homebred fancy.

Mr. Banks has written a civil history of Rome, but it seems not to have answered the great end which it proposed.

The labors of Niebuhr, Arnold, and Merivale have accomplished much towards furnishing the materials of such history, and Becker, in his Gallus, has drawn a picture, not uninteresting, of the private life of the Romans at the commencement of the Empire.

I know nothing of the fact, but I once had an intimation, that one of the most distinguished writers of our time and of our country has had his thoughts turned to this subject for several years. If this be so, and the work, said to be in contemplation, be perfected, it will be true, as I have no doubt, that the civil history of the great republic of antiquity will have been written, not only with thorough research, but also with elegance of style and chaste, classical illustration, by a citizen of the great republic of modern times. I trust that when this work shall appear, if it shall appear, we shall not only Bee the Roman consul and the Roman general, the Comitia and the Forum, but that we shall also see Roman hearths and altars, the Roman matron at the head of her household, Roman children in their schools of instruction, and the whole of Roman life fully presented to our view, so far as the materials, now existing in separate and special works, afford the means.

It is in our day only that the history and progress of the civil and social institutions and manners of England have become the subjects of particular attention.

Sharon Turner, Lingard, and, more than all, Mr. Hallam, have laid this age, and all following ages, under the heaviest obligations by their labors in this field of literary composition; nor would I separate from them the writings of a most learned and eloquent person, whose work on English history is now in progress, nor the author of the ” Pictorial History of England.” But there is still wanting a full, thorough, and domestic, social account of our English ancestors, that is, a history which shall trace the progress of social life in the intercourse of man with man; the advance of arts, the various changes in the habits and occupations of individuals; and those improvements in domestic life which have attended the condition and meliorated the circumstances of men in the lapse of ages. We still have not the means of learning, to any great extent, how our English ancestors, at their homes, and in their houses, were fed, and lodged, and clothed, and what were their daily employments. We want a history of firesides; we want to know when kings and queens exchanged beds of straw for beds of down, and ceased to breakfast on beef and beer. We wish to see more, and to know more, of the changes which took place, from age to age, in the homes of England, from the castle and the palace, down to the humblest cottage. Mr. Henry’s book, so far as it goes, is not without its utility, but it stops too soon, and, even in regard to the period which it embraces, it is not sufficiently full and satisfactory in its particulars.

The feudal ages were military and agricultural, but the splendor of arms, in the history of the times, monopolized the genius of writers; and perhaps materials are not now abundant for forming a knowledge of the essential industry of the country. He would be a public benefactor who should instruct us in the modes of cultivation and tillage prevailing in England, from the Conquest down, and in the advancement of manufactures, from their inception in the time of Henry IV., to the period of their considerable development, two centuries afterwards.

There are two sources of information on these subjects, which have never yet been fully explored, and which, nevertheless, are overflowing fountains of knowledge. I mean the statutes and the proceedings of the courts of law. At an early period of life, I recurred, with some degree of attention, to both these sources of information; not so much for professional purposes, as for the elucidation of the progress of society. I acquainted myself with the object and purposes and substance of every published statute in British legislation. These showed me what the legislature of the country was concerned in, from age to age, and from year to year. And I learned from the reports of controversies, in the courts of law, what were the pursuits and occupations of individuals, and what the objects which most earnestly engaged attention. I hardly know anything which more repays research, than studies of this kind. We learn from them what pursuits occupied men during the feudal ages. We see the efforts of society to throw off the chains of this feudal dominion. We see too, in a most interesting manner, the ingenious devices resorted to, to break the thraldom of personal slavery. We see the beginning of manufacturing interests, and at length bursts upon us the full splendor of the commercial age.

Littleton, Coke, Plowden, what are they? How their learning fades away and becomes obsolete, when Holt and Somers and Mansfield arise, catching themselves, and infusing all around them, the influences and the knowledge which commerce had shed upon the world!

Our great teachers and examples in the historical art are, doubtless, the eminent historians of the Greek and Roman ages. In their several ways, they are the masters to whom all succeeding times have looked for instruction and improvement. They are the models which have stood the test of time, and, like the glorious creations in marble of Grecian genius, have been always admired and never surpassed.

We have our favorites in literature, as well as in other things, and I confess that, among the Grecian writers, my estimate of Herodotus is great. His evident truthfulness, his singular simplicity of style, and his constant respect and veneration for sacred and divine things, win my regard. It is true that he sometimes appears credulous, which caused Aristotle to say of him, that he was a story-teller. But, in respect to this, two things are to be remarked; the one is, that he never avers as a fact that which rests on the accounts of others; the other, that all subsequent travels and discoveries have tended to confirm his fidelity. From his great qualities as a writer, as well as from the age in which he lived, he is justly denominated the “Father of History.” Herodotus was a conscientious narrator of what he saw and heard. In his manner there is much of the old epic style; indeed, his work may be considered as the connecting link between the epic legend and political history; truthful, on the one hand, since it was a genuine history; but, on the other, conceived and executed in the spirit of poetry, and not the profounder spirit of political philosophy. It breathes a reverential submission to the divine will, and recognizes distinctly the governing hand of Providence in the affairs of men. But, upon the whole, I am compelled to regard Thucydides as the greater writer.

Thucydides was equally truthful, but more conversant with the motives and character of men in their political relations. He took infinite pains to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the transactions that occurred in his own day, and which became the subject of his own narrative.

It is said, even, that persons were employed by him to obtain information from both the belligerent powers, for his use, while writing the history of the Peloponnesian War.

He was one of the most eminent citizens of the Athenian Republic, educated under the institutions of Solon, and trained in all the political wisdom which these institutions had developed in the two centuries since their establishment. A more profound intellect never applied itself to historical investigation; a more clear-sighted and impartial judge of human conduct never dealt with the fortunes and acts of political communities.

The work of Herodotus is graphic, fluent, dramatic, and ethical in the highest degree; but it is not the work of the citizen of a free republic, personally experienced in the conduct of its affairs. The history of the Peloponnesian War, on the other hand, could only have been produced by a man of large experience, and who added to vast genius deep personal insight into the workings of various public institutions. As Thucydides himself says, his history was written not for the entertainment of the moment, but to be “a possession forever.”

There can, it seems to me, be no reasonable doubt that the first works by which man expressed his thoughts and feelings in an orderly composition, were essentially poetical. In the earliest writings of which we know anything with distinctness, we have an union or mingling of poetry and fact, embodying the traditions and history of the people among which they arose.

Like other intellectual culture, this form of history appeared first in the East, and, from the days of Moses and Joshua down to our own times, it has there retained substantially the same character. I mean, it has been a remarkable mixture of the spirit of history and of epic poetry. In Greece, we may observe originally the same state of things; but the two forms of composition at length became separated, though the Greek historical art, when highest, never loses all its relations to the epic. The earliest Greek poets were religious and historical poets, dealing in the traditions and mythology of their country, and so continued down through Homer. Herodotus was by birth an Asiatic Greek, and was quite imbued with the oriental spirit. In his time, of public records there were none, or, at the most, there were only local registers of public events, and their dates, such, for instance, as those kept by the priesthood in the temples at Delphi and Argos, or the registers of particular families. He travelled, therefore, to collect the materials for his history. But he made of them one whole, and laid one idea at the bottom, with as much epic simplicity as Homer did in the Iliad. His subject was the contest of Greece with the Persians, and the triumph of Grecian liberty, or, more strictly, the great Grecian victory over the barbarians who had conquered the world, as then known. The relations between Herodotus and Homer are not to be mistaken; he not only has episodes, like the long one about Egypt, and formal speeches, which were common in historical works till the sixteenth century of our era, and have not been unknown since,[They are adopted, for instance, by Botta] but he has dialogues. One of his series of speeches, which partakes of the character of a dialogue, shows a remarkable advancement in political knowledge for that age; I mean that in which the conspirators against the Magi of Persia, previously to the elevation of Darius, discuss the different forms of government, almost in the spirit of Montesquieu. But all these things are kept in their proper places by Herodotus. He feels the connection of his subject all the way through; how one event proceeds from another, and how, in the spirit of epic unity, everything tends to the principal result, or contributes to it directly.

In Thucydides, the art of history is further advanced, though he lived very little later than Herodotus. He probably had read or heard his history, though that is doubted.

Thucydides did not, indeed, make one whole of his work, for he did not survive the war whose history he undertook to relate; but he is less credulous than Herodotus; he has no proper dialogue; he is more compact; he indulges very little in episodes; he draws characters, and his speeches are more like formal, stately discussions. And he says of them, they are such as he either heard himself, or received from those who did hear them, and he states that he gives them in their true substance.

There is nothing to create a doubt that personally he heard the oration of Pericles; and it is remarkable that, throughout the most flourishing period of Greek literature, both poetical and historical, productions were composed to be heard, rather than to be read; and the practice of listening to their rehearsals led the Greek people to attain great accuracy, as well as retentiveness, of memory.

In short, Herodotus’ work seems a natural, fresh production of the soil; that of Thucydides belongs to a more advanced state of culture. Quintilian says of the former, “In Herodoto omnia leniter fluunt;of the latter, “Densus et brevis et semper instans sibi.”

Xenophon, in his Hellenica, continues Thucydides. He was a military leader, and familiar with the affairs of state, and though not so deep a thinker, was a more graceful and easy writer. Polybius, living in a much later period, is defective in style, but is a wise and sensible author. His object is not merely to show what has been, but to attempt the instruction of the future, making his work what he calls a demonstrative history, fitted ‘for the use of statesmen. He is the last of the really good Greek historians.

The Romans had the great Greek masters, in prose and poetry, all before them, and imitated them in everything, but approached their models nearly only in eloquence and history. Like the Greeks too, they had early poetical histories, historical legends, and songs. Ennius wrote a sort of epic history of Rome. Caesar, one of the most distinguished of all great men, wrote accounts of what he had done, or what related directly to himself. The clearness, purity, and precision of his style are as characteristic of him as any of his great achievemente.

Sallust followed more closely the Greek models. Each of his two remaining histories is an epic whole, — short, indeed, but complete, fashioned with the greatest exactness, and remarkable for a dignity and stateliness of style which Caesar did not seek, and which would not have been fitting for his personal memoirs.

Livy had another purpose; there is an epic completeness in his great work, though it has come down to us in a mutilated state. “Majestas populi Romaniwas his subject, and he sacrifices much to it, even, not unfrequently, the rigor of truth. His style is rich and flowing. Quintilian speaks of Livii lactea ubertas” the creamy richness of Livy. His descriptions are excellent; indeed, there is a nobleness and grandeur about the whole work well fitted to his magnificent purpose in writing it.

Tacitus comes later, when he could no longer feel so proud of his country as Livy had done. He had much of the spirit and the power of Thucydides. Both were great, upright men, dissatisfied with their times; the one, because of the ascendancy of demagogues among the people, the other, with the imperial vices and the growing demoralization of his age. Tacitus is, however, free from passion, and is a wise, statesmanlike, and profound writer, throughout. Of both his History and Annals considerable portions are lost. We cannot, therefore, tell how much of completeness and proportion there may have been in either. But the nature of the period he discusses in each, — a period, as he says, ” opimum casibus, atrox prceliis, discors seditionibus, ipsa etiam pace scevum” not less than the severity of his own nature, forbade poetical ornament. In character-drawing, he is hardly excelled by any one. By a single dash of his pencil, he sometimes throws out a likeness, which all feel and acknowledge; and yet it has been thought that some degree of falling off in the purity and elegance of the Latin language is discernible in his pages.

Of the Roman historians my preference is strongly for Sallust. I admire his reach of thought, his clearness of style, as well as his accuracy of narration. He is sufficiently concise; he is sententious, without being meager or obscure, and his power of personal and individual description is remarkable. There are, indeed, in his style, some roughness belonging to the Roman tongue at an earlier age, but they seem to strengthen the structure of his sentences, without especially injuring their beauty. No character-drawing can well exceed his delineation of Catiline, his account of Jugurtha, or his parallel between Caesar and Cato. I have thought, sometimes, that I saw resemblances between his terse and powerful periods, and the remarks and sayings of Dr. Johnson, as they appear, not in his stately performances, but in the record of his conversations by Boswell.

In turning to peruse once more the pages of Sallust, to refresh myself . for the preparation of this address, I was struck by the coincidence of a transaction narrated by him, with one which we have seen very recently in our own country.

When Jugurtha had put to death Hiempsal, and expelled Adherbal from his rightful throne, the latter (who was born in Numidia, and not in Hungary) came to Rome to invoke what we should call, the intervention of the Roman people. His speech, delivered on that occasion, in the Senate, as Sallust has given it, is one of the most touching ever made by a man in misfortune and suffering from injury, to those having the power of granting relief or redress. His supplication to the Senate is founded on the broad and general idea that the Roman people were just themselves, and as they had the power, so it was their duty, to prevent or punish high-handed injustice, threatened or inflicted by others.

While I confess myself not competent to sit in judgment on the great masters of Roman story, still it has always struck me that in the style of Livy there is so much fulness, so much accumulation of circumstances, as occasionally tends to turgidity. I speak this, however, with the greatest diffidence. Livy seems to me like the rivers under the influence of copious spring floods, when not only is the main channel full, but all the tributary streams are also tending to overflow; while Sallust, I think, takes care only that there shall be one deep, clear, strong, and rapid current, to convey him and his thoughts to their destined end.

I do not mean to say that the skilful use of circumstance, either in the hand of a historian or a poet, is not a great power, — I think it is. What we call graphic description, is but the presentation of the principal idea, with a discreet accompaniment of interesting concomitants.

The introduction of a single auxiliary thought or expression sometimes gives a new glow to the historical or poetical picture. Particularity, well set forth, enchains attention. In our language, no writer has understood this better than Milton. His poetical images and descriptions are sure to omit nothing which can make those images and those descriptions striking, distinct, and certain, while all else is industriously repelled.

Witness the fall of Vulcan, which is stated with such beautiful detail, so much step by step, and terminated by such a phrase and comparison at the end, as greatly to enhance the idea, both of its length and its rapidity.

“Men call’d him Mulciber; and how he fell
From Heaven, they fabled, thrown by angry Jove
Sheer o’er the crystal battlements; from morn
To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
A summer’s day; and with the setting sun
Dropp’d from the Zenith like a falling star,
On Lemnos the Aegean isle.”

His description of vocal music in the “Allegro” is another instance of the same kind:

And ever against eating cares,
Lap me in soft Lydian airs,
Married to immortal verse,
Such as the meeting soul may pierce
In notes, with many a winding bout
Of linked sweetness long drawn out,
With wanton heed, and giddy cunning,
The melting voice through mazes running,
Untwisting all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of harmony.
That Orpheus’ self may heave his head
From golden slumber on a bed
Of heap’d Elysian flowers, and hear
Such strains as would have won the ear
Of Pluto, to have quite set free
His half-regain’d Eurydice.”

I hardly know anything which surpasses these exquisite lines, so poetical, and, at the same time, so thoroughly and absolutely English, and so free from all foreign idiom.

Several stanzas of Gray’s “Elegy in a Country Churchyard ” are also remarkable for the power and accuracy with which rural scenery is presented, by grouping together many interesting objects in one picture.

Another poetical instance of the same beauty is the ” Burial of Sir John Moore.”

There are remarkable instances of the same skill in writing in some of the English prose writers, and especially in the productions of Daniel De Foe. No boy doubts that everything told of Robinson Crusoe is exactly true, because all is so circumstantially told; I believe I was about ten years of age when I first read Robinson Crusoe, and I remember still the distress and perspiration which I was thrown into by his dangerous condition in his boat. “There was a current on both sides, a strong eddy under the shore. The sea was making a great breach upon that point. It was not safe to keep the shore, for the breach, nor leave it for the stream. He could do nothing with his paddles, and there was not a breath of wind. A great depth of water, running like the sluice of a mill, carried him farther and farther from the eddy, which was on the left hand, so that he could not keep his boat on the edge of it, and as the current on the north side and the current on the south side would both join at a few leagues distant, he thought himself irrecoverably gone.” And I thought so too. No man doubts, until he is informed of the contrary, that the historian of the plague of London actually saw all that he described, although De Foe was not born till a subsequent year.

It is a well known saying that the lie with circumstance is exceedingly calculated to deceive: and that is true, and it is equally true, not only that fictitious history gains credit and belief by the skilful use of circumstance, but that true history also may derive much additional interest from the same source.

In general, however, historical facts are to be related with rather a close and exclusive regard to such and such only as are important.

The art of historical composition owes its origin to the institutions of political freedom. Under the despotism of the Ganges and the Indus, poetry flourished with oriental luxuriance from the earliest times; but in the immense compass of that rich, primeval literature, there is no history, in the high sense of that term. The banks of the Nile were crowded with historical monuments and memorials, stretching back into the remotest antiquity; and recent researches have discovered historical records of the Pharaohs in the scrolls of papyrus, some of them as ancient as the books of Moses. But in all these, there is no history composed according to the principles of art. In Greece, the epic song, founded on traditionary legends, long preceded historical composition. I remember when I thought it the greatest wonder in the world that the poems of Homer should have been written at a period so remote that the earliest Grecian history should have given no probable account of their author. I did not then know, or had not then considered, that poetical writings, hymns, songs, accounts of personal adventures like those of Hercules and Jason, were, in the nature of things, earlier than regular historical narratives. Herodotus informs us that Homer lived four hundred years before his time. There is, nevertheless, something very wonderful in the poems of the old Ionian.

In general, it is true of the languages of nations that in their earlier ages they contain the substantial bone and sinew characteristic of their idiom, yet that they are rough, imperfect, and without polish. Thus Chaucer wrote English; but it is what we call old English, and, though always vigorous and often incomparably sweet, far remote from the smoothness and fluency belonging to the style of Pope and Addison. And Spenser wrote English, but, though rich, sonorous, and gorgeous, it has not the precision and accuracy of those later writers. It would seem that many books must be written and read, and a great many tongues and pens employed, before the language of a country reaches its highest polish and perfection. Now the wonder is, how a language should become so perfect, as was the Greek of Homer, at the time when that language could have been very little written. Doubtless, in succeeding ages, the compass of the Greek tongue was enlarged, as knowledge became more extended, and new things called for new words; but, within the sphere of Grecian knowledge, as it existed in the time of Homer, it can scarce be questioned that his style is quite as perfect and polished as that of any of his successors, and perhaps more picturesque. The cause of this apparent anomaly is, that the language had not only been spoken for many centuries, by a people of great ingenuity and extraordinary good taste, but had been carefully cultivated by the recitation of poetical compositions on a great variety of religious and festive occasions.

It was not until the legislation of Solon had laid the foundation of free political institutions, and these institutions had unfolded a free and powerful and active political life in the Athenian Republic; until the discussion of public affairs in the Senate and the popular Assembly had created deliberative eloquence, and the open administration of justice in the courts, and under the laws established by Solon, had applied to the transactions between the citizens all the resources of refined logic, and drawn into the sphere of civil rights and obligations the power of high forensic oratory: it was not until these results of the legislative wisdom of Solon had been attained, that the art of history rose and nourished in Greece. With the decline of Grecian liberty began the decline in the art of historical composition. Histories were written under the Grecian Kings of Egypt; and a long line of writers nourished under the Byzantine Emperors; but the high art of historical composition, as perfected in the master-works of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, had perished in the death of political freedom.

The origin, progress and decline of history, as an art, were nearly the same in Rome. Sallust and Livy flourished at the close of the Republic and the commencement of the Empire. The great works of Tacitus himself are thought by many to betray the beginning of decline in the art, and later writers exhibit its fall.

The art of history again revived with the rise of the Italian Republics; and since the revival of literature, at the close of the middle ages, it will probably be found that three things naturally rise into importance together; that is to say, civil liberty, eloquence, and the art of historical writing.

Other foundation is not to be laid for authentic history than well authenticated facts; but, on this foundation, structures may be raised of different characteristics, historical, biographical, and philosophical. One writer may confine himself to exact and minute narration; another, true to the general story, may embellish that story with more or less of external ornament, or of eloquence in description; a third, with a deeper philosophical spirit, may look into the causes of events and transactions, trace them with more profound research to their sources in the elements of human nature, or consider and solve, with more or less success, the most important question, how far the character of individuals has produced public events, or how far on the other hand public events have produced and formed the character of individuals.

Therefore one history of the same period, in human affairs, no more renders another history of the same period useless, or unadvisable, than the structure of one temple forbids the erection of another, or one statue of Apollo, Hercules, or Pericles should suppress all other attempts to produce statues of the same persons.

But, gentlemen, I must not dwell upon these general topics. We are Americans. We have a country all our own; we are all linked to its fates and its fortunes; it is already not without renown; it has been the theatre of some of the most important human transactions, and it may well become us to reflect on the topics and the means furnished for historical composition in our own land. I have abstained, on this occasion, gentlemen, from much comment on histories composed by European writers of modern times; and, for obvious reasons, I abstain altogether from remarks upon the writers of our own country.

Works have been written upon the history of the United States, other works upon the same subject are in progress, and, no doubt, new works are contemplated, and will be accomplished.

It need not be doubted, that what has been achieved by the great men who have preceded our generation, will be properly recorded by their successors. A country in which highly interesting events occur, is not likely to be destitute of scholars and authors fit to transmit those events to posterity. For the present, I content myself with a few general remarks on the subject.

In the history of the United States there are three epochs. The first extends from the origin and settlement of the Colonies, respectively, to the year 1774. During this, much the longest period, the history of the country is the history of separate communities and governments, with different laws and institutions, though all were of a common origin; not identical indeed, yet having a strong family resemblance, and all more or less reference to the Constitution, and common law of the parent country.

In all these Governments the principle of popular representation more or less prevailed. It existed in the State Governments, in counties, in large districts, and in townships and parishes. And it is not irrelevant to remark, that, by the exercise of the rights enjoyed under these popular principles, the whole people came to be prepared, beyond the example of all others, for the observance of the same principles in the establishment of national institutions, and the administration of sovereign powers.

The second period extends from 1774, through the great event of the Declaration of Independence, in which the Colonies were called States, and, through the existence of the Confederation, down to the period of the adoption of the present Constitution. The third embraces the period from 1789 to the present time.

To avoid dealing with events too recent, it might be well to consider the third era, or epoch, as terminating with the close of President Washington’s administration, and going back into the second, so far as to trace the events and occurrences which showed the necessity of a general government, different from that framed by the Articles of Confederation, and which prepared the minds of the people for the adoption of the present Constitution. No doubt, the assembly of the first Continental Congress may be regarded as the era at which the union of these States commenced. This took place in Philadelphia, the city distinguished by the great civil events of our early history, on the 5th of September, 1774, on which day the first Continental Congress assembled. Delegates were present from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Let this day be ever remembered! It saw assembled from the several Colonies those great men whose names have come down to us, and will descend to all posterity. Their proceedings are remarkable for simplicity, dignity, and unequalled ability. At that day, probably, there could have been convened on no part of this globe an equal number of men, possessing greater talents and ability, or animated by a higher and more patriotic motive. They were men full of the spirit of the occasion, imbued deeply with the general sentiment of the country, of large comprehension, of long foresight, and of few words. They made no speeches for ostentation, they sat with closed doors, and their great maxim was “faire sans dire.” It is true, they only wrote; but the issuing of such writings, on authority, and at such a crisis, was action, high, decisive, national action. They knew the history of the past, they were alive to all the difficulties and all the duties of the present, and they acted from the first, as if the future were all open before them. Peyton Randolph was unanimously chosen President, and Charles Thomson was appointed Secretary. In such a constellation, it would be invidious to point out the bright particular stars. Let me only say, what none can consider injustice to others, that George Washington was one of the number.

The proceedings of the assembly were introduced by religious observances, and devout supplications to the Throne of Grace for the inspirations of wisdom and the spirit of good counsels.

On the second day of the session it was ordered that a committee should be appointed to state the rights of the Colonies, the instances in which those rights had been violated, and the means proper to be pursued for their restoration; and another committee to examine and report upon the several statutes of the English Parliament which had been passed, affecting the trade and manufactures of the Colonies. The members of these committees were chosen on the following day. Immediately afterwards Congress took up, as the foundation of their proceedings, certain resolutions adopted, just before the time of their assembling, by delegates from towns in the county of Suffolk, and especially the town of Boston.

Boston, the early victim of the infliction of wrong by the mother country, the early champion of American liberty; Boston, though in this vast country she may be now surpassed by other cities in numbers, in commerce and wealth, can never be surpassed in the renown of her revolutionary history. She will stand acknowledged, while the world doth stand, as the early promoter and champion of the rights of the Colonies. The English crown frowned upon her with severity and indignation; it only made her stand more erect and put on a face of greater boldness and defiance. The Parliament poured upon her all its indignation; it only held her up with greater illumination, and drew towards her a more enthusiastic attachment and veneration from the country. Boston, as she was in heart, in principle and conduct in 1774, so may she remain till her three hills shall sink into the sea and be no more remembered among men.

Gentlemen, these early proceedings of the citizens of Boston and other inhabitants of the county of Suffolk deserve to be written where all posterity may read them. They were carried to the representative of royalty by the first distinguished martyr in the cause of liberty, Joseph Warren. How fit that he who was not long afterwards to fall in the defence of this liberty, and to seal his love of country with his blood, full of its spirit and its principles, should be charged with its remonstrances to the throne of England! No encomium, no eulogy upon the State of which I have the honor to be a citizen, can exceed that which is expressed in the unanimous resolution of the first American Congress of the 8th of October, 1774, in these words:

“Resolved, That this Congress approve the opposition of the Massachusetts Bay to the execution of the late acts of Parliament; and if the same shall be attempted to be carried into execution by force, in such case all America ought to support them in their opposition.”

Gentlemen, I will not believe that the ancient Commonwealth of Massachusetts can ever depart from her true character or cease to deserve this immortal honor; I think it impossible. But should she be left to such forgetfulness of herself and all that belongs to her, should she temporarily or permanently stray away from the paths of her ancient patriotism, should she, which Heaven avert, be willing to throw off her original and all-American mantle and to disrobe herself, in the presence of the world, of all her nationality of character, there are others who would eagerly seize that mantle, and who would show themselves capable of wearing it with grace, dignity, and power. I need not say here where those others are to be found. I am in the city in which Washington first took upon himself the administration of the Government, I am near the spot on which all hearts and all hopes were concentrated in 1789. I bring the whole scene, with all its deep interests, before me. I see the crowds that fill and throng the streets, I see the ten thousand faces anxious to look on him to whose wisdom, prudence, and patriotism the destinies of the country are now committed. I see the august form, I behold the serene face of Washington; I observe his reverent manner when he rises in the presence of countless multitudes, and, looking up with religious awe to heaven, solemnly swears before those multitudes and before Him that sitteth on the circle of those heavens, that he will support the Constitution of his country, so help him God!

And I can hear the shouts and acclamations that rend the air, I see outpouring tears of joy and hope, I see men clasping each other’s hands, and I hear them exclaim: “We have at last a country; we have a Union; and in that Union is strength. We have a government able to keep us together, and we have a chief magistrate, an object of confidence, attachment, and love to us all.”

Citizens of New York, men of this generation, is there anything which warms your hearts more than these recollections? Or can you contemplate the unparalleled growth of your city, in population and all human blessings, without feeling that the spot is hallowed and the hour consecrated, where and when your career of prosperity and happiness began?

But, gentlemen, my heart would sink within me, and voice and speech would depart from me, if I were compelled to believe that your fidelity to the Constitution of the country, signal and unquestioned as it is, could ever exceed that of the State whose soil was moistened by the blood of the first heroes in the cause of liberty, and whose history has been characterized from the beginning by zealous and uniform support of the principles of Washington.

This first Congress sat from the 5th day of September until the 26th of October, and it then dissolved. Its whole proceedings are embraced in forty-nine pages; but these few pages contain the substance and the original form and pressure of our American liberty, before a government of checks and balances and departments, with separate and well defined powers, was established. Its principal papers are: an address to the people of Great Britain, written by John Jay; a memorial to the inhabitants of the British colonies, written by Richard Henry Lee; a petition to the King and an address to the inhabitants of Quebec, written by John Dickinson. Note*

There is one resolution of the old Congress, adopted on the 14th of March, 1776, which has never received so much attention as it deserves.

It is in these words:

“Resolved, That it be recommended to the several assemblies, conventions, councils, or committees of safety, immediately to cause all persons to be disarmed within their respective Colonies, who are notoriously disaffected to the cause of America, or who have not associated and refuse to associate to defend by arms the United Colonies against the hostile attempts of the British fleets and armies.”

Extract from the minutes. Charles Thomson,

Secretary.

Note* In a copy of the printed journal of the proceedings of the Provincial Congress of 1774, which belonged to Caesar Rodney, and which contains interlineations, probably in his handwriting, the petition to the King is stated to have been written by John Adams, and corrected by John Dickinson. Its authorship is claimed also for Richard Henry Lee, by his biographer, probably on the ground that he was the chairman of the committee, and may have prepared the original draft of the petition which was recommitted, Mr. Dickinson being at the same time added to the committee; and it is included in the edition of Mr. Dickinson’s writings published at Wilmington during his lifetime, and superintended by himself. Mr. Rodney’s copy of the journal ascribes the memorial to the inhabitants of the British colonies, to William Livingston. But there is the best proof that it was written by Richard Henry Lee.

Several of the governors of the States, conventions, councils, or committees of safety took immediate measures for carrying this resolution into effect. The proceedings in consequence of it have been preserved, however, only in a few States. The fullest returns which can be found are believed to be from New Hampshire and New York. The form adopted was a recital of the resolution of Congress, and then the promise, or pledge, in the following words:

“In consequence of the above resolution of the Continental Congress, and to show our determination in joining our American brethren in defending the lives, liberties, and properties of the inhabitants of the United Colonies: We, the subscribers, do hereby solemnly engage and promise that we will, to the utmost of our power, at the risk of our lives and fortunes, with arms, oppose the hostile proceedings of the British fleets and armies against the United American Colonies.”

In the mountainous State of New Hampshire and among the highest of its mountains, then containing only a few scattered settlements, was the township of Salisbury. The Merrimac River, forming its eastern boundary, now so pleasant in scenery, and with so much richness and industry on its banks, was then a roaring and foaming stream seeking its way, amidst immense forests on either side, from the White Mountains to the sea. The settlers in this township were collected, and the promise or pledge proposed by the Continental Congress, of life and fortune, presented to them. “All,” as the record says, “freely signed except two.”

In looking to this record, thus connected with the men of my own birthplace, I confess I was gratified to find who were the signers and who were the dissentients. Among the former was he from whom I am immediately descended, with all his brothers, and his whole kith and kin. This is sufficient emblazonry for my arms, enough of heraldry for me.

Are there young men before me who wish to learn and to imitate the spirit of their ancestors, who wish to live and breathe in that spirit, who desire that every pulsation of their hearts and every aspiration of their ambition shall be American and nothing but American? Let them master the contents of the immortal papers of the first Congress, and fully imbue themselves with their sentiments.

The great Lord Chatham spoke of this assembly in terms which have caused my heart to thrill, and my eyes to be moistened, whenever I recollect them, from my first reading of them to this present hour:

“When your Lordships look at the papers transmitted us from America, when you consider their decency, firmness, and wisdom, you cannot but respect their cause and wish to make it your own. For myself, I must declare and avow that in all my reading and observation, and it has been my favorite study (I have read Thucydides and have studied and admired the master-states of the world), that for solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion under such a complication of difficult circumstances, no nation or body of men can stand in preference to the general Congress at Philadelphia. I trust it is obvious to your Lordships that all attempts to impose servitude upon such men, to establish despotism over such a mighty continental nation, must be vain, must be fatal. We shall be forced ultimately to retract; let us retract while we can, not when we must.”

This first Congress, for the ability which it manifested, the principles which it proclaimed, and the characters of those who composed it, makes an illustrious chapter in our American history. Its members should be regarded not only individually, but as in a group; they should be viewed as living pictures exhibiting young America as it then was, and when the seeds of its public destiny were beginning to start into life, well described by our early motto as being full of energy and prospered by Heaven:

“Non sine Dis, animosus infans.” [Not without God is the infant courageous]

Some of the members of this Congress have lived to my time, and I have had the honor of seeing and knowing them; and there are those in this assembly, doubtless, who have beheld the stately form of Washington, and looked upon the mild and intelligent face, and heard the voice of John Jay.

For myself, I love to travel back in imagination, to place myself in the midst of this assembly, this Union of greatness and patriotism, and to contemplate as if I had witnessed its profound deliberations and its masterly exhibitions, both of the rights and of the wrongs of the country.

I may not dwell longer on this animating and enchanting picture. Another grand event succeeds it, and that is, the convention which framed the Constitution, the spirited debates in the States by the ablest men of those States, upon its adoption, and finally the first Congress, filled by the gray-haired men of the Revolution, and younger and vigorous patriots and lovers of liberty, and Washington himself in the principal chair of state, surrounded by his heads of department, selected from those who enjoyed the greatest portion of his own regard, and stood highest in the esteem of their country.

Neither Thucydides nor Xenophon, neither Sallust nor Livy, presents any picture of an assembly of public men, or any scene of history which, in its proper grandeur, or its large and lasting influence upon the happiness of mankind, equals this.

Its importance, indeed, did not at the moment strike the minds of ordinary men. But Burke saw it with an intuition clear as the light of heaven. Charles Fox saw it; and sagacious and deep thinking minds over all Europe perceived it.

England, England, how would thy destinies have been altered if the advice of Chatham, Burke, and Fox had been followed!

Shall I say altered for the better ? — certainly not. England is stronger and richer at this moment than if she had listened to the unheeded words of her great statesmen. Neither nations nor individuals always foresee that which their own interest and happiness require.

Our greatest blessings often arise from the disappointment of our most anxious hopes and our most fervent wishes:

                               ————“Let us know,
Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well,
When our deep plots do fail; and that should teach us,
There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,
Bough hew them how we will.”

Instead of subject colonies, England now beholds on these shores a mighty rival, rich, powerful, intelligent like herself.

And may these countries be forever friendly rivals. May their power and greatness, sustaining themselves, be always directed to the promotion of the peace, the prosperity, the enlightenment, and the liberty of mankind; and if it be their united destiny, in the course of human events, that they be called upon, in the cause of humanity and in the cause of freedom, to stand against a world in arms, they are of a race and of a blood to meet that crisis without shrinking from danger and without quailing in the presence of earthly power.

Gentlemen, I must bring these desultory remarks to a close. I terminate them where perhaps I ought to have begun,— namely, with a few words on the present state and condition of our country, and the prospects which are before her.

Unborn ages and visions of glory crowd upon my soul, the realization of all which, however, is in the hands and good pleasure of Almighty God, but, under His divine blessing, it will be dependent on the character and the virtues of ourselves and of our posterity.

If classical history has been found to be, is now, and shall continue to be, the concomitant of free institutions and of popular eloquence, what a field is opening to us for another Herodotus, another Thucydides, and another Livy! And let me say, gentlemen, that if we and our posterity shall be true to the Christian religion, if we and they shall live always in the fear of God, and shall respect His commandments, if we and they shall maintain just moral sentiments and such conscientious convictions of duty as shall control the heart and life, we may have the highest hopes of the future fortunes of our country; and if we maintain those institutions of government and that political union, exceeding all praise as much as it exceeds all former examples of political associations, we may be sure of one thing, that while our country furnishes materials for a thousand masters of the historic art, it will afford no topic for a Gibbon. It will have no decline and fall. It will go on prospering and to prosper. But if we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity. Should that catastrophe happen, let it have no history! Let the horrible narrative never be written! Let its fate be like that of the lost books of Livy, which no human eye shall ever read, or the missing Pleiad, of which no man can ever know more than that it is lost, and lost forever!

But, gentlemen, I will not take my leave of you in a tone of despondency. We may trust that Heaven will not forsake us, nor permit us to forsake ourselves. We must strengthen ourselves and gird up our loins with new resolution; we must counsel each other, and, determined to sustain each other in the support of the Constitution, prepare to meet manfully and united whatever of difficulty or of danger, whatever of effort or of sacrifice the Providence of God may call upon us to meet. Are we of this generation so derelict, have we so little of the blood of our revolutionary fathers coursing through our veins, that we cannot preserve what they achieved? The world will cry out ” shame” upon us if we show ourselves unworthy to be the descendants of those great and illustrious men who fought for their liberty and secured it to their posterity by the Constitution of the United States.

Gentlemen, exigencies arise in the history of nations when competition and rivalry, disputes and contentions are powerful. Exigencies arise in which good men of all parties and all shades of political sentiment are required to reconsider their opinions and differences, to readjust their positions, and to bring themselves together, if they can, in the spirit of harmony. Such a state of things, in my judgment, has happened in our day. An exigency has arisen, the duties and the dangers of which should sink deep within all our hearts. We have a great and wise Constitution. We have grown, flourished, and prospered under it with a degree of rapidity unequalled in the history of the world. Founded on the basis of equal civil rights, its provisions secure perfect equality and freedom; those who live under it are equal and enjoy the same privileges. It is to be presumed that all wise and good men of the nation have the same end in view, though they may take different means to obtain that great end, — the preservation and protection of the Constitution and Government. If, then, they have one and the same object, they must unite in the means and be willing each to surrender something to the opinions of others, to secure the harmony of the whole. Unity of purpose should produce harmony of action. This general object then, being the preservation of the Constitution, the only efficient means to accomplish this end is the union of all its friends. The Constitution has enemies, secret and professed, but they cannot disguise the fact that it secures us many benefits. These enemies are unlike in character, but they all act for the same purpose. Some of them are enthusiasts, self-sufficient and headstrong. They fancy that they can strike out for themselves a better path than that laid down for them, as the son of Apollo thought he could find a better course across the heavens for the sun.

“Thus Phaeton once, amidst the Ethereal plains,
Leaped on his father’s car, and seized the reins,
Far from his course impelled the glowing sun,
Till nature’s laws to wild disorder run.”

Heat, in the intellectual constitution of these enthusiasts, is distributed just exactly as it should not be; they have hot heads and cold hearts. They are rash, reckless, and fierce for change, and with no affection for the existing institutions of their country.

Other enemies there are, more cool and with more calculation. These have a deeper and more fixed and dangerous purpose; they formerly spoke of a forcible resistance to the provisions of the Constitution; they now speak of secession. Let me say, gentlemen, that secession from us is accession elsewhere. He who renounces the protection of the “stars and stripes,” will assuredly shelter himself under another flag; that will happen from inevitable necessity.

These malcontents find it not difficult to inflame men’s passions; they attribute all the misfortunes of individual men of different States, sections, and communities, all want of prosperity — to the Union. There is a strange co-operation of what are called antagonistic opinions. Extremes meet and act together.

There are those in the country who profess, in their own words, even to hate the Constitution because it tolerates in the Southern States the institutions existing therein; and there are others who profess to hate it, and do hate it, because it does not better sustain these institutions. These opposite classes meet and shake hands together, and say: “Let us see what we can do to accomplish our common end. Give us dissolution, revolution, secession, anarchy, and then let us have a general scramble for our separate objects.” Now the friends of the Constitution must rally and unite. They must forget the things which are behind, and act with immovable firmness, like a band of brothers, with moderation and conciliation, forgetting past disagreements and looking only to the great object set before them,—the preservation of the Constitution bequeathed to them by their ancestors. They must gird up their loins for the work. It is a duty which they owe to these ancestors and to the generations which are to succeed them.

Gentlemen, I give my confidence, my countenance, my heart and hand, my entire co-operation to all good men, without reference to the past, or pledge for the future, who are willing to stand by the Constitution.

I will quarrel with no man about past differences, I will reproach no one, but only say that we stand together here in a most interesting period of our history, with the same general love of country, the same veneration for ancestry, and the same regard for posterity; and let us act in that spirit of union which actuated our ancestors when they framed the institutions which it is ours to preserve. But I will not carry my toleration so far as to justify, in the slightest degree, any defection from that great and absolutely essential point, the preservation of the Union ; and I think every man should make his sentiments known on this point. For myself I have no hesitation, and cannot act with those who have. Other questions, questions of policy, are subordinate. This is paramount . Every man who is for the Union should come out boldly and say so, without condition or hypothesis, without ifs, ands and buts. What Cicero says on another occasion is fully applicable to this: “denique inscription sit, patres conscripti, in fronte unius cujusque civis, quod de republica sentia.” Let every man bear inscribed on his forehead what are his sentiments concerning the republic. There are persons weak enough, foolish enough, to think and to say that if the Constitution which holds these States together should be broken up, there would be found some other and some better chain of connection. This is rash! This is rash! I no more believe it possible that if this Union be dissolved, held together as it now is by the Constitution, especially as I look on these thirty-one States, with their various institutions, spreading over so vast a country, with such varieties of climate, — I say, I no more believe it possible that this Union, should it once be dissolved, could ever again be re-formed, and all the States re-associated, than I believe it possible that, if, by the fiat of Almighty power, the law of gravitation should be abolished, and the orbs which compose the Universe should rush into illimitable space, jostling against each other, they could be brought back and re-adjusted into harmony by any new principle of attraction. I hardly know whether the manner of our political death would be an aggravation, or an alleviation of our fate. We shall die no lingering death. We shall fall victims to neither war, pestilence, nor famine. An earthquake would shake the foundations of the globe, pull down the pillars of heaven, and bury us at once in endless darkness. Such may be the fate of this country and its institutions. May I never live to see that day! May I not survive to hear any apocalyptic angel crying through the heavens, with such a voice as announced the fall of Babylon, ‘Ἔπεσεν, ἔπεσεν, Αμερικη ἡ μεγάλη, καὶ ἐγένετο κατοικητήριον δαιμονίων, καὶ φυλακὴ παντὸς πνεύματος ἀκαθάρτου.” [Translation; Greek: ‘Is fallen, is fallen, America the Great has become a habitation of demons and a hold for every unclean spirit.’]

Gentlemen, inspiring auspices, this day, surround us and cheer us. It is the anniversary of the birth of Washington. We should know this, even if we had lost our calendars, for we should be reminded of it by the shouts of joy and gladness. The whole atmosphere is redolent of his name; hills and forests, rocks and rivers, echo and re-echo his praises. All the good, whether learned or unlearned, high or low, rich or poor, feel this day that there is one treasure common to them all, and that is the fame and character of Washington. They recount his deeds, ponder over his principles and teachings, and resolve to be more and more guided by them in the future. To the old and the young, to all born in the land, and to all whose love of liberty has brought them from foreign shores to make this the home of their adoption, the name of Washington is this day an exhilarating theme. Americans by birth are proud of his character, and exiles from foreign shores are eager to participate in admiration of him; and it is true that he is, this day, here, every where, all the world over, more an object of love and regard than on any day since his birth.

Gentlemen, on Washington’s principles, and under the guidance of his example, will we and our children uphold the Constitution. Under his military leadership, our fathers conquered; and under the outspread banner of his political and constitutional principles will we also conquer. To that standard, we shall adhere, and uphold it, through evil report and through good report. We will meet danger, we will meet death, if they come, in its protection; and we will struggle on, in daylight and in darkness, aye, in the thickest darkness, with all the storms which it may bring with it, till,

“Danger’s troubled night is o’er,
And the star of Peace return.”

Copyright © 2014 © 2015 TeaPartyEdu http://teapartyedu.net Foundation Truths http://captainjamesdavis.net The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

Founder Benjamin Rush: A Defence of the Use of the Bible as a School Book

BenjaminRush

Founding Father; Doctor Benjamin Rush: Public School Advocate, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Founder of the first American Bible Society, dedicated to spreading the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Dr. Rush was an outspoken Christian, statesman, and pioneering medical doctor. He was a prolific author, and wrote the first America chemistry textbook. In 1777, he was  appointed Surgeon General of the Continental Army, and complained to Washington about the condition of the hospitals In 1797, President John Adams appointed Rush as Treasurer of the U.S. Mint, a position he held until 1813. He was another of the early advocates for the abolition of slavery, free public schools, education for women. He helped found the first anti-slavery society in America. He urged Thomas Paine to write Common Sense, a tract promoting American independence, and supplied the title. Dr. Rush treated over 100 patients a day during the yellow fever epidemics in Philadelphia, and his account of the epidemic of 1793 won him international recognition. At the time of his death in 1813, he was heralded as one of the three most notable figures of America, the other two being George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.

RELIGIOUS VIEWS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON; source: The Jefferson Bible

GOD GOVERNS IN THE AFFAIRS OF MEN Speech by Benjamin Franklin During the Constitutional Convention

A Defence of the Use of the Bible as a School Book: Addressed to the Rev. Jeremy Belknap of Boston, Mass. 1791 by Benjamin Rush

Dear Sir,

Tis now several months, since I promised to give you my reasons for preferring the bible as a school book, to all other compositions. I shall not trouble you with an apology for my delaying so long to comply with my promise, but shall proceed immediately to the subject of my letter.

Before I state my arguments in favour of teaching children to read by means of the bible, I shall assume the five following propositions.;

 I. That Christianity is the only true and perfect religion, and that in proportion as mankind adopt its principles, and obey its precepts, they will be wife, and happy.

     II. That a better knowledge of this religion is to be acquired by reading the bible, than in any other way.

 III. That the bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state, than any other book in the world.

     IV. That knowledge is most durable, and religious instruction most useful, when imparted in early life,

V. That the bible, when not read in schools, is seldom read in any subsequent period of life.

My arguments in favor of the use of the bible as a school book are founded, I. In the constitution of the human mind.

    1. The memory is the first faculty which opens in the minds of children. Of how much consequence, then, must it be, to impress it with the great truths of Christianity, before it is pre-occupied with less interesting subjects! As all the liquors, which are poured into a cup, generally taste of that which first filled it, so all the knowledge, which is added to that which is treasured up in the memory from the bible, generally receives an agreeable and useful tincture from it.

2. There is a peculiar aptitude in the minds of children for religious knowledge. I have constantly found them in the first fix or seven years of their lives, more inquisitive upon religious subjects, than upon any others: and an ingenious instructor of youth has informed me, that he has found young children more capable of receiving just ideas upon the most difficult tenets of religion, than upon the most simple branches of human knowledge. It would be strange if it were otherwise; for God creates all his means to suit all his ends. There must of course be a fitness between the human mind, and the truths which are essential to its happiness.

3. The influence of prejudice is derived from the impressions, which are made upon the mind in early life; prejudices are of two kinds, true and false. In a world where false prejudices do so much mischief, it would discover great weakness not to oppose them, by such as are true.

I grant that many men have rejected the prejudices derived from the bible: but I believe no man ever did so, without having been made wiser or better, by the early operation of these prejudices upon his mind. Every just principle that is to be found in the writings of Voltaire, is borrowed from the Bible: and the morality of the Deists, which has been so much admired and praised, is, I believe, in most cafes, the effect of habits, produced by early instruction in the principles of Christianity.

    4. We are subject, by a general law in our natures, to what is called habit. Now if the study of the scriptures be necessary to our happiness at any time of our . lives, the sooner we begin to read them, the more we shall be attached to them; for it is peculiar to all the acts of habit, to become easy, strong and agreeable by repetition.

5. It is a law in our natures, that we remember longest the knowledge we acquire by the greatest number of our senses. Now a knowledge of the contents of the bible, is acquired in school by the aid of the eyes and the ears; for children after getting their lessons, always say them to their masters in an audible voice j of course there is a presumption, that this knowledge will be retained much longer than if it had been acquired in any other way.

6. The interesting events and characters, recorded and described in the Old and New Testaments, are accommodated above all others to seize upon all the faculties of the minds of children. The understanding, the memory, the imagination, the passions, and the moral powers, are all occasionally addressed by the various incidents which are contained in those divine books, insomuch that not to be delighted with them, is to be devoid of every principle of pleasure that exists in a sound mind.

7. There is a native love of truth in the human mind. Lord Shaftesbury says, that “truth is so congenial to our minds, that we love even the shadow of it:” and Horace, in his rules for composing an epic poem, establishes the fame law in our natures, by advising the ” fictions in poetry to resemble truth.” Now the bible contains more truths than any other book in the world: so true is the testimony that it bears of God in his works of creation, providence, and redemption, that it is called truth itself, by way of preeminence above things that are only simply true. How forcibly are we struck with the evidences of truth, in the history of the Jews, above what we discover in the history of other nations? Where do we find a hero, or an historian record[s] his own faults or vices except in the Old Testament? Indeed, my friend, from some accounts which I have read of the American revolution, I begin to grow skeptical to all history except to that which is contained in the bible. Now if this book be known to contain nothing but what is materially true, the mind will naturally acquire a love for it from this circumstance: and from this affection for the truths of of the bible, it will acquire a discernment of truth in other books, and a preference of it in all the transactions of life. .

8. There is a wonderful property in the memory, which enables it in old age, to recover the knowledge it had acquired in early life, after it had been apparently forgotten for forty or fifty years. Of how much consequence, then, must it be, to fill the mind with that species of knowledge, in childhood and youth, which, when recalled in the decline of life, will support the soul under the infirmities of age, and smooth the avenues of approaching death? The bible is the only book which is capable of affording this support to old age; and it is for this reason that we find it resorted to with so much diligence and pleasure by such old people as have read it in early life. I can recollect many instances of this kind in persons who discovered no attachment to the bible, in the meridian of their lives, who have notwithstanding, spent the evening of them, in reading no other book. The late Sir John Pringle, Physician to the Queen of Great Britain, after passing a long life in camps and at court, closed it by studying the scriptures. So anxious was he to increase his knowledge in them, that he wrote to Dr. Michaelis, a learned professor of divinity in Germany, for an explanation of a difficult text of scripture, a short time before his death.

9. My second argument in favour of the use of the bible in schools, is founded upon an implied command of God, and upon the practice of several of the wisest nations of the world—In the 6th chapter of Deuteronomy, we find the following words, which are directly to my purpose, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

It appears, moreover, from the history of the Jews, that they flourished as a nation, in proportion as they honoured and read the books of Moses, which contained, a written revelation of the will of God, to the children of men. The law was not only neglected, but lost during the general profligacy of manners which accompanied the long and wicked reign of Manasseh. Put the discovery of it, in the rubbish of the temple, by Josiah, and its subsequent general use, were followed by a return of national virtue and prosperity. We read further, of the wonderful effects which the reading of the law by Ezra, after his return from his captiviy in Babylon, had upon the Jews. They hung upon his lips with tears, and showed the sincerity of their repentance, by their general reformation.

The learning of the Jews, for many years consisted in nothing but a knowledge of the scriptures. These were the text books of all the instruction that was given in the schools of their prophets. It ‘was by means of this general knowledge of their law, that those Jews that wandered from Judea into our countries, carried with them and propagated certain ideas of the true God among all the civilized nations upon the face of the earth. And it was from the attachment they retained to the old Testament, that they procured a translation of it into the Greek language, after they lost the Hebrew tongue, by their long absence from their native country. The utility of this translation, commonly called the Septuagint, in facilitating the progress of the gospel, is well known to all who are acquainted with the history of the first age of the christian church.

But the benefits of an early and general acquaintance with the bible, were not confined only to the Jewish nations. They have appeared in many countries in Europe, since the reformation. The industry, and habits of order, which distinguish many of the German nations, are derived from their early instruction in the principles of Christianity, by means of the bible. The moral and enlightened character of the inhabitants of Scotland, and of the New England States, appears to be derived from the same cause. If we descend from nations to sects, we shall find them wise and prosperous in proportion as they become early acquainted with the scriptures. The bible is still used as a school book among the Quakers. The morality of this sect of christians is universally acknowledged. Nor is this all, their prudence in the management of their private affairs, is as much a mark of their society, as their sober manners,

I wish to be excused for repeating here, that if the bible did not convey a single direction for the attainment of future happiness, it should be read in our schools in preference to all other books, from its containing the greatest portion of that kind of knowledge which is calculated to produce private and publick temporal happiness.

We err not only in human affairs, but in religion likewise, only because we do not know the scriptures.” The opposite systems of the numerous sects of Christians. arise chiefly from their being more instructed in catechisms, creeds, and confessions of faith, than in the scriptures. Immense truths, I believe, are concealed in them. The time, I have no doubt, will come, when posterity will view and pity our ignorance of these truths, as much as we do the ignorance of the disciples of our Saviour, who knew nothing of the meaning of these plain passages in the old testament which were daily fulfilling before their eyes. Whenever that time shall arrive, those truths which have escaped our notice, or, if discovered, have been thought to be opposed to each other, or to be inconsistent with themselves, will then like the stones of Solomon’s temple, be found so exactly ‘o accord with each other, that they shall be cemented without noise or force, into one simple and sublime system of religion. 

But further, we err, not only in religion but in philosophy likewise, because we do not know or believe the scriptures. The sciences have been compared to a circle of which religion composes a part. To understand any one of them perfectly it is necessary to have some knowledge of them all. Bacon, Boyle, and Newton included the scriptures in the inquiries to which their universal geniuses disposed them, and their philosophy was aided by their knowledge in them. A striking agreement has been lately discovered between the history of certain events recorded in the bible and some of the operations and productions of nature, particularly those which are related in Whitehurst’s observations on the deluge- in Smith’s account of the origin of the variety of colour in the human species, and in Bruce’s travels. It remains yet to be shown how many other events, related in the bible, accord with some late important discoveries in the principles of medicine. The events, and the principles alluded to, mutually establish the truth of each other. From the discoveries of the christian philosophers, whose names have been last mentioned, I have been led to question whether most harm has been done to revelation, by those divines who have unduly multiplied the objects of faith, or by those deists who have unduly multiplied the objects of reason, in explaining the scriptures.

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I shall now proceed to answer some of the objections which have been made to the use of the bible as a school book.

   I. We are told, that the familiar use of the bible in our schools, has a tendency to lessen a due reverence for it. This objection, by proving too much, proves nothing at all. If familiarity lessens respect for divine things, then all those precepts of our religion, which enjoin the daily or weekly worship of the Deity, are improper. The bible was not intended to represent a Jewish ark; and it is an antichristian idea, to suppose that it can be profaned, by being carried into a school house, or by being handled by children. But where will the bible be read by young people with more reverence than in a school? Not in most private families; for I believe there are few parents, who preserve so much order in their houses, as is kept up in our common English [free or public] schools.

II. We are told, that there are many passages in the old testament, that are improper to be read by children, and that the greatest part of it is no way interesting to mankind under the present dispensation of the gospel. There are I grant, several chapters, and many verse[s] in the old testament, which in their present unfortunate translation, should be passed over by children. But I deny that any of the books of the old testament are not interesting to mankind, under the gospel dispensation. Most of the characters, events, and ceremonies, mentioned in them, are personal, providential, or instituted types of the Messiah: All of which have been, or remain yet to be, fulfilled by him. It is from an ignorance or neglect of these types, that we have so many deists in Christendom; for so irrefragably [are impossible to refute] do they prove the truth of Christianity, that I am sure a young man who had been regularly instructed in their meaning, could never doubt afterwards of the truth of any of its principles. If any obscurity appears in these principles, it is only (to use the words of the poet) because they are dark, with excessive bright.

I know there is an objection among many People to teach children doctrines of any kind, because they are liable to be controverted. But where will this objection lead us ?— The being of a God, and the obligations of morality, have both been controverted [argued about]; and yet who has objected to our teaching these doctrines to our children?

The curiosity and capacities of young people for the mysteries of religion, awaken much sooner than is generally supposed. Of this we have two remarkable proofs in the old testament. The first is mentioned in the twelfth chapter of Exodus. “And it shall come when your children shall say unto you,” What mean you by this service ?” that ye shall say, ” It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.” A second proof of the desire of children to be instructed in the mysteries of religion, is to be found in the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy. And when thy son asketh thee in the time to come saying,  What mean the testimonies—and the statutes—and the judgments which the Lord our God hath commanded you?” Then thou shalt fay unto thy son, ” We were Pharoah’s bondmen in Egypt, and the Lord our God brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.” These enquiries from the mouths of children are perfectly natural; for where is the parent who has not had similar questions proposed to him by his children upon their being being first conducted to a place of worship, or upon their beholding, for the first time, either of the sacraments of our religion.

Let us not not be wiser than our Maker. If moral precepts alone could have reformed mankind, the mission of the Son of God into our world, would have been unnecessary. He came to promulgate a system of doctrines, as well as a system of morals. The perfect morality of the gospel rests upon a doctrine, which, though often controverted, has never been refuted, I mean the vicarious life and death of the Son of God. This sublime and ineffable doctrine delivers us from the absurd hypotheses of modern philosophers, concerning the foundation of moral obligation, and fixes it upon the eternal and self moving principle of Love. It concentrates a whole system of ethics in a single text of Scripture. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you.” By witholding the knowledge of this doctrine from children, we deprive ourselves of the best means of awakening moral sensibility in their minds. We do more, we furnish an argument, for witholding from them a knowledge of the morality of the gospel likewise; for this, in many instances, is as supernatural, and therefore as liable to be controverted, as any of the doctrines or miracles which are mentioned in the new testament. The miraculous conception of the saviour of the world by a virgin, is not more opposed to the ordinary course of natural events, nor is the doctrine of the atonement more above human reason, than those moral precepts, which command us to love our enemies, or to die for our friends.

III. It has been said, that the division of the bible into chapters and verses, renders it more difficult to be read, by children than many other books.

By a little care in a master, this difficulty may be obviated, and even an advantage derived from it. It may serve to transfer the attention of the scholar to the sense of a subject; and no person will ever read well, who is guided by any thing else, in his stops, emphafis, or accents. The division of the bible into chapters and verses, is not a greater obstacle to its being read with ease, than the bad punctuation of most other books. I deliver this stricture upon other books, from the authority of Mr. Rice, the celebrated author of the art of speaking, whom I heard declare in a large company in London, that he had never seen a book properly pointed in the English Language. He exemplified, notwithstanding, by reading to the same company a passage from Milton, his perfect knowledge of the art of reading.

Some people, I know, have proposed to introduce extracts from the bible, into our schools, instead of the bible itself. Many excellent works of this kind, are in print, but if we admit any one of them, we shall have the same inundation of them that we have had of grammars, spelling books, and lessons for children, many of which are published for the benefit of the authors only, and all of them have tended greatly to increase the expence of education. Besides, these extracts or abridgements of the bible, often contain the tenets of particular sects or persons, and therefore, may be improper for schools composed of the children of different sects of Christians. The bible is a cheap book, and is to be had in every bookstore. It is, moreover, esteemed and prefered by all sects; because each finds its peculiar doctrines in it. It would therefore be used in preference to any abridgements of it, or histories extracted from it.

I have heard it proposed that a portion of the bible should be read every day by the master, as a means of instructing children in it: But this is a poor substitute for obliging children to read it as a school book; for by this means we insensibly engrave, as it were, its contents upon their minds: and it has been remarked that children, instructed in this way in the scriptures, seldom forget any part of them. They have the same advantage over those persons,who have only heard the scriptures read by a master, that a man who has worked with the tools of a mechanical employment for several years, has over the man who has only stood a few hours in a work shop, and seen the same business carried on by other people.

In this defence of the use of the bible as a school book, I beg you would not think that I suppose the Bible to contain the only revelation which God has made to man. I believe in an internal revelation, or a moral principle, which God has implanted in the heart of every man, as the precursor of his final dominion over the whole human race. How much this internal revelation accords with the external, remains yet to be explored by philosophers. I am disposed to believe, that most of the doctrines of Christianity revealed in the bible might be discovered by a close examination of all the principles of action in man: But who is equal to such an enquiry? It certainly does not suit the natural indolence, or laborious employments of a great majority of mankind. The internal revelation of the gospel may be compared to the straight line which is made through a wilderness by the assistance of a compass, to a distant country, which few are able to discover, while the bible resembles a public road to the same country, which is wide, plain, and easily found, And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness. The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.”

Neither let me in this place exclude the Revelation which God has made of himself to man in the works of creation. I am far from wishing to lessen the influence of this species of Revelation upon mankind. But the knowledge of God obtained from this source, is obscure and feeble in its operation, compared with that which is derived from the bible. The visible creation speaks of the Deity in hyeroglyphics, while the bible describes all his attributes and perfections in such plain and familiar language that “he who runs may read.”

How kindly has our maker dealt with his creatures, in providing three different cords to draw them to himself? But how weakly do some men act, who suspend their faith, and hopes upon only one of them! By laying hold of them all, they would approach more speedily and certainly to the centre of all happiness.

To the arguments I have mentioned in favour of the use of the bible as a school book, I shall add a few reflections.

The present fashionable practice of rejecting the bible from our schools, I suspect has originated with the deists. They discover great ingenuity in this new mode of attacking Christianity. If they proceed in it, they will do more in half a century, in extirpating our religion, than Bolingbroke or Voltaire could have effected in a thousand years. I am not writing to this class of people. I despair of changing the opinions of any of them. I wish only to alter the opinions and conduct of those lukewarm, or superstitious Christians, who have been milled [crushed or confused] by the deists upon this subject. On the ground of the good old custom, of using the bible as a school book, it becomes us to entrench our religion. It is the last bulwark the deists have left it; for they have rendered instruction in the principles of Christianity by the pulpit and the press, so unfashionable, that little good for many years seems to have been done by either of them.

The effects of the disuse of the bible, as a school book have appeared of late in the neglect and even contempt with which scripture names are treated by many people. It is because parents have not been early taught to know or respect the characters and exploits of the old and new testament worthies, that their names are exchanged for those of the modern kings of Europe, or of the principal characters in novels and romances. I conceive there may be some advantage in bearing scripture names. It may lead the persons who bear them, to study that part of the scriptures, in which their names are mentioned, with uncommon attention, and perhaps it may excite a desire in them to possess the talents or virtues of their ancient namesakes. This remark first occurred to me, upon hearing a pious woman whose name was Mary, say, that the first passages of the bible, which made a serious impression on her mind, were those interesting chapters and verses in which the name of Mary is mentioned in the New Testament.

It is a singular fact, that while the names of the kings and emperors of Rome, are now given chiefly to horses and dogs, scripture names have hitherto been confined only to the human species. Let the enemies and contemners [view with contempt; despise] of those names take care, lest the names of more modern kings be given hereafter only to the same animals, and lest the names of the modern heroines of romances be given to animals of an inferior species.

It is with great pleasure, that I have observed the bible to be the only book read in the Sunday schools in England. We have adopted the same practice in the Sunday schools [in America], lately established in this city. This will give our religion (humanly speaking) the chance of a longer life in our country [The United States]. We hear much of the persons educated in free schools in England, turning out well in the various walks of life. I have enquired into the cause of it, and have satisfied myself, that it is wholly to be ascribed to the general use of the bible in those schools, for it seems the children of poor people are of too little consequence to be guarded from the supposed evils of reading the scriptures in early life, or in an unconsecrated school house.

However great the benefits of reading the scriptures in schools have been, I cannot help remarking, that these benefits might be much greater, did schoolmasters take more pains to explain them to their scholars. Did they demonstrate the divine original of the bible from the purity, consistency, and benevolence of its doctrines and precepts—did they explain the meaning of the levitical institutions, and show their application to the numerous and successive gospel dispensations—did they inform their pupils that the gross and abominable vices of the Jews were recorded only as proofs of the depravity of human nature, and of the insufficiency of the law, to produce moral virtue and thereby to establish the necessity and perfection of the gospel system —and above all, did they often enforce the discourses of our Saviour, as the best rule of life, and the surest guide to happiness, how great would be the influence of our schools upon the order and prosperity of our country! Such a mode of instructing children in the Christian religion, would convey knowledge into their understandings, and would therefore be preferable to teaching them creeds, and catechisms, which too often convey, not knowledge, but words only, into their memories. I think I am not too sanguine in believing, that education, conducted in this manner, would, in the course of two generations, eradicate infidelity from among us, and render civil government scarcely necessary in our country.

In contemplating the political institutions of the United States, I lament, that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes, and take so little pains to prevent them. We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity, by means of the bible; for this divine book, above all others, favours that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and all those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism.

I have now only to apologize for having addressed this letter to you, after having been assured by you, that your opinion, respecting the use of the bible as a school book, coincided with mine. My excuse for what I have done is, that I knew you were qualified by your knowledge, and disposed by your zeal in the cause of truth, to correct all the errors you would discover in my letter. Perhaps a further apology may be necessary for my having presumed to write upon a subject so much above my ordinary studies. My excuse for it is, that I thought a single mite from a member of a profession, which has been frequently charged with skepticism in religion, might attract the notice of persons who had often overlooked the more ample contributions upon this subject, of gentlemen of other professions. With great respect, I am, dear Sir, your sincere friend.

BENJAMIN RUSH. Philadelphia, March 10, 1791.

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The Declaration of Independence: Its History; Chapter 3 1776

The Declaration of Independence Its History Chapter 3 1776

Drafting the Declaration of Independence. The Committee—Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Livingston and Sherman

Drafting the Declaration of Independence. The Committee—Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Livingston and Sherman

See also: The Declaration of Independence: Its History Chapter 1 1774
The Declaration of Independence: Its History Chapter 2, 1775

SEVENTEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-SIX

JANUARY 3, 1776, gave being to the new army at Cambridge. Washington — whose life Robert Morris, six months later, declared “the most valuable in America” —hoisted the Union flag, in compliment to the united Colonies. On the 30th, he writes thence to the President of Congress: “The clouds thicken fast; where they will burst, I know not; but we should be armed at all points.”

This was always Washington’s appeal. At no time, so far as we know, did he waste his powers, or invite the refusal of his constant and necessary demands upon Congress, by urging upon it or any of its members a declaration of independence.

To Joseph Reed, however, Washington, in 1776, openly expressed his opinions. On January 31st, he writes: “A few more of such flaming arguments, as were exhibited at Falmouth and Norfolk, added to the sound doctrine and unanswerable reasoning contained in the pamphlet ‘Common Sense,’ will not leave numbers at a loss to decide upon the propriety of a separation “; on February 10th, though his situation, as described by himself, had “been such, that I have been obliged to use art to conceal it from my own officers “: “With respect to myself, I have never entertained an idea of an accommodation, since I heard of the measures, which were adopted in consequence of the Bunker’s Hill fight. The King’s speech has confirmed the sentiments I entertained upon the news of that affair; and, if every man was of my mind, the ministers of Great Britain should know . . . that, if nothing else could satisfy a tyrant and his diabolical ministry, we are determined to shake off all connexions with a state so unjust and unnatural. This I would tell them, not under covert, but in words as clear as the sun in its meridian brightness”; and, on April 15th: “I am exceedingly concerned to hear of the divisions and parties, which prevail with you, and in the southern colonies, on the score of independence. These are the shelves we have to avoid or our bark will split and tumble to pieces . . . Nothing but disunion can hurt our cause.”

Indeed, William Palfray (evidently) writes from New York to Samuel Adams, May 24th: “As it may be of some importance to you to know General W’s Sentiments respecting the grand point of American independence I think my duty to acquaint you that I have heard him converse several times lately on the Subject, and delivered it as his opinion that a reconciliation with Great Britain is impracticable impolitic, and would be in the highest degree detrimental to the true Interests of America — That when he first took the Command of the Army he abhorr’d the Idea of independence but is now fully convinced nothing else will save us —”

Two days before the birth of the new army, we find the Assembly of New Hampshire “establishing a form of Government, to continue during the present unhappy and unnatural contest with Great Britain; protesting and declaring, that we never sought to throw off our dependence upon Great Britain . . . and that we shall rejoice if such a reconciliation . . . can be effected, as shall be approved by the Continental Congress, in whose prudence and wisdom we confide.”

Massachusetts, on the contrary, on the 18th of the same month (January), fully empowered her Delegates (Hancock, the Adamses, Paine and Elbridge Gerry), “with the Delegates from the other American Colonies, to concert, direct, and order such further measures as shall to them appear best calculated for the recovery and establishment of American rights and liberties ” — words which might be implied to include the power to join in a declaration of independence, though they evidently were not so intended and, as we shall see, were not so construed.

John Adams, who had left Congress, on leave of absence, December 9, 1775,and Gerry, who was elected for the first time on the 18th (of January, 1776), proceeded together to Philadelphia and took their seats on February 9th.

Adams, in his Autobiography, tells us: “Mr. Samuel Adams, Mr. Gerry and myself now composed a majority of the Massachusetts delegation, and we were no longer vexed or enfeebled by divisions among ourselves, or by indecision or indolence.”

At another place in his Autobiography, — indistinctly intermingling his views following his return with those of the preceding Fall, from his return after the adjournment on August 1st to his departure on the leave of absence — he says: “At the appointed time [Wednesday, September 5, 1775], we returned to Philadelphia, and Congress were reassembled . . . almost every day I had something to say about advising the States to institute governments, to express my total despair of any good from . . . any of those things which were called conciliatory measures. I constantly insisted . . . that we should be driven to the necessity of declaring ourselves independent States, and that we ought now to be employed in preparing a plan of confederation for the Colonies and treaties . . . together with a declaration of independence; that these three measures, independence, confederation, and negotiations with foreign powers, particularly France, ought to go hand in hand, and be adopted all together; that foreign powers could not be expected to acknowledge us till we had acknowledged ourselves, and taken our station among them as a sovereign power and independent nation . . . Some gentlemen doubted of the sentiments of France; thought she would frown upon us as rebels, and be afraid to countenance the example. I replied to those gentlemen, that I apprehended they had not attended to the relative situation of France and England; that it was the unquestionable interest of France that the . . . Colonies should be independent . . . When I first made these observations in Congress, I never saw a greater impression made upon that assembly or any other. Attention and approbation were marked upon every countenance. Several gentlemen came to me afterwards, to thank me for that speech, particularly Mr. Caesar Rodney, of Delaware, and Mr. Duane, of New York. I remember these two gentlemen in particular, because both of them said that I had considered the subject of foreign connections more maturely than any man they had ever heard in America . . . These and such as these, were my constant and daily topics, sometimes of reasoning and no doubt often of declamation, from the meeting of Congress in the autumn of 1775, through the whole winter and spring of 1776. Many motions were made, and after tedious discussions, lost. I received little assistance from my colleagues in all these contests; three of them were either inclined to lean towards Mr. Dickinson’s system, or at least chose to be silent, and the fourth [Samuel Adams evidently] spoke but rarely in Congress, and never entered into any extensive arguments, though, when he did speak, his sentiments were clear and pertinent and neatly expressed. Mr. Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, Mr. Sherman, of Connecticut, and Mr. Gadsden, of South Carolina, were always on my side, and Mr. Chase, of Maryland, when he did speak at all, was always powerful, and generally with us. Mr. Johnson, of Maryland, was the most frequent speaker from that State, and, while he remained with us, was inclined to Mr. Dickinson for some time, but ere long he and all his State came cordially into our system.”

Gerry writes, to James Warren, March 26th: “You are desirous of knowing what capital measures are proposed in congress. I refer you to . . . what is done concerning privateering . . . This will not in itself satisfy you, and / hope nothing will, short of a determination of America to hold her rank in the creation, and give law to herself. I doubt not this will soon take place … I sincerely wish you would originate instructions, expressed with decency and firmness — your own style — and give your sentiments as a court in favour of independency. I am certain it would turn many doubtful minds, and produce a reversal of the contrary instructions adopted by some assemblies. Some timid minds are terrified at the word independence. If you think caution in this respect good policy, change the name. America has gone such lengths she cannot recede, and I am convinced a few weeks or months at furthest will convince her of the fact, but the fruit must have time to ripen in some of the other colonies . . ,”

Samuel Adams (who, not long before, had been “indisposed” in Baltimore, “so as to be obliged to keep my Chamber ten days, I was unable to travel with my Friends”; and to whom, on February 12th, his wife had written: “I Received your affectionate Letter by Fesenton and thank you for your Kind Concern for My health and Safety. I beg you Would not give yourself any pain on our being so Near the Camp, the place I am in is so situated that if the Regulars should Even take prospect hill … I should be able to Make an Escape — as I am Within a few stones Cast of a Back Road Which Leads to the Most Retired part of Newtown …PS I beg you to Excuse the very poor Writing as My paper is Bad and my pen made with scissors — I should be glad … if you should not come down soon you would Write me Word Who to apply to for some Money for I am low in Cash and Everything is very dear”) writes, April 3d, to Dr. Samuel Cooper: “Is not America already independent? Why then not declare it? . . . Can Nations at War be said to be dependent either upon the other? I ask then again, why not declare for Independence? Because say some, it will forever shut the Door of Reconciliation … By such a Reconciliation she would not only in the most shameful Manner acknowledge the Tyranny, but most wickedly, as far as would be in her Power, prevent her Posterity from ever hereafter resisting it.”

His words of the 15th to Joseph Hawley are equally forcible: “I am perfectly satisfied with the Reasons you offer to show the Necessity of a public & explicit Declaration of Independency. — I cannot conceive what good Reason can be assigned against it. Will it widen the Breach? This would be a strange Question after we have raised Armies and fought Battles with the British Troops, set up an American Navy … It cannot surely after all this be imagined that we consider ourselves or mean to be considered by others in any State but that of Independence But moderate Whigs are disgusted with our mentioning the Word! Sensible Tories are better Politicians. — They know, that no foreign Power can consistently yield Comfort to Rebels, or enter into any kind of Treaty with these Colonies till they declare themselves free and independent . . . moderate Gentlemen are flattering themselves with the prospect of Reconciliation . . .”

The letter to Hawley was followed by one the next day to Warren: “The only alternative is independence or slavery . . . One of our moderate, prudent Whigs would be startled at what I now write . . . they would continue the conflict a century. There are such moderate men here, but their principles are daily growing out of fashion. The child Independence is now struggling for birth. I trust that in a short time it will be brought forth, and in spite of Pharaoh, all America will hail the dignified stranger.” On the last day of April, he writes —again to Cooper: “I am to acknowledge the Receipt of your Favor of the 18th Instant by the Post—The Ideas of Independence spread far and wide among the Colonies — Many of the leading Men see the absurdity of supposing that Allegiance is due to a Sovereign who has already thrown us out of his Protection — South Carolina has lately assumed a new Government—The Convention of North Carolina have unanimously agreed to do the same . . . Virginia whose Convention is to meet on the third of next month will follow the lead — The Body of the People of Maryland are firm — Some of the principal Members of their Convention, I am inclined to believe, are timid and lukewarm . . . The lower Counties in Delaware are a small People but well affected to the Common Cause—In this populous and wealthy Colony [Pennsylvania] political Parties run high—The News papers are full of the Matter but I think I may assure you that Common Sense, prevails among the people . . . The Jerseys are agitating the great Question—It is with them rather a Matter of Prudence whether to determine till some others have done it before them . . . their Sentiments & Manners are I believe similar to those of N England—I forbear to say anything of New York, for I confess I am not able to form any opinion of them . . . I think they are at least as unenlightened in the Nature and Importance of our political Disputes as any one of the united Colonies—I have not mentioned our little Sister Georgia; but I believe she is as warmly engaged in the Cause as any of us, & will do as much as can be reasonably expected of her I was very solicitous the last Fall to have Governments set up by the people in every Colony . . . When this is done, and I am inclined to think it will be soon, the Colonies will feel their Independence … I am disappointed, but I bear it tolerably well . . . There has been much to do to confirm doubting Friends & fortify the Timid . . . The Boston Port bill suddenly wrought a Union of the Colonies which could not be brought about by the Industry of years in reasoning on the Necessity of it for the Common Safety . . . The burning of Norfolk & the Hostilities committed in North Carolina have kindled the Resentment of our Southern Brethren who once thought their Eastern Friends hot headed & rash . . . There is a Reason that wd induce one even to wish for the speedy Arrival of the British Troops that are expected at the Southward— I think our friends are well prepared for them & one Battle would do more towards a Declaration of Independency than a long chain of conclusive Arguments in a provincial Convention or the Continental Congress—” The sentiments meanwhile of some of the constituents themselves, in the Commonwealth, and the result (evidently) of Gerry’s letter of March 26th to Warren also have come down to us:

On the 18th and 20th of February, Hawley thus declares to Gerry: “I have read the pamphlet, entitled, ‘Common Sense, addressed to the Inhabitants of America,’ and every sentiment has sunk into my well-prepared heart …””… if we resolve on independence, what will hinder but that we may instantly commence a trade not only with Holland, France, and Spain, but with all the world? . . . Pray consider this matter with regard to Canada and the Dutch of New-York. Will they ever join with us heartily, who, in order to do it, must sacrifice their trade . . . Whereas, the moment that we resolve on independence, trade will be free for them — for the one to France and the other to Holland . . . Independence, in short, is the only way to union and harmony, to vigor and dispatch in business; our eye will be single, and our whole body full of light; anything short of it will, as appears to me, be our destruction, infallible destruction, and that speedily.”

On March 26th, Edmund Quincy writes to his daughter, Mrs. Dorothy Hancock: “”May we deserve a Continuance of the Protection of Heaven & may there be soon an Accommodation or Separation of yeYounger from ye Older States; the Last I expect will be the necessary Effect of unnatural Treatment we have received — The voice of the people in these [Northern] Colonies seems almost universally in favor of independency as far as I can perceive … It is my real Opinion y’ set time is come wherein Providence has appointed the Flourishing States to withdraw themselves from ye Control of all other . . .”

On the 1st of the next month, Hawley, at Watertown, urges Samuel Adams as he had previously urged Gerry: “Give me leave to tell you that an immediate explicit and ye firmest Confederation and Proclamation of Independence may be more necessary than you are aware — unless it Shall be done and declared very soon — Infinite jealousies will arise in the breasts of the People and when they begin to spring up they will increase amazingly . . . All will be in confusion if independence is not declared immediately [.]”

On the 28th of April, John Adams writes to his wife: “You tell me our jurors refuse to serve, because the writs are issued in the King’s name “; and, on the 29th, a letter from Boston says: “Common Sense, like a ray of revelation, has come in seasonably to clear our doubts, and to fix our choice.”

Another letter of the same month, to John Adams, from J. Winthrop, at Watertown, says: “I hope Common Sense is in as high estimation at the Southward as with us. Tis universally admired here. If the Congress should adopt the Sentiments of it, it would give the greatest satisfaction to our people.”

On May 1st, Hawley writes to Gerry: “The Tories dread a declaration of Independence, and a course of conduct on that plan, more than death. They console themselves with a belief that the Southern Colonies will not accede to it. My hand and heart are full of it. There will be no abiding union without it.”

On the 13th, Cooper replies, from Boston, to the second letter of Samuel Adams to him: “I am much oblig’d to you for your Favor 30th Apr. which I receiv’d by the Post the Evening before last, and am glad to find Affairs are in so good a Train in the Southern Colonies; In New England the Voice is almost universal for Independence . . . Our General Court is dissolved [?]— Before this took place, the House pass’d a Vote to consult their Constituents, whether they would instruct their future Representatives to move the Continental Congress for Independence — I can only assure you of the Substance of the Vote; the Form of it was not clearly related to me. The House sent up this Vote to the Council for their Concurrence — The Propriety of this was doubted by some, who did not think the Council could properly act on such an affair. It was however done, and the Council negativ’d the Vote. Mr Cushing among others was against it. He said that it would embarrass the Congress — that we ought to wait till they mov’d the Question to us — that it would prejudice the other Colonies against us — and that you had wrote to some Body here, that things with you were going on slowly and surely, and any Kind of Eagerness in us upon this Question would do Hurt. Others said that the Congress might not choose to move such a Point to their Constituents tho they might be very glad to know their minds upon it — that it was beginning at the right End for the Constituents to instruct their Delegates at Congress, & not wait for their asking Instructions from their Constituents — that the Question had been long thought of & agitated thro the Colonies, & it was now high Time to come to some Determination upon it; otherwise our artful Enemies might sew the Seeds of Dissention among us to the great Prejudice if not Ruin of the common Cause. The House, tho they would have been glad of the Concurrence of the Council in this Matter, have determin’d to proceed without them; and Instructions will go from all Parts on this Head; and it seems, by Appearances thro the Continent, you will not be able to defer a great While your Decision on this grand Question.—”

On the 17th, Hawley, at Northampton, writes another urgent letter to Samuel Adams.

On the 20th, B. Hichborn writes to John Adams, from Boston: “The principal political topic of Conversation is Independence — & I think the people almost una voce [with one voice], are wishing for its immediate Declaration— we are often checked by real or fictitious accounts from the Southward, of a contrary disposition in a large Majority of the People there— Some opinions say the Continental Congress will, others that they will not make such a Declaration, without consulting their Constituents — can’t we be relieved from this uncertainty?”

On the 22d, Hawley, at Springfield, writes to Samuel Adams: “Before this You have rec’d the Account of the routing of the continental forces before Quebec — Will your Congress now delay for a Moment the most explicit declaration of independence [?]”

On June 1st, Winthrop — speaking of what is considered later — writes again to John Adams: “I have often wondered, that so much difficulty should be raised about declaring independence, when we have actually got the thing itself … I now perceive you were in these sentiments long ago. But they are very opposite to the inveterate prejudices and long-established systems of many others. It must be a work of time to eradicate these prejudices. And perhaps it may be best to accomplish this great affair by slow and almost imperceptible steps, and not per saltum [By a leap or bound], by one violent exertion. The late Resolve of May 15 comes very near it.”

On the next day, Hawley, at Watertown, writes to Gerry: “I do not mean that Confederations and a Declaration of Independence Should be made without a good prospect of its taking in all the Colonies — We are ripe for it here — But as nothing Short of it can Save us, if a Clear Vote can be Obtain for it in Congress, will it not do to risk it? I imagine that it will take everywhere.”

Indeed, on June 13th (Thursday), Hawley writes, to Gerry: “You cannot declare Independence too soon . . . When the present House here called last week, for the instructions of the several towns touching Independency, agreeable to the recommendation of the last House . . . it appeared that about two-thirds of the towns in the Colony had met, and all instructed in the affirmative, and generally returned to be unanimous. As to the other towns, the accounts of their Members were, either that they were about to meet, or that they had not received the notice, as it was given only in the newspapers. Whereupon, the House immediately ordered the unnotified towns to be notified by handbills, and in a short time undoubtedly we shall have returns from all; and it is almost certain that the returns will be universally to support the Congress, with their lives and fortunes, in case of a declaration of Independence.”

Before (January 4th) any of these letters was written and even before Common Sense appeared, General Greene, then at “Camp on Prospect-Hill”, wrote to Ward: “Permit me, then, to recommend from the sincerity of my heart, ready at all times to bleed in my country’s cause, a declaration of independence; and call upon the world, and the great God who governs it, to witness the necessity, propriety, and rectitude thereof.”

What Ward replied, if anything, we do not know; but John Adams writes of him, August 18th: “My friend [James] Warren, the late Governour Ward, and Mr. Gadsden, are three characters in which I have seen the most generous disdain of every spice and species of [selfish design] . . . The two last had not great abilities, but they had pure hearts. Yet they had less influence than many others, who had neither so considerable parts, nor any share at all of their purity of intention.” Indeed, “Gov’r Ward . . . died last night of the Small Pox” as shown by the Diary of Richard Smith for March 26th, over two months before the question of declaring independence came (directly) before Congress.

As early as Ward’s death, the trend of events, however, was being felt by some of the members of that body — among them Gerry, as we have seen by his (first) letter to Warren, asking Warren to originate instructions, written on the very day on which Ward died; and Hopkins, the remaining Delegate, very naturally, therefore, communicated — April 8th — with Governor Nicholas Cooke, making certain “queries concerning dependence or independence.”

The General Assembly (of Rhode Island) accordingly, on May 4th, elected William Ellery a to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Ward and, at the same time, instructed her Delegates “to consult and advise with the Delegates of the said [other] Colonies in Congress upon the most proper measures . . . to secure the said Colonies their rights and liberties . . . whether by entering into treaties … or by such other prudent and effectual ways and means as shall be devised and agreed upon . . .”

Of these instructions, Washington was immediately notified, by Cooke, by letter of the 6th; and, on the 7th, writing from Providence, Cooke replied to Hopkins’ letter, as follows: “I am to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 8th inst., which I laid before the General Assembly, who appointed a committee to take it into consideration and prepare instructions to the delegates. Dependency is a word of so equivocal a meaning, and hath been used for such ill purposes, and independency, with many honest and ignorant people carrying the idea of eternal warfare, the committee thought it best to avoid making use of either of them. The instructions you will receive herewith, passed both houses nemine contradicente [of one mind; without dissent]. I enclose an act discharging the inhabitants of the Colony from allegiance to the British King . . . The first mentioned act, after being debated, was carried in the lower house almost unanimously, there being upward of sixty members present, and but six votes against it. Towards the close of the session, a vote passed the lower house for taking the sense of the inhabitants at large upon the question of independency. The upper house were of the opinion that although a very great majority of the Colony were perfectly ripe for such a question, yet, upon its being canvassed, several towns would vote against it, and that the appearance of disunion would be injurious to the common cause, and represented to the lower house that it was very probable the subject would be discussed in Congress, before it would be possible to take the sense of the Colony in the proposed way and transmit it to the delegates, in which case, they would be laid under the necessity of waiting for the sentiments of their constituents, and of course the Colony would lose its voice, and the delegates when they should receive a copy of the act renouncing allegiance, and of the instructions, could not possibly entertain a doubt of the sense of the General Assembly; upon which the subject was dropped.”

The “upper house” seems to have been correct in their judgment; for Hopkins, in his answering letter — dated May 15th — to Cooke, says: “Your favour of the 7 th May I have received, and the papers enclosed in it. I observe that you have avoided giving me a direct answer to my queries concerning dependence or independence. However, the copy of the act of Assembly which you have sent me, together with our instructions, leave me little room to doubt what is the opinion of the Colony I came from. I suppose it will not be long before Congress will throw off all connection, as well in name as in substance, with Great Britain, as one thing after another seems gradually to lead them to such a step . . .”

The General Assembly of Connecticut, sitting at Hartford,—Trumbull and Williams being present-— resolved, June 14th, ” that the Delegates … be, and they are hereby, instructed to propose to that respectable body to declare the United American Colonies free and independent States . . .”

This was just a week after the resolution of May 15th of the Convention of Virginia to the same effect appeared in The Connecticut Gazette; and the Universal Intelligencer, published in New London, and after a Delegate of Virginia, as we shall see, had so proposed to Congress.

The Provincial Congress of New Jersey, sitting at New Brunswick, — Abraham Clark and John Hart evidently being present but seemingly none of her Delegates — instructed her Delegates, March 2d: “You must be sensible that this Congress are extremely destitute of the means of information, compared with your body, and, of course, unable to point out any certain line of conduct for you to pursue. Your deliberations must no doubt be formed upon the measures of the British Ministry, which are uncertain, extraordinary, and new almost every week. We, therefore, only request that you would join in the general voice of the United Colonies, and pursue such measures as you may judge most beneficial for the publick good of all the Colonies.”

Her Delegates at this time were William Livingston, Richard Smith, De Hart, Jonathan D. Sergeant and John Cooper.

Sergeant writes to John Adams, April 6th: “I arrived here [doubtless Princeton] last evening in a very indifferent State of Health & shall return or not return [to Philadelphia] according as I have Reason to believe 1 may be more useful here or there … My Head aches & my Heart aches. I tremble for the Timidity of our Counsels. —”

Five days later, certainly at Princeton, he tells Adams: “The Jersey Delegates (will You believe it) are not in the sweetest Disposition with one another. Mr D’Hart has gone home with an avowed Determination not to return without General Livingston & at the same Time has declared that he will offer himself as a Candidate for the Provincial Convention thinking that a more important Post, in order that he may control the mad Fellows who now compose that Body. — He has signified the dangerous Disposition of Mr Smyth & another of his Colleagues; and all the great & the mighty ones in the Colony are preparing to make their last Stand against the Principles of levelling which prevails in it. Mr Smith’s Health it seems will not admit of his Attendance, at least not very steadily. — In the mean Time I have engaged to return whenever called upon by General Livingston & Mr D’Hart; but rather believe they will not call upon me, tho I have wrote to them requesting it, in Order that the colony may not be unrepresented; — tho I fear it will be misrepresented if we attend.30 Whether to return without them is a matter of some Doubt with me, especially since I have been told that some very pious People are circulating a Rumour that I left Congress in Disgust at the Doctrines of Independency which are now advanced. — Whether I may not do more good at home considering all things I am at a Loss to determine. — If my Colleagues should go into the Provincial Convention I should be glad to meet them there; and I know the old Leven of Unrighteousness will strive hard to poison that Body by pushing in every Creature that can lisp against Independence, which in other Words, in my Opinion, is every Creature who would wish to give up the Quarrel. In Congress, if I am to be alone, it will avail little; if with my Colleagues less still . . . From this State of the Case I should be much obliged by your Opinion . . . onSunday I must determine one Way or the other if possible … P. S. . . . The grand Difficulty here is that People seem to expect Congress should take the first Step by declaring Independence, as they phrase it . . . I declare boldly to People Congress will not declare Independence in Form; they are independent; every Act is that of Independence and all we have to do is to establish Order & Government in each Colony that we may support them in it. — Could not this idea be substituted in the place of Independence in the Controversy, which, as it is treated, is no determinate Object, — brings Nothing to an Issue. —”

May 20th, he writes (also from Princeton to Adams): “I wrote You soon after I arrived here . . . Ever since I have seen the Inside of Congress I have trembled. Nothing short of a radical Change in the Councils of our Middle Colonies can, I am persuaded, by any Means save us . . . Next Week is our Election. I wish I may obtain a Seat in the Convention; but am not over sanguine in my Hopes tho I believe I could easily accomplish it by going out of my present County into the one I came from. However am in Hopes they will chuse good Men there. After the Election I expect to pay You a Visit for a short time; but am determined that I will not continue to attend [in Congress] along with my present Colleagues any longer than I can avoid. At present, several little Circumstances will form an excuse for my being absent.”

This letter (of May 20th), as shown by its superscription, was delivered to Adams by “Favour of Dr Witherspoon”, who had, himself, three days before it was written, delivered at Princeton a sermon on “The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men” in which he said: “. . . for these colonies to depend wholly upon the legislature of Great Britain, would be like many other oppressive connexions, injury to the master, and ruin to the slave … If on account of their distance and ignorance of our situation, they could not conduct their own quarrel with propriety for one year, how can they give direction and vigour to every department of our civil constitutions, from age to age? There are fixed bounds to every human thing. When the branches of a tree grow very large and weighty, they fall off from the trunk. The sharpest sword will not pierce when it cannot reach. And there is a certain distance from the seat of government where an attempt to rule will either produce tyranny and helpless subjection, or provoke resistance and effect a separation.”

Samuel Adams’ letter of April 30th has given us some idea of the feeling that prevailed in Pennsylvania.

On the day this letter was written, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer also writes from Philadelphia, to Charles Carroll: “To-morrow will determine the question of Dependence or Independence, in this city, by the election of four additional members of Assembly … It is expectedthis contest will not end without blows”; and, on the next day, George Read, also from Philadelphia, to his wife, at Wilmington: “I flatter myself that I shall see you on Saturday next. Last Saturday the Congress sat, and I could not be absent . . . This day is their election for additional members of Assembly. Great strife is expected. Their fixed candidates are not known. One side talk of Thomas Willing, Andrew Allen, Alexander Wilcox, and Samuel Howell, against independency; the other, Daniel Roberdeau, George Clymer, Mark Kuhl, and a fourth I don’t recollect; but it is thought other persons would be put up.”

The election is thus described by Marshall: “This has been one of the sharpest contests, yet peacable, that has been for a number of years … I think it may be said with propriety that the Quakers, Papists, Church, Allen family, with all the proprietary party, were never seemingly so happily united . . .”

The resolve of Congress of May 15th, recommending, as we shall see, the adoption, where not already existing, of proper “government”, however, changed the face of affairs. Indeed, as Bancroft aptly expresses it, “The blow which proceeded from John Adams felled the proprietary authority in Pennsylvania and Maryland to the ground . . .”

On the evening of the very day on which Congress took this decisive action, Marshall, “Past seven, went and met a large number of persons at the Philosophical, by appointment (Col. McKean in the chair), where was debated the resolve of Congress . . .”

On the 16th also, he went, “At four, to the Philosophical Hall, to meet a number of persons … It was concluded to call a convention with speed; to protest against the present Assembly’s doing any business in their House until the sense of the Province was taken in that Convention to be called, &c, with the mode and manner of doing these several things by or on next Second Day.”

The next day, John Adams writes to his wife: “I have this morning heard Mr. Duffield, upon the signs of the times. He ran a parallel between the case of Israel and that of America, and between the conduct of Pharaoh and that of George. Jealousy, that the Israelites would throw off the government of Egypt, made him issue his edict, that the midwives should cast the children into the river; and the other edict, that the men should make a large revenue of bricks without straw. He concluded that the course of events indicated strongly the design of Providence that we should be separated from Great Britain, &c.”

On the 18th, Marshall writes, “A request was brought to this Committee, from a large company of the City and Liberties, that a general call be made of the inhabitants of the City and Liberties, to meet next Monday at nine o’clock forenoon at the State House, in order to take the sense of the people respecting the resolve of Congress of the Fifteenth instant, the which, after debate, was agreed to, only five dissenting voices.”

The meeting occurred at the appointed time, in the State House yard, where, Marshall, who was present, tells us, “it was computed, Four thousand people were met, notwithstanding the rain, and then, sundry resolves were passed unanimously except one, and there was one dissenting voice, to wit, Isaac Gray. Near twelve, all was completed quietly and peaceably . . . Went to Committee Room at Philosophical Hall, where were confirmed the resolves at the State House, and directions, with proper persons appointed to go with the said resolves to the different counties.”

On the very day of this meeting (May 20th), Gerry writes: “In this Colony (Pennsylvania) the spirit of the people is great, if a judgment is to be formed by appearances. They are well convinced of the injury their Assembly has done to the Continent, by their instructions to their Delegates. It was these instructions which induced the Middle Colonies, and some of the Southern, to backward every measure which had the appearance of Independency. To them is owing the delay of Congress in agitating questions of the greatest importance, which long ere now must have terminated in a separation from Great Britain . . .”

Bartlett, in a letter to Langdon, speaks of the occasion thus: “May 21” yesterday the City met, agreeable to notification in the field before the State House, a stage being erected for the Moderator (Col. Roberdeau) and the Chief speakers M’ Mc- Kean &c.— I am told they unanimously voted that the present House of Assembly are not Competent to Changing the form of gov’t and have given orders for Calling a Convention. Pennsylvania Assembly was to meet yesterday. I fear some Convulsions in the Colony, the infamous instructions given by the Assembly to their Delegates which they at their last meeting refused to alter is the Cause of their losing the Confidence of the people.”

The Assembly had in fact met — “above stairs” in the building where Congress sat — on the 20th, and the protest “of the inhabitants of the City and Liberties of Philadelphia, in behalf of ourselves and others” was presented to the Speaker on that day; but it was not read in the Assembly until the 22d, and was then ordered to lie on the table.

This protest set forth that, as understood by Bartlett, the Assembly was not empowered to form a government and that an application would be made to the Committee of Inspection and Observation of the City and Liberties of Philadelphia to call a conference. Indeed, as we have seen, the conference had already been called when the protest was read.

The Assembly then adjourned to 3 o’clock in the afternoon, when they resolved that Andrew Allen, George Clymer, Alexander Wilcocks, Isaac Pearson and George Ross ” be a committee to take into consideration the said Resolve of Congress, and the Preamble thereto; and to draw up a Memorial from this House … requesting an explanation, in such terms as will admit of no doubt, whether the Assemblies and Conventions now subsisting in the several Colonies are or are not the bodies to whom the consideration of continuing the old, or adopting new Governments, is referred . . .”

On the same day — and, as would seem, before the Assembly met at 3 o’clock and appointed this committee —, a number “of those called moderate men”, as Marshall entitles them, prepared and began to circulate a remonstrance against the protest, stating that the subscribers to the remonstrance had never authorized the protest and that the desires of the majority of the people did not justify it. This was not formally presented to the Assembly, however, as we shall see, until the 29th.

On the day following (the 23d), an address of the Committee of Inspection and Observation for the County of Philadelphia, signed by William Hamilton, as chairman, was presented to the Assembly and read. This asked “that you will most religiously adhere to the Instructions given to our Delegates in Congress.”

The Committee of Inspection and Observation of the City and Liberties was at once aroused. On the 24th, they themselves determined upon a memorial to Congress, which stated ” That, in consequence of a request of a large majority of the inhabitants … of Philadelphia, on the 20th instant, the Committee have issued letters … for calling a conference of the Committees of the Province, in order to collect the sense of the inhabitants . . . That they have heard with great surprise that the Assembly . . . are about to present a Memorial to your honourable body, in consequence of a Remonstrance delivered to them . . . That the said Remonstrance has been obtained by unfair representations and indefatigable industry; and is signed chiefly by those people who hold Offices under the Crown . . . That . . . the present Assembly . . . was not chosen, nor is it invested with powers, to carry the said resolve [of Congress of May 15th] into execution. That a majority of the present Assembly do not possess the confidence of the people . . .” This memorial — signed by McKean, as chairman— was presented (to Congress) on the 25th.

Meanwhile, the Assembly, however, either knew not what to do or was unwilling to take any action whatever. Nor did they act even on the 28th, when the memorial of the Committee of Inspection and Observation of the City and Liberties to Congress was read, or when, later in the day, a petition from “a number of the freemen and inhabitants of the County of Cumberland, was presented to the House, and read,” but simply ordered them to lie on the table. The people of Cumberland County petitioned “this honourable House that the last Instructions which it gave to the Delegates . . . wherein they are enjoined not to consent to any step which may cause or lead to a separation from Great Britain, may be withdrawn.” Indeed, on the 29th (except to read the remonstrance — then presented — and to order it to lie on the table), 30th and 31st, nothing was done; and, on the 1st, 3d and 4th of June, there was no quorum.

On the 5th of June, however, the resolution of Virginia of May 15th was read; and then, at last, a committee — Dickinson, Robert Morris, Joseph Reed, Clymer, Wilcocks, Pearson and Thomas Smith — was appointed to prepare a draft of instructions to the Delegates in Congress. They reported, on the 6th, “an essay for the purpose; which was read by order, and referred to further consideration.” On the 7th, “the House resumed the consideration of the Instructions to the Delegates . . . And, after a debate of a considerable length, adjourned to three o’clock in the afternoon.” At the appointed time, they “resumed consideration of the Instructions, and, having made some progress therein, adjourned to nine o’clock tomorrow morning.”

Maryland charged her Delegates, January 11th, that, “should any proposition be happily made by the Crown or Parliament, that may lead to or lay a rational and probable ground for reconciliation, you use your utmost endeavours to cultivate and improve it into a happy settlement and lasting amity . . . We further instruct you, that you do not, without the previous knowledge and approbation of the Convention . . . assent to any proposition to declare the Colonies independent . . . unless, in your judgments … it shall be thought absolutely necessary for the preservation of the liberties of the United Colonies; and should a majority of the Colonies in Congress, against such your judgment, resolve to declare these Colonies independent . . . then we instruct you immediately to call the Convention . . . and repair thereto with such proposition and resolve, and lay the same before the said Convention for their consideration; and this Convention will not hold this Province bound by such majority in Congress, until the Representative body of the Province, in Convention, assent thereto.”

Nor was this enough. On the 18th, the Convention entered a declaration on their journal wherein they avowed that they ” never did, nor do entertain any views or desires of independency.”

Indeed, as late as May 15th — the very day, as we have seen and shall more particularly see, when Virginia instructed her Delegates to propose to Congress to declare independence—, the Convention (of Maryland) took into consideration a resolution (adopted on the 21st) which declared that “this Convention is firmly persuaded that a reunion with Great Britain on constitutional principles would most effectively secure the rights and liberties, and increase the strength and promote the happiness of the whole empire . . . the said Deputies are bound and directed to govern themselves by the instructions given to them by this convention in its session in December last, in the same manner as if the said instructions were particularly repeated.”

Of the same mind doubtless was the Council of Safety; for they say, in a letter to the Delegates, on June 8th—when they must have known of the resolution of Virginia: “The intelligence with regard to 7000 men rising and declaring for independence is without foundation; we take it to be news from some incendiary . . .”

A few of the leading men, however, of Maryland held different views or were wavering. On January 30th, Alexander writes, from Philadelphia to the Council of Safety: “the Instructions of the Convention are come to Hand, but not as yet laid before Congress. I am much pleased with them, they entirely coincide with my Judgment & that Line of Conduct which I have determined to persue, the Farmer and some others to whom in Confidence they were shewn, say they breath that Spirit, which ought to govern all publick Bodies, Firmness tempered with Moderation.” On February 27th, however, he writes from the same place to the same body: “. . . with me every Idea of Reconciliation is precluded by the conduct of Grt Britain, & the only alternative, absolute slavery or Independency, the latter I have often reprobated both in public & private, but am now almost convinced the Measure is right & can be justified by necessity.”Indeed, Chase writes, to John Adams from Saint Johns, April 20th: “[Qy] In my Judgment You have no alternative between Independency and Slavery, and what American can hesitate in the Choice! but don’t harangue about it, act as if We were.” Stone writes, from Philadelphia to Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, four days later: “Mr Johnson wrote to you yesterday. If the Commissioners do not arrive shortly and conduct themselves with great candor and uprightness to effect a reconciliation, a separation will most undoubtedly take place … I wish to conduct affairs so that a just & honorable reconciliation should take place, or that we should be pretty unanimous in a resolution to fight it out for Independance, the proper way to effect this is not to move too quick, but then we must take care to do everything which is necessary for our Security and Defence, not suffer ourselves to be lulled or wheedled by any deceptions declarations or givings out. You know my hearty wishes for Peace upon terms of Security and Justice to America. But war, any thing is preferable to a surrender of our rights … I shall set out on Saturday or Sunday next to meet my wife.”

It also is interesting to note that The Maryland Journal, and the Baltimore Advertiser contained, in its issue of May 22d, the following: “Serious QUESTIONS addressed to the advocates for DEPENDANCE upon the crown of Britain . . . Are not the advocates for INDEPENDANCE the only true friends to the principles of the British constitution? … Is not RECONCILIATION an untrodden path ; for where can we find an instance of a people’s returning to their allegiance to a tyrant, after he had violated every political and moral obligation to them? … Is not Independance a trodden path? Did not the United Provinces, and the Cantons of Switzerland, establish their liberty by declaring themselves INDEPENDANT, the one of the Court of Spain, the other of the House of Austria ?”

“In January 1776,” writes John Adams to John Taylor, April 9, 1814, “six months before the declaration of independence, M- Wythe of Virginia passed an evening with me at my chambers. In the course of conversation upon the necessity of Independence Mr Withe, observ[ed] . . . that the greatest obstacle in the way of a declaration of it, was the difficulty of agreeing upon a government for our future regulation . . .” General Charles Lee writes, to Washington, from Stamford, on the 24th of the same month (January, 1776): “Have you seen the pamphlets Common Sense? I never saw such a masterly, irresistible performance. It will, if I mistake not, in concurrence with the transcendent folly and wickedness of the Ministry, give the coup-de-grace to Great Britain. In short, I own myself convinced, by the arguments, of the necessity of separation.”

On the 4th of February, Adam Stephen writes to R. H. Lee from Berkeley: “Indeed my affection is not only cooled, but I begin to be inveterate, and it is impossible that I can ever again have any attachment to the Mother Country.” On the 16th, General Charles Lee writes from New York to Rush: “Your Common Sense is an admirable performance, but such is the timidity and nonsense of the greater part of the Community that I question much the effects were it not so happily seconded by the violence and insanity of the Ministry which must cram down your throats independence in spite of the squeamishness of your stomachs. It strikes me that reconciliation and return to your former state of dependence is as much a Chimera as an incorporation with the Mongolian Tartars —” On the 20th, a member of the Convention (of Virginia) says: “Some people among us seem alarmed at the name of Independence, while they support measures, and propose plans, that comprehend all the spirit of it . . . Whenever I have been an advocate for dependence, I have felt a conscious want of publick virtue . . .”

A letter from Williamsburg dated March 5th tells us: “The Tories and tools of Administration are constantly crying out that Congress is aiming at independence . . .”

On the 1st of April, Washington — still at Cambridge — writes, to Joseph Reed: “My countrymen I know, from their form of government, and steady attachment heretofore to royalty will come reluctantly into the idea of independence, but time and persecution bring many wonderful things to pass; and by private letters, which I have lately received from Virginia, I find ‘Common Sense’ is working a powerful change there in the minds of many men.” On the 2d, John Lee writes from Essex City to R. H. Lee: “Independence is now the topic here, and I think I am not mistaken when I say, it will (if not already) be very soon a Favourite Child.” Three days later, General Charles Lee, now at Williamsburg, in a letter also to R. H. Lee, says: “Pendleton is certainly naturally a Man of sense, but I can assure you that the other night in a conversation I had with him on the subject of independence He talkd or rather stammer’d nonsense that would have disgraced the lips of an old Midwife Drunk with bohea Tea and gin — Bland says that the Author of common sense is a blockhead and ignoramus for that He has grossly mistaken the nature of the Theocracy — If you coud be spard from the Congress, Your presence might infuse vigor and wisdom [here] … for Gods sake why do you dandle in the Congress so strangely, why do you not at once declare yourselves a seperate independant State? . . . I wish you woud kuff Doctor Rush for not writing—I expect and insist upon it —” John Page writes from the same city to Jefferson on the same day: “For God’s sake declare the Colonies independant, at once, & save us from ruin —” He writes again on the 12th to R. H. Lee: “I think almost every man, except the Treasurer [Robert Carter Nicholas], is willing to declare for Independency … I would to God you could be here at its next Convention. It would be happy for us if you [the Delegates] could be all spared on that occasion; if you could, I make no doubt you might easily prevail in the Convention to declare for Independency, and to establish a form of Government.” On the same day, “A. B.”—also at Williamsburg — writes to Alexander Pardie: “The independence of the Colonies daily becomes more and more a topick of very anxious disquisition.” A third letter of the 12th, from Petersburg, says: “In my way through Virginia, I found the inhabitants warm for independence. . . indeed, I hear nothing praised but Common Sense and Independence.” On the 20th”, William Aylett writes to R. H. Lee from King William: “The people of this County almost unanimously cry aloud for Independence.” Two days later, John Augustine Washington writes to the same gentleman from “Liberty Hall”: “I had the pleasure to receive your letter of the 8th April . . . You mention that you have opened the ports to all the world but enemies, but that you are apprehensive this will not do without our promising our aid to any such power as should get involved in a war with Great Britain from attempting to trade with us. I am clearly of opinion that unless we declare openly for Independency there is no chance for foreign aid . . .”

We have also the action of the Committee of Charlotte County, on the 23d — a month before Boston instructed her representatives —, and that of the freeholders of James City, on the 24th. The former (the chairman and 15 members being present) instructed their Delegates to the Convention “to push to the utmost a war offensive and defensive, until you are certified that such proposals of peace are made to our General Congress as shall by them be judged just and friendly. And because the advantages of a trade will better enable us to pay the taxes, and procure the necessaries for carrying on a war, and in our present circumstances this cannot be had without a Declaration of Independence; therefore, if no such proposals of peace shall be made … we give it you in charge, to use your best endeavours that the Delegates which are sent to the General Congress be instructed immediately to cast off the British yoke …” The latter, coming together at Allen’s Ordinary, declared to theirs that they desired them, ” (provided no just and honourable terms are offered by the king,) to exert your utmost abilities, in the next Convention, towards dissolving the connection between America and Great Britain, totally, finally, and irrevocably.”

Even more directly in line with the action soon to be taken by the Convention are the instructions of Buckingham County, though we do not know their date. These “recommend to, and instruct you, as far as your voices will contribute, to cause a total and final separation from Great Britain to take place as soon as possible; or, as we conceive this great point will not come within your immediate province, that, as far as in your power, you cause such instructions to be given to the Delegates from this Colony to the Continental Congress …”

The position of R. H. Lee — soon to be the mover of the resolution — and the position of Jefferson — soon to be the author of the Declaration — and the sentiments of the people of the “upper counties “, as well as the views of Francis Lightfoot Lee, a brother of R. H. Lee, are given later.

The growth of the sentiment in Virginia was being felt even in Philadelphia. On May 1st, Gerry writes to Warren: “Virginia is always to be depended upon; and so fine a spirit prevails among them that, unless you send some of your cool patriots among them, they may be for declaring Independency before Congress is ready.” On the 20th, he says: “I enclose you a Virginia paper, just come in, by which you will see the spirit of another County in that Colony, exhibited in their instructions for Independency.”

Gerry’s later letter (as well as the instructions just given) calls to mind, however, a communication from Landon Carter to Washington, dated “Sabine Hall”, May 9th: “I need only tell you of one definition that I heard of Independency; It was expected to be a form of Government, that by being independt of the rich men every man would then be able to do as he pleasd. And it was with this expectation they sent the men they did [to the Convention], in hopes they would plan such a form. One of the deligates I heard exclaim against that Patrolling laws, because a poor man was made to pay for keeping a rich mans Slaves in order. I shamed the fool so much for that he slunk away; but he got elected by it. Another actually in a most seditious manner, resisted the draughting the militia by lot, to be ready for any immediate local emergency; and he got first returned that way. When we usd [to be] Legislators, such rascals would have been found out; but now, it is not to be supposd, that a dog will eat a dog. I know who I am writing to, and therefore I am not quite so confin’d in my expression, for a more decent language could not explain my meaning so well. And from hence it is that our independency is to arise! Papers it seems are every where circulating about for poor ignorant Creatures to sign, as directions to their delegates to endeavour at an independency. In vain do we ask to let it be explain’d what is design’d by it! If the form of government is to Preserve Justice, Order, Peace and freedom I believe there are few who would refuse; but when these only modes of Social happiness, are left so much concealed, or not toucht upon in the least, what sensible creatures ought to trust an ignorant representative to do what he pleases, under a notion of leaving his Constituents independant?”

Three days before (May 6th) this letter was written, “45 members of the House of Burgesses met at the Capitol [in Williamsburg], pursuant to their last adjournment ; but it being their opinion, that the people could not now be legally represented according to the ancient constitution, which has been subverted by the king, lords, and commons of Great Britain, and consequently dissolved, they unanimously dissolved themselves accordingly. The same day the General Convention of Delegates from the counties and corporations in this colony met at the Capitol . . . Edmund Pendleton was elected President.”

Besides Pendleton, among those present were William Aylett, Bland, Archibald Cary, Dudley Digges, William Fleming, Henry, Richard Lee, Thomas Ludwell Lee, James Madison, George Mason, Nelson, Robert Carter Nicholas, Edmund Randolph, Meriwether Smith and John Augustine Washington. Page appeared on a committee on the 15th.

On the 11th, John Augustine Washington writes, to R. H. Lee: “I hardly think that the grand question will come on before Tuesday next, as this day will be chiefly taken up with the Norfolk business, and on Monday the House is generally thin. When it does there will be much altercation, but I believe no danger but that we shall determine upon taking up Government, but whether they may be so explicit as I could wish in their Instructions to our Delegates I cannot determine, but hope there is no great danger.”

As he anticipated, the Convention, on the 14th, resolved itself into a committee of the whole to take into consideration the state of the Colony.

Edmund Randolph writes: “When the disposition of the people as exhibited by their representatives could not be mistaken, Henry had full indulgence of his own private judgment, and he concerted with Nelson that he (Nelson) should introduce the question of independence, and that Henry should enforce it. Nelson affected nothing of oratory, except what ardent feelings might inspire, and characteristic of himself, he had no fears of his own with which to temporize, and supposing that others ought to have none, he passed over the probabilities of foreign aid, stepped lightly on the difficulties of procuring military stores and the inexperience of officers and soldiers, but pressed a declaration of independence, upon what with him were incontrovertible grounds ; that we were oppressed, had humbly supplicated a redress of grievances which had been refused with insult; and that to return from battle against the sovereign with the cordiality of subjects was absurd. It was expected that a declaration of independence would certainly be passed, and for obvious reasons Mr. Henry seemed allotted to crown his political conduct with this supreme stroke. And yet for a considerable time he talked of the subject as being critical, but without committing himself by a pointed avowal in its favor or a pointed repudiation of it. He thought that a course which put at stake the lives and fortunes of the people should appear to be their own act, and that he ought not to place upon the responsibility of his eloquence, a revolution of which the people might be wearied after the present stimulus should cease to operate. But after some time he appeared in an element for which he was born. To cut the knot which calm prudence was puzzled to untie was worthy of the magnificence of his genius. He entered into no subtlety of reasoning, but was aroused by the now apparent spirit of the people. As a pillar of fire, which notwithstanding the darkness of the prospect would conduct to the promised land, he inflamed, and was followed by the convention.

On the 15th, the committee of the whole, of which Cary was chairman, reported and the Convention (112 members being present) unanimously adopted a resolution which should immortalize the Colony:

Forasmuch as all the endeavours of the United Colonies, by the most decent representations and petitions to the King and Parliament of Great Britain, to restore peace and security to America under the British Government, and a reunion with that people upon just and liberal terms, instead of a redress of grievances, have produced, from an imperious and vindictive Administration, increased insult, oppression, and a vigorous attempt to effect our total destruction : — By a late act all these Colonies are declared to be in rebellion, and out of the protection of the British Crown, our properties subjected to confiscation, our people, when captivated, compelled to join in the murder and plunder of their relations and countrymen, and all former rapine and oppression of Americans declared legal and just; fleets and armies are raised, and the aid of foreign troops engaged to assist these destructive purposes; the King’s representative in this Colony hath not only withheld all the power of Government from operating for our safety, but, having retired on board an armed ship, is carrying on a piratical and savage war against us, tempting our slaves by every artifice to resort to him, and training and employing them against their masters … In this state of extreme danger, we have no alternative left but an abject submission to the will of those overbearing tyrants, or a total separation from the Crown and Government of Great Britain, inviting and exerting all the strength of America for defence, and forming alliances with foreign Powers for commerce and aid in war . . . Wherefore, appealing to the Searcher of hearts for the sincerity of former declarations expressing our desire to preserve the connection with that nation, and that we are driven from that inclination by their wicked councils, and the eternal law of self-preservation:

That the Delegates appointed to represent this Colony in General Congress be instructed to propose to that respectable body to declare the United Colonies free and independent States, absolved from all allegiance to, or dependence upon, the Crown or Parliament of Great Britain ; and that they give the assent of this Colony to such declaration, and to whatever measures may be thought proper and necessary by the Congress for forming foreign alliances, and a Confederation of the Colonies, at such time and in the manner as to them shall seem best:

“In consequence of the above resolution, universally regarded as the only door which will lead to safety and prosperity,” says a newspaper report of the time, “some gentlemen made a handsome collection for the purpose of treating the soldiery, who next day were paraded in Waller’s grove, before Brigadier-General Lewis, attended by the Committee of Safety, members of the General Convention, the inhabitants of this city, &c. &c. The resolution read aloud to the army, the following toasts were given, each of them accompanied by a discharge of the artillery and small arms, and the acclamations of all present. 1. The American independent states. 2. The Grand Congress of the United States, and their respective legislatures. 3. General Washington and victory to the American arms. The UNION FLAG of the American states waived upon the Capitol during the whole of this ceremony, which being ended, the soldiers partook of the refreshment prepared for them by the affection of their countrymen, and the evening concluded with illuminations M and other demonstrations of joy; every one seemed pleased that the domination of Great Britain was now at an end . . .”

Nelson immediately left for Philadelphia to lay the resolution before Congress, which was done, May 27th.

Washington was in Philadelphia at the time — having arrived at 2 o’clock on the afternoon of the 23d —and was delighted.

The progress of events in North Carolina is scarcely less interesting.

Hooper writes, to James Iredell from Philadelphia, January 6th: ” Yes, Britain, it is the criterion of effect our total destruction : — By a late act all these Colonies are declared to be in rebellion, and out of the protection of the British Crown, our properties subjected to confiscation, our people, when captivated, compelled to join in the murder and plunder of their relations and countrymen, and all former rapine and oppression of Americans declared legal and just; fleets and armies are raised, and the aid of foreign troops engaged to assist these destructive purposes; the King’s representative in this Colony hath not only withheld all the power of Government from operating for our safety, but, having retired on board an armed ship, is carrying on a piratical and savage war against us, tempting our slaves by every artifice to resort to him, and training and employing them against their masters … In this state of extreme danger, we have no alternative left but an abject submission to the will of those overbearing tyrants, or a total separation from the Crown and Government of Great Britain, inviting and exerting all the strength of America for defence, and forming alliances with foreign Powers for commerce and aid in war . . . Wherefore, appealing to the Searcher of hearts for the sincerity of former declarations expressing our desire to preserve the connection with that nation, and that we are driven from that inclination by their wicked councils, and the eternal law of self-preservation:

Hewes writes, to Samuel Johnston from the same city, February 11th (and 13th) and 20th and March 1st: “Our friend Hooper has taken an opportunity when he could be best spared from Congress to fly to the Camp at Cambridge to see his Mother, who has lately got out of Boston, he has been gone about Ten days . . . Late last night I received a Letter from him dated New York the 6th; he seems greatly alarmed at the intelligence he had received there . . . The anxiety of my worthy friend for the safety, honour & happiness of our province and for his dearest connections there I imagine has induced him to paint things in the strongest colours to me … I have furnished myself with a good musket & Bayonet, and when I can no longer be usefull in Council I hope I shall be willing to take the field . . . The 13th . . . The only pamphlet88 that has been published here for a long time I now send you; it is a Curiosity; we have not put up any to go by the Waggon, not knowing how you might relish independency. The author is not known; some say Doctor Franklin had a hand in it, he denies it.” “This will be delivered to you by James Thompson and John Crowley who have charge of the Waggon, Horses and sundry Articles that make up the Load … I mentioned to you in my last express that we had not sent any copies of the Pamphlet entitled Common Sense but finding Brother Penn had a fondness for them have agreed some should be sent, the Council can Judge of the propriety of distributing them, let me know your opinion on that head, the Roads being very bad I was advised to put five horses to the Waggon I hope they will all be delivered safe to you . . . John Crowley who is the driver is recommended to me as a man very carefull of Horses and used to the business of driving a Waggon, he can neither read or write and his old master says should not be trusted with money, both the men are to have 3s? day and all expenses born, if they return here, pay them no more money than Just to bear their expenses, they are to be in pay till they arive here provided they come directly back[.]” “We shall send off another Waggon in a day or two with what Powder the new Waggon left, also drums & Colours for your third Regiment . . . N. B. The new Waggon went off eight days ago. I hear it is now no further than Wilmington. That one of the best Horses cut one of his hind feet very much with his shoe and cannot proceed. I have this day sent a carefull person down to purchase another Horse and bring the lame one back if it should be found necessary.”

On the day following the postscript to the first letter, Penn writes, also from Philadelphia, to Thomas Person: “The consequence of making alliances is perhaps a total separation with Britain and without something of that sort we may not be able to provide what is necessary for our defence. My first wish is that America may be free; the second that we may be restored to peace and harmony with Britain upon Just and proper terms. If you find it necessary that the convention should meet sooner than May let us know of it as I wish to return at that time. I have been very sick for two or three days but am getting well again … I send you a pamphlet called ‘Common Sense,’ published here abt a month ago.”

Another letter of Hooper, written to Johnston, March 13th, after Hooper’s return from Boston (to Philadelphia), still more clearly outlines his position. It says: “I most earnestly wish peace and reconciliation upon terms honorable to America. Heaven forbid that I should submit to any other.”

These letters, as appear, all were written at Philadelphia.

A little over a month later (April 15th), as shown by the proceedings of the Provincial Congress of North Carolina, sitting at Halifax, Hooper and Penn, ” Delegates of the Continental Congress and Members of this House, appeared [there], subscribed the Test and took their seats.”

On the 17th (of April), Penn writes (from Halifax), to John Adams: “After a tedious Journey, occasioned] by bad roads and wet weather I arrived here in good health, as I came through Virginia I found the inhabitants desirous to be Independent from Britain . . . North Carolina by far exceeds them occasioned by the great fatigue trouble and danger the People here have undergone, for some time past . . . All regard or fondness for the King or the nation of Britain is gone, a total separation is what they want. Independance is the word most used . . . the Convention have tried to get the opinion of the People at large. I am told that in many Counties there were not one dissenting voice.”

A similar statement is found in a letter from Thomas Ludwell Lee to R. H. Lee, dated Williamsburg, Va., four days earlier: “Gen. Howe, in a letter received yesterday from Halifax . . . says . . . ‘Independence seems to be the word; I know not a dissenting voice.'”

Indeed, ten days before Hooper and Penn arrived at Halifax, Johnston writes from that place to Iredell, his brother-in-law: “Our wagons arrived yesterday with about 2500 pounds of powder, and drums, and colors, for the troops. I have likewise a letter from Hewes of the 20th of last month, but no news except what you have in the newspapers. He seems in despair of a reconciliation; no Commissioners were appointed the 25th of December, and the Parliament was then prorogued to the 20th of January. All our people here are up for independence”; and, three days before they arrived (April 12th), the Provincial Congress, of which Johnston was President, resolved: “That the Delegates … be empowered to concur with the Delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independency . . .”

Johnston writes, again to Iredell, on the 13th: “The House, in consequence of some very important intelligence received last night, have agreed to impower their delegates at Philadelphia to concur with the other Colonies in entering into foreign alliances, an independence on Great Britain. I cannot be more particular — this is wrote in [Provincial] Congress.”

The new instructions were laid before Congress, May 27th—at the same time, as shown by the Journal, that the instructions (of May 15th) of Virginia were presented to that body.

It is interesting to note that Hewes had written, to Johnston, on the 16th (of May): “I have had the honor to receive your several favours of the 10th, 13th, & 17th ultimo enclosing sundry resolutions of your [Provincial] Congress. I took the earliest opportunity to lay those papers before Congress .. .”

Iredell, afterwards an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, however, under date of June, 1776, is said to have written a pamphlet which is believed to have circulated quite widely in manuscript form among the leading men of North Carolina and which said: “I avoid the unhappy subject of the day, independency. There was a time very lately, within my recollection, when neither myself nor any person I knew, could hear the name but with horror. I know it is a favorite argument against us, and that on which the proceedings of Parliament are most plausibly founded, that this has been our aim since the beginning, and all other attempts were a cloak and disguise to this particular one. If this supposition had been well founded, and a desire of redressing the grievances we complained of had been entertained by government, they might immediately, by granting these, have detected and disappointed the other, or covered us with eternal disgrace, if we avowed it. But it is sufficient to say, our professions have been all solemnly to the contrary; we have never taken any one step which really indicated such a view; its suggestion has no more foundation than mere suspicion, which might countenance any falsehood whatever, and every man in America knows that this is one of the most egregious falsehoods ever any people were duped with. But so it was. This error they have been captivated with, and it has lead them, as well as us, to the brink of destruction. Its consequences are now only to be deplored, not, I fear, to be remedied. I may venture to say, the dread, or the pretended dread, of this evil, has almost produced it. The suspicion, though so ill founded, has been, previously, the parent of all the violent acts that now irritate the minds of the Americans. Some are inflamed enough to wish for independence, and all are reduced to so unhappy a condition as to dread at last that they shall be compelled in their own defence to embrace it. I confess myself of the latter number, in exclusion of the former. I am convinced America is in no such a situation as to entitle her to consider it as a just object of ambition, and I have no idea of people forming constitutions from revenge. A just and constitutional connection with Great Britain (if such could be obtained) I still think, in spite of every provocation, would be happier for America, for a considerable time to come, than absolute independence. No man can disdain, more than I do, the uniform and cruel violence of our oppressors’ conduct. But I make a distinction between the ministry, and even the Parliament, and the people of England. These last I do not consider as accessory in all the oppressions we have sustained. Many, I have no doubt, are great criminals, but more, I am persuaded, are deceived by false and wicked information. Great things have been attempted in our defence. But the misfortune is, the inadequacy of the representation, and the corruption so universal, leave little to the real voice of the people. If it is said that these causes may always give us such a Ministry and Parliament, I answer, that I form no idea of any reconciliation but where we shall have full security that even these can do us no essential injury, unless we conspire to it ourselves. In political affairs we are not always at liberty to choose what is best in the abstract, but what may be found so in practice. I can see no establishment in America, no turn to its affairs, that is likely to arise of a happier nature than such a re-union. But if a re-union is not practicable but upon terms of dishonor, if one essential point is required as a sacrifice to obtain it, I should spurn at the idea as scandalous and disgraceful; and in such an event or on any occasion whatever, if independency should become necessary to our safety, I should not hesitate an instant in giving my assent to it.”

The last instructions of the Provincial Congress of South Carolina before the adoption of the Declaration are dated March 23d and declare: “That the Delegates … or a majority of such of them as shall at any time be present in . . . Congress, or any one of the said Delegates, if no more than one shall be present, be . . . authorized, and empowered … to concert, agree to, and execute, every measure which they or he, together with a majority of the Continental Congress, shall judge necessary, for the defence, security, interest, or welfare of this Colony in particular, and of America in general.”

These instructions, like those of Massachusetts, of course, might be construed to imply a power to join in a declaration of independence; but they — much less doubtless than those of the Commonwealth — evidently were not so intended to be construed. Indeed, the government formed a few days later was expressly declared to be formed to exist only “until an accommodation of the unhappy differences between Great Britain and America can be obtained, (an event which, though traduced and treated as Rebels, we still earnestly desire,)”; and when, previously, on the 10th of February, Laurens, of the committee charged with drafting a proposed form of government, had made his report, a debate, says John Drayton, had occurred as follows: “Col. Gadsden ([having arrived from Philadelphia on the evening of the 8th and] having brought the first copy of Paine’s pamphlet entitled ‘Common Sense? &c.) boldly declared himself, not only in favour of the form of government; but, for the absolute Independence of America. This last sentiment, came like an explosion of thunder upon the members of Congress; as the resolution of the Continental Congress, upon which, the report for a form of government was grounded, had by no means led them to anticipate so decisive a step; neither had the majority of the members at that time, any thoughts of aspiring at independence. A distinguished member in particular, declared he abhorred the idea; and that he was willing to ride post, by day and night, to Philadelphia, in order to assist, in re-uniting Great Britain and America: and another called the author of Common Sense.

Then the few, who wished for independence, thought Col. Gadsden imprudent in thus suddenly declaring for it; when, the house was unprepared for considering a matter of such great importance.”

Among the people at large, by April, however, there would seem to have been more than a few who favored independence; for, on April 12th, a gentleman writes from Petersburg, Va.: “I spent last evening with Mr. _____, from South-Carolina. He tells me that the people there have no expectation of ever being reconciled with Britain again but only as a foreign State”: and we know that David Ramsay (evidently the historian), as early as February 14th, writes, from Charleston to Rush: “Who is the author of common sense? I can scarce refrain from adoring the venerable man He deserves a statue of Gold.”

Indeed, on April 23d — the day of the instructions of Charlotte County, Va.—, the Chief Justice, at the opening of the courts in Charleston, charged the grand jury thus: “The law of the land authorizes me to declare, and it is my duty to declare the law, that George the Third, king of Great Britain, has abdicated the government, that he has no authority over us, and we owe no obedience to him . . . True reconcilement never can exist between Great Britain and America, the latter being in subjection to the former. The Almighty created America to be independent of Britain; to refuse our labors in this divine work, is to refuse to be a great, a free, a pious, and a happy people!” It was a declaration of independence!

Georgia instructed her Delegates, April 5th: “Our remote situation [impels us to] . . . decline giving any particular instructions . . . We . . . shall rely upon your patriotism, abilities, firmness, and integrity, to propose, join, and concur, in all such measures as you shall think calculated for the common good, and to oppose such as shall appear destructive.”

Thus North Carolina was the first to authorize (April 12th) her Delegates “to concur with the Delegates of the other colonies in declaring Independency” — the word itself being used; and thus Virginia was the first to authorize (May 15th) her Delegates “to propose [to Congress] … to declare the United Colonies free and independent States . . .”

One of the strongest factors in bringing about the change of feeling in the Colonies was Common Sense.

John Adams, in his Autobiography, under date of “September, 1775”, says: “In the course of this winter appeared a phenomenon in Philadelphia, a disastrous meteor, I mean Thomas Paine. He came from England, and got into such company as would converse with him, and ran about picking up what information he could concerning our affairs, and finding the great question was concerning independence, he gleaned from those he saw the common-place arguments, such as the necessity of independence some time or other; the peculiar fitness at this time; the justice of it; the provocation to it; our ability to maintain it, &c. &c. Dr. Rush put him upon writing on the subject, furnished him with the arguments which had been urged in Congress a hundred times, and gave him his title of ‘Common Sense.’ In the latter part of the winter, or early in the spring, he came out with his pamphlet. The arguments in favor of independence I liked very well . . . [They were] clearly written, and contained a tolerable summary of the arguments which I had been repeating again and again in Congress for nine months. But I am bold to say there is not a fact nor a reason stated in it, which had not been frequently urged in Congress . . . It has been a general opinion that this pamphlet was of great importance in the Revolution. I doubted it at the time, and have doubted it to this day. It probably converted some to the doctrine of independence, and gave others an excuse for declaring in favor of it. But these would all have followed Congress with zeal; and on the other hand it excited many writers against it, particularly ‘Plain Truth,’ who contributed very largely to fortify and inflame the party against independence, and finally lost us the Allens, Penns, and many other persons of weight in the community . . .”

Bartlett writes to Langdon from Philadelphia, February 19, 1776: “The pamphlet Common Sense has already had three editions in this City; in the last there is an Appendix and large additions; it has also been reprinted at New York; by the best information it has had a great effect on the minds of many here and to the Southward [.]”

Common Sense says:

I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation, to show a single advantage that this continent can reap by being connected with Great Britain . . .

But the injuries and disadvantages we sustain by that connection are without number … It is the true interest of America to steer clear of European contentions, which she never can do while, by her dependance on Britain, she is made the makeweight in the scale of British politics.

. . . Everything that is right or natural pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ’tis time to part . . .

Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offense, yet I am inclined to believe, that all those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation may be included within the following descriptions:

Interested men, who are not to be trusted; weak men, who cannot see; prejudiced men, who will not see; and a certain set of moderate men who think better of the European world than it deserves; and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this continent than all the other three . . .

. . . bring the doctrine of reconciliation to the touchstone of nature, and then tell me whether you can hereafter love, honor, and faithfully serve the power that hath carried fire and sword into your land . . .

. . . Reconciliation is now a fallacious dream. Nature hath deserted the connection, and art cannot supply her place . . .

I am not induced by motives of pride, party, or resentment to espouse the doctrine of separation and independence; I am clearly, positively, and conscientiously persuaded that it is the true interest of this continent to be so; that everything short of that is mere patchwork; that it can afford no lasting felicity, — that it is leaving the sword to our children, and shrinking back at a time, when a little more, a little further, would have rendered this continent the glory of the earth . . .

. . . No man was a warmer wisher for reconciliation than myself before the fatal nineteenth of April, 1775 . . .

Ye that tell us of harmony and reconciliation, can ye restore to us the time that is passed? Can ye give to prostitution its former innocence? Neither can ye reconcile Britain and America. The last chord now is broken; the people of England are presenting addresses against us. There are injuries which nature cannot forgive; she would cease to be nature if she did. As well can the lover forgive the ravisher of his mistress . . .

Another very important factor was the Act declaring the Colonists out of the King’s protection.

As early as December 21, 1775, a gentleman, writing from London of this “bill which has now passed both Houses of Parliament, and will, in a few days, receive the royal assent,” and which treated “the Colonies as enemies,” says: “They cannot be enemies and subjects at the same time . . . The publick begins to conceive that these measures will sever America forever from this country. The Ministry are so conscious of it, that they have hired Dean Tucker to soften the business, by persuading the people that it will be no loss.”

Francis Lightfoot Lee writes, from Philadelphia to “my dear friend” Landon Carter, “Favor’d by Mr Howe”, March 18th (1776): “Before this I suppose you have rec’d a copy of Common sense which I sent you some time ago, if not I now send a parcel to Col Taylor of whome you may have one Our late King & his Parliament having declared us Rebels & Enemies confiscated our property as far as they were likely to lay hands on it have effectually decided the question for us, whether or no[t] we shall be independent all we have now to do is to endeavour to reconcile ourselves to the state it has pleased Providence to put us into and indeed upon taking a near & full look at the thing it does not frighten so much as when view’d at a distance. I can’t think we shall be injured by having a free trade with all the world instead of its being confined to one place whose riches might always be used to our ruin nor does it appear to me that we shall suffer any disadvantage by having our Legislatures uncontrolled by a power so far removed from us that our circumstances can’t be known whose interests is often directly contrary to ours and over which we have no manner of controul indeed great part of that power being at present lodged in the hands of a most gracious Prince whose tender mercies we have often experienced; it must wring the heart of all good men to part but I hope we shall have Christian fortitude enough to bear with partience & even cheerfulness the decrees of a really most gracious King. The danger of Anarchy & confusion I think altogether Chimerical [wildly fanciful; highly unrealistic] the good behaviors of the Americans with no Government at all proves them very capable of good Government. But my dear Col. I am so fond of peace that I wish to see an end of these distractions upon terms that will secure America from future outrages but from all our intelligence I really despair. There is such an inveteracy in the & his advisers that we need not expect any other alternative than slavery or separation is it not prudent therefore to fit our minds to the state that is inevitable. Virginia it seems is considered at home as most liable to deception & seduction & therefore the Commissioners are to bend their chief force that way backed by a considerable detachment of the Army. I hope it will turn to the honor of my Country as it will afford a opportunity for showing their Virtue & good sense. Col Taylor has news—I wrote yesterday to my friend Col R Carter . . . Gen’l Lee who has the Southern Command . . . [has] some thought of passing thro Richmond, best respects to Sabin Hall[.]”

John Adams, in a letter to Gates, dated Philadelphia, March 23d, writes: “I know not whether you have seen the Act of Parliament call’d the restraining Act, or prohibitory Act, or piratical Act, or plundering Act, or Act of Independency, for by all these titles is it called. — I think the most apposite is the Act of Independency, for King Lords and Commons have united in sundering this Country and that I think forever. — It is a compleat Dismemberment of the British Empire.— It throws thirteen Colonies out of the Royal Protection, levels all Distinctions and makes us independent in Spite of all our Supplications and Entreaties. — It may be fortunate that the Act of Independency should come from the British Parliament, rather than the American Congress: But it is very odd that Americans should hesitate at accepting such a Gift from them — However, my dear Friend Gates, all our Misfortunes arise from a single Source, the Reluctance of the southern Colonies to Republican Government . . . each Colony should establish its own Government, and then a League should be formed, between them all.”

Indeed, so strong was the feeling in the Colonies following and because of this Act that the promised coming of the so-called “peace commissioners “, with the hope of probable reconciliation thus held out, was all that deterred very many from taking a bold stand for an immediate declaration.

Joseph Reed writes, from Philadelphia to Washington, March 3d : ” . . . there is a strange reluctance in the minds of many to cut the knot which ties us to Great Britain, particularly in this colony and to the southward. Though no man of understanding expects any good from the commissioners, yet they are for waiting to hear their proposals before they declare off”, and, March 15th: “We every Moment expect to hear of these Gentry’s Arrival … A little Time will show what we are to expect from the new Project. In my Part I can see nothing to be hoped from it but it has laid fast hold of some here & made its Impression on the Congress. It is said the Virginians are so alarmed with the Idea of Independence that they have sent Mr Braxton [He arrived, February 23d] on Purpose to turn the Vote of that Colony, if any Question on that Subject should come before Congress. To tell you the Truth my dear Sir, I am infinitely more afraid of these Commissioners than their Generals & Armies—If their Propositions are plausible & Behaviour artful I am apprehensive they will divide us — There is so much Suspicion in Congress & so much Party on this Subject, that very little more Fuel is required to kindle the Flame. It is high Time for the Colonies to begin a gradual Change of Delegates — private Pique, Prejudice & Suspicion will make its Way into the Breasts of even good Men sitting long in such a Council as ours, & whenever that is the Case their Deliberations will be disturbed & the publick Interest of course suffer . . . Mr Deane of Connecticut is gone to Europe his Errand may be guessed tho little is said about it.—”

Duane writes, to R. R. Livingston from Philadelphia, March 20th: ” . . . my friend Chase . . . has promised me to call on you at Clermont. He will with pleasure communicate every thing worth your knowledge. You will find that his usual warmth is not abated and that though closely attached to his friends he still keeps the start of them in his political system. The social intercourse which was formed amongst the Delegates of the five middle Colonies and North Carolina has suffered no diminution, and I am persuaded they would all combine to give you pleasure . . . When I first wrote to you I expected soon to have visited my family a happiness of which I have too long been deprived! But such is the critical state of my dear native country, and so slender has been our own representation that I could not reconcile it to my ideas of the important trust of which I partake. Whether we shall be reconciled to Great Britain or separated from her perhaps forever? is a question which a few weeks may probably decide; and on which the happiness of millions may depend. I wish for peace if it can be accompanied by liberty and safety. I expect little from the justice and less from the generosity of administration; but I am not without hopes that the interest of Great Britain will compel her ministers to offer us reasonable terms. I am unwilling that while Commissioners are daily looked for, we should by any irrevocable measure tie up our hands, and put it out of our power to terminate this destructive war. I do not think this line of conduct incompatible with the most vigorous efforts for our defence in the ensuing campaign. — I believe it to be agreeable to the sense of our constituents which would alone be decisive with me.— under these impressions, I wait for the expected propositions with painful anxiety. If they should prove oppressive or frivolous we will be at no loss to form a judgment of the consequences.”

The effect upon Robert Morris is shown by a letter from him of April 6th, from Philadelphia to Gates: “Where the plague are these Commissioners, if they are to come what is it that detains them; It is time we shou’d be on a Certainty & know positively whether the Liberties of America can be established & secured by reconciliation, or whether we must totally renounce Connection with Great Britain & fight our way to a total Independence. Whilst we Continue thus firmly United amongst ourselves there’s no doubt but either of these points may be carried, but it seems to me, We shall quarrel about which of these roads is best to pursue unless the Commissioners appear soon and lead us into the first path, therefore I wish them to come, dreading nothing so much as even an appearance of division amongst ourselves—”

We have already seen a letter from Stone, of April 24th.

Meanwhile, as already shown by Reed’s letter, the struggle in Congress had become more bitter: so much so that it extended to the different members of a delegation.

John Adams, in his Autobiography, under date of February 29th, says: “. . . [Harrison] seemed to be set up in opposition to Mr. Richard Henry Lee. Jealousies and divisions appeared among the delegates of no State more remarkably than among those of Virginia . . . I asked the reason; for Mr. Lee appeared a scholar, a gentleman, a man of uncommon eloquence, and an agreeable man. Mr. Wythe said . . . this was all true, but Mr. Lee had, when he was very young, and when he first came into the House of Burgesses, moved and urged on an inquiry into the state of the treasury, which was found deficient in large sums, which had been lent by the treasurer to many of the most influential families of the country, who found themselves exposed, and had never forgiven Mr. Lee . . . These feelings among the Virginia delegates were a great injury to us. Mr. Samuel Adams and myself were very intimate with Mr. Lee, and he agreed perfectly with us in the great system of our policy, and by his means we kept a majority of the delegates of Virginia with us. But Harrison, Pendleton, and some others showed their jealousy of this intimacy plainly enough at times. Harrison consequently courted Mr. Hancock and some other of our colleagues, but we had now a majority, and gave ourselves no trouble about their little intrigues.”

He tells us (in his Autobiography) also that he had been appointed (October 28, 1775) Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature of his Colony and: “I soon found [after the return to Congress on February 9, 1776], there was a whispering among the partisans in opposition to independence, that I was interested; that I held an office under the new government of Massachusetts; that I was afraid of losing it, if we did not declare independence; and that I consequently ought not to be attended to. This they circulated so successfully, that they got it insinuated among the members of the legislature in Maryland, where their friends were powerful enough to give an instruction to their delegates in Congress, warning them against listening to the advice of interested persons, and manifestly pointing me out to the understanding of every one . . . These chuckles I was informed of, and witnessed for many weeks, and at length they broke out in a very extraordinary manner. When I had been speaking one day on the subject of independence, or the institution of governments, which I always considered as the same thing, a gentleman of great fortune and high rank rose and said, he should move, that no person who held any office under a new government should be admitted to vote on any such question, as they were interested persons … I rose from my seat with great coolness and deliberation . . . and said: ‘. . . I will second the gentleman’s motion, and I recommend it to the honorable gentleman to second another which I should make, namely, that no gentleman who holds any office under the old or present government should be admitted to vote on any such question, as they are interested persons.’ The moment when this was pronounced, it flew like an electric stroke through every countenance in the room, for the gentleman who made the motion held as high an office under the old government as I did under the new, and many other members present held offices under the royal government . . . This whole scene was a comedy to Charles Thomson, whose countenance was in raptures all the time. When all was over, he told me he had been highly delighted with it, because he had been witness to many of their conversations, in which they had endeavored to excite and propagate prejudices against me . . .

He says that in May there were continued altercations in Congress over General Wooster, Commodore Hopkins and a Mr. Wrixon and that “These three consumed an immense quantity of time, and kept up the passions of the parties to a great height. One design was to divert us from our main object.”

The “main object” was a declaration of independence or its equivalent.

As early as January 9th, as shown by the Diary of Richard Smith: “Wilson moved and was strongly supported that the Congress may expressly declare to their Constituents and the World their present Intentions respecting an Independency, observing that the Kings Speech directly charged Us with that Design, he was opposed but Friday was fixed for going into that Affair. Several Members said that if a Foreign Force shall be sent here, they are willing to declare the Colonies in a State of Independent Sovereignty.”

Of this motion, Samuel Adams writes, to John Adams, who, as we have seen, was then on leave of absence: “The Motion alarmed me — I thought Congress had already been explicit enough and was apprehensive that we might get ourselves on dangerous Ground — Some of us prevailed so far as to have the Matter postponed, but could not prevent the assigning a Day to consider it — I may perhaps have been wrong in opposing this Motion, and I ought the rather to suspect it, because the Majority of your Colony as well as of the Congress were of a different Mind[.]”

The Diary of Richard Smith shows also (under the following dates): “[January 24th] most of the Day was spent on a Proposal to address the People of America our Constituents deducing the Controversy ab Initio [fromthe beginning] and informing them of our Transactions and of the present State of Affairs, much was said about Independency and the Mode and Propriety of stating our Dependance on the King, a Com[mittee] was appointed to draw the Address.” “[February 13th] Wilson brought in the Draught of an Address to our Constituents which was very long, badly written and full against Independency [.]” “[February 16th] Wythe also offered Propositions whereof the first was that the Colonies have a Right to contract Alliances with Foreign Powers, an Objection being offered that this was Independency there ensued much Argument upon that Ground . . .” “[February 21st] Wm. Livingston moved that the Thanks of the Congress be given to Dr Smith for his Oration on Gen. Montgomery and that he be desired to make it public, this was objected to for several Reasons the chief was that the Dr declared the Sentiments of the Congress to continue in a Dependency on Grt Britain which Doctrine this Congress cannot now approve, Principal Speakers for the Motion Duane, Wilson, Willing, against it Chase, John Adams, Wythe E Rutledge, Wolcott, Sherman at length Mr Livingston withdrew his Motion.” “[February 29th] 4 Hours were spent in Grand Com[mittee] on Trade without any Conclusion . . . the Points now agitated were the Expediency and Probability of contracting foreign Commercial Alliances and chiefly with France and Spain, and the Advantages and Disadvantages of attempting to carry on Trade in our present Circumstances, much was said about declaring our Independency on Grt Britain when it appeared that 5 or 6 Colonies have instructed their Delegates not to agree to an Independency till they, the Principals are consulted . . .”

Wythe, during the discussions, sometime before March 1st, as shown by John Adams’ debates, declared: “If we should offer our trade to the Court of France, would they take notice of it any more than if Bristol or Liverpool should offer theirs, while we profess to be subjects? No. We must declare ourselves a free people.”

Reed writes, from Philadelphia, to Pettit, March 3d: “I look upon separation from the Mother Country as a certain event, though we are not yet so familiarized to the idea as thoroughly to approve it . . . The Congress are paving the way to a Declaration of Independence, but I believe will not make it until the minds of the people are better prepared for it than as yet they are.”

The important entries on the subject in the Diary of Richard Smith during this month are as follows: “[March 9th] Instructions for the Commissioners] going to Canada . . . took up 3 or 4 Hours . . . that Part recommend’g to them [to] form a Constitution and Government for themselves without Limitation [of] Time which Jay and others said was an Independency and there was much Argument on this Ground[.]” “[March 22d] Wythe reported the Preamble about Privateering, he and Lee moved an Amend! wherein the King was made the Author of our Miseries instead of the Ministry, it was opposed on Supposition that this was effectually severing the King from Us forever and ably debated for 4 Hours when Maryland interposed its Veto and put it off till Tomorrow, Chief Speakers for the Amendment Lee, Chase, Sergeant, Harrison, against it Jay, Wilson, Johnson.”

On the 23d (of March), John Adams, in his letter to Gates, writes: “I agree with you, that in Politicks the Middle Way is none at all . . . We have hitherto conducted half a War, acted upon the Line of Defence &c &c — But you will see by tomorrows Paper, that for the future We are likely to wage three Quarters of a War. — The Continental Ships of War, and Provincial Ships of War, and Letters of Mark and Privateers are permitted to cruise upon British Property, wherever found on the Ocean. This is not Independency you know, nothing like it. If a Post or two more, should bring you unlimited latitude of Trade to all Nations, and a polite Invitation to all nations, to trade with you, take care that you don’t call it, or think it Independency. No such Matter — Independency is an Hobgoblin, of so frightful Mein, that it would throw a delicate Person into Fits to look it in the Face.”

On April 12th, he sends an epistle to his wife in which we read: “The ports are opened wide enough at last, and privateers are allowed to prey upon British trade. This is not independency, you know. What is? Why, government in every colony, a confederation among them all, and treaties with foreign nations to acknowledge us a sovereign State, and all that.”

A letter from him dated two days later says: “As to declarations of independency, be patient. Read our privateering laws and our commercial laws. What signifies a word?”

Had the telegraph then threaded the country as now, he would already have known, by the morning of the 13th, that, while he was writing his wife, North Carolina was, as we have seen, empowering her “Delegates . . . to concur with the Delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independency . . .”

Less than a month later (May 10th), Congress took into consideration and adopted a resolution ” brought before the Committee of the whole house, in concert between” R. H. Lee and John Adams, which the latter considered “an epocha, a decisive event.”

The words of the resolution, as given in the Journal, were: “That it be recommended to the respective Assemblies and conventions of the united colonies where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs have been hitherto established to adopt such government as shall in the opinion of the representatives of the people best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular and America in general.”

John Adams, Edward Rutledge and R. H. Lee were chosen a committee to prepare a preamble. Their report was agreed to on the 15th, and it was then ordered that both the resolution and the preamble be published. The preamble, as shown by the Journal, declared: “Whereas his Britannic Majesty in conjunction with the lords and commons of great Britain has by a late act of Parliament excluded the inhabitants of these united colonies from the protection of his crown And whereas no answer whatever to the humble petitions of the colonies for redress of grievances & reconciliation with great Britain has been or is likely to be given . . . And whereas … it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the said crown should be totally suppressed . . .”

Two days later, John Adams writes to his wife: “When I consider the great events which are passed, and those greater which are rapidly advancing, and that I may have been instrumental in touching some springs and turning some small wheels, which have had and will have such effects, I feel an awe upon my mind which is not easily described. Great Britain has at last driven America to the last step: a complete separation from her; a total, absolute independence, not only of her Parliament, but of her Crown, for such is the amount of the resolve of the 15th.” In his Autobiography, he says: “Mr. Duane called it to me, a machine for the fabrication of independence. I said, smiling, I thought it was independence itself, but we must have it with more formality yet.” “It was indeed, on all hands, considered by men of understanding as equivalent to a declaration of independence, though a formal declaration of it was still opposed by Mr. Dickinson and his party.”

Gerry, on the 20th, says, to Warren: “It appears to me that the eyes of every unbeliever are now open; that all are sensible of the perfidy of Great Britain, and are convinced there is no medium between unqualified submission and actual Independency. The Colonies are determined on the latter. A final declaration is approaching with great rapidity. Amidst all our difficulties, you would be highly diverted to see the situation of our ‘moderate gentlemen.’ . . . They are coming over to us . . .”

Indeed, while these letters were travelling northward, Nelson, as we have seen, was on his way to Philadelphia with the resolution of the Convention of Virginia instructing her Delegates to propose to Congress to declare independence. These instructions, as well as those of North Carolina, as we have seen, were laid before Congress on the 27th.

On the 31st, Gerry writes to Joseph Palmer : “The Conviction which ye late Measures of Administration have brought to ye Minds of doubting Persons has such an Effect, that I think yc Colonies cannot long remain an independent depending People, but that they will declare themselves as their Interest & Safety have long required, entirely separated from ye prostituted Government of Grt Britain. Upon this Subject I have wrote to our Friend Col: Orne & beg leave to refer you thereto — The principal object of our attention at this important Time I think should be ye Manufacturing Arms, Lead & Cloathing, & obtaining Flints, for I suppose since ye Measures adopted by North Carolina and Virginia that there cannot remain a Doubt with our Assembly of ye propriety of declaring for Independency and therefore that our Tho’ts will be mostly directed to ye Means for supporting it.”

John Adams also felt at once that the goal was near. “It has ever appeared to me “, he writes to Henry, June 3d, “that the natural course and order of things was this; for every colony to institute a government; for all the colonies to confederate, and define the limits of the continental Constitution; then to declare the colonies a sovereign state, or a number of confederated states; and last of all, to form treaties with foreign powers. But I fear we cannot proceed systematically, and that we shall be obliged to declare ourselves independent States, before we confederate, and indeed before all the colonies have established their governments. It is now pretty clear that all these measures will follow one another in a rapid succession, and it may not perhaps be of much importance which is done first.”
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