US flag and bible cross

RISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY by Dr. Richard Salter Storrs July 4 1876

RS StorrRise Of Constitutional Liberty An Oration Delivered By The Rev. Dr. R. S. Storrs, At The Academy Of Music, New York, July 4, 1876.

Mr. President—Fellow-citizen : The long-expected day has come, and passing peacefully the impalpable line which separates ages, the Republic completes its hundredth year. The predictions in which affectionate hope gave inspiration to political prudence are fulfilled. The fears of the timid, and the hopes of those to whom our national existence is a menace, are alike disappointed. The fable of the physical world becomes the fact of the political; and after alternate sunshine and storm, after heavings of the earth which only deepened its roots, and ineffectual blasts of lightning whose lurid threat died in the air, under a sky now raining on it benignant influence, the century-plant of American Independence and popular government bursts into this magnificent blossom of a joyful celebration illuminating the land!

With what desiring though doubtful expectation those whose action we commemorate looked for the possible coming of this day, we know from the records which they have left. With what anxious solicitude the statesmen and the soldiers of the following generation anticipated the changes which might take place before this Centennial year should be reached, we have heard ourselves, in their great and fervent admonitory words. How dim and drear the prospect seemed to our own hearts fifteen years since, when, on the fourth of July 1861, the XXXVIIth Congress met at Washington with no representative in either House from any State south of Tennessee and Western Virginia, and when a determined and numerous army, under skillful commanders, approached and menaced the capital and the government—this we surely have not forgotten; nor how, in the terrible years which followed, the blood and fire, and vapor of smoke, seemed oftentimes to swim as a sea, or to rise as a wall, between our eyes and this anniversary.

“It cannot outlast the second generation from those who founded it,” was the exulting conviction of the many who loved the traditions and state of monarchy, and who felt them insecure before the widening fame in the world of our prosperous Republic. “It may not reach its hundredth year,” was the deep and sometimes the sharp apprehension of those who felt, as all of us felt, that their own liberty, welfare, hope, with the brightest political promise of the world, were bound up with the unity and the life of our nation. Never was solicitude more intense, never was prayer to Almighty God more fervent and constant— not in the earliest beginnings of our history, when Indian ferocity threatened that history with a swift termination, not in the days of supremest trial amid the Revolution—than in those years when the nation seemed suddenly split asunder, and forces which had been combined for its creation were clenched and rocking back and forth in bloody grapple on the question of its maintenance.

The prayer was heard. The effort and the sacrifice have come to their fruitage; and to-day the nation—still one, as at the start, though now expanded over such immense spaces, absorbing such incessant and diverse elements from other lands, developing within it opinions so conflicting, interests so various, and forms of occupation so novel and manifold—to-day the nation, emerging from the toil and the turbulent strife, with the earlier and the later clouds alike swept out of its resplendent stellar arch, pauses from its work to remember and rejoice; with exhilarated spirit to anticipate its future; with reverent heart to offer to God its great Te Deum.(1)

Not here alone, in this great city, whose lines have gone out into all the earth, and whose superb progress in wealth, in culture, and in civic renown, is itself the most illustrious token of the power and beneficence of that frame of government under which it has been realized; not alone in yonder, I had almost said adjoining, city, whence issued the paper that first announced our national existence, and where now rises the magnificent Exposition, testifying for all progressive States to their respect and kindness toward us, the radiant clasp of diamond and opal on the girdle of the sympathies which interweave their peoples with ours; not alone in Boston, the historic town, first in resistance to British aggression, and foremost in plans for the new and popular organization, one of whose citizens wrote his name, as if cutting it with a plowshare, at the head of all on our great charter, another of whose citizens was its intrepid and powerful champion, aiding its passage through the Congress; not there alone, nor yet in other great cities of the land, but in smaller towns, in villages and hamlets, this day will be kept, a secular Sabbath, sacred alike to memory and to hope.

Not only, indeed, where men are assembled, as we are here, will it be honored. The lonely and remote will have their part in this commemoration. Where the boatman follows the winding stream, or the woodman explores the forest shades; where the miner lays down his eager drill beside rocks which guard the precious veins; or where the herdsman, along the sierras, looks forth on the seas which now reflect the rising day, which at our midnight shall be gleaming like gold in the setting sun —there also will the day be regarded, as— a day of memorial. The sailor on the sea will note it, and dress his ship in its brightest array of flags and bunting. Americans dwelling in foreign lands will note and keep it.

London itself will today be more festive because of the event which a century ago shadowed its streets, incensed its Parliament, and tore from the crown of its obstinate King the chiefest jewel. On the boulevards of Paris, in the streets of Berlin, and along the leveled bastions of Vienna, at Marseilles and at Florence, upon the silent liquid ways of stately Venice, in the passes of the Alps, under the shadow of church and obelisk, palace and ruin, which still prolong the majesty of Rome; yea, further East, on the Bosphorus, and in Syria; in Egypt, which writes on the front of its compartment in the great Exhibition, “The oldest people of the world sends its morning-greeting to the youngest nation;” along the heights behind Bombay, in the foreign hongs of Canton,(2) in the “Islands of the Morning,” which found the dawn of their new age in the startling sight of an American squadron entering their bays—everywhere will be those who have thought of this day, and who join with us to greet its coming.

No other such anniversary, probably has attracted hitherto such general notice. You have seen Rome, perhaps, on one of those shining April days when the traditional anniversary of the founding of the city fills its streets with civic processions, with military display, and the most elaborate fire-works in Europe; you may have seen Holland, in 1782, when the whole country bloomed with orange on the three-hundredth anniversary of the capture by the sea-beggars of the city of Briel, and of the revolt against Spanish domination which thereupon flashed on different sides into sudden explosion. But these celebrations, and others like them, have been chiefly local. The world outside has taken no wide impression from them. This of ours is the first of which many lands, in different tongues, will have had report. Partly because the world is narrowed in our time, and its distant peoples are made neighbors, by the fleeter machineries now in use; partly because we have drawn so many to our population from foreign lands, while the restless and acquisitive spirit of our people has made them at home on every shore; but partly, also, and essentially, because of the nature and the relations of that event which we commemorate, and of the influence exerted by it on subsequent history, the attention of men is more or less challenged, in every centre of commerce and of thought, by this anniversary. Indeed it is not unnatural to feel—certainly it is not irreverent to feel—that they who by wisdom, by valor, and by sacrifice, have contributed to perfect and maintain the institutions which we possess, and have added by death as well as by life to the luster of our history, must also have an interest in this day; that in their timeless habitations they remember us beneath the lower circle of the heavens, are glad in our joy and share and lead our grateful praise. To a spirit alive with the memories of the time, and rejoicing in its presage of nobler futures, recalling the great, the beloved, the heroic, who have labored and joyfully died for its coming, it will not seem too fond an enthusiasm to feel that the air is quick with shapes we cannot see, and glows with faces whose light serene we may not catch! They who counseled in the Cabinet, they who defined and settled the law in decisions of the Bench, they who pleaded with mighty eloquence in the Senate, they who poured out their souls in triumphant effusion for the liberty which they loved in forum or pulpit, they who gave their young and glorious life as an offering on the field, that government for the people, and by the people, might not perish from the earth—it cannot be but that they too have part and place in this Jubilee of our history! God make our doings not unworthy of such spectators! and make our spirit sympathetic with theirs from whom all selfish passion and pride have now forever passed away!

The interest which is felt so distinctly and widely in this anniversary reflects a light on the greatness of the action which it commemorates. It shows that we do not unduly exaggerate the significance or the importance of that; that it had really large, even world-wide relations, and contributed an effective and a valuable force to the furtherance of the cause of freedom, education, humane institutions, and popular advancement, wherever its influence has been felt.

Yet when we consider the action itself, it may easily seem but slight in its nature, as it was certainly commonplace in its circumstances. There was nothing even picturesque in its surroundings, to enlist for it the pencil of the painter, or help to fix any luminous image of that which was done on the popular memory.

In this respect it is singularly contrasted with other great and kindred events in general history; with those heroic and fruitful actions in English history which had especially prepared the way for it, and with which the thoughtful student of the past will always set it in intimate relations. Its utter simplicity, as compared with their splendor, becomes impressive.

When, five centuries and a half before, on the fifteenth of June, and the following days, in the year of our Lord 1215, the English barons met King John in the long meadow of Runnemede, and forced from him the Magna Charta—the strong foundation and steadfast bulwark of English liberty, concerning which Mr. Hallam has said in our time that “all which has been since obtained is little more than as confirmation or commentary,”—no circumstance was wanting, of outward pageantry, to give dignity, brilliance, impressiveness, to the scene. On tho one side was the King, with the Bishops and nobles who attended him, with the Master of the Templars, and the Papal legate before whom he had lately rendered his homage.(3) On the other side was the great and determined majority of the barons of England, with multitudes of knights, armed vassals, and retainers, (4) With them in purpose, and in resolute zeal, were most of those who attended the King. Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the English clergy, was with them; the Bishops of London, Winchester, Lincoln, Rochester, and of other great sees. The Earl of Pembroke, dauntless and wise, of vast and increasing power in the realm, and not long after to be its Protector, was really at their head. Robert Fitz-Walter, whose fair daughter Matilda the profligate king had forcibly abducted, was Marshal of the army—the “Army of God, and the Holy Church.” William Longsword, Earl of Salisbury, half-brother of the King, was on the field; the Earls of Albemarle, Arundel, Gloucester, Hereford, Norfolk. Oxford, the great Earl Warenne, who claimed the same right of the sword in his barony which William the Conqueror had had in the kingdom, the Constable of Scotland, Hubert de Burgh, seneschal of Poictou, and many other powerful nobles—descendants of the daring soldiers whose martial valor had mastered England, Crusaders who had followed Richard at Ascalon and at Jaffa, whose own liberties had since been in mortal peril. Some burgesses of London were present, as well; troubadours, minstrels, and heralds were not wanting; and doubtless there mingled with the throng those skillful clerks whose pens had drawn the great instrument of freedom, and whose training in language had given a remarkable precision to its exact clauses and cogent terms.

Pennons and banners streamed at large, and spearheads gleamed, above the host. The June sunshine flashed reflected from inland shield and muscled armor. The terrible quivers of English yeomen hung on their shoulders. The voice of trumpets, and clamoring bugles, was in the air. The whole scene was vast as a battle, though bright as a tournament; splendid, but threatening, like burnished clouds, in which lightnings sleep. The king, one of the handsomest men of the time, though cruelty, perfidy, and every foul passion must have left their traces on his face, was especially fond of magnificence in dress; wearing we are told, on one Christmas occasion, a rich mantle of red satin, embroidered with sapphires and pearls, a tunic of white damask, a girdle lustrous with precious stones, and a baldric from his shoulder, crossing his breast, set with diamonds and emeralds, while even his gloves, as indeed is still indicated on his fine effigy in Worcester cathedral, bore similar ornaments, the one a ruby, the other a sapphire.

Whatever was superb, therefore, in that consummate age of royal and baronial state, whatever was splendid in the glittering and grand apparatus of chivalry, whatever was impressive in the almost more than princely pomp of prelates of the Church,—

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth can give,—

all this was marshaled on that historic plain in Surrey, where John and the barons faced each other, where Saxon king and Saxon earl had met in council before the Norman had footing in England; and all combined to give a fit magnificence of setting to the great charter there granted and sealed.

The tower of Windsor—not of the present castle and palace, but of the earlier detached fortress which already crowned the cliff, and from which John had come to the field—looked down on the scene. On the one side, low hills enclosed the meadow; on the other, the Thames flowed brightly by, seeking the capital and the sea. Every feature of the scene was English save one; but over all loomed, in a portentous and haughty stillness, in the ominous presence of the envoy from Rome, that ubiquitous power surpassing all others, which already had once laid the kingdom under interdict, and had exiled John from church and throne, but to which later he had been reconciled, and on which he secretly relied to annul the charter which he was granting.

The brilliant panorama illuminates the page which bears its story. It rises still as a vision before one, as he looks on the venerable parchment originals, preserved to our day in the British Museum. If it be true, as Hallam has said, that from that era a new soul was infused into the people of England, it must be confessed that the place, the day, and all the circumstances of that new birth were fitting to the great and the vital event.

That age passed away, and its peculiar splendor of aspect was not thereafter to be repeated. Yet when, four hundred years later, on the seventh of June,(5) 1628, the Petition of Right, the second great charter of the liberties of England, was presented by Parliament to Charles the First, the scene and its accessories were hardly less impressive.

Into that law—called a Petition, as if to mask the deadly energy of its blow upon tyranny—had been collected by the skill of its framers all the heads of the despotic prerogative which Charles had exercised, that they might all be smitten together, with one tremendous destroying stroke. The king, enthroned in his chair of state, looked forth on those who waited for his word, as still he looks, with his fore-casting and melancholy face, from the canvas of Van Dyck. Before him were assembled the nobles of England, in peaceful array, and not in armor, but with a civil power in their hands which the older gauntlets could not have held, and with the memories of a long renown almost as visible to themselves and to the king as were the tapestries suspended on the walls.

Crowding the bar, behind these descendants of the earlier barons, were the members of the House of Commons, with whom the law now presented to the king had had its origin, and whose boldness and tenacity had constrained the peers, after vain endeavor to modify its provisions, to accept them as they stood. They were the most powerful body of representatives of the kingdom that had yet been convened; possessing a private wealth it was estimated, surpassing three-fold that of the Peers, and representing not less than they the best life, and the oldest lineage, of the kingdom which they loved.

Their dexterous, dauntless, and far-sighted sagacity is yet more evident as we look back than their wealth or their breeding; and among them were men whose names will be familiar while England continues. Wentworth was there, soon to be the most dangerous of traitors of the cause of which he was then the champion, but who then appeared as resolute as ever to vindicate the ancient, lawful, and vital liberties of the kingdom; and Pym was there, the unsurpassed statesman, who, not long afterward was to warn the dark and haughty apostate that he never again would leave pursuit of him so long as his head stood on his shoulders.(6) Hampden was there, considerate and serene, but inflexible as an oak ; once imprisoned already for his resistance to an unjust taxation, and ready again to suffer and to conquer in the same supreme cause. Sir John Eliot was there, eloquent and devoted, who had tasted also the bitterness of imprisonment, and who after years of its subsequent experience, was to die a martyr in the Tower. Coke was there, seventy-seven years of age, but full of fire as full of fame, whose vehement and unswerving hand had had chief part in framing the Petition. Selden was there, the repute of whose learning was already continental. Sir Francis Seymour, Sir Robert Phillips, Strode, Hobart, Denzil Holies, and Valentine—such were the commoners; and there, at the outset of a career not imagined by either, faced the king a silent young member who had come now to his first Parliament at the age of twenty-nine, from the borough of Huntingdon, Oliver Cromwell.

In a plain cloth suit he probably stood among his colleagues. But they were often splendid, and even sumptuous, in dress; with slashed doublets, and cloaks of velvet, with flowing collars of rich lace, the swords by their sides, in embroidered belts, with flashing hilts, their very hats jeweled and plumed, the abundant dressed and perfumed hair falling in curls upon their shoulders. Here and there may have been those who still more distinctly symbolized their spirit, with steel corslets, overlaid with lace and rich embroidery.

So stood they in the presence, representing to the full the wealth, and genius, and stately civic pomp of England, until the king had pronounced his assent, in the express customary form, to the law which confirmed the popular liberties; and when, on hearing his unequivocal final assent, they burst into loud, even passionate acclamations of victorious joy, there had been from the first no scene more impressive in that venerable Hall, whose history went back to Edward the Confessor.

In what sharp contrast with the rich ceremonial and the splendid accessories of these preceding kindred events, appears that modest scene at Philadelphia, from which we gratefully date to-day a hundred years of constant and prosperous national life!

In a plain room, of an unpretending and recent building—the lower east room of what then was a State-house, what since has been known as the “Independence Hall”—in the midst of a city of perhaps thirty thousand inhabitants—a city which preserved its rural aspect, and the quaint simplicity of whose plan and structures had always been marked among American towns —were assembled probably less than fifty persons to consider a paper prepared by a young Virginia lawyer, giving reasons for a Resolve which the assembly had adopted two days before. They were farmers, planters, lawyers, physicians, surveyors of land, with one eminent Presbyterian clergyman. A majority of them had been educated at such schools, or primitive colleges, as then existed on this continent, while a few had enjoyed the rare advantage of training abroad, and foreign travel; but a considerable number, and among them some of the most influential, had had no other education than that which they had gained by diligent reading while at their trades or on their farms.

The figure to which our thoughts turn first is that of the author of the careful paper on the details of which the discussion turned. It has no special majesty or charm, the slight tall frame, the sun-burned face, the gray eyes spotted with hazel, the red hair which crowns the head; but already, at the age of thirty-three, the man has impressed himself on his associates as a master of principles, and of the language in which those principles find expression, so that his colleagues have left to him, almost wholly, the work of preparing the important Declaration. He wants readiness in debate, and so is now silent; but he listens eagerly to the vigorous argument and the forcible appeals of one of his fellows on the committee, Mr. John Adams, and now and then speaks with another of the committee, much older than himself—a stout man, with a friendly face, in a plain dress, whom the world had already heard something of as Benjamin Franklin. These three are perhaps most prominently before us as we recall the vanished scene, though others were there of fine presence and cultivated manners, and though all impress us as substantial and respectable representative men, however harsh the features of some, however brawny their hands with labor. But certainly nothing could be more unpretending, more destitute of pictorial charm than that small assembly of persons for the most part quite unknown to previous fame, and half of whose names it is not probable that half of us in this assembly could now repeat.

After a discussion somewhat prolonged as it seemed at the time, especially as it had been continued from previous days, and after some minor amendments of the paper, toward evening it was adopted, and ordered to be sent to the several States, signed by the president and the secretary; and the simple transaction was complete. Whatever there may have been of proclamation and bell-ringing appears to have come on subsequent days. It was almost a full month before the paper was engrossed, and signed by the members. It must have been nearly or quite the same time before the news of its adoption had reached the remoter parts of the land .

If pomp of circumstances were necessary to make an event like this great and memorable, there would have beeu others in our own history more worthy far of our commemoration. As matched against multitudes in general history, it would sink into instant and complete insignificance. Yet here, to-day, a hundred years from the adoption of that paper, in a city which counts its languages by scores, and beats with the thread of a million feet, in a country whose enterprise flies abroad over sea and land on the rush of engines not then imagined, in a time so full of exciting hopes that it hardly has leisure to contemplate the past, we pause from all our toil and traffic, our eager plans and impetuous debate, to commemorate the event. The whole land pauses, as I have said; and some distinct impression of it will follow the sun, wherever he climbs the steep of Heaven, until in all countries it has more or less touched the thoughts of men.

Why is this? is a question, the answer to which should interpret and vindicate our assemblage.

It is not simply because a century happens to have passed since the event thus remembered occurred. A hundred years are always closing from some event, and have been since Adam was in his prime. There was, of course, some special importance in the action then accomplished—in the nature of that action, since not in its circumstances—to justify such long record of it; and that importance it is ours to define. In the perspective of distance the small things disappear, while the great and eminent keep their place. As Carlyle has said: “A king in the midst of his body-guards, with his trumpets, warhorses, and gilt standard-bearers, will look great though he be little; only some Roman Carus can give audience to satrap ambassadors, while seated on the ground, with a woolen cap, and supping on boiled peas, like a common soldier.”(7)

What was, then, the great reality of power in what was done a hundred years since, which gives it its masterful place in history—makes it Roman and regal amid all its simplicity?

Of course, as the prime element of its power, it was the action of a People, and not merely of persons; and such action of a People, has always a momentum, a public force, a historic significance, which can pertain to no individual arguments and appeals. There are times, indeed, when it has the energy and authority in it of a secular inspiration; when the supreme soul which rules the world comes through it to utterance, and a thought surpassing man’s wisest plan, a will transcending his strongest purpose, is heard in its commanding voice.

It does not seem extravagant to say that the time to which our thoughts are turned was one of these.

For a century and a half the emigrants from Europe had brought hither, not the letters alone, the arts and industries, or the religious convictions, but the hardy moral and political life, which had there been developed in ages of strenuous struggle and work. France and Germany, Holland and Sweden, as well as England, Scotland, and Ireland, had contributed to this. The Austrian Tyrol, the Bavarian highlands, the Bohemian plain, Denmark, even Portugal, had their part in this colonization. The ample domain which hero received the earnest immigrants bad imparted to them of its own oneness; and diversities of language race, and custom, had fast disappeared in the governing unity of a common aspiration, and a common purpose to work out through freedom a nobler well-being.

The general moral life of this people, so various in origin, so accordant in spirit, had only risen to grander force through the toil and strife, the austere training, the long patience of endurance, to which it here had been subjected. The exposures to heat, and cold, and famine, to unaccustomed labors, to alternations of climate unknown in the old world, to malarial forces brooding above the mellow and drainless recent lands—these had fatally stricken many; but those who survived were tough and robust, the more so, perhaps, because of the perils which they had surmounted Education was not easy, books were not many, and the daily newspaper was unknown; but political discussion had been always going on, and men’s minds had gathered unconscious force as they strove with each other, in eager debate, on questions concerning the common welfare. They had had much experience in subordinate legislation, on the local matters belonging to their care; had acquired dexterity in performing public business, and had often had to resist or amend the suggestions or dictates of Royal governors. For a recent people, dwelling apart from older and conflicting States, they had had a large experience in war, the crack of the rifle being never unfamiliar along the near frontier, where disciplined skill was often combined with savage fury to sweep with sword or scar with fire their scattered settlements.

By every species, therefore, of common work, of discussion endurance, and martial struggle, the descendants of the colonists scattered along the American coast had been allied to each other. They were more closely allied than they knew. It needed only some signal occasion, some summons to a sudden heroic decision, to bring them into instant general combination; and Huguenot and Hollander, Swede, German, and Protestant Portuguese, as well as Englishman, Scotchman, Irishman, would then forget that their ancestors had been different, in the supreme consciousness that now they had a common country, and before all else were all of them Americans.

That time had come. That consciousness had for fifteen years been quickening in the people, since the “Writs of Assistance ” had been applied for and granted, in 1761, when Otis, resigning his honorable position under the crown, had flung himself against the alarming innovation with an eloquence as blasting as the stroke of the lightning which in the end destroyed his life. With every fresh invasion by England of their popular liberties, with every act which threatened such invasion by providing opportunity and the instruments for it, the sense of a common privilege and right, of a common inheritance in the country they were fashioning out of the forest, of a common place in the history of the world, had been increased among the colonists. They were plain people, with no strong tendencies to the ideal. They wanted only a chance for free growth; but they must have that, and have it together, though the continent cracked. The diamond is formed, it has sometimes been supposed, under a swift enormous pressure, of masses meeting, and forcing the carbon into a crystal. The ultimate spirit of the American colonists was formed in like manner; the weight of a rocky continent beneath, the weight of au oppression only intolerable because undefined pressing on it from above. But now that spirit, of inestimable price, reflecting light from every angle, and harder to be broken than anything material, was suddenly shown in acts and declarations of conventions and assemblies from the Penobscot to the St. Mary’s.

Any commanding public temper, once established in a people grows bolder, of course, more inquisitive and incentive, more sensible of its rights, more determined on its future, as it comes more frequently into exercise. This in the colonies lately had had been the most significant of all its expressions, up to that point, in the resolves of a popular ass3mblies that the time had come for a final separation from the kingdom of Great Britain. The eminent Congress of two years before had given it powerful reinforcement . Now, at last, it entered the representative American assembly, and claimed from that the ultimate word. It found what it sought. The Declaration was only the voice of that supreme, impersonal force, that will of communities, that universal soul of the State.

The vote of the colony then thinly covering a part of the spaces not yet wholly occupied by this great State, was not, indeed, at once formally given for such an instrument. It was wisely dejayed, under the judicious counsel of Jay, till a provincial Congress could assemble, specially called, and formally authorized, to pronounce the deliberate resolve of the colony; and so it happened that only twelve colonies voted at first for the great Declaration, and that New York was not joined to the number till five days later. But Jay knew, and all knew, that numerous, wealthy, eminent in character, high in position as were those here and elsewhere in the country—in Massachusetts, in Virginia, and in the Carolinas—who were by no means yet prepared to sever their connection with Great Britain, the general and governing mind of the people was fixed upon this, with a decision which nothing could change, with a tenacity which nothing could break. The forces tending to that result had wrought to their development with a steadiness and strength which the stubbornest resistance had hardly delayed. The spirit which now shook light and impulse over the land was recent in its precise demand, but as old in its birth as the first Christian settlements; and it was that spirit—not of one, nor of fifty, not of all the individuals in all the conventions, but the vaster spirit which lay behind—which put itself on sudden record through the prompt and accurate pen of Jefferson.

He was himself in full sympathy with it, and only by reason of that sympathy could give it such consummate expression Not out of books, legal researches, historical inquiry, the careful and various studies of language, came that document; but out of repeated public debate, out of manifold personal and private discussion, out of his clear sympathetic observation of the changing feeling and thought of men, out of that exquisite personal sensibility to vague and impalpable popular impulses which was in him innately combined with artistic taste, an idea nature, and rare power of philosophical thought. The voice of the cottage as well as the college, of the church as well as the legislative assembly, was in the paper. It echoed the talk of the farmer in home-spun, as well as the classic eloquence of Lee, or the terrible tones of Patrick Henry. It gushed at last from the pen of its writer, like the fountain from the roots of Lebanon, a brimming river when it issues from the rock ; but it was because its sources had been supplied, its fullness filled, by unseen springs; by the rivulets winding far up among the cedars, and percolating through hidden crevices in the stone; by melting snows, whose white sparkle seemed still on the stream; by fierce rains, with which the basins above were drenched ; by even the dews, silent and wide, which had lain in stillness all night upon the hill.

The Platonic idea of the development of the State was thus realized here; first Ethics, then Politics. A public opinion, energetic and dominant took its place from the start as the chief instrument of the new civilization. No dashing maneuver of skillful commanders, no sudden burst of popular passion, was in the Declaration; but the vast mystery of a supreme and imperative public life, at once diffused and intense—behind all persons, before all plans, beneath which individual wills are exalted, at whose touch the personal mind is inspired, and under whose transcendent impulse the smallest instrument becomes of a terrific force. That made the Declaration; and that makes it now, in its modest brevity, take its place with Magna Charta and the Petition of Right, as full as they of vital force, and destined to a parallel permanence.

Because this intense common life of a determined and manifold People was not behind them, other documents, in form similar to this, and in polish and cadence of balanced phrase perhaps its superiors, have had no hold like that which it keeps on the memory of men. What papers have challenged the attention of mankind within the century, in the stately Spanish tongue, in Mexico, New Granada, Venezuela, Bolivia, or the Argentine Republic, which the world at large has now quite forgotten! How the resonant proclamations of German or of French Republicans, of Hungarian or Spanish revolutionists and patriots, have vanished as sound absorbed in the air! Eloquent, persuasive, just, as they were, with a vigor of thought, a fervor of passion, a fine completeness and symmetry of expression, in which they could hardly be surpassed, they have now only a literary value. They never became great general forces. They were weak, because they were personal; and history is too crowded, civilization is too vast, to take much impression from occasional documents. Only then is a paper of secular force, or long remembered, when behind it is the ubiquitous energy of the popular will, rolling through its words in vast diapason, and charging its clauses with tones of thunder.

Because such an energy was behind it, our Declaration had its majestic place and meaning; and they who adopted it saw nowhere else

So rich advantage of a promised glory,
An smiled upon the forehead of their action.

Because of that, we read it still, and look to have it as audible as now, among the dissonant voices of the world, when other generations, in long succession, have come and gone!

But further, too, it must be observed that this paper, adopted a hundred years since, was not merely the declaration of a People, as distinguished from eminent and cultured individuals—a confession before the world of the public State-faith, rather than a political thesis—but it was also the declaration of a People which claimed for its own a great inheritance of equitable laws, and of practical liberty, and which now was intent to enlarge and enrich that. It had roots in the past, and a long genealogy; and so it had a vitality inherent, and an immense energy.

They who framed it went back, indeed, to first principles. There was something philosophic and ideal in their scheme, as always there is when the general mind is deeply stirred. It was not superficial. Yet they were not undertaking to establish new theories, or to build their state upon artificial plans and abstract speculations. They were simply evolving out of the past what therein bad been latent; were liberating into free exhibition and unceasing activity, a vital force older than the history of their colonization, and wide as the lands from which they came. They had the sweep of vast impulses behind them. The slow tendencies of centuries came to sudden consummation in their Declaration; and the force of its impact upon the affairs and the mind of the world was not to be measured by its contents alone, but by the relation in which these stood to all the vehement discussion and struggle of which it was the latest outcome.

This ought to be, always, distinctly observed.

The tendency is strong, and has been general, among those who have introduced great changes in the government of states, to follow some plan of political, perhaps of social innovation, which enlists their judgment, excites their fancy, and to make a comely theoretic habitation for the national household, rather than to build on the old foundations—expanding the walls, lif ting the height, enlarging the doorways, enlightening with new windows the halls, but still keeping the strength and renewing the age of an old familiar and venerated structure. You remember how in France, in 1789, and the following years, the schemes of those whom Napoleon called the “ideologists” succeeded each other, no one of them gaining a permanent supremacy, though each included important elements, till the armed consulate of 1799 swept them all into the air, and put in place of them one masterful genius and ambitious will. You remember how in Spain, in 1812, the new Constitution proclaimed by the Cortes was thought to inaugurate with beneficent provisions a wholly new era of development and progress; yet how the history of the splendid peninsula, from that day to this, has been but the record of a struggle to the death between the Old and the New, the contest as desperate, it would seem, in our time as it was at the first.

It must be so, always, when a preceding state of society and government, which has got itself established through many generations, is suddenly superseded by a different fabric, however more evidently conformed to right reason. The principle is not so strong as the prejudice. Habit masters invention. The new and theoretic shivers its force on the obstinate coherence of the old and the established. The modern structure fails and is replaced, while the grim feudal keep, though scarred and weather-worn, the very cement seeming gone from its walls, still scowls defiance at the red right-hand of the lightning itself.

It was no such rash speculative change which here was attempted. The People whose deputies framed our Declaration were largely themselves descendants of Englishmen; and those who were not, had lived long enough under English institutions to be impressed with their tendency and spirit. It was therefore only natural that even when adopting that ultimate measure which severed them from the British crown, they should retain all that had been gained in the mother-land through centuries of endurance and strife. They left nothing that was good; they abolished the bad, added the needful, and developed into a rule for the continent the splendid precedents of great former occasions. They shared still the boast of Englishmen that their constitution “has no single date from which its duration is to be reckoned,” and that “the origin of the English law is as undiscoverable as that of the Nile.” They went back themselves, for the origin of their liberties, to the most ancient muniments of English freedom. Jefferson had affirmed, in 1774, that a primitive charter of American Independence lay in the fact that as the Saxons had left their native wilds in the North of Europe, and had occupied Britain—the country which they left asserting over them no further control, nor any dependence of them upon it—so the Englishmen coming hither had formed, by that act, another state, over which Parliament had no rights, in which its laws were void till accepted.(8)

But while seeking for their liberties so archaic a basis, neither he nor his colleagues were in the least careless of what subsequent times had done to complete them. There was not one element of popular right, which had been wrested from crown and noble in any age, which they did not keep; not an equitable rule, for the transfer or the division of property, for the protection of personal rights, or for the detection and punishment of crime, which was not precious in their eyes. Even Chancery jurisdiction they widely retained, with the distinct tribunals, derived from the ecclesiastical courts, for probate of wills; and English technicalities were maintained in their courts, almost as if they were sacred things. Especially that equality of civil rights among all commoners, which II all am declares the most prominent characteristic of the English Constitution— the source of its permanence, its improvement, and its vigor— they perfectly preserved; they only more sharply affirmatively declared it. Indeed, in renouncing their allegiance to the king, and putting the United Colonies in his place, they felt themselves acting in intimate harmony with the spirit and drift of the ancient constitution. The Executive here was.to be elective, not hereditary, to be limited and not permanent in the term of his functions; and no established peerage should exist. But each State retained its governor, its legislature, generally in two houses, its ancient statute and common law; and if they had been challenged for English authority for their attitude toward ;the crown, they might have replied in the words of Bracton, the Lord Chief-Justice five hundred years before, under the reign of Henry the Third, that ” the law makes the king;” “there is no king, where will, and not law, bears rule;” “if the king were without a bridle, that is the law, they ought to put a bridle upon him.”(9) They might have replied in the words of Fox, speaking in Parliament, in daring defiance of the temper of the House, but with many supporting him, when he said that in declaring Independence, they “had done no more than the English had done against James the Second.”(10)

They had done no more; though they had not elected another king in place of him whom they renounced. They had taken no step so far in advance of the then existing English Constitution as those which the Parliament of 1640 took in advance of the previous Parliaments which Charles had dissolved. If there was a right more rooted than another in that Constitution, it was the right of the people which was taxed to have its vote in the taxing legislature. If there was anything more accordant than another with its historic temper and tenor, it was that the authority of the king was determined when his rule became tyrannous. Jefferson had but perfectly expressed the doctrine of the lovers of freedom in England for many generations, when he said in his Summary view of the Rights of America, in 1774, that “the monarch 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 superintendence;” that “kings are the servants, not the proprietors of the people;” and that a nation claims its rights, “as derived from the laws of nature not as the gift of their chief magistrate.” (11)

That had been the spirit, if not as yet the formulated doctrine, of Raleigh, Hampden, Russell, Sydney—of all the great leaders of liberty in England. Milton had declared it, in a prose as majestic as any passage of the Paradise Lost. The Commonwealth had been built on it; and the whole Revolution of 1688. And they who now framed it into their permanent organic law, and made it supreme in the country they were shaping, were in harmony with the noblest inspirations of the past. They were not innovating with a rash recklessness. They were simply accepting and re-affirming what they had learned from luminous events and illustrious men. So their work had a dignity, a strength, and a permanence which can never belong to mere fresh speculation. It interlocked with that of multitudes going before. It derived a virtue from every field of struggle in England; from every scaffold, hallowed by free and consecrated blood; from every hour of great debate. It was only the complete development into law, for a separated people, of that august ancestral liberty, the germs of which had preceded the Heptarchy, the gradual definition and establishment of which had been the glory of English history. A thousand years brooded over the room where they asserted hereditary rights. Its walls showed neither portraits nor mottoes; but the Kaiser-saal at Frankfort was not hung around with such recollections. No titles were worn by those plain men; but there had not been one knightly soldier, or one patriotic and prescient statesman, standing for liberty in the splendid centuries of its English growth, who did not touch them with unseen accolade, and bid them be faithful. The paper which they adopted, fresh from the pen of its young author, and written on his hired pine table, was already in essential life, of a venerable age; and it took immense impulse, it derived an instant and vast authority, from its relation to that undying past in which they too had grand inheritance, and from which their public life had come.

Englishmen themselves now recognize this, and often are proud of it. The distinguished representative of Great Britain at Washington may think his government, as no doubt he does, superior to ours; but his clear eye cannot fail to see that English liberty was the parent of ours, and that the new and broader continent here opened before it, suggested that expansion of it which we celebrate to-day. His ancestors, like ours, helped to build the Republic; and its faithfulness to the past, amid all reformations, was one great secret of its earliest triumph, has been one source, from that day to this, of its enduring and prosperous strength.

The Congress, and the People behind it, asserted for themselves hereditary liberties, and hazarded everything in the purpose to complete them. But they also affirmed, with emphasis and effect, another right, more general than this, which made their action significant and important to other peoples, which made it, indeed, a signal to the nations of the right of each to assert for itself the just prerogative of forming its government, electing its rulers, ordaining its laws, as might to it seem most expedient. Hear again the immortal words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; * * that to secure these [unalienable] 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 altar or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundations in such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

This is what the party of Bentham called “the assumption of natural rights, claimed without the slightest evidence of their existence, and supported by vague and declamatory generalities.” This is what we receive as the decisive and noble declaration, spoken with the simplicity of a perfect conviction, of a natural right as patent as the continent; a declaration which challenged at once the attention of mankind, and which is now practically assumed as a premise in international relations and public law.

Of course it was not a new discovery. It was old as the earliest of political philosophers; as old, indeed, as the earliest communities, which, becoming established in particular locations, had there developed their own institutions, and repelled with vehemence the assaults that would change them. But in the growth of political societies, and the vast expansion of imperial states, by the conquest of those adjacent and weaker, this right, so easily recognized at the outset, so germane to the instincts, so level with the reason, of every community, had widely passed out of men’s thoughts; and the power of a conquering state to change the institutions and laws of a people, or impose on it new ones,—the power of a parent state to shape the forms and prescribe the rules of the colonies which went from it,—had been so long and abundantly exercised, that the very right of the people, thus conquered or colonial, to consult its own interests in the frame of its government, had been almost forgotten.

It might be a high speculation of scholars, or a charming dream of political enthusiasts. But it was not a maxim for the practical statesman; and whatever its correctness as an ideal principle, it was vain to expect to see it established in a world full of kings who claimed, each for himself, an authority from God, and full of states intent on grasping and governing by their law adjacent domains. The revolt of the Netherlands against Spanish domination had been the one instance in modern history in which the inherent right of a People to suit itself in the frame of its government had been proclaimed, and then maintained; and that had been at the outset a paroxysmal revolt, against tyranny so crushing, and cruelties so savage, that they took it out of the line of examples. The Dutch Republic was almost as exceptional, through the fierce wickedness which had crowded it into being, as was Switzerland itself, on the Alpine heights. For an ordinary state to claim self-regulation, and found its government on a Plebiscit, was to contradict precedent, and to set at defiance European tradition.

Our fathers, however, in a somewhat vague way, had held from the start that they had right to an autonomy; and that act of Parliament, if not appointments of the crown, took proper effect upon these shores only by reason of their assent. Their characters were held to confirm this doctrine. The conviction, it first practical and instinctive, rather than theoretic, had grown with their growth, and had been intensified into positive affirmation and public exhibition as the British rule impinged more sharply on their interests and their hopes. It had finally become the general and decisive conviction of the colonies. It had spoken already in armed resistance to the troops of the King. It had been articulated, with gathering emphasis, in many resolves,of assemblies and conventions. It was now, finally, most energetically, set forth to the world in the great Declaration; and in that utterance, made general, not particular, and founding the rights of the people in this country on principles as wide as humanity itself, there lay an appeal to every nation:—an appeal whose words took unparalleled force, were illuminated and made rubrical, in the fire and blood of the following war.

When the Emperor Ferdinand visited Innsbruck, that beautiful town of the Austrian Tyrol, in 1838, it is said that the inhabitants wrote his name in immense bonfires, along the sides of the precipitous hills which shelter the town Over a space of four or five miles extended that colossal illumination, till the heavens seemed on fire in the far-reflected upstreaming glow. The right of a people, separated from others, to its own institutions—our fathers wrote this in lines so vivid and so large that the whole world could see them ; and they followed that writing with the consenting thunders of so many cannon that even the lands across the Atlantic were shaken and filled with the long reverberation.

The doctrine had, of course, in every nation, its two-fold internal application, as well as its front against external powers. On the one hand it swept with destroying force against the nation, so long maintained, of the right of certain families in the world, called Hapsburg, Bourbon, Stuart, or whatever, to govern the rest; and wherever it was received it made the imagined divine right of kings an obsolete and contemptible fiction. On the other hand, it smote with equal energy against the pretensions of any minority within the state—whether banded together by the ties of descent, or of neighborhood in location, or of common opinion, or supposed common interest —to govern the rest; or even to impair the established and paramount government of the rest by separating themselves organically from it.

It was never the doctrine of the fathers that the people of Kent, Cornwall, or Lincoln, might sever themselves from the rest of England, and, while they had their voice and vote in the public councils, might assert the right to govern the whole, under threat of withdrawal if their minor vote were not suffered to control . They were not seeking to initiate anarchy, and to make it thenceforth respectable in the world by support of their suffrages. They recognized the fact that the state exists to meet permanent needs, is the ordinance of God as well as the family; and that He has determined the bounds of men’s habitation, by rivers, seas, and mountain chains, shaping countries as well as continents into physical coherence, while giving one man his birth on the north of the Pyrenees, another on the south, one on the terraced banks of the Rhine, another in English meadow or upland. They saw that a common and fixed habitation, in a country thus physically defined, especially when combined with community of descent, of permanent public interest, and of the language on which thought is interchanged— that these make a People; and such a People, as a true and abiding body-politic, they affirmed had right to shape its government, forbidding others to inter-meddle.

But it must be the general mind of the People which determined the questions thus involved; not a dictating class within the state, whether known as peers or associated commoners, whether scattered widely, as one among several political parties, or grouped together in some one section, and having a special interest to encourage. The decision of the general public mind, as deliberately reached, and authentically declared, that must be the end of debate; and the right of resistance, or the right of division, after that, if such right exist, it is not to be vindicated from their Declaration. Any one who thought such government by the whole intolerable to him was always at liberty to expatriate himself, and find elsewhere such other institutions as he might prefer. But he could not tarry, and still not submit. He was not a monarch, without the crown, before whose contrary judgment and will the public councils must be dumb. While dwelling in the land, and having the same opportunity with others to seek the amendment of what he disapproved, the will of the whole was binding upon him and that obligation he could not vacate by refusing to accept it. If one could not, neither could ten, nor a hundred, nor a million, who still remained a minority of the whole.

To allow such a right would have been to make government transparently impossible. Not separate sections only, but counties, townships, school districts, neighborhoods, must have the same right; and each individual, with his own will for his final law, must be the complete ultimate State.

It was no such disastrous folly which the fathers of our Republic affirmed. They ruled out kings, princes, peers, from any control over the People; and they did not give to a transient minority, wherever it might appear, on whatever question, a greater privilege, because less defined, than that which they jealously withheld from these classes. Such a tyranny of irresponsible occasional minorities would have seemed to them only more intolerable than that of classes, organized, permanent, and limited by law. And when it was affirmed by some, and silently feared by many others, that in our late immense civil war the multitudes who adhered to the old Constitution had forgotten or discarded the principles of the earlier Declaration, those assertions and fears were alike without reason. The People which adopted that Declaration, when distributed into colonies, was the People which afterward, when compacted into states, established the Confederation of 1781—imperfect enough, but whose abiding renown it is that under it the war w as ended It was the same People which subsequently framed the supreme Constitution. “We, the people of the United States,” do ordain and establish the following Constitution,—so runs the majestic and vital instrument. It contains provisions for its own emendation. When the people will, they may set it aside, and put in place of it one wholly different; and no other nation can intervene. But while it continues, it, and the laws made normally under it, are not subject to resistance by a portion of the people, conspiring to direct or limit the rest. And whensoever any pretension like this shall appear, if ever again it does appear, it will undoubtedly as instantly appear that, even as in the past so in the future, the people whose our government is, and whose complete and magnificent domain God has marked out for it, will subdue resistance, compel submission, forbid secession, though it cost again, as it cost before, four years of war, with treasure uncounted and inestimable life.

The right of a People upon its own territory, as equally against any classes within it or any external powers,this is the doctrine of our Declaration. We know how it here has been applied, and how settled it is upon these shores for the time to come We know, too, something of what impression it instantly made upon the minds of other peoples, and how they sprang to greet and accept it. In the fine image of Bancroft, “the astonished nations, as they read that all men are created equal, started out of their lethargy, like those who have been exiles from childhood, when they suddenly hear the dimly-remembered accents of their mother-tongue.”(12)

The theory of scholars had now become the maxim of a State. The diffused intellectual nebulous light had got itself concentrated into an orb; and the radiance of it, penetrating and hot, shone afar. You know how France responded to it; with passionate speed seeking to be rid of the terrific establishments in church and state which had nearly crushed the life of the people, and with a beautiful though credulous unreason trying to lift, by the grasp of the law, into intelligence and political capacity the masses whose training for thirteen centuries had been despotic. No operation of natural law was any more certain than the failure of that too daring experiment. But the very failure involved progress from it; involved, undoubtedly, that ultimate success which it was vain to try to extemporize. Certainly the other European powers will not again intervene, as they did, to restore a despotism which France has abjured, and with foreign bayonets to uphold institutions which it does not desire. Italy, Spain, Germany, England—they are not Republican in the form of their government, nor as yet democratic in the distribution of power. But each of them is as full of this organific, self-demonstrating doctrine, as is our own land; and England would send no troops to Canada to compel its submission if it should decide to set up for itself. Neither Italy nor Spain would maintain a monarchy a moment longer than the general mind of the country preferred it. Germany would be fused in the fire of one passion if any foreign nation whatever should assume to dictate the smallest change in one of its laws. The doctrine of the proper prerogative of kings, derived from God, which in the last century was more common in Europe than the doctrine of the centrality of the sun in our planetary system, is now as obsolete among the intelligent as are the epicycles of Ptolemy. Every government expects to stand henceforth by assent of the governed, and by no other claim of right. It is strong by beneficence, not by tradition; and at the height of its military successes it circulates appeals, and canvasses for ballots. Revolution is carefully sought to be averted, by timely and tender amelioration of the laws. The most progressive and liberal states are most evidently secure; while those which stand, like old olive-trees at Tivoli, with feeble arms supported on pillars, and hollow trunks filled up with stone, are palpably only tempting the blast. An alliance of sovereigns, like that called the Holy, for reconstructing the map of Europe, and parceling out the passive peoples among separate governments, would to-day be no more impossible than would Charlemagne’s plan for reconstructing the empire of the West. Even Murad, Sultan of Turkey, now takes the place of Abdul the deposed, “by the grace of God, and the will of the people;” and that accomplished and illustrious Prince, whose empire under the Southern Cross rivals our own in its extent, and most nearly approaches it on this hemisphere in stability of institutions and in practical freedom, has his surest title to the throne which he honors, in his wise liberality, and his faithful endeavor for the good of his people. As long as in this he continues, as now, a recognized leader among the monarchs—ready to take and seek suggestions from even a democratic Republic—bis throne will be steadfast as the water-sheds of Brazil; and while his successors maintain his spirit, no domestic insurrection will test the question whether they retain that celerity in movement with which Dom Pedro has astonished Americans.

It is no more possible to reverse this tendency toward popular sovereignty, and to substitute for it the right of families, classes, minorities, or of intervening foreign states, than it is to arrest the motion of the earth, and make it swing the other way in its annual orbit. In this, at least, our fathers’ Declaration has made its impression on the history of mankind.

It was the act of a People, and not of persons, except as these represented and led that. It was the act of a People, not starting out on new theories of government, so much as developing into forms of law and practical force a great and gradual inheritance of freedom. It was the act of a People, declaring for others, as for itself, the right of each to its own form of government without interference from other nations, without restraint by privileged classes.

It only remains, then, to ask the question how far it has contributed to the peace, the advancement, and the permanent, welfare, of the People by which it was set forth; of other nations which it has affected . And to ask this question is almost to answer it. The answer is as evident as the sun in the heavens.

It certainly cannot be affirmed that we in America, any more than persons or peoples elsewhere, have reached as yet the ideal state, of private liberty combined with a perfect public order, or of culture complete, and a supreme character. The political world, as well as the religious, since Christ was on earth, looks forward, not backward, for its millennium. That Golden Age is still to come which is to shine in the perfect splendor reflected from Him who is ascended; and no prophecy tells us how long before the advancing race shall reach and cross its glowing marge, or what long effort, or what tumults of battle are still to precede.

In this country, too, there have been immense special impediments to hinder wide popular progress in things which are highest. Our people have had a continent to subdue. They have been, from the start, in constant migration. Westward, from the counties of the Hudson and the Mohawk, around the lakes, over the prairies, across the great river—westward still, over alkali plains, across terrible canons, up gorges of the mountains where hardly the wild goat could find footing— westward always, till the Golden Gate opened out on the sea which has been made ten thousand miles wide, as if nothing less could stop the march—this has been the popular movement, from almost the day of the great Declaration. To-morrow’s tents have been pitched in new fields; and last year’s houses await new possessors.

With such constant change, such wide dislocation of the mass of the people from early and settled home-associations, and with the incessant occupation of the thoughts by the great physical problems presented—not so much by any struggle for existence, as by harvests for which the prairies waited, by mills for which the rivers clamored, by the coal and the gold which offered themselves to the grasp of the miner—it would not have been strange if a great and dangerous decadence had occurred in that domestic and private virtue of which Home is the nursery, in that generous and reverent public spirit which is but the effluence of its combined rays. It would have been wholly too much to expect that under such influences the highest progress should have been realized, in speculative thought, in artistic culture, or in the researches of pure science.

Accordingly, we find that in these departments not enough has been accomplished to make our progress signal in them, though here and there the eminent souls “that are like stars and dwell apart” have illumined themes highest with their high interpretation. But History has been cultivated among us, with an enthusiasm, to .in extent, hardly, I think, to have been anticipated among a people so recent and expectant; and Prescott, Motley, Irving, Ticknor, with him upon whose splendid page all American history has been amply illustrated, are known as familiarly and honored as highly in Europe as here. We have had as well distinguished poets, and have them now ; to whom the nation has been responsive ; who have not only sung themselves, but through whom the noblest poems of the Old World have come into the English tongue, rendered in fit and perfect music, and some of whose minds, blossoming long ago in the solemn or beautiful fancies of youth, with perennial energy still ripen to new fruit as they near or cross their four-score years. In Medicine, and Law, as well as in Theology, in Fiction, Biography, and the vivid Narrative of exploration and discovery, the people whose birth-day we commemorate has added something to the possession of men. Its sculptors and painters have won high places in the brilliant realm of modern art. Publicists like Wheaton, jurists like Kent, have gained a celebrity reflecting honor on the land; and if no orator, so vast in knowledge, so profound and discursive in philosophical thought, so affluent in imagery, and so glorious in diction, as Edmund Burke, has yet appeared, we must remember that centuries were needed to produce him elsewhere, and that any of the great Parliamentary debaters, aside from him, have been matched or surpassed in the hearing of those who have hung with rapt sympathetic attention on the lips of Clay, or of Rufus Choate, or have felt themselves listening to the mightiest mind which ever touched theirs when they stood beneath the imperial voice fn which Webster spoke.

In applied science there has been much done in the country, for which the world admits itself our grateful debtor. I need not multiply illustrations of this, from locomotives, printing presses, sewing machines, revolvers, steam-reapers, bank-locks. One instance suffices, most signal of all.

When Morse, from Washington, thirty-two years ago, sent over the wires his word to Baltimore, “What hath God wrought,” he had given to all the nations of mankind an instrument the most sensitive, expansive, quickening, which the world yet possesses. He had bound the earth in electric network.

England touches India to-day, and France Algeria, while we are in contact with all the continents, upon those scarcely perceptible nerves. The great strategist, like Von Moltke, with these in his hands, from the silence of his office directs campaigns, dictates marches, wins victories; the statesman in the cabinet inspires and regulates the distant diplomacies ; while the traveler in any port or mart is by the same marvel of mechanism in instant communication with all centres of commerce. It is certainly not too much to say that no other invention of the world in this century has so richly deserved the medals, crosses, and diamond decorations, the applause of senates, the gifts of kings, which were showered upon its author, as did this invention, which finally taught and utilized the lightnings whose nature a signer of the great Declaration had made apparent.

But after all it is not so much in special inventions, or in eminent attainments made by individuals, that we are to find the answer to the question, “What did that day a hundred years since accomplish for us?” Still less is it found in the progress we have made in outward wealth and material success. This might have been made, approximately at least, if the British supremacy had here continued. The prairies would have been as productive as now, the mines of copper and silver and gold as rich and extensive, the coal-beds as vast, and the cotton-fields as fertile, if we had been born the subjects of the Georges, or of Victoria. Steam would have kept its propulsive force, and sea and land have been theatres of its triumph. The river would have been as smooth a highway for the commerce which seeks it; and the leap of every mountain stream would have given as swift and constant a push to the wheels that set spindles and saws in motion. Electricity itself would have lost no property, and might have become as completely as now the fire-winged messenger of the thought of mankind .

But what we have now, and should not have had except for that paper which the Congress adopted, is the general and increasing popular advancement in knowledge, vigor, as I believe in moral culture, of which our country has been the arena, and m which lies its hope for the future. The independence of the nation has reacted, with sympathetic force, on the personal life which the nation includes. It has made men more resolute, aspiring, confident, and more susceptible to whatever exalts. The doctrine that all by creation are equal,—not in respect of physical force or of mental endowment, of means for culture or inherited privilege, but in respect of immortal faculty, of duty to each other, of right to protection and to personal development, —this has given manliness to the poor, enterprise to the weak, a kindling hope to the most obscure. It has made the individuals of whom the nation is composed more alive to the forces which educate and exalt.

There has been incessant motive, too, for the wide and constant employment of these forces. It has been felt that, as the People is sovereign here, that People must be trained in mind and spirit for its august and sovereign function. The establishment of common-schools, for a needful primary secular training, has been an instinct of Society, only recognized and repeated in provisions of statutes. The establishment of higher schools, classical and general, of colleges, scientific and professional seminaries, has been as well the impulse of the nation, and the furtherance of them a care of governments. The immense expansion of the press in this country has been based fundamentally upon the same impulse, and has wrought with beneficent general force in the same direction. Religious instruction has gone as widely as this distribution of secular knowledge.

It used to be thought that a Church dissevered from the State must be feeble. Wanting wealth of endowments and dignity of titles—its clergy entitled to no place among the peers, its revenues assured by no legal enactments—-it must remain obscure and poor; while the absence of any external limitations, of parliamentary statutes and a legal creed, must leave it liable to endless division, and tend to its speedy disintegration into sects and schisms. It seemed as hopeless to look for strength, wealth, beneficence, for extensive educational and missionary work, to such churches as these, as to look for aggressive military organization to a convention of farmers, or for the volume and thunder of Niagara to a thousand sinking and separate rills.

But the work which was given to be done in this country was so great and momentous; and has been so constant, that matching itself against that work, the Church, under whatever name, has realized a strength, and developed an activity, wholly fresh in the world in modern times. It has not been antagonized by that instinct of liberty which always awakens against its work where religion is required by law. It has seized the opportunity. Its ministers and members have had their own standards, leaders, laws, and sometimes have quarreled, fiercely enough, as to which were the better. But in the work which was set them to do, to give to the sovereign American people the knowledge of God in the Gospel of His Son, their only strife has been one of emulation—to go the furthest, to give the most, and to bless most largely the land and its future.

The spiritual incentive has of course been supreme; but patriotism has added its impulse to the work. It has been felt that Christianity is the basis of Republican empire, its bond of cohesion, its life-giving law; that the manuscript copies of the Gospels, sent by Gregory to Augustine at Canterbury, and still preserved on sixth century parchments at Oxford and Cambridge—more than Magna Charta itself, these are the roots of English liberty; that Magna Charta, and the Petition of Right, with our completing Declaration, were possible only because these had been before them. And so on in the work of keeping Christianity prevalent in the land, all earnest churches have eagerly striven. Their preachers have been heard where the pioneer’s fire scarcely was kindled. Their schools have been gathered in the temporary camp, not less than in the hamlet or town. They have sent their books with lavish distribution, they have scattered their Bibles like leaves of autumn, where settlements hardly were more than prophesied. In all languages of the land they have told the old story of the Law and the Cross, a present Redemption, and a coming Tribunal The highest truths, most solemn and inspiring, have been the truths most constantly in hand. It has been felt that, in the highest sense, a muscular Christianity was indispensable where men lifted up axes upon the thick trees . The delicate speculations of the closet and the schools were too dainty for the work; and the old confessions of Councils and Reformers, whose undecaying and sovereign energy no use exhausts, have been those always most familiar, where the trapper on his stream, or the miner in his gulch has found priest or minister on his track.

Of course not all the work has been fruitful. Not all God’s acorns come to oaks, but here and there one. Not all the seeds of flowers germinate, but enough to make some radiant gardens. And out of all this work and gift, has come a mental and moral training, to the nation at large, such as it certainly would not have had except for this effort, the effort for which would not have been made, on a scale so immense, except for this incessant aim to fit the nation for its great experiment of self-regulation. The Declaration of Independence has been the great charter of Public Education; has given impulse and scope to this prodigious Missionary work.

The result of the whole is evident enough. I am not here as the eulogist of our People, beyond what facts justify. I admit, with regret, that American manners sometimes are coarse, and American culture often very imperfect; that the noblest examples of consummate training imply a leisure which we have not had, and are perhaps most easily produced where social advantages are more permanent than here, and the law heredity has a wider recognition. We all know, too well, how much of even vice and shame there has been, and is, in our national life; how sluggish the public conscience has been before sharpest appeals; how corruption has entered high places in the government, and the blister of its touch has been upon laws, as well as on the acts of prominent officials. And we know the reckless greed and ambition, the fierce party spirit, the personal wrangles and jealous animosities, with which our Congress has been often dishonored, at which the nation— sadder still—has sometimes laughed, in idiotic unreason.

But knowing all this, and with the impression of it full on our thoughts, we may exult in the real, steady, and prophesying growth of a better spirit, toward dominance in the land. I scout the thought that we as a people are worse than our fathers! John Adams, at the head of the War Department, in 1776, wrote bitter laments of the corruption which existed in even that infant age of the Republic, and of the spirit of venality, rapacious and insatiable, which was then the most alarming enemy of America. He declared himself ashamed of the age which he lived in! In Jefferson’s day, all Federalists expected the universal dominion of French infidelity. In Jackson’s day, all Whigs thought the country gone to ruin already, as if Mr. Biddle had had the entire public hope locked up in the vaults of his terminated bank. In Polk’s day, the excitements of the Mexican War gave life and germination to many seeds of rascality. There has never been a time—not here alone, in any country—when the fierce light of incessant inquiry blazing on men in public life, would not have revealed forces of evil like those we have seen, or when the condemnation which followed the discovery would have been sharper. And it is among my deepest convictions that, with all which has happened to debase and debauch it, the nation at large was never before more mentally vigorous or morally sound.

Gentlemen: The demonstration is around us!

This city, if anyplace on the continent, should have been the one where a reckless wickedness should have had sure prevalence, and reforming virtue the least chance of success. Starting in 1790 with a white population of less than thirty thousand —growing steadily for forty years, till that population had multiplied six-fold—taking into itself, from that time on, such multitudes of emigrants from all parts of the earth that the dictionaries of the languages spoken in its streets would make a library—all forms of luxury coming with wealth, and all means and facilities for every vice—the primary elections being the seed-bed out of which springs its choice of rulers, with the influence which it sends to the public councils—its citizens so absorbed in their pursuits that oftentimes, for years together, large numbers of them have left its affairs in hands the most of all unsuited to so supreme and delicate a trust—it might well have been expected that while its docks were echoing with a commerce which encompassed the globe, while its streets were thronged with the eminent and the gay from all parts of the land, while its homes had in them uncounted thousands of noble men and cultured women, while its stately squares swept out year by year across new spaces, while it founded great institutions of beneficence, and shot new spires upward toward heaven, and turned the rocky waste to a pleasure ground famous in the earth, its government would decay, and its recklessness of moral ideas, if not as well of political principles would become apparent .

Men have prophesied this, from the outset till now. The fear of it began with the first great advance of the wealth, population, and fame of the city; and there have not been wanting facts in its history which served to renew, if not to justify the fear.

But when the war of 1861 broke on the land, and shadowed every home within it, this city,—which had voted by immense majorities against the existing administration, and which was linked by unnumbered ties with the vast communities then rushing to assail it,—flung out its banners from window and spire, from City Hall and newspaper office, and poured its wealth and life into the service of sustaining the Government, with a swiftness and vehement energy that were never surpassed. When, afterward, greedy and treacherous men, capable and shrewd, deceiving the unwary, hiring the skillful, and moulding the very law to their uses, had concentrated in their hands the government of the city, and had bound it in seemingly invincible chains, while they plundered its treasury,—it rose upon them, when advised of the facts, as Samson rose upon the Philistines; and the two new cords that were upon his hands no more suddenly became as flax that was burnt than did those manacles imposed upon the city by the craft of the Ring.

Its leaders of opinion to-day are the men—like him who presides in our assembly—whom virtue exalts, and character crowns. It rejoices in a Chief Magistrate as upright and intrepid in a virtuous cause, as any of those whom he succeeds. It is part of a State whose present position, in laws, and officers, and the spirit of its people, does no discredit to the noblest of its memories. And from these heights between the rivers, looking over the land, looking out on the earth to which its daily embassies go, it sees nowhere beneath the sun a city more ample in its moral securities, a city more dear to those who possess it, a city more splendid in promise and in hope.

What is true of the city is true, in effect, of all the land. Two things, at least, have been established by our national history, the impression of which the world will not lose. The one is, that institutions like ours, when sustained by a prevalent moral life throughout the nation, are naturally permanent . The other is, that they tend to peaceful relations with other states. They do this in fulfillment of an organic tendency, and not through any accident of location. The same tendency will inhere in them, wheresoever established.

In this age of the world, and in all the states which Christianity quickens, the allowance of free movement to the popular mind is essential to the stability of public institutions. There may be restraint enough to guide, and keep such movement from premature exhibition. But there cannot be force enough used to resist it, and to reverse its gathering current. If there is, the government is swiftly overthrown, as in France so often, or is left on one side, as Austria has been by the advancing German people; like the Castle of Heidelberg, at once palace and fortress, high-placed and superb but only the stateliest ruin in Europe, while the rail-train thunders through the tunnel beneath it, and the Neckar sings along its near channel as if tower and tournament never had been. Revolution, transformation, organic change, have thus all the time for this hundred years been proceeding in Europe; sometimes silent, but oftener amid thunders of stricken fields; sometimes pacific, but oftener with garments rolled in blood.

In England the progress has been peaceful, the popular demands being ratified as law whenever the need became apparent. It has been vast, as well as peaceful; in the extension of suffrage, in the ever-increasing power of the Commons, in popular education. Chatham himself would hardly know his own England if he should return to it. The Throne continues, illustrated by the virtues of her who fills it; and the ancient forms still obtain in Parliament. But it could not have occurred to him, or to Burke, that a century after the ministry of Grenville the embarkation of the Pilgrims would be one of the prominent historical pictures on the panels of the lobby of the House of Lords, or that the name of Oliver Cromwell, and of Bradshaw, President of the High Court of Justice, would be cut in the stone in Westminster Abbey, over the places in which they were buried, and whence their decaying bodies were dragged to the gibbet and the ditch. England is now, as has been well said, “an aristocratic Republic, with a permanent Executive.” Its only perils lie in the fact of that aristocracy, which, however, is flexible enough to endure, of that permanence in the Executive, which would hardly outlive one vicious Prince.

What changes have taken place in France, I need not remind you, nor how uncertain is still its future. You know how the swift untiring wheels, of advance or reaction, have rolled this way and that, in Italy, and in Spain; how Germany has had to be reconstructed; how Hungary has had to fight and suffer for that just place in the Austrian councils which only imperial defeat surrendered. You know how precarious the equilibrium now is, in many states, between popular rights and princely prerogative ; what armies are maintained, to fortify governments; what fear of sudden and violent change, like an avalanche tumbling at the touch of a foot, perplexes nations. The records of change make the history of Europe. The expectation of change is almost as wide as the continent itself.

Meanwhile, how permanent has been this Republic, which seemed at the outset to foreign spectators a mere sudden insurrection, a mere organized riot! Its organic law, adopted after exciting debate, but arousing no battle and enforced by no army, has been interpreted, and peacefully administered, with one great exception, from the beginning. It has once been assailed, with passion and skill, with splendid daring and unbounded self-sacrifice, by those who sought a sectional advantage through its destruction. No monarchy of the world could have withstood that assault. It seemed as if the last fatal Apocalypse had come, to drench the land with plague and blood, and wrap it in a fiery gloom. The Republic,

“pouring like the tide into a breach.
With ample and brim fulness of its force.”

subdued the rebellion, emancipated the race which had been in subjection, restored the dominion of the old Constitution, amended its provisions in the contrary direction from that which had been so fiercely sought, gave it guaranties of endurance while the continent lasts, and made its ensigns more eminent than ever in the regions from which they had been expelled. The very portions of the people which then sought its overthrow are now again its applauding adherents—the great and constant reconciling force, the tranquillizing Irenarch, being the freedom which it leaves in their hands.

It has kept its place, this Republic of ours, in spite of the rapid expansion of the nation over territory so wide that the scanty strip of the original states is only as a fringe on its immense mantle. It has kept its place, while vehement debates, involving the profound^st ethical principles, have stirred to its depths the whole public mind. It has kept its place, while the tribes of mankind have been pouring upon it, seeking the shelter and freedom which it gave. It saw an illustrious President murdered, by the bullet of an assassin. It saw his place occupied as quietly by another as if nothing unforeseen or alarming had occurred. It saw prodigious armies assembled, for its defence. It saw those armies, at the end of the war, marching in swift and long procession up the streets of the Capital, and then dispersing into their former peaceful citizenship, as if they had had no arms in their hands. The General before whose skill and will those armies had been shot upon the forces which opposed them, and whose word had been their military law, remained for three years an appointed officer of that government he had saved. Elected then to be the head of that government, and again re-elected by the ballots of his countrymen, in a few months more he will have retired, to be thenceforth a citizen like the rest, eligible to office, and entitled to vote, but with no thought of any prerogative descending to him, or to his children, from his great service and military fame. The Republic, whose triumphing armies he led, will remember his name, and be grateful for his work; but neither to him, nor to any one else, will it ever give sovereignty over itself.

From the Lakes to the Gulf, its will is the law, its dominion complete. Its centripetal and centrifugal forces are balanced, almost as in the astronomy of the heavens. Decentralizing authority, it puts his own part of it into the hand of every citizen. Giving free scope to private enterprise, allowing not only, but accepting and encouraging, each movement of the public reason which is its only terrestrial rule, there is no threat, in all its sky, of division or downfall. It cannot be successfully assailed from within. It never will be assailed from without, with a blow at its life, while other nations continue sane.

It has been sometimes compared to a pyramid, broad-based and secure, not liable to overthrow as is obelisk or column, by storm or age. The comparison is just, but it is not sufficient. It should rather be compared to one of the permanent features of nature, and not to any artificial construction:—to the river, which flows, like our own Hudson, along the courses that nature opens, forever in motion, but forever the same; to the lake, which lies on common days level and bright in placid stillness, while it gathers its fullness from many lands, and lifts its waves in stormy strength when winds assail it; to the mountain, which is shaped by no formula of art, and which only rarely, in some supreme sun-burst, flushes with color, but whose roots the very earthquake cannot shake, and on whose brow the storms fall hurtless, while under its shelter the cottage nestles, and up its sides the gardens climb.

So stands the Republic:

Whole as the marble, founded as the rook,
As broad and general as the casing air.

Our government has been permanent, as established upon the old Declaration, and steadily sustained by the undecaying and molding life in the soul of the nation. It has been peaceful, also, for the most part, in scheme and in spirit; and has shown at no time such an appetite for war as has been familiar, within the century, in many lands.

This may be denied, by foreign critics; or at any rate be explained, if the fact be admitted, by our isolation from other states, by our occupation in peaceful labors, which have left no room for martial enterprise, perhaps by an alleged want in us of that chivalric and high-pitched spirit, which is gladdened by danger and which welcomes the fray. I do not think the explanation sufficient, the analysis just .

This people was trained to military effort, from its beginning. It had in it the blood of Saxon and Norman, neither of whom was afraid of war; the very same blood which a few years after was poured out like water at Marston Moor, and Naseby, and Dunbar. Ardor and fortitude were added to its spirit by those whose fathers had followed Coligni, by the children of those whom Alva and Parma could not conquer, or whom Gustavus had inspired with his intense paramount will. With savages in the woods, and the gray wolf prowling around its cabins, the hand of this people was from the first as familiar with the gunstock as with mattock or plough; and it spent more time, in proportion to its leisure, it spent more life, in proportion to its numbers, from 1607 to 1776, in protecting itself against violent assault than was spent by France, the most martial of kingdoms, on all the bloody fields of Europe.

Then came the Revolution, with its years of war, and its crowning success, to intensify, and almost to consecrate this spirit, and to give it distribution; while, from that time, the nation has been taken into its substance abounding elements from all the fighting peoples of the earth. The Irishman, who is never so entirely himself as when the battle-storm hurtles around him; the Frenchman, who says “After you Gentlemen,” before the infernal fire of Fontenoy ; the German, whose irresistible tread the world lately heard at Sadowa and Sedan —these have been entering representatives of two of them entering by millions, into the Republic. If any nation, therefore, should have a fierce and martial temper, this is the one. If any people should keep its peaceful neighbors in fear, lest its aggression should smite their homes, it is a people born, and trained, and replenished like this, admitting no rule but its own will, and conscious of a strength whose annual increase makes arithmetic pant.

What has been the fact? Lay out of sight that late civil war which could not be averted, when once it had been threatened, except by the sacrifice of the government itself, and a wholly unparalleled public suicide, and how much of war with foreign powers has the century seen? There has been a frequent crackle of musketry along the frontiers, as Indian tribes, which refused to be civilized, have slowly and fiercely retreated toward the West. There was one war declared against Tripoli, in 1801, when the Republic took by the throat the African pirates to whom Europe paid tribute, and when the gallantry of the Preble and Decatur gave early distinction to our navy. There was a war declared against England, in 1812, when our seamen had been taken from under our flag, from the decks of our national ships, and our commerce had been practically swept from the seas. There was a war affirmed already to exist in Mexico, in 1846, entered into by surprise, never formally declared, against which the moral sentiment of the nation rose widely in revolt, but which in its result added largely to our territory, opened to us California treasures, and wrote the names of Buena Vista and Monterey on our short annals.

That has been our military history; and if a People, as powerful and as proud, has anywhere been more peaceable also, in the last hundred years, the strictest research fails to find it. Smarting with the injury done us by England during the crisis of our national peril, in spite of the remonstrances presented through that distinguished citizen who should have been your orator to-day—while hostile taunts had incensed our people, while burning ships had exasperated commerce, and while what looked like artful evasions had made statesmen indignant —with a half-million men who had hardly yet laid down their arms, with a navy never before so vast, or so fitted for service— when a war with England would have had the force of passion behind it, and would at any rate have shown to the world that the nation respects its starry flag, and means to have it secure on the seas—we referred all differences to arbitration, appointed commissioners, tried the cause at Geneva, with advocates, not with armies, and got a prompt and ample verdict . If Canada now lay next to Yorkshire it would not be safer from armed incursion than it is when divided by only a custom-house from all the strength of this Republic

The fact is apparent, and the reason not less so. A monarchy, just as it is despotic, finds incitement to war; for preoccupation of the popular mind; to gratify nobles, officers, the army; for historic renown. An intelligent Republic hates war, and shuns it. It counts standing armies a curse only second to an annual pestilence. It wants no glory but from growth. It delights itself in arts of peace, seeks social enjoyment and increase of possessions, and feels instinctively that, like Israel of old, “its strength is to sit still.” It cannot bear to miss the husbandman from the fields, the citizen from the town, the house-father from the home, the worshipper from the church. To change or shape other people’s institutions is no part of its business. To force them to accept its scheme of government would simply contradict and nullify its charter. Except, then, when it is startled into passion by the cry of a suffering under oppression which stirs its pulses into tumult, or when it is assailed in its own rights, citizens, property, it will not go to war; nor even then, if diplomacy can find a remedy for the wrong. “Millions for defence,” said (Jotesworth Pinckney to the French Directory, when Talleyrand in their name had threatened him with war, “but not a cent for tribute.” He might have added, “and not a dollar for aggressive strife.”

It will never be safe to insult such a nation, or to outrage its citizens; for the reddest blood is in its veins, and some Captain Ingraham may always appear, to lay his little sloop of war along-side the offending frigate, with shotted guns, and a peremptory summons. There is a way to make powder inexplosive; but, treat it chemically how you will, the dynamite will not stand many blows of the hammer. The detonating tendency is too permanent in it. But if left to itself, such a People will be peaceful, as ours has been. It will foster peace among the nations. It will tend to dissolve great permanent armaments, as the light conquers ice, and summer sunshine breaks the glacier which a hundred trip-hammers could only scar. The longer it continues, the more widely and effectively its influence spreads, the more will its benign example hasten the day, so long foretold, so surely coming, when

The war-drum throbs no longer, and the battle-flags are furled.
In the Parliament of Man, the Federation of the World.

Mr. President: Fellow-Citizens:—To an extent too great for your patience, but with a rapid incompleteness that is only too evident as we match it with the theme, I have outlined before you some of the reasons why we have right to commemorate the day whose hundredth anniversary has brought us together, and why the paper then adopted has interest and importance not only for us, but for all the advancing sons of men. Thank God that he who framed the Declaration, and he who was its foremost champion, both lived to see the nation they had shaped growing to greatness, and to die together, in that marvelous coincidence, on its semi-centennial! The fifty years which have passed since then have only still further honored their work. Mr. Adams was mistaken in the day which he named as the one to be most fondly remembered. It was not that on which Independence of the empire of Great Britain was formally resolved. It was that on which the reasons were given which justified the act, and the principles were announced which made it of secular significance to mankind. But he would have been absolutely right in saying of the fourth day what he did say of the second: it “will be the most remarkable epoch in the history of America; to be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival, commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to Almighty God, from one end of the continent to the other.”

It will not be forgotten, in the land or in the earth, until the stars have fallen from their poise; or until our vivid morningstar of Republican liberty, not losing its luster, has seen its special brightness fade in the ampler effulgence of a freedom universal!

But while we rejoice in that which is past, and gladly recognize the vast organific mystery of life -which was in the Declaration, the plans of Providence which slowly and silently, but with ceaseless progression, had led the way to it, the immense and enduring results of good which from it have flowed, let us not forget the duty which always equals privilege, and that of peoples,, as well as of persons, to whomsoever much is given, shall only therefore the more be required. Let us consecrate our selves, each one of us, here, to the further duties which wait to be fulfilled, to the work which shall consummate the great work of the Fathers!

From scanty soils come richest grapes, and on severe and rocky slopes the trees are often of toughest fibre The wines of Rudesheim and Johannesburg cannot be grown in the fatness of gardens, and the cedars of Lebanon disdain the levels of marsh and meadow. So a heroism is sometimes native to penury which luxury enervates, and the great resolution which sprang up in the blast, and blossomed under inclement skies, may lose its shapely and steadfast strength when the air is all of summer softness. In exuberant resources is to be the coming American peril; in a swiftly increasing luxury of life. The old humility, hardihood, patience, are too likely too be lost when material success again opens, as it will, all avenues to wealth, and when its brilliant prizes solicit, as again they will, the national spirit.

Be it ours to endeavor that that temper of the Fathers which was nobler than their work shall live in the children, and exalt to its tone their coming career; that political intelligence, patriotic devotion, a reverent spirit toward Him who is above, an exulting expectation of the future of the “World, and a sense of our relation to it, shall bs, as of old, essential forces in our public life; that education and religion keep step all the time with the Nation’s advance, and the School and the Church be always at home wherever its flag shakes out its folds. In a spirit worthy the memories of the Past let us set ourselves to accomplish the tasks which, in the sphere of national politics, still await completion. “We burn the sunshine of other years, when we ignite the wood or coal upon our hearths. “We enter a privilege which ages have secured, in our daily enjoyment of political freedom. While the kindling glow irradiates our homes, let it shed its luster on our spirit, and quicken it for its further work.

Let us fight against the tendency of educated men to reserve themselves from politics, remembering that no other form of human activity is so grand or effective as that which affects, first the character, and then the revelation of character in the government, of a great and free People. Let us make religious dissension here, as a force in politics, as absurd as witchcraft.(13) Let party names be nothing to us, in comparison with that costly and proud inheritance of liberty and of law, which parties exist to conserve and enlarge, which any party will have here to maintain if it would not be buried, at the next cross-roads, with a stake through its breast. Let us seek the unity of all sections of the Republic, through the prevalence in all of mutual respect, through the assurance in all of local freedom, through the mastery in all of that supreme spirit which flashed from the lips of Patrick Henry, when he said, in the first Continental Congress, “I am not a Virginian, but an American.” Let us take care that labor maintains its ancient place of privilege and honor, and that industry has no fetters imposed, of legal restraint or of social discredit, to hinder its work or to lessen its wage. Let us turn, and overturn, in public discussion, in political change, till we secure a Civil Service, honorable, intelligent, and worthy of the land, in which capable integrity, not partisan zeal, shall be the condition of each public trust; and let us resolve that whatever it may cost, of labor and of patience, of sharper economy and of general sacrifice, it shall come to pass that wherever American labor toils, wherever American enterprise plans, wherever American commerce reaches, thither again shall go as of old the country’s coin—the American Eagle, with the encircling stars and golden plumes! In a word, Fellow-Citizens, the moral life of the nation being ever renewed, all advancement and timely reform will come as comes the burgeoning of the tree from the secret force which fills its veins. Let us each of us live, then, in the blessing and the duty of our great citizenship, as those who are conscious of unreckoned indebtedness to a heroic and prescient Past:—the grand and solemn lineage of whose freedom runs back beyond Bunker Hill or the Mayflower, runs back beyond muniments and memories of men, and has the majesty of far centuries on it! Let us live as those for whom God hid a continent from the world, till He could open all its scope to the freedom and faith of gathered peoples, from many lands, to be a nation to His honor and praise! Let us live as those to whom He commits the magnificent trust of blessing peoples many and far, by the truths which He has made our life, and by the history which He helps us to accomplish.

Such relation to a Past ennobles this transient and vanishing life. Such a power of influence on the distant and the Future, is the supremest terrestrial privilege. It is ours if we will, in the mystery of that spirit, which has an immortal and a ubiquitous life. “With the swifter instruments now in our hands, with the land compacted into one immense embracing home, with the world opened to the interchange of thought, and thrilling with the hopes that now animate its life, each American citizen has superb opportunity to make his influence felt afar, and felt for long!

Let us not be unmindful of this ultimate and inspiring lesson of the hour! By all the memories of the Past, by all the impulse of the Present, by the noblest instincts of our own souls, by the touch of His sovereign spirit upon us, God make us faithful to the work, and to Him! that so not only this city may abide, in long and bright tranquility of peace, when our eyes have shut forever on street, and spire, and populous square; that so the land, in all its future, may reflect an influence from this anniversary; and that, when another century has passed, the sun which then ascends the heavens may look on a world advanced and illumined beyond our thought, and here may behold the same great Nation, born of struggle, baptized into liberty, and in its second terrific trial purchased by blood, then expanded and multiplied till all the land blooms at its touch, and still one in its life, because still pacific, Christian, free!

Footnotes:
(1) Te Deum also known as Ambrosian Hymn or A Song of the Church is an early Christian hymn of praise, joy and thanksgiving.
O God, we praise Thee, and acknowledge Thee to be the supreme Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships Thee.
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to Thee:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
The wonderful company of Prophets,
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou tookest it upon Thyself to deliver man,
Thou didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb.
Having overcome the sting of death, Thou opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou willst come to be our Judge.
We, therefore, beg Thee to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy
Precious Blood.
Let them be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.
Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thy inheritance!
Govern them, and raise them up forever.
Every day we thank Thee.
And we praise Thy Name forever, yes, forever and ever.
O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.
O Lord, in Thee I have put my trust; let me never be put to shame.

(2) The Hongs were major business houses in Canton, China and later Hong Kong with significant influence on patterns of consumerism, trade, manufacturing and other key areas of the economy. They were originally led by Howqua as head of the cohong

(3) May 15, A.D. 1213.
(4)  “Quant a ceux qui se tronvaient du cOte des barons, il n’est ni nccessaire ni possible de les enumerer, puisque toute la noblesse d’Angletree r6unie en un seul corps, ne pouvait tomber sous le ealcul. Lorsque les pretentions des revoltes eurent ete debattues, le roi Jean, comprenunt son inf6riorite vis-a-vis des forces de ses barons, accorda sans resistance les lois et libertes qn’on lui demandait, et les conflrma par la cbarte.”
Chronique de Matt. Paris, trad, par A. Huillard Breholles. Tome Troisieme, pp. C, 7.
(5) Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, Charles L, 1628-9.
Rushworth’s Hist. Coll. Charles I., 625.
It is rather remarkable that neither Hume, Clarendon, Hallam, De Lolme, nor Macaulay, mentions this date, though nil recognize the capital importance of the event. It does not appear in even Knight’s Popular History of England. Miss Aikin, in her Memoirs of the Court of Charles I., gives it as June 8, [Vol. I, 216 ]; and Chambers’ Encyclopaedia, which ought to be careful and accurate in regard to the dates of events in English history, says, under the title “Petition of Rights:’ “At length, on both Houses of Parliament insisting on a fuller answer, he pronounced an unqualified assent in the usual form of words, – Soi’ fait comme il est d6sirj,’ on the 26th of June, 1628.”‘ The same statement is repeated in the latest Revised Edition of that Encyclopaedia. Lingard gives the date correctly.
(6) Welwood’s Memorials, quoted in Forster’s Life of Pym, p. 62.
(7) Essay on Schiller. Essays: Vol. II, p. 301.
(8) Works, Vol I p. 125.
(9)  Ipse autem rex, non debet esse sub homine, sed sub Deo et sub Lege, quia Lex facit regent. Attribuat igitur rex Legi quod Lex attribuit ei, videlicet dominationem et potestatem, non est enim rex ubi domiuatur voluntas et non Lex De Leg, et Cons. Angliae; Lib. I., chap 8, P. 5.
Rex autem habet superiorem, Deum. Item, Legem, per quam factus est rex. Item, curiam suam, videlicet comites, Barones, quia, comites dicuntur quasi socii regis, et qui habet socium habet magiatrum; et ideo si rex fuerit sine fraeno, i. e sine Lege, debent ei fraenum ponere; etc. Lib. II., chap. 16, P. 3.
The following is still more explicit: “As the head of a body natural cannot change its nerves and sinews, cannot deny to the several parts their proper energy, their due proportion and ailment of blood; neither can a King, who is the head of a body politic, change the laws thereof, nor take from the people what is theirs by right, against their consent. For he is appointed to protect his subjects in their lives, properties, and laws; for this very end and purpose he has the delegation of power from the people, and he has no just claim to any other power but this.” Sir John Fortescue’s Treatise, De Laudibus Legum Angliae, c. 9, (about A. D. 1470,) quoted by Hallam, Mid. Ages, chap. VIII., part III
(10) Speech of October 31, 1776: “The House divided on the Amendment. Yeas, 87; nays, 242.”
(11)  Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents, trustees, for the people, and if the cause, the interest and trust, is insidiously betrayed, or wantonly trifled away, the people have a right to revoke the authority that they themselves have deputed, and to constitute abler and better agents, attorneys, and trustees. —John Adams. Dissertation on Canon and Feudal Law; 1766. Works : Vol. III, pp. 456-7.
(12) Vol. VIII., p. 473
(13) Cromwell in sometimes considered a bigot. His rule on this subject is therefore the more worthy of record: “Sir, the State, in choosing men to serve it, takes no notice of their opinions; if they be willing faithfully to serve it, that satisfies. Take heed of being sharp, or too easily sharpened by others, against those to whom you can object little, but that they square not with you in every opinion concerning matters of religion. If there be any other offence to be charged upon him, that must, in a judicial way, receive determination.”—Letter to Major-General Crawford, 10th March, 1643.
Earls of Albemarle, Arundel, Gloucester, Hereford, Norfolk
See also:Christianity and the Founding of the United States the Simple Truth
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
THE FIRST CENTURY OF THE REPUBLIC by Judge Isaac W Smith 1876
THE PERPETUITY OF THE REPUBLIC by Joseph Kidder July 4th 1876
Open Letter to ALL Politicians and Bureaucrats, we’re coming for you
Constitution of the United States and it’s Governmental Operations (In Plain English so even Politicians, Lawyers and Bureaucrats can understand)
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876 
THE DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC by Lewis W. Clark 1876 New Hampshire
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
The Practical Advance Of Human Freedom Under The Trumpet Call Made In 1776 by Charles F Adams
THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4, 1876
 
King's mountain battle

History of the Battle of King’s Mountain and it’s Heroes: Part XV October-November, 1780

Part XV includes: Colonel Campbell Denounces Plundering.— Complaints against Tory Leaders.— Their Outrages on the Whigs.—A Court called to Consider the Matter.—Retaliation for British Executions Demanded.— A Law Found to Meet the Case.—Charges against Mills, Gilkey, and Ale Fall.— Colonel Davenport Noticed.—Number of Tories Tried and Condemned.— Case of fames Crawford.—One of the Prisoners Released.—Cleveland Favoring Severe Measures.— Motives of the Patriots Vindicated.—Shelby’s Explanation.— Tories Executed—their Names and Residence.—Paddy Carr’s Remarks, and Notice of Him.—Baldwin’s Singular Escape.— Further Executions Stopped.— Tories Subsequently Hung.—Rumor of Tarleton’s Approach.— Whigs Hasten to the Catawba.—A Hard Day’s March—Sufferings of Patriots and Prisoners.—Major McDowell’s Kindness.—Mrs. McDowell’s Treatment of British Officers.—Some of the Whig Troops Retire.—Disposition of the Wounded. —Prisoners Escape—One Re-taken and Hung.—March to the Moravian Settlements.—Bob Powell’s Challenge.—Official Account of the Battle Prepared.— Campbell and Shelby Visit General Gates. — Cleveland left in Command.—His Trial of Tories.—Escape of Green and Langum.— Cleveland Assaults Doctor Johnson.—Colonel Armstrong Succeeds to the Command.—Escape of British Officers.

battle_kings_mt

See also October 7, 1780 Battle of King’s Mountain

While encamped at [Captain Aaron] Bickerstaff’s, on Saturday, the fourteenth, Colonel [William] Campbell issued a General Order, deploring the “many deserters from the army,” and the felonies committed by them on the poverty-stricken people of the country. “It is with anxiety,” he adds, “that I hear the complaints of the inhabitants on account of the plundering parties who issue out of the camp, and indiscriminately rob both Whig and Tory, leaving our friends, I believe, in a worse situation than the enemy would have done;” and appeals to the officers “to exert themselves in suppressing this abominable practice, degrading to the name of soldiers.” He further orders that none of the troops be discharged, till the prisoners can be transferred to a proper guard. fn1  But some of the prisoners were soon to be disposed of in a manner evidently not anticipated when the order just issued was made known to the army.

Campbell
During this day, an important occurrence transpired at Bickerstaff’s. The officers of the two Carolina’s united in presenting a complaint to Colonel Campbell, that there were, among the prisoners, a number who were robbers, house-burners, parole-breakers, and assassins. The British victory near Camden had made, says General Preston, “Cornwallis complete master of South Carolina. This power he was using with cruelty, unparalleled in modern civilized conquest; binding down the conquered people like malefactors, regarding each Rebel as a condemned criminal, and checking every murmur, answering every suspicion with the sword and the fire-brand. If a suspected Whig fled from his house to escape the insult, the scourge or the rope, the myrmidons of Ferguson and Tarleton burned it down, and ravished his wife and daughters; if a son refused to betray his parent, he was hung like a dog; if a wife refused to tell the hiding-place of her husband, her belly was ripped open by the butcher-knife of the Tory; and to add double horror and infamy to the deep damnation of such deeds, Americans were forced to be the instruments for perpetrating them. That which Tarleton (beast, murderer, hypocrite, ravisher as he was,) was ashamed to do, he had done by Americans—neighbors, kinsmen of his victims. I draw no fancy picture—the truth is wilder far than the fabulists imagination can feign.” fn2

Battle of King's Mountain

Bancroft touchingly depicts the sad condition of the people, where unchecked Toryism had borne sway: “The sorrows of children and women,” he says, “robbed and wronged, shelterless, stripped of all clothes but those they wore, nestling about fires they kindled on the ground, and mourning for their fathers and husbands,” were witnessed on every hand; and these helpless sufferers appealed to all hearts for sympathy and protection. Colonel Campbell, on the strength of the complaints made to him, was induced to order the convening of a court, to examine fully into the matter. The Carolina officers urged, that, if these men should escape, exasperated, as they now were, in consequence of their humiliating defeat, they would commit other enormities worse than their former ones. fn3 The British leaders had, in a high-handed and summary manner, hung not a few of the captured patriots at Camden, and more recently at Ninety Six, and Augusta; and now that the Whigs had the means of retaliation at their command, they began to consider whether it was not their duty to exercise it; thinking, probably, that it would have a healthful influence upon the Loyalists—that the disease of Toryism, in its worst aspects, was disastrous in its effects, and heroic treatment had become necessary.

Colonel [Isaac] Shelby, with others, seems to have taken this view of the subject. When the mountaineers “reached Gilbert Town,” says Shelby, ” a week after the battle, they were informed by a paroled officer, that he had seen eleven patriots hung at Ninety Six a few days before, for being Rebels. Similar cruel and unjustifiable acts had been committed before. In the opinion of the patriots, it required retaliatory measures to put a stop to these atrocities. A copy of the law of North Carolina was obtained, which authorized two magistrates to summon a jury, and forthwith to try, and, if found guilty, to execute persons who had violated its precepts.”fn4  This law providing capital punishment, must have had reference to those guilty of murder, arson, house-breaking, riots, and other criminal offences.

“Colonel Campbell,” says Ensign [Robert] Campbell, “complied, and ordered a court-martial to sit immediately, composed of the field officers and Captains, who were ordered to inquire into the complaints which had been made. The court was conducted orderly, and witnesses were called and examined in each case—the consequence was, that thirty-two were condemned.”

King's mountain and Sandy Run

Under the law as cited by Colonel Shelby, while the tribunal was, no doubt, practically, a court-martial, it was nominally, at least, a civil court, with two presiding justices. There was no difficulty on this point, for most of the North Carolina officers were magistrates at home—Colonel [Benjamin] Cleveland, and four or five others, of the Wilkes regiment alone filling that position. The jury was composed of twelve officers—Lieutenant [Anthony] Allaire, in his Diary, denouncing it as “an infamous mock jury.” “Under this law,” says Shelby, ” thirty-six men were tried, and found guilty of breaking open houses, killing the men, turning the women and children out of doors, and burning the houses. The trial was concluded late at night; and the execution of the law was as summary as the trial.”

How much of the evidence, hurriedly adduced, was one sided and prejudiced, it is not possible at this late day to determine. Colonel Ambrose Mills, the principal person of those condemned, was a man of fair reputation, and must have been regarded chiefly in the light of being a proper and prominent character upon whom to exercise retaliatory measures; and yet it was necessary to make some specific charge against him—the only one coming down to us, is that related by Silas McBee, one of the King’s Mountain men under Colonel Williams, that Mills had, on some former occasion, instigated the Cherokees to desolate the frontier of South Carolina, which was very likely without foundation. It was proven against Captain Walter Gilkey, that he had called at the house of a Whig; and inquiring if he was at home, was informed by his son, a youth, that he was absent, when the Tory Captain immediately drew his pistol, discharged it, wounding the lad in the arm, and taking his gun from him. Recovering from his wound, this youth was now with the mountaineers, and testified against his would-be murderer. Gilkey’s aged father was present, and offered in vain his horse, saddle and bridle, and a hundred dollars in money, as a ransom for his son.fn5

shout
Another case somewhat similar to Gilkey’s, was that of John McFall, a noted Tory leader of Burke County. Heading a party of mounted Loyalists, McFall dashed up to the house of Martin Davenport, on John’s river, hoping to capture or kill him, as he was a prominent Whig, and had, more than once, marched against the Tories, under Colonel Cleveland and Major [Joseph] McDowell. But they failed to find him, as he was absent in the service. The Tory band vented their spleen and abuse on Mrs. Davenport, and directed her to prepare breakfast for them; and McFall ordered the lad, William Davenport, then in his tenth year, to go to the corn crib, procure some corn, and feed the horses in the trough prepared for such use at the hitching post. After getting their meal, and coming out to start off, McFall discovered that the horses had not been fed, and asked the little fellow roughly why he had not done as he had bidden him? The spirited little Rebel replied: “If you want your horses fed, feed them yourself.” Flying into a passion, McFall cut a switch and whipped him smartly.

Jos M McDowell

At the trial at Bickerstaff’s, when McFall’s case was reached, Major McDowell, as the proper representative of Burke County, whence the culprit hailed, was called on to give his testimony; when, not probably regarding McFall’s conduct as deserving of death, he was disposed to be lenient towards him. Colonel Cleveland, who, it would appear, was one of the presiding justices, had his attention attracted from his paper, upon which he was making some notes, bv hearing McFall’s name mentioned, now spoke up—”That man, McFall, went to the house of Martin Davenport, one of my best soldiers, when he was away from home, fighting for his country, insulted his wife, and whipped his child; and no such man ought to be allowed to live.” fn6 His fate was sealed by this revelation; but his brother, Arthur McFall, the old hunter of the mountains, was saved through the kind intervention of Major and Captain McDowell, believing, as he had been wounded in the arm at King’s Mountain, it would admonish him not to be found in the future in bad company. fn7

Benjamin Sharp represents that the number of Tories condemned to the gallows was upwards of forty, Thomas Maxwell and Governor David Campbell say thirty-nine, Shelby thirty-six, [General William B.] Lenoir and Ensign Campbell thirty-two, while Ramsey’s Tennessee, Lieutenant Allaire, Benjamin Starritt and others, give the number as thirty. Starritt asserts that those upon whom sentence of death had been pronounced, were divided into three classes of ten each—Colonel [Ambrose] Mills heading the first class, and James Crawford the second class. It will be remembered that Crawford, who lived at the head of French Broad river, belonged to Sevier’s regiment; and while at “The Bald” of the Yellow Mountain on their outward march, had enticed Samuel Chambers, an inexperienced youth, to desert with him, and they gave [Major Patrick] Ferguson information of the plans and approach of the mountaineers. It is said, that when Ferguson had taken post on King’s Mountain, and a week had elapsed since the renegades brought the report, that he had caused Crawford to be tried and condemned for bringing false intelligence; and the evening of the seventh of October had been set for his execution. However this may have been, Colonel [John] Sevier interceded in Crawford’s behalf, as he could not bear to see his old neighbor and friend suffer an ignominious death, and had him pardoned. He subsequently removed to Georgia. Young Chambers’ guilt was excused on account of his youthfulness. fn8 Judged by the laws of war, Crawford was a deserter; and in view of the injury he tried to inflict on the Whig cause, he as richly deserved the halter as Andre’, and doubtless much more than any of his Tory associates.

As Abram Forney, one of the Lincoln troops, was surveying the prisoners, through the guard surrounding them, he discovered one of his neighbors, who only a short time before King’s Mountain battle, had been acting with the Whigs; but had been over-persuaded, by some of his Tory acquaintances, to join the King’s troops. Upon seeing him, Forney exclaimed—” Is that you, Simon?” “Yes,” he replied, quickly, ” it is, Abram, and I beg you to get me out of this bull-pen; if you do, I will promise never to be caught in such a scrape again.” When it was, accordingly, made to appear on the day of trial, that he had been unfortunately wrought upon by some Tory neighbors, such a mitigation of his disloyalty was presented as to induce the court to overlook his offence, and set him at liberty. Soon afterwards, true to his promise, he joined his former Whig comrades, marched to the battle of Guilford, and made a good soldier to the end of the war. fn9

So far as the evidence goes, Colonel Cleveland was probably more active and determined than any other officer in bringing about these severe measures; though Colonel Brandon, it was well known, was an inveterate hater of Tories; and Colonel Shelby seems to have aided in finding a State law that would meet these cases. It is said that Cleveland had previously threatened to hang certain Tories whenever he could catch them; fn10 and Governor [John] Rutledge, shortly after this affair, ascribed to him the chief merit of the execution of several “noted horse thieves and Tories” taken at King’s Mountain. fn11

The Southern country was then in a very critical condition, and there seemed to be a grave necessity for checking, by stern and exemplary punishment, the Tory lawlessness that largely over-spread the land, and impressing that class with a proper sense of the power and determination of the Whigs to protect their patriot friends, and punish their guilty enemies. Referring to the action at Bickerstaff’s, Ensign Campbell well observes: “The officers on that occasion acted from an honorable motive to do the greatest good in their power for the public service, and to check those enormities so frequently committed in the States of North and South Carolina at that time, their distress being almost unequalled in the annals of the American Revolution.” The historian, Bancroft, errs in supposing that these executions were the work of lawless ” private soldiers.” fn12   The complaints against the Tory leaders were made by the officers of the western army from the two Carolinas, and the court and jury were composed exclusively of officers—and all was done under the form and sanction of law.

riflemen-forest

While the jurist-historian, Johnson, could have wished that the conquerors of Ferguson had been magnanimous, and spared these miserable wretches from the gallows, yet as an act of justice and public policy he vindicates their conduct. Many severe animadversions, he observes, have been showered on the brave men who fought at King’s Mountain for this instance of supposed severity. War, in its mildest form, is so full of horrors, that the mind recoils from vindicating any act that can, in the remotest degree, increase its miseries. To these no act contributes more than that of retaliation. Hence no act should be ventured upon with more solemn deliberation, and none so proper to be confined to a commander-in-chief, or the civil power. But the brave men who fought in the affair at King’s Mountain, are not to be left loaded with unmerited censure.

The calmest and most dispassionate reflection upon their conduct, on this occasion, will lead to the conviction, that if they committed any offence, it was against their own country—not against the enemy. That instead of being instigated by a thirst of blood, they acted solely with a view to put an end to its effusion; and boldly, for this purpose, took upon themselves all the dangers that a system of retaliation could super induce. The officers of the American army, who, twelve months afterwards, hazarded their lives by calling upon their General to avenge the death of Hayne, justly challenge the gratitude and admiration of their country; but the men of King’s Mountain (for it is avowed as a popular act, and not that of their chief alone), merit the additional reputation of having assumed on themselves the entire responsibility, without wishing to involve the regular army in their dangers. And this was done in the plenitude of British triumph, and when not a man of them could count on safety for an hour, in anything but his own bravery and vigilance.

But what was the prospect before them? They were all proscribed men; the measures of Lord Cornwallis had put them out of the protection of civilized warfare; and the spirit in which his proclamations and instructions were executed by his officers, had put them out of the protection of common humanity. The massacres at Camden had occurred not six weeks before, and those of Browne, at Augusta, scarcely half that time. Could they look on and see this system of cruelty prosecuted, and not try the only melancholy measure that could check it? The effect proved that there was as much of reflection as of passion in the act; for the little despots who then held the country, dared prosecute the measure no farther. Another and an incontestable proof that blind revenge did not preside over the counsels that consigned these men to death, is drawn from the deliberation with which they were selected, and the mildness manifested to the residue of the prisoners.

It has been before observed, that, in the ranks of Colonel Ferguson, there were many individuals notorious as habitual plunderers and murderers. What was to be done with these? There were no courts of justice to punish their offences; fn13 and, to detain them as prisoners of war, was to make them objects of exchange. Should such pests to society be again enlarged, and suffered to renew their outrages? Capture in arms does not exempt the deserter from the gallows; why should it the cold-blooded murderer? There was no alternative left; and the officers, with all the attention to form that circumstances would permit, and more—a great deal, it is believed—than either Browne or Cornwallis had exhibited, could only form a council, and consign them to the fate that would have awaited them in the regular administration of justice.fn14

It is but just and proper, in this connection, to give the views of Colonel Shelby, one of the conspicuous actors in this whole affair; and he seems to justify it wholly as a measure of retaliation: It is impossible, he observes, for those who have not lived in its midst, to conceive of the exasperation which prevails in a civil war. The execution, therefore, of the nine Tories at [near] Gilbert Town, will, by many persons, be considered an act of retaliation unnecessarily cruel. It was believed by those who were on the ground to be both necessary and proper, for the purpose of putting a stop to the execution of the patriots in the Carolinas by the Tories and British. The event proved the justice of the expectation of the patriots. The execution of the Tories did stop the execution of the Whigs. And it may be remarked of this cruel and lamentable mode of retaliation, that, whatever excuse and pretenses the Tories may have had for their atrocities, the British officers, who often ordered the execution of Whigs, had none. Their training to arms, and military education, should have prevented them from violating the rules of civilized warfare in so essential a point. fn15

Early in the evening, the trials having been brought to a conclusion, a suitable oak was selected, upon a projecting limb of which the executions were to take place. It was by the road side, near the camp, and is yet standing, known in all that region as the Gallows Oak. Torch-lights were procured, the condemned brought out, around whom the troops formed four deep. It was a singular and interesting night scene, the dark old woods illuminated with the wild glare of hundreds of pine-knot torches; and quite a number of the Loyalist leaders of the Carolinas about to be launched into eternity. The names of the condemned Tories were— Colonel Ambrose Mills, Captain James Chitwood, Captain Wilson, Captain Walter Gilkey, Captain Grimes, Lieutenant Lafferty, John McFall, John Bibby, and Augustine Hobbs. They were swung off three at a time, and left suspended at the place of execution. According to Lieutenant Allaire’s account, they died like soldiers—like martyrs, in their own and friends’ estimation. “These brave but unfortunate Loyalists,” says Allaire, “with their latest breath expressed their unutterable detestation of the Rebels, and of their base and infamous proceedings; and, as they were being turned off, extolled their King and the British Government. Mills, Wilson and Chitwood died like Romans.”fn16 Among the small party of Georgians who served in the campaign, was the noted Captain Paddy Carr, heretofore introduced to the reader. Devoid, as he was, of the finer feelings of humanity, he was deeply interested in, and greatly enjoyed these sickening executions. If there was anything he hated more than another, it was a Tory; and, it may be, much of his extreme bitterness grew out of the fact, that he knew full well how intensely he, in turn, was hated by the Loyalists. Pointing at the unfortunates, while dangling in mid-air, Carr exclaimed: “Would to God every tree in the wilderness bore such fruit as that!”fn17

After nine of the Loyalist leaders had been executed, and three others were about to follow suit, an unexpected incident occurred. Isaac Baldwin, one of these condemned trio, had been a leader of a Tory gang in Burke County, who had sacked many a house, stripping the unfortunate occupants of food, beds and clothing; and not unfrequently, after tying them to trees, and whipping them severely, would leave them in their helpless and gory condition to their fate. While all eyes were directed to Baldwin and his companions, pinioned, and awaiting the call of the executioners, a brother of Baldwin’s, a mere lad, approached, apparently in sincere affection, to take his parting leave. He threw his arms around his brother, and set up a most piteous screaming and lamentation as if he would go into convulsions, or his heart would break of sorrow. While all were witnessing this touching scene, the youth managed to cut the cords confining his brother, who suddenly darted away, breaking through the line of soldiers, and easily escaping under cover of the darkness, into the surrounding forest. Although he had to make his way through more than a thousand of the best marksmen in the world, yet such was the universal admiration or feeling on the occasion, that not one would lift a hand to stop him. fn18
Whether the escape of Baldwin produced a softening effect on the minds of the Whig leaders—any feelings of forbearance towards the condemned survivors; or whether, so far as retaliation, or the hoped-for intimidating influence on the Tories of the country, was concerned, it was thought enough lives had been sacrificed, we are not informed. Some of these men must have been tried within the scope of the civil law, for crimes committed against society; while others must have been tried and condemned for violations of the usages of war; fn19 and yet, after all, the moral effect would seem to have been the principal motive for these cases of capital punishment.

Referring probably to the two companions of Baldwin after he had effected his escape, we have this statement on the authority of Colonel Shelby: “Three more were tied, ready to be swung off. Shelby interfered, and proposed to stop it. The other officers agreed; and the three men who supposed they had seen their last hour, were untied.”fn20 The inference is, that the officers here referred to, who, with Shelby, exercised the pardoning power, or ” put a stop” to further executions, were the presiding officers of the court, in their character of justices, of whom Colonel Campbell could hardly have been one, though a magistrate at home, for the civil court was acting under the laws of North Carolina; and yet Ensign Campbell, in his narrative, speaks of the trials having been conducted before a court martial, and adds, that, after the nine were executed, ” the others were pardoned by the commanding officer;” while another eye-witness, Benjamin Sharp, states that “a court was detailed,” and after the nine were hung, “the rest were reprieved by the commanding officer.” Nor is the language of the late Governor Campbell less explicit: ” A courtmartial was ordered and organized to try many of the Tory officers, charged by the officers of North and South Carolina with many offences—such as murdering unoffending citizens not in arms, and without motive, save the brutal one of destroying human life: Thirty-nine were found guilty, nine of whom were executed, and thirty were pardoned by the commanding officer.” fn21 Whether the survivors were pardoned by the court in its civil capacity, or by the commanding officer at the instance of a court-martial, the executions ceased.fn22

One of the reprieved Tories, touched with a sense of the obligation he was under for sparing his life, and perhaps resolved thereafter to devote his energies to the Whig cause, went to Colonel Shelby at two o’clock that night, and made this revelation: “You have saved my life,” said he, “and I will tell you a secret. Tarleton will be here in the morning—a woman has brought the news.”fn23 No doubt intelligence came that Tarleton had been dispatched by Lord Cornwallis with a strong force for the relief of Ferguson, if relief could be of any service; but as to the particular time of his arrival, that was the merest guess-work, and, with the Tories, the wish was father to the thought. But the Whig leaders, on receiving this information, deeming it prudent to run no risk, but to retire with their prisoners to a place of safety, instantly aroused the camp, picking up everything, sending the wounded into secret places in the mountains, and making every preparation for an early start in the morning. fn24 They marched, according to Allaire’s Diary, at the early hour of five o’clock, on Sunday, the fifteenth of October.

The poor Loyalist leaders had been left swinging from the sturdy oak upon which they had been executed. No sooner had the Whigs moved off, than Mrs. Martha Bickerstaff, or Biggerstaff, the wife of Captain Aaron Bickerstaff who had served under Ferguson, and been mortally wounded at King’s Mountain, with the assistance of an old man who worked on the farm, cut down the nine dead bodies. Eight of them were buried in a shallow trench, some two feet deep; while the remains of Captain Chitwood were conveyed by some of his friends, on a plank, half a mile away to Benjamin Bickerstaff’s, where they were interred on a hill still used as a grave-yard. About 1855, a party of road-makers concluded to exhume the remains of Colonel Mills and his companions, as the place of their burial was well known. The graves of only four of the number were opened, the bones soon crumbling on exposure. Several articles were found in a very good state of preservation—a butcher knife, a small brass chain about five inches in length, evidently used in attaching a powder-horn to a shot-bag, a thumb lancet, a large musket flint, a goosequill, with a wooden stopper, in which were three or four brass pins. These articles, save the knife, and a portion of the pins, are preserved by M. O. Dickerson, Esq., of Rutherfordton.fn25

Shortly after marching from Bickerstaff’s, rain began to fall in torrents, and it never ceased the whole day. “Instead of halting,” says Benjamin Sharp, “we rather mended our pace in order to cross the Catawba river before it should rise to intercept us.” It was regarded as essential to get out of Tarleton’s reach, and hence the straining of every nerve, and the exercise of every self-denial, to accomplish so important an object. The sanguinary character of that impetuous British cavalry officer, and the celerity of his movements, as shown at Buford’s defeat at Monk’s Corner, and at Sumter’s surprise at Fishing Creek, admonished the Whig leaders of the enemy they might have to deal with; and impelled, on this occasion, by the hope of rescuing several hundred British and Tory prisoners was very naturally regarded by the patriots as a powerful incentive for Tarleton to push them to the utmost extremity, and play cut and slash as usual—and hence the supposed necessity of equal exertions on their part to avert so great a calamity. It is not a little singular that, at this very moment, Cornwallis and Tarleton were retreating from Charlotte to Winnsboro, South Carolina, with all their might and main— “with much fatigue,” says Lord Rawdon, “occasioned by violent rains ;” fearing that the ” three thousand” reported victorious mountaineers were in hot pursuit. “It was amusing,” said one of the King’s Mountain men, “when we learned the facts, how Lord Cornwallis was running in fright in one direction, and we mountaineers as eagerly fleeing in the other.”fn26

In Allaire’s newspaper narrative, we have this account —whether colored or distorted, we have no means of determining: “On the morning of the fifteenth, Colonel Campbell had intelligence that Colonel Tarleton was approaching him, when he gave orders to his men, that should Tarleton come up with them, they were immediately to fire on Captain Abraham DePeyster and his officers, who were in the front, and then a second volley on the men. During this day’s march, the men were obliged to give thirty-five Continental dollars for a single ear of Indian corn, and forty for a drink of water, they not being allowed to drink when fording a river; in short, the whole of the Rebels’ conduct from the surrender of the party into their hands, is incredible to relate. Several of the militia that were worn out with fatigue, not being able to keep up, were cut down and trodden to death in the mire.”

It was about ten o’clock at night, according to Allaire’s Diary, and as late as two o’clock, according to Shelby, when the wearied troops and prisoners reached the Catawba, at the Island Ford, where the river was breast deep as they forded it. They bivouacked on the western bank of the river at the Quaker Meadows—the home of Major McDowell. “A distance of thirty-two miles,” says Allaire, “was accomplished this day over a very disagreeable road, all the men worn out with fatigue and fasting, the prisoners having had no bread nor meat for two days”—and, apparently, not even raw corn or pumpkins. Nor had the Whigs fared any better, judging from the statement in the American Review, dictated by Colonel Shelby: ” As an evidence of the hardships undergone by these brave and hardy patriots, Colonel Shelby says that he ate nothing from Saturday morning until after they encamped Sunday night—[or rather Monday morning]—at two o’clock.” Benjamin Sharp throws additional light on the privations of the patriots: “During the whole of this expedition,” he states, “except a few days at our outset, I neither tasted bread nor salt, and this was the case with nearly every man; when we could get meat, which was but seldom, we had to roast and eat it without either; sometimes we got a few potatoes, but our standing and principal rations were ears of corn, scorched in the fire or eaten raw. Such was the price paid by the men of the Revolution for our independence.”

Here, at McDowell’s, some provisions were obtained— not much of a variety, but such as satisfied half-starved men; nor did they seek rest until they had dried themselves by their camp fires, and enjoyed their simple repast. “Major McDowell,” says Sharp, “rode along the lines, and informed us that the plantation belonged to him, and kindly invited us to take rails from his fences, and make fires to warm and dry us. I suppose that every one felt grateful for this generous offer; for it was rather cold, it being the last of October, and every one, from the Commander-in-chief to the meanest private, was as wet as if he had just been dragged through the Catawba river.”

It is evident from Allaire’s Diary, that when it was possible, courtesies were extended to the British officers—even when the Whig patriots themselves were camping out on the ground. “We officers,” he says, ” were allowed to go to Colonel McDowell’s, where we lodged comfortably.” A little incident transpired on this occasion which the good Lieutenant did not care, perhaps, to record in his Diary. Some of these very same officers had visited the residence of the McDowell’s, under very different circumstances, the preceding month, when Ferguson had invaded the Upper Catawba Valley, and when the two brothers, Colonel Charles and Major Joseph McDowell, had retired with their little band across the mountains. Their widowed mother was the presiding hostess of the old homestead at the Quaker Meadows ; she was a woman of uncommon energy and fearlessness of character—a native of the Emerald Isle. She possessed a nice perception of right and wrong; and, withal, was not wanting in her share of quick temper peculiar to her people.

Some of these visitors, having ransacked the house for spoils, very coolly appropriated, among other things, the best articles of clothing of her two noted Rebel sons; and took the occasion to tantalize the aged mother with what would be the fate of her boys when they should catch them. Charles should be killed out-right, but as for Joe, they would first compel him, by way of humiliation, to plead on his knees for his life, and then would slay him without mercy. But these threats did not in the least intimidate Mrs. McDowell; but she talked back at them in her quaint, effective Irish style, intimating that in the whirligigs of life, they might, sooner or later, have a little begging to do for themselves. The changed circumstances had been brought about in one short month, quite as much, perhaps, to the surprise of the good old lady, as to the proud officers of Ferguson’s Rangers. Now they appeared again, wet, weary, and hungry; but Mrs. McDowell readily recognized them, and it required not a little kind persuasion on the part of Major McDowell to induce his mother to give those “thieving vagabond Tories,” as she termed them, shelter, food, and nourishment. But the appeals of her filial son, of whom she was justly proud, coupled with the silent plea of human beings in their needy, destitute condition, prevailed; and in her Christian charity, she returned good for evil.fn27

It was fortunate for the mountaineers that they had succeeded in crossing the Catawba so opportunely, for the next morning they found it had risen so much as to be past fording. This obstacle would naturally prevent, for some time, all pursuit, if indeed any had been made. It was now arranged that Colonel Edward Lacey’s men fn28 should be permitted to return to South Carolina, while most of Shelby’s and Sevier’s regiments, with the footmen of the Virginians, should take their home trail across the mountains. The mounted men of Campbell’s regiment, with the Wilkes and Surry troops under Cleveland and Winston, and perhaps McDowell’s party, together with a few of Sevier’s and Shelby’s young men who preferred to remain in the service, and who had incorporated themselves into McDowell’s corps, now constituted the escort for the prisoners. Shelby states, that after the several corps had retired at the Catawba, there remained not more Whigs than they had prisoners to guard—about five or six hundred.

The wounded Americans, who had been hid away in the mountains when the troops marched so hurriedly from Bickerstaff’s, were soon brought forward; and many of them were left in Burke County, eight or ten miles above Burke Court House, where Doctor Joseph Dobson of that neighborhood, had eighteen of them under his care at one time; four of whom were Wilkes and Surry County officers billeted at a Mr. Mackey’s.fn29

After a needful rest, and the return of fair weather, the patriots proceeded at two o’clock on Monday afternoon, October sixteenth, directing their course, by easy marches, to the head of the Yadkin, and down the valley of that stream. Fording Upper creek, or the North branch of the Catawba, and John’s river, they encamped that night at a Tory plantation, not very far beyond the latter stream.

While on the hurried and toilsome march from Bickerstaff’s to the Catawba, and especially during several hours of the evening, amid rain and mud, it proved a favorable opportunity for many of the prisoners to give their guards the slip, and effect their escape. Allaire says the number reached a hundred. To put a stop to these numerous desertions, the Whig leaders promulgated severe admonitions of the consequences of any further attempts in that direction; but they did not effectually restrain the daring and adventurous. Having marched fifteen miles during Tuesday, passing through Happy Valley and over Warrior Mountain, the troops, with their prisoners, camped that evening at Captain Hatt’s plantation, not very far from Fort Defiance; and, during the night, three of the prisoners attempted to evade their guards, two of them succeeding, while the other was shot through the body, retaken, and executed at five o’clock on the following morning.fn30

During Wednesday, the eighteenth, the troops forded Elk and Warrior creeks, camping that night on the western bank of Moravian creek, a short distance west of Wilkes Court House, having accomplished eighteen miles; and passing the next day through the Old Mulberry Fields, or Wilkes Court House, they took up their camp at Hagoods’ plantation, on Brier creek, having marched sixteen miles this day. While in camp, on Brier creek, Colonel Campbell appears to have discharged some of his Virginians, for he wrote a letter on the twentieth, to his brother-in-law, Colonel Arthur Campbell, giving him a brief account of the battle, but was uncertain as yet what disposition would be made of the prisoners. Taking a late start on Friday, six miles only were accomplished, camping that night at Sales’ plantation. Proceeding by slow marches, they passed Salem, arriving at Bethabara, or Old Town, on the twenty-fourth—both Moravian villages— whose people, according to Allaire, were stanch friends of the King, and were very kind to all the prisoners.

The very first night the British officers had been assigned quarters at Bethabara, Lieutenant Allaire and Doctor Johnson, who were rooming together, were driven from their bed by a violent Whig Captain named Campbell, who, with drawn sword, threatened them with death if they did not instantly obey him. Colonel Campbell was notified of this rudeness, who had the unseasonable intruder turned out of the room; fn31 and this is but another instance of his sense of justice towards helpless prisoners.

Among the Tory captives, was a notorious desperado named Bob Powell. He was a man of unusual size, strong, supple, and powerful. He boasted of his superior ability and agility to out-hop, out-jump, out-wrestle, or out-fight any Whig in the army. He seemed to possess a happier faculty of getting into scrapes, than in getting out. Chained with two accomplices for some bad conduct, he sent word one morning that he wanted to see Colonels Campbell, Shelby and Cleveland, on a matter of importance. When waited on by those officers, he seemed to think that the proposition he was about to submit was a matter of no small consideration—no less than a challenge to wrestle or fight with the best man they could produce from their army, conditioned that, should he prove victor, his freedom should be his reward; should he fail, he would regard his life as forfeited, and they might hang him. Though a couple of guineas were offered to any man who would successfully meet him—probably more with a view of an exhibition of the “manly art,” as then regarded by the frontier people, yet no one saw fit to engage in the offered contest. Under the circumstances, all knew full well that Powell would fight with the desperation of a lion at bay; and none cared to run the risk of encountering a man of his herculean proportions, with the stake of freedom to stimulate his efforts.fn32

It was apparently while at Bethabara, that Colonel’s Campbell, Shelby, and Cleveland made out their official report of King’s Mountain battle. Had it been prepared before Colonels Lacey and Sevier had retired at the Quaker Meadows, the names of those two officers would doubtless have been attached to it also.fn33 Colonel Shelby accompanied the troops to Bethabara. He had been deputed to visit General Horatio Gates at Hillsboro, to tender the services of a corps of mountaineers, mostly refugees, under Major McDowell, to serve under General Daniel Morgan. Colonel Campbell also had occasion to repair to head-quarters to make arrangements for the disposition of the prisoners.

On the twenty-sixth of October, Colonel Campbell issued a General Order, appointing Colonel Cleveland to the command of the troops and prisoners until his expected return, especially providing that full rations be issued to the prisoners; adding, “it is to be hoped, no insult or violence unmerited will be offered them; no unnecessary injury be done to the inhabitants, nor any liquor be sold or issued to the troops without an order from the commanding officer.” fn34 Here we have additional evidence, if any were needed, of Campbell’s humanity and good sense.

Colonels Campbell and Shelby had scarcely departed, when new troubles arose in the treatment of the prisoners. Allaire tells us, that one of the Whig soldiers was passing the guard, where the captives were confined, when he rudely accosted them: “Ah! d—n you, you’ll all be hanged!” One of the prisoners retorted—” Never mind that, it will be your turn next!” For this trifling offence, the poor fellow was tried before Colonel Cleveland, and condemned to be hung. Quite a number of people gathered at Bethabara to witness the execution of the unfortunate man; “but,” adds Allaire, “Colonel Cleveland’s goodness extended so far as to reprieve him.”
About this time, Captain William Green and Lieutenant William Langum, among the Tory prisoners, were tried before Colonel Cleveland. The charge against Green seems to have been, that he had violated the oath he had taken as an officer to support the governments of the State of North Carolina and of the United States, by accepting a British commission, and fighting at King’s Mountain. Some of the British officers were present, and remonstrated at the course taken, when Cleveland cut them short, saying: “Gentlemen, you are British officers, and shall be treated accordingly—therefore give your paroles and march off immediately; the other person is a subject of the State.” fn35 Green and Langum were condemned to be executed the next morning. “May be so,” coolly remarked Green.

That night, as he and his comrade, Langum, were lying before the camp-fire, under a blanket, Green rolled over so that his hands, fastened with buck-skin straps, came in contact with Langum’s face, who seeming to comprehend his companion’s intention, worked away with his teeth till he succeeded in unfastening the knot. Green was now able to reach his pocket, containing a knife, with which he severed the remaining cords, and those of Langum. He then whispered to Langum to be ready to jump up and run when he should set the example. Green was above the ordinary size, strong and athletic. The guard who had special watch of them, was in a sitting posture, with his head resting upon his knees, and had fallen asleep. Maknig a sudden leap, Green knocked the sentinel over, and tried to snatch his gun from him; but the latter caught the skirt of the fleeing man’s coat, and Green had to make a second effort before he could release himself from the soldier’s grasp, and gladly got off with the loss of a part of his garment. In another moment both Green and Langum were dashing down a declivity, and though several shots were fired at them, they escaped unhurt, and were soon beyond the reach of their pursuers. Aided by the friendly wilderness, and sympathizing Loyalists, they in time reached their old region of Buffalo creek, in now Cleveland County, Green at least renouncing his brief, sad experience in the Tory service, joined the Whigs, and battled manfully thereafter for his country. Both Green and Langum long survived the war, and were very worthy people. fn36

Allaire records an incident, involving, if correctly reported, rash treatment on the part of Colonel Cleveland towards Doctor Johnson, whose benevolent acts, it would be supposed, would have commanded the respectful attention of all: “November the first,” writes Lieutenant Allaire, “Doctor Johnson was insulted and knocked down by Colonel Cleveland, for attempting to dress the wounds of a man whom the Rebels had cut on the march. The Rebel officers would often go in amongst the prisoners, draw their swords, cut and wound whom their wicked and savage minds prompted.” fn37 There must have been something unexplained in Doctor Johnson’s conduct—the motive is wanting for an act so unofficer-like as that imputed to Colonel Cleveland. While it is conceded that he was a rough frontier man, and particularly inimical to thieving and murderous Tories, yet he was kind-hearted, and his sympathies as responsive to misfortune as those of the tenderest woman. The same day, Colonel Cleveland was relieved of his command by Colonel Martin Armstrong, his superior in rank, as well as the local commandant of Surry County, where the troops and prisoners then were.

The British officers had been expecting to be paroled. Colonel Cleveland’s remark to them, at Green’s trial, would seem to indicate the early anticipation of such an event. “After we were in the Moravian town about a fortnight,” says Allaire, “we were told we could not get paroles to return within the British lines; neither were we to have any till we were moved over the mountains in the back parts of Virginia, where we were to live on hoe-cake and milk.” Large liberties had been accorded the officers, to enable them to while away the tedium of captivity: so that they sometimes visited the neighboring Moravian settlements, or dined at their friends, in the country.

When Lieutenants Christopher Taylor, William Stevenson, and Allaire learned that there was no immediate prospect of their receiving paroles, they concluded that they would “rather trust the hand of fate,” as Allaire states it in his narrative, and make a desperate effort to reach their friends—taking French leave of their American captors. Accordingly, on Sunday evening, about six o’clock, the fifth of November, they quietly decamped, taking Captain William Gist, of the South Carolina Loyalists, with them; traveling fifteen miles that night to the Yadkin, the fording of which they found very disagreeable, and pushed on twenty miles farther before daylight. Though pursued, the Whigs were misled by false intelligence from Tory sources, and soon gave up the chase.

Traveling by night, and resting by day; sometimes sleeping in fodder-houses, oftener in the woods; with snatches of food at times—hoe-cake and dried beef on one occasion—supplied by sympathizing friends by the way; encountering cold rain storms, and fording streams; guided some of the weary journey by Loyalist pilots, and sometimes following such directions as they could get; passing over the Brushy Mountain, crossing the Upper Catawba, thence over the country to Camp’s Ford of second Broad river, the Island Ford of Main Broad, and the old Iron Works of Pacolet; barely escaping Sumter’s corps at Blackstock’s on Tyger, they at length reached Ninety Six, the eighteenth day after taking their leave of Bethabara, traveling, as they accounted distance, three hundred miles. These resolute adventurers suffered unspeakable fatigues and privations, but successfully accomplished the object of all their toils and self-denials. After resting a day at Ninety Six, they pursued their journey to Charleston.

Footnotes:
(fn1 MS. Order preserved by General Preston.)
(fn2 King’s Mountain Adress, October 1855, 49)
(fn3 Ensign Robert Campbell’s King’s Mountain narrative.)
(fn4 Shelby, in American Review, December, 1848.)
(fn5 Conversations with Silas McBee; narrative of Ensign Robert Campbell; MS. correspondence of W. L. Twitty, as related by the venerable John Gilkey, of Rutherford County, N. C, in no way related to his Tory namesake.)
(fn6 MS. penston statement of Richard Ballew, of Knox County, Ky , formerly of Burke County. N C.; MS. letters of Hon. J. C. Harper, and Captain W. W. Lenoir, who had the particulars from William Davenport himself. Colonel Davenport was born in Culpcper County. Virginia. October 12, 1770. His mother dying about the close of the Revolution of small-pox, his father removed to the mountain region, on Toe river, in now Mitchell County; a hunter’s paradise, where he could indulge himself in his favorite occupation of hunting, and where his son William killed the last elk ever seen in North Carolina. Colonel William Davenport became a man of prominence, representing Burke County in the House of Commons in 1800, and in the Senate in 1802. He possessed an extraordinary memory, was a most excellent man; and was the chief founder of Davenport Female College at Lenoir. He married the widow of Major Charles Gordon, one of the King’s Mountain heroes; and lived for many years in the Happy Valley of the Yadkin, three and a half miles above Fort Defiance, where he died August 19, 1859, in the eighty-ninth year of his age.)
(fn7 MS. correspondence of W. A. McCall. Esq., of McDowell County, N. C, who knew Arthur McFall very well. He used to speak kindly of the McDowells befriending him. and said that Colonel Cleveland had little mercy on Americans who were caught fighting with the British. Arthur McFall spent most of his life as a hunter in the mountains, making his home, when in the settlements, with old acquaintances. He was a man after Daniel Boone’s own heart; and died about the year 1835, on Grassy Creek, at the venerable age of between ninety and a hundred years.)
(fn8 MS. notes of conversations with James and George W. Sevier, and Benjamin Starritt. * Hunter’s Sketches, pp. 266-67.)
(fn9 Hunter’s Sketches, pp.266-67.)
(fn10 Gordon’s American Revolution,’TM., 466; Mrs. Warren’s Revolution, ii. 253.)
(fn11  Russell’s Magazine, 1857, i, 543.)
(fn12 History of the United States, x. 339.)
(fn13 Such was the distraction of the times, that South Carolina, during the period of 1780-81, was without a civil government, Governor Rutledge having been compelled to retire from the State, and the Lieutenant Governor and some of the Council were prisoners of war. Nor during a portion of the war did North Carolina fare much better. At one time, one of her high judicial officers. Samuel Spencer, could only execute the laws against Tories with threats and attempted intimidation : the Governor, at one period, was captured and carried away. When Cornwallis invaded the State, the prominent officials fled, carrying the public records to Washington County, Virginia, on the lower frontiers of Holston, as a place of asylum and security, as is shown by a MS. letter of Colonel Arthur Campbell to Hon. David Campbell, September 15, 1810)
(fn14 Johnson’s Life of Greene, i. pp. 309-11.)
(fn15 Conversations with Governor Shelby, in American Review, December, 1848.)
(fn16 Allaire’s MS. Diary; and his statements as given in the Scot’s Magazine and Riving* ton’s Royal Gazette.
It may be well to give the authorities for the names of the Loyalist leaders who suffered on this occasion. Lord Cornwallis, in his correspondence, names Colonel Mills, as do several historians; Allaire gives the names of Captains Wilson and Chitwood; Gilkey is referred to by Ensign Campbell, and specifically named by Silas McBee, and the venerable John Gilkey; Captain Grimes is mentioned in Ramsey’s Tennessee, and Putnam’s Middle Tennessee; McFall’s name has been preserved by Richard Ballew, John Spelts, and Arthur McFall—eye-witnesses, and his prior acts at Davenport’s are related by Hon. J. C. Harper and Captain W. W. Lenoir, whoderived them from William Davenport; the names of Latterly and Bibby have been communicated by W, L. Twitty, as the traditions of aged people of Rutherford County, N. C, where they, as well as Chitwood lived, whose name is likewise preserved in the memories of the aged inhabitants of that region; and the name of Hobbs is alone remembered by Silas McBee.
Colonel Mills resided on Green river, in Rutherford County; Captain Wilson, in the Ninety Six region. South Carolina; Chitwood, Lafferty, Bibby, and probably Gilkey, in Rutherford; McFall, in Burke County; Hobbs most likely in South Carolina; and Grimes in East Tennessee, where he was a leader of a party of Tory horse-thieve* and highwaymen, and where some of his band were taken and hung. He fled to escape summary punishment, but justice overtook him in the end. His bandit career in Tennessee is noticed in Ramsey’s History of that State, pp. 179. 243; and Putnam’s Middle Tennessee, 58.
General DePeyMer, in his able Address on Kings Mountain, before the New York Historical Society, January, 4, 1SS1, has inadvertently fallen into the error of including Captain Oates as among those executed with Colonel Mills, citing Mrs. Warren’s History as authority. Lord Cornwallis, in his letter to General Smallwood, November. 10, 1780, states that Captain Oates was taken by the Americans near the Pcdee, in South Carolina, and “lately put to death.”
(fn17 J. L. Gray’s MS. statement; Rutherford Enquirer, May 24, 1859.
The Revolutionary war produced few characters so singular and so notorious as Patrick Carr. He was by birth an Irishman, and settled in Georgia before the commencement of the war. It is only in the latter part of the contest we are able to trace him. He shared as a Captain under Colonel Clarke in the heroic attack on Augusta, in September, 1780; then retired to the Carolina*, and joined the mountaineers under Major Candler, and fought at King’s Mountain. The following month we find him under Sumter at Blackstocks; in May, 1781, engaged in forays against British and Tory parties in Georgia, waylaying and defeating them, extending little or no mercy to any of them. In November, 1781, when Major Jackson surprised the British poct at Ogeechce, and its commander, Johnson, was in the act of surrendering his sword to Jackson, Carr treacherously killed Captain Goldsmith. Johnson and his associates, judging that no quarters would be given them, instantly sprang into their place of defence, and compelled the Americans to retire with considerable loss. A notorious Tory by the name of Gunn had concerted a plan to kill Colonel Twiggs, and subsequently fell into the Colonel’s hands, when Carr insisted that Gunn should be hung; But Twiggs, more humane, protected the prisoner from harm. In 178a, Carr was made a Major, and. in the spring and early summer, marched with a force over the Altamaha, where he had two skirmishes with whites and Indians. On one occasion. Carr was praised for his bravery, when he replied that had not God given him too merciful a heart he would have made a very good soldier. It is related that he killed eighteen Tories on his way back from King’s Mountain and Blackstocks to Georgia ; and one hundred altogether during the war, with his own hands! Certain it is, the Tones stood in great awe of him. He was murdered, in August, 1802, in Jefferson County. Georgia, where he long resided; and, it is said, the act was committed by descendants of the Tories. In December following, the Jefferson County troop of Light Horse assembled at his place of Intel mem, Lieutenant Robinson delivering a brief eulogy, when the military fired a volley over his grave. Though “a honey of a patriot,” Paddy Carr left a name “___________ to other times, Mixed with few virtues, and a thousand crimes.”)
(fn18 Conversions with John Spelts and Benjamin Starritt; Memoir of Major Thomas Young: Johnson’s Life of Central Greene, i. 310.
Baldwin made his way into his old region, in Burke County, where his father resided, on Lower Creek of Catawba; where some two weeks afterwards, he was espied in the woods hy some scouts who gave chase, and finally overtook him, one of the pursuers killing him by a single blow over the head with his rifle. Some forty-five years after this tragedy, a younger brother of Ike Baldwin -prnbibly the one who had so successfully planned his Cicipc at Biekcrstaff’s—made three ineffectual attempts to kill the man who had brained the Tory free-booter.)
(fn19 Speech of General Alexander Smyth, in Congress, January 21, 1819, Niles’ Register, xv.. Supplement, 151)
(fn20 American Review, December, 1848.)
(fn21 MS. statement by Governor Campbell.)
(fn22 This, however, was not the last of the Tory executions. A few days after King’s Mnunuin battle, while some young men of the surrounding country—Thomas Patterson, who escaped while a prisoner, and fought so bravely in the action, is believed to have been one of the party—were near the battle-ground, looking for horses in the range, they discovered one of Ferguson’s foragers, who was absent at the time of the engagement. They concluded to capture him; but on showing such an intention, they were surprised at his pluck, in firing on them single-handed—the bullet whizzing close by them without harm. The Tory then betook himself to his heels, but was soon overhauled, and, without much cercmon y, was suspended to the limb of a tree by means of one of the halters designed for the horses His carcass was left hanging till it decayed, and dropped to the ground; while the rope dangled from the limb for several years. So relates the venerable E, A. Patterson, a grand-son of young Arthur Patterson, who. while a prisoner on King’s Mountain, escaped during the battle; corroborated by the venerable Abraham Hardin. Colonel J. R. Logan communicated Mr. Patterson’s tradition of the affair.
Not long after the action at King’s Mountain, a couple of Tories were caught ard hung on an oak tree, near Sandy Plains Baptist Church, in the edge of Cleveland County, some four miles south-east of Flint Hill. Neither their names, nor the crimes with which they were charged, have been preserved. The tree on which they were executed is still standing, and like that at the Bii’kerstafT Red Chimneys, is known as the Gallows Oak; it has been dead several years. This tradition has been communicated by the aged father of Daniel D. Martin, of Rutherford County, and Colonel J. R. Logan.)
(fn23 Shelby’s account in American Review.)
(fn24 Shelby’s account)
(fn25 MS. correspondence of W. L. Twitty and Mr. Dickerson.)
(fn26 MS Notes of conversations with Silas McBee, in 1842.)
(fn27  Related by the lady of Ex-Governor Lewis E. Parsons, of Alabama, who derived it from her mother, a daughter of Major Joseph McDowell, of Quaker Meadows.)
(fn28 Pension statements of William White of Lacey’s regiment, and William Alexander of Campbell’s men.)
(fn29 Lieutenant Newell’s statement, 1823.)
(fn30 Allaire’s MS. Diary. Capt. Halt may possibly be designed for Capt. Holt or Hall.)
(fn31 Allaire’s MS Diary, and his newspaper narrative.)
(fn32  MS. notes of conversation with John Spelts, an eye-witness.)
(fn33 Doctor Ramsey, in his History of Tennessee, states that the three Colonels visited Hillsboro. and there made out their report. Colonel Cleveland did not go there on that occasion, having been left in command at Bethabara. His name was signed to the report by himself, and not by another, as a comparison of his genuine autograph with the/Vs1mtlc signature to the report conclusively shows. Perhaps as a compliment, Colonel Cleveland was permitted to head the list, in signing the report, as shown in facsimile in Lossing s Field Book of the Revolution ; but when General Gates sent a copy, November I, 1780. to Governor Jefferson, to forward to Congress, he very properly placed Campbell’s name first, Shelby’s next, and Cleveland’s last—and so they appear as published in the gazettes at the time by order of Congress.)
(fn34 MS. order, preserved by General Preston.)
(fn35 Gordon’s American Revolution, iii, pp. 466-67.)
(fn36  MS. Deposition of Colonel Wm. Porter, 1814. kindly communicated by Hon. W. P. Bymim; MS. letters of Jonathan Hampton and Colonel J R. Logan, the latter giving the recollections of the venerable James Blanton. now eighty-two years of age. who was well acquainted with both Green and Langum; statements of Benjamin Biggerstaff and J. W. Green, furnished by W. L. Twitty. Some of the traditions represent Langum’s name as Lankford.)
(fn37Allaire’s MS Diary, and his newspaper narrative.)

Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of America from the Ancient Authors Part 1

The Non-Revisionist, Politically Incorrect History of the World: The Modern Part compiled from the Ancient Historians of the time.

I am giving you links to the books on the history of the world, that the Founder’s of the United States of America studied in their time. These are history books that were published in the mid-late 18th century, and were the most popular history books of that time period. There is ample evidence that the Founder’s of the United States studied these to aid them in gaining their perspectives of the world. I have divided the links into the different sections to make it easier for you, the reader to find the history that interests you.

NOTE: Remember when reading the Old English, the lowercase “F” in a lot of instances is equal to an “S”, example in the partial sentence “WE have feen, In the courfe”

It reads “WE have seen, In the course”

OR in this example “affuming the royal title of foltan only over their Seljuk fubjects, and their other conquefts : fo that, in order to fet forth the furprifing decline,”

It reads “assuming the royal title of Sultan only over their Seljuk subjects, and their other conquests : so that, in order to set forth the surprising decline,”

The Americas

The History of the AMERICAS.

INTRODUCTION.

Section 1: Containing a General Relation of the Voyages made by the Spaniards in search of America.

Section 2: Containing a further Account of the Discoveries made on the Continent, and of the Settlements in Castilla del Oro, The Isthmus of Darian [The Isthmus of Panama], which led the Way to the Discovery and Conquest of Mexico and Peru.

Section 3: Cortez sails from Cuba, touches at Cozumel, arrives in Mexico, and performs a Variety of Exploits.

Section 4: Containing the Progress of the Spaniards in the Conquest of Mexico, their Wars with the Inhabitants of Tlaxcala, and afterwards their firm Alliance with that Republic.

Section 5: Containing an Account of Montezuma’s Pomp, Wealth, Government, Power, and at last of his Imprisonment by Cortez, with divers other Particulars, which occurred in the Course of his Confinement.

Section 6: In which are recited the Strength of the Armament fitted out by Velaquez, its Object, the Proposals of Accommodation made by Cortez, the Attempts made to reduce the Colony of Vera Cruz, the Defeat of the Spaniards under Narvaez, the Mexican revolt, and Cortez’s return to the Capital.

Section 7: In which Cortez invades Mexico a Second Time, is defeated by the Mexicans, lays Siege to Mexico, and reduces that Capital, and the rest of the Empire.

Section 8: Containing the First Discovery of Peru; and the Progress of the Conquest of that Kingdom.

Section 9: Containing a Relation of the War between the Spaniards and Peruvians; the Divisions among the Spaniards, and Rivalship of Pizarro and Almagro; the Seizure, Condemnation, and Execution of the latter; the Assassination of the former, and Sundry other Particulars.

Section 10: In which we give a Succinct Relation of the Wars in Chili, and the Several Rebellions raised in Peru, either by the Tyranny of the Governors, or the Ambition of the Spanish Planters.

Section 10: Containing a Relation of the Rebellions of Sebastion Godinez and Giron, with other Transactions.

Section 11: In which the Reader will meet with and Account of the Origin, Kings, Laws, Religion, Learning, & c. of the ancient Mexicans.

Section 12: Containing the History of the Incas, and the Religion, Government, Customs, and Manners, of the ancient Peruvians.

Section 13: Containing a general view of all the Spanish and Portuguese Settlements on the continent of America, and more particularly of California, New Mexico, Florida, and Mexico Proper, or New Spain.

Section 14: Containing a Short description and account of the present State of Terra Firma, called also the New or Golden Castile; and of Peru and Chili, Buenos Ayres, Paraguay, Brazil, & c. In which the commodities and curiosities of each province are specified.

Section 15: Containing a description of the Terra Magellanica, Brazil, the country of the Amazons, and the European Settlements in Guiana, which is all that remains undescribed of the southern coast of the peninsula.

Section 16: Containing a history of the first establishment and progress of the British Settlements in North America. Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, or New Scotland, New England, New York, New Jersey, Canada, Canada (Continued); Louisiana, Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Hudson’s Bay,

Section 13: Containing the History of the British and other Islands in the American West Indies.

Chapter 1; The History of Barbados; Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, The Grenadillas, or Grenadine Islands, Martinico, Guadaloupe, and the other French Caribbees [Caribbean], The other English Caribbean Islands, Montserrat, Tobago, The Bahama Islands, The Bermudas, or Summer Islands, Cuba, Hispaniola, or St. Domingo, Trinidado, Margarita, Porto-Rico, and the other Spanish islands in America, Sequel to the History of Virginia,

October 7, 1780 Battle of King’s Mountain

A little family history:

The Battle of King’s Mountain has a very special place in history for me and my family. My father’s mother who was a King, her 4th Great Grandfather King owned King’s Mountain and it was named after her family. Another figure in the battle was Col/Gen William Campbell, who is/was a cousin. The King’s fought in the battle and many of them were in the Revolution as many of our family were, they fought bravely and honorably to further the cause of freedom in America. I am humbled, proud, and honored to have such men in my heritage. They inspire me and at the same time humble me with their bravery, sacrifice and perseverance, I can never do enough when I measure myself against them! I hope that I honor them, in the same way they honored all of us, in the creation of this Great Nation, that we all love, the United States of America!

See also History of the Battle of King’s Mountain and it’s Heroes: Part I 1765 to May, 1780
History of the Battle of King’s Mountain and it’s Heroes: Part XV October-November, 1780
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of the World With Biblical References Part 1

The King family as one single family with it’s roots in Britain from what I have seen in doing genealogy seem to have played a great role in the founding of this Nation. I have done genealogy for one person who did not have a King from that line in their family. Different ones from that family came at different times in early America, they were spread out all up and down the eastern states. The first being Captain William King and his son John, both ships Captains, came in 1609 with my dad’s father’s 7th Great Grandfather, Captain James Davies/Davis. Those King’s did not stay in America at that time. Captain William King who was Rear Admiral at the time perished with his ship and all but one crew member on the way back to England as they were approaching the entry to the English Channel. Captain John, would return later to make a place for himself and his offspring.

God bless America! America thank God!

Overview:
Date: October 7, 1780
Location: King’s Mountain, South Carolina/North Carolina border
Victors: Patriot Militia Colonel John Sevier, Patriot Militia Colonel Isaac Shelby, Overmountain Men
Defeated: British Major Patrick Ferguson

Many historians consider the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780 to be the turning point in America’s War for Independence. The victory of rebelling American Patriots over British Loyalist troops completely destroyed the left wing of Cornwallis’ army. This decisive battle successfully ended the British invasion into North Carolina and forced Lord Cornwallis to retreat from Charlotte into South Carolina to wait for reinforcements. This triumphant victory of the Overmountain Men allowed General Nathanael Greene the opportunity to reorganize the American Army.

Summary:
Following the defeats of Maj. General Benjamin Lincoln at Charleston in May and then Maj. General Horatio Gates at Camden, British Lt. General Charles Cornwallis appeared to now have a clear path all the way to Virginia. In September, General Cornwallis invaded North Carolina and ordered Major Patrick Ferguson to guard his left flank. Ferguson provoked the Mountain Men living in the area by sending out a threat.

The Over Mountain Men came out of the mountains and pursued Major Ferguson. Along the way, they were joined by Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina militia. They caught up with Ferguson at King’s Mountain. The seven Patriot colonels came up with a plan to approach Ferguson’s position from four directions. Ferguson and his men found the higher position impossible to defend as they were in the open and the Patriots had cover to protect them. Ferguson and his all Tory force was soon defeated, forcing General Cornwallis to retreat from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Background:
On July 25, 1780, Maj. General Horatio Gates arrived in North Carolina and took command of the Southern Department. On August 16, 1780, he was routed at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina by Lt. General Charles Cornwallis. The loss at Camden and Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton’s subsequent victory over Thomas Sumter’s militia at Fishing Creek on August 17th decimated the rebel resistance in the South.

General Cornwallis appeared to now have a clear path all the way to Virginia. In September, Cornwallis invaded North Carolina and ordered Major Patrick Ferguson to guard his left flank. On September 2, Ferguson left for the Western Carolinas with seventy of his American Volunteers and several hundred Tory militia. Ferguson arrived at Gilbert Town, North Carolina on September 7. When there on September 10, Major Ferguson paroled a captured rebel and sent him into the mountains with a message to the leaders there, “that if they did not desist from their opposition to the British arms, and take protection under his standard, he would march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay their country waste with fire and sword.” This threat proved to be his undoing.

The mountain men who lived in the Blue Ridge area were mostly isolated and kept to themselves, but a threat to their own moved them to action. A call to arms went out and they gathered at Sycamore Shoals. David Ramsey, in his history of South Carolina, written in 1808, said, “hitherto these mountaineers had only heard of war at a distance, and had been in peaceable possession of that independence for which their countrymen on the seacoast were contending. They embodied to check the invader of their own volition, without any requisition from the Governments of America or the officers of the Continental Army. Each man set out with a knapsack, blanket, and gun. All who could obtain horses were mounted, the remainder afoot. ”

On Sept. 25th, Colonels William Campbell, Charles McDowell, John Sevier and Isaac Shelby left Sycamore Shoals in pursuit of Ferguson. The thoroughfare of their mission followed the only roadway connecting the backwater country with the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge in North Carolina.

Leaving Sycamore Shoals, the column marched up Gap Creek to its headwaters in Gap Creek Mountain, and there turned eastward and then south, following around the base of Fork Mountain to Toe River, and on up that stream to one of its tributaries. Here the route continued in a southerly direction until the top of the mountain was reached, between Roan High Knob and Big Yellow Mountain. From the mountaintop, descent was made along Roaring Creek to the North Toe River. It is stated in the diary of Ensign Robert Campbell that “the mountains were crossed and descent to the other side was carted before camp was made for the night. Snow was encountered in the highlands, for an elevation of 5,500 feet was reached in this march. On the top of the mountain there was found a hundred acres of beautiful tableland, and the troops were paraded, doubtless for the purpose of seeing how they were standing the march, which was about 26 miles to this point”. Campbell’s diary states that the second night, that of the 27th, they rested at “Cathey’s” plantation. Draper places this at the junction of Grassy Creek and North Toe River. Tradition has it that on reaching Gillespie Gap the troops divided, one group including Campbell’s men, moving southward to Turkey Cove, the other going easterly to the North Cove on the North Fork of the Catawba. Ensign Campbell’s diary gives the information that the fourth night, the 29th, Campbell’s men rested at a rich “Tory’s”, near Turkey Cove.

The following day the men who had camped at North Cove marched southeast down Paddy Creek, while those from Turkey Cove marched southerly down the North Fork and then hastily down the Catawba near the mouth of Paddy Creek. They continued down the Catawba to Quaker Meadows, the home place of the McDowells, and promptly made camp. During the five days that had elapsed since leaving Sycamore Flats, about 80 miles had been covered. On September 30th, Colonel Cleveland joined the marching column of 1,040 men at Quaker Meadow with the men from Wilkes County and Major Winston with the men from Surry County. An additional 30 Georgians, under the command of William Candler, joined the Patriot force at Gilberts Town, making for a combined strength of approximately 1,400 men.

The seven Colonels chose Col. William Campbell to act as overall commander. The Overmountain Men moved south in search of Major Patrick Ferguson. From the Rebel spy Joseph Kerr, they learned that Ferguson was thirty miles to the north, camped at Kings Mountain. It is said that Isaac Shelby was especially delighted to learn that Ferguson was quoted as saying, “He was on King’s Mountain, that he was King of that mountain and that God Almighty and all the Rebels of Hell could not drive him from it.” Shelby was very familiar with the Kings Mountain region and knew that it could prove to be an almost impossible position to defend.

The Colonels wanted to catch up with Ferguson before he reached Charlotte and Lt. General Charles Cornwallis’ protection, so they chose 900 of the best men and quickly made their way north. The combined force of Overmountain Men arrived at Kings Mountain the afternoon of October 7, 1780.

Having little insight into the methods and philosophies of warfare of the southern frontiersmen, Ferguson had chosen the position feeling no enemy could fire upon him without showing themselves. The Patriot force decided to surround the mountain and use continuous fire to slowly close in like an unavoidable noose.

The Battle:

When the Whig patriots came near the mountain they halted, dismounted, fastened their loose baggage to their saddles, tied their horses and left them under charge of a few men detailed for the purpose, and then prepared for an immediate attack. . . . The army was divided into two wings. The right center and right flank columns, numbering together 440, were under the direction of Colonel Cleveland.

‘This selection is published by the kind permission of the Macmlllan Company, New York.

The two wings were thus very nearly equal in strength. The plan of battle was that the two wings should approach upon opposite sides of the mountain and thus encompass the enemy. Cleveland’s and Sevier’s columns united at the northeast end of the ridge, Campbell’s and Shelby’s closing together at the southwest.

Before taking up the line of march, Campbell and the leading officers appealed to their soldiers, to the highest instincts of their natures, by all that was patriotic and noble among men, to fight like heroes, and give not an inch of ground save only from the sheerest necessity, and then only to retrace and recover their lost ground at the earliest possible moment; Campbell personally visited all the corps and said to Cleveland’s men, as he did to all, that if any of them, men or officers, were afraid, he advised them to quit the ranks and go home; that he wished no man to engage in the action who could not fight; that as for himself, he was determined to fight the enemy a week, if need be, to gain the victory. Colonel Campbell also gave the necessary orders to all the principal officers, and repeated them so as to be heard by a large portion of the line, and then placed himself at the head of his own regiment, as the other officers did at the head of their respective commands. Many of the men threw aside their hats, tying handkerchiefs around their heads so as to be less likely to be retarded by limbs and bushes when dashing up the mountain. . . . From the nature of the ground and thick intervening foliage of the trees, the Whigs were not discovered by Ferguson till within a quarter of a mile, when his drums beat to arms, and his shrill whistle, with which he was wont to summon his men to battle and inspire them with his own courage, was heard everywhere over the mountain.

The right and left wings had been cautioned that the action was not to be commenced until the centre columns were ready for the attack. These were to give the signal by raising a frontier warwhoop, after the manner of the Indians, and then to rush forward to the attack. Upon hearing the battle shout and the reports of the rifles, the right and left wings were to join in the affray. The first firing was made by the enemy upon Shelby’s column before they were in position to engage in the action. It was galling in its effect, and not a little annoying to the mountaineers, some of whom in their impatience complained that it would never do to be shot down without returning the fire; but Shelby restrained them. “Press on to your places,” he said, “and then your fire will not be lost.”

Before Shelby’s men could gain their position, Colonel Campbell had thrown off his coat; and, while leading his men to the attack, he exclaimed at the top of his voice, “Here they are, my brave boys; Shout like h—I, and fight like devils!” The woods immediately resounded with the shouts of the line, in which they were heartily joined, first by Shelby’s corps, and then the cry was caught up and ran along the two wings. Draper relates that when Captain de Peyster heard these almost deafening yells,—the same he too well remembered hearing from Shelby at Musgrove’s Mills,—he remarked to Ferguson, “These things are ominous; these are the d—d yelling boys!” Ferguson was himself dismayed when he heard them.

The part of the mountain where Campbell’s men ascended to attack was rough and craggy, the most difficult of ascent of any part of the ridge; but these resolute mountaineers permitted no obstacle to prevent their advance, creeping up the acclivity little by little, from tree to tree, till they were nearly at the top. The Virginians thus securing the summit of the hill, the battle became general. None of the Whigs were longer under the restraint of military discipline; some were on horseback, some were on foot; some behind trees, others exposed; but all were animated with enthusiasm. The Virginians were the first against whom Ferguson ordered a charge of the bayonets by his Rangers and a part of his Loyalists. Some of them obstinately stood their ground till a few were thrust through the body; but without bayonets themselves, with only their rifles to withstand such a charge, the Virginians broke and fled down the mountain. They were soon rallied, however, by their gallant commander and some of his more active officers, and by a constant and welldirected fire of their rifles they in turn drove back Ferguson’s men, and again reached the summit of the mountain. The mountain was covered with flame and smoke, and seemed to thunder. The shouts of the mountaineers, the noise of hundreds of rifles and muskets, the loud commands and encouraging words of the officers, with every now and then the shrill screech of Ferguson’s silver whistle high above the din and confusion of the battle, intermingled with the groans of the wounded in every part of the line, is described as combining to convey the idea of another pandemonium. .

But at length the two wings of the mountaineers so pressed the enemy on both sides that Ferguson’s men had ample employment all around the eminence without being able to repair to each other’s relief. The Provincial Rangers and the Loyalists, though led by the brave De Peyster, began to grow weary and discouraged, steadily decreasing in numbers and making no permanent impression upon their tireless opponents. From the southwestern portion of the ridge the Rangers and Tories began to give way, and were doggedly driven by Campbell’s, Shelby’s and Sevier’s men, and perhaps others intermingled with them.

Ferguson, by this time, had been wounded in the hand, but he was still in the heat of the battle, and with characteristic coolness and daring he ordered De Peyster to reenforce a position about one hundred yards distant; but before they reached it they were thinned too much by the Whig rifles to render any effectual support. He then ordered his cavalry to mount, with the intention of making a desperate onset at their head. But these only presented a better mark for the rifle, and fell as fast as they could mount their horses. He rode from end to end of his line, encouraging his men to prolong the conflict, and with his silver whistle in his wounded hand, with desperate courage he passed from one exposed point to another of equal danger. But the Whigs were gradually compressing his men, and the Tories began to show signs of yielding. They raised a flag in token of surrender. Ferguson rode up and cut it down. A second flag was raised at the other end of the line. He rode there, too, and cut it down with his sword. Captain De Peyster, his second in command, convinced from the first of the utter futility of resistance upon the position at King’s Mountain selected by Ferguson, as soon as he became satisfied that Ferguson would not abandon it and attempt to make his way to the relief for

which he had sent to Cornwallis, had the courage to advise a surrender; but Ferguson’s proud spirit could not deign to give up to raw and undisciplined militia. When the second flag was cut down De Peyster renewed his advice, but Ferguson declared that he would never surrender to such a d—d set of banditti as the mountain men. At length, satisfied that all was lost, and firmly resolving not to fall into the hands of the despised Backwater men, Ferguson with a few chosen friends made a desperate attempt to break through the Whig lines on the southeastern side of the mountain and escape. With his sword in his left hand, he made a bold dash for freedom, cutting and slashing until he broke it. Colonel Vesey Husbands, a North Carolina Loyalist, and Major Plummer of South Carolina joined Ferguson and charged on a part of the line they thought was vulnerable. They all fell and perished in the effort.

Captain De Peyster, who had succeeded Ferguson in command, perceiving that further struggle was in vain, raised the white flag and asked for quarter. A general cessation of the American fire followed; but this cessation was not complete. Many Patriots remembered that the notorious “Tarleton” had mowed down Patriot troops at Waxhaws despite the fact they were trying to surrender. With cries of ‘Remember Waxhaws’ and ‘Buford’s Quarter’ spurring some men to continue for a time, eventually, the fighting at Kings Mountain diminished.

The Aftermath:

The battle had lasted a little over an hour and not a single man of Ferguson’s force escaped. Though the number of casualties reported varies from source to source, some of the most commonly reported figures are that 225 Loyalists had been killed, 163 wounded and 716 were captured, while only 28 Patriots were killed, including Colonel James Williams, and 68 wounded. When General Cornwallis learned of Major Patrick Ferguson’s defeat, he retreated from Charlotte, North Carolina back to Winnsborough, South Carolina.

Historians agree that the Battle of Kings Mountain was the “beginning of the end” of British rule in its former colonies. In less than one hour of battle, the Overmountain Men not only captured the day but also undermined the British strategy for keeping America under its control. A defeat so crushing as that suffered by Major Patrick Ferguson is rare in any war. Although skewed, his position on Kings Mountain was thoughtfully selected using much experience and consideration. The plateau of the mountain was just large enough to serve as a battleground for his command and to provide space for his camp and wagon train. Water was near and plentiful. The slopes of the mountain would hinder the advance of the attackers. When attacked he expected that any retreat would be rendered perilous by flanking or encircling detachments, a condition he desired as his militia would be put to the task to stand and fight instead of having the choice to flee. From Patrick Ferguson’s point of view, a better position on which to take a stand could not have been found.

It can be assumed without a shred of doubt that Patrick Ferguson utterly underestimated the courage of the mountain men. Their apparent advantage in numbers did not discourage him from offering battle; otherwise he would have continued his march on October 7th in the direction of Charlotte and Cornwallis. But had he known that these Overmountain Men would so aggressively stand and fight with a fierceness and conviction never before experienced in his southern campaign, I’m sure he would have been much more cautious and considerably less heroic.

Narrative of the Battle of King’s Mountain:

by Robert Campbell, October 1780, South Carolina

“In the fall of the year 1780, when the American cause wore a very gloomy aspect in the Southern States, Cols. Arthur and William Campbell, hearing of the advance of Colonel Ferguson along the mountains in the State of North Carolina, and that the Whigs were retreating before him, unable to make any effectual resistance, formed a plan to intercept him, and communicated it to the commanding officers of Sullivan and Washington Counties, in the State of North Carolina. They readily agreed to co-operate in any expedition against Col. Ferguson. Col. Arthur Campbell immediately ordered the militia of Washington Co., Virginia, amounting to near four hundred, to make ready to march under command of Col. Wm. Campbell, who was known to be an enterprising and active officer. Cols. Shelby and Sevier raised a party of three hundred, joined him on his march, and moved with forced marches toward Col. Ferguson. At the same time Cols. Williams, Cleveland, Lacey, and Brandon, of the States of North and South Carolina, each conducted a small party toward the same point, amounting to near three hundred. Col. Ferguson had notice of their approach by a deserter that left the army on the Yellow Mountain, and immediately commenced his march for Charlotte, dispatching at the same time different messengers to Lord Cornwallis with information of his danger. These messengers being intercepted on their way, no movement was made to favor his retreat.

These several corps of American volunteers, amounting to near one thousand men, met at Gilbert Town, and the officers unanimously chose Colonel Campbell to the command. About seven hundred choice riflemen mounted their horses for the purpose of following the retreating army. The balance being chiefly footmen, were left to follow on and come up as soon as they could. The pursuit was too rapid to render an escape. practicable. Ferguson, finding that he must inevitably be over-taken, chose his ground, and waited for the attack on King’s Mountain. On the 7th of October, in the afternoon, after a forced march of forty-five miles on that day and the night before; the volunteers came up with him. The forenoon of the day was wet, but they were fortunate enough to come on him undiscovered, and took his pickets, they not having it in their power to give an alarm. They were soon formed in such order as to attack the enemy on all sides. The Washington and Sullivan regiments were formed in the front and on the right flank; the North and South Carolina troops, under Cols. Williams, Sevier, Cleveland, Lacey, and Brandon, on the left. The two armies being in full view, the center of the one nearly opposite the center of the other-the British main guard posted nearly half way down the mountain-the commanding officer gave the word of command to raise the Indian war-whoop and charge. In a moment, King’s Mountain resounded with their shouts, and on the first fire the guard retreated, leaving some of their men to crimson the earth. The British beat to arms, and immediately formed on the top of the mountain, behind a chain of rocks that appeared impregnable, and had their wagons drawn up on their flank across the end of the mountain, by which they made a strong breast-work.

Thus concealed, the American army advanced to the charge. In ten or fifteen minutes the wings came round, and the action became general. The enemy annoyed our troops very much from their advantageous position. Col. Shelby, being previously ordered to reconnoitre their position, observing their situation, and what a destructive fire was kept up from behind those rocks, ordered Robert Campbell, one of the officers of the Virginia Line, to move to the right with a small company to endeavor to dislodge them, and lead them on. nearly to the ground to which he had ordered them, under fire of the enemy’s lines and within forty steps of the same; but discovering that our men were repulsed on the other side of the mountain, he gave orders to advance, and post themselves opposite to the rocks, and near to the enemy, and then returned to assist in bringing up the men in order, who had been charged with the bayonet. These orders were punctually obeyed, and they kept up such a galling fire as to compel Ferguson to order a company of regulars to fact them, with a view to cover his men that were posted behind the rocks. At this time, a considerable fire was drawn to this side of the mountain by the repulse of those on the other, and the Loyalists not being permitted to leave their posts. This scene was not of long duration, for it was the brave Virginia volunteers, and those under Col. Shelby, on their attempting rapidly to ascend the mountain, that were charged with the bayonet. They obstinately stood until some of them were thrust through the body, and having nothing but their rifle, by which to defend themselves, they were forced to retreat. They were soon rallied by their gallant commanders, Campbell, Shelby and other brave officers, and by a constant and well-directed fire of their rifles, drove them back in id-lei I turn, strewing the face of the mountain with their assailant: and kept advancing until they drove them from some of their posts.

Ferguson being heavily pressed on all sides, ordered Capt. DePeyster to reinforce some of the extreme posts with a full company of British regulars. He marched, but to his astonishment when he arrived at the place of destination, he had almost no men, being exposed in that short distance to the constant fire of their rifles. He then ordered his cavalry to mount, but to no purpose. As quick as they were mounted, they were taken down by some bold marksmen. Being driven to desperation by such a scene of misfortune, Col. Ferguson endeavored to make his escape, and, with two Colonels of the Loyalists, mounted his horse, and charged on that part of the line which was defended by the party who had been ordered round the mountain by Col. Shelby, it appearing too weak to resist them. But as soon as he got to the line he fell, and the other two officers, attempting to retreat, soon shared the same fate. It was about this time that Col. Campbell advanced in front of his men, and climbed over a steep rock close by the enemy’s lines, to get a view of their situation, and saw they were retreating from behind the rocks that were near to him. As soon as Capt. DePeyster observed that Col. Ferguson was killed, he raised a flag and called for quarters. It was soon taken out of his hand by one of the officers on horseback, and raised so high that it could be seen by our line, and the firing immediately ceased. The Loyalists, at the time of their surrender, were driven into a crowd, and being closely surrounded, they could not have made any further resistance.

In this sharp action, one hundred and fifty of Col. Ferguson’s party were killed, and something over that number were wounded. Eight hundred and ten, of whom one hundred were British regulars, surrendered themselves prisoners, and one thousand five hundred stand of arms were taken. The loss of the American army on this occasion amounted to thirty killed, and something over fifty wounded, among whom were a number of brave officers. Col. Williams, who has been so much lamented, was shot through the body, near the close of the action, in making an attempt to charge upon Ferguson. He lived long enough to hear of the surrender of the British army. He then said, “I die contented, since we have gained the victory,” and expired.

The third night after the action, the officers of the Carolinas complained to Col. Campbell, that there were among the prisoners a number who had, previous to the action on King’s Mountain, committed cool and deliberate murder, and other enormities alike atrocious, and requested him to order a court-martial to examine into the matter. They stated that if they should escape, they were exasperated, and they feared they would commit other enormities worse than they had formerly done. Col. Campbell complied, and ordered a court-martial immediately to sit, composed of the Field Officers and Captains, who were ordered to inquire into the complaints which had been made. The court was conducted orderly, and witnesses were called and examined in each case. The consequence was that there were thirty-two condemned. Out of these, nine who were thought the most dangerous, and who had committed the most atrocious crimes, were executed. The others were pardoned by the commanding officer. One of the crimes proven against a Captain that was executed was, that he had called at the house of a Whig, and inquired if he was at home, and being informed by his son, a small boy, that he was not, he immediately drew out his pistol and shot him. The officers on the occasion acted from an honorable motive to do the greatest good in their power for the public service, and to check those enormities so frequently committed in the States of North and South Carolina at that time, their distress being almost unequaled in the annals of the American Revolution.”

Martin Gambill’s Ride:

First, to set the stage, let me explain a bit about the times.  Militias existed in many areas.  These Militias worked in concert with the Continental Forces commanded by General Washington and others.  These forces were the “home guard” much like the National Guard of our times.  According to what I have read, the British General Cornwallis had much of his army near present day Charlotte, NC.  He wanted to move North to either flank, or come behind Washington’s Continental Troops, who were not having much success battling Clinton’s forces in New York.  He was somewhat afraid of the mountain Militias who could be a real thorn in his side once he began his northward march.  Cornwallis selected a Major Patrick Ferguson to neutralize this threat from the mountain Militias.  The mountain Militia leaders were expecting Ferguson, and had devised an early warning system.  Brush piles were made on key, higher mountain tops.  If Ferguson was seen moving west, fires would be lit to warn of his advance.  It just so happens that Colonel Shelby from Tennesse had called many of the militia leaders to a meeting at the home of Colonel John Sevier (later an organizer and governor of the state of Franklin in NE Tennesse) near present day Boone, NC.  As the meeting was in progress, the leaders saw the signal fires lit on distant peaks.  Ferguson had begun his march.  Several of the Virginia leaders were not present. (Captain Enoch Osborn, and Colonel Campbell to name two)  In a day with no phone or telegraph, and very poor roads, it was necessary for a rider to be dispatched to warn the Virginia Militia leaders.  Martin Gambill volunteered  for this duty.  In 24 hours he rode over 100 miles of poor trails, crossed rivers and creeks, and lost at least 3 horses to exhaustion.  He lost one horse as he crossed the New River where Captain Enoch Osborn was plowing a field.  Captain Osborn sent the exhausted rider up to the house for breakfast, while he removed Martin’s saddle and placed it on one of the plow horses.  Martin continued up the New River to the Mouth of the Fox Creek, which he followed upstream, and through Comer’s Gap eventually to the Holston River, and downstream to Colonel Campbell.  Martin’s remarkable ride enabled the Militias to meet in 7 days at Sycamore Shoals in Ashe County, NC.