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

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

DanielWebsterQuotesHistory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is in these words:

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

Extract from the minutes. Charles Thomson,

Secretary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fourth of July Oration by Daniel Webster

Feagle.with.flagellow-citizens,—It is at the season when nature hath assumed her loveliest apparel that the American people assemble in their several temples to celebrate the birthday of their nation. Arrayed in all the beauties of the year, the Fourth of July once more visits us. Green fields and a ripening harvest proclaim it, a bright sun cheers it, and the hearts of freemen bid it welcome. Illustrious spectacle! Six millions of people this day surround their altars, and unite in an address to Heaven for the preservation of their rights. Every rank and every age imbibes the general spirit. From the lisping inhabitant of the cradle to the aged warrior whose gray hairs are fast sinking in the western horizon of life, every voice is, this day, tuned to the accents of Liberty! Washington! My Country!

Festivals established by the world have been numerous. The coronation of a king, the birth of a prince, the marriage of a princess, have often called wondering crowds together. Cities and nations agree to celebrate the event which raises one mortal man above their heads, and beings called men stand astonished and aghast while the pageantry of a monarch or the jeweled grandeur of a queen poses before them. Such a festival, however, as the Fourth of July is to America, is not found in history; a festival designed for solemn reflection on the great events that have happened to us; a festival in which freedom receives a nation’s homage, and Heaven is greeted with incense from ten thousand hearts.

In the present situation of our country, it is, my respected fellow-citizens, matter of high joy and congratulation that there is one day in the year on which men of different principles and different opinions can associate together. The Fourth of July is not an occasion to compass sea and land to make proselytes. The good sense and the good nature which yet remain among us will, we trust, prevail on this day, and be sufficient to chain, at least for a season, that untamed monster, Party Spirit—and would to God that it might be chained forever, that, as we have but one interest, we might have but one heart and one mind!

You have hitherto, fellow-citizens, on occasions of this kind, been entertained with the discussion of national questions; with inquiries into the true principles of government; with recapitulations of the War; with speculations on the causes of our Revolution, and on its consequences to ourselves and to the world. Leaving these subjects, it shall be the ambition of the speaker of this day to present such a view of your Constitution and your Union as shall convince you that you have nothing to hope from a change.

This age has been correctly denominated an age of experiments. Innovation is the idol of the times. The human mind seems to have burst its ancient limits, and to be traveling over the face of the material and intellectual creation in search of improvement. The world hath become like a fickle lover, in whom every new face inspires a new passion. In this rage for novelty many things are made better, and many things are made worse. Old errors are discarded, and new errors are embraced. Governments feel the same effects from this spirit as everything else. Some, like our own, grow into beauty and excellence, while others sink still deeper into deformity and wretchedness. The experience of all ages will bear us out in saying, that alterations of political systems are always attended with a greater or less degree of danger. They ought, therefore, never to be undertaken, unless the evil complained of be really felt and the prospect of a remedy clearly seen. The politician that undertakes to improve a Constitution with as little thought as a farmer sets about mending his plow, is no master of his trade. If that Constitution be a systematic one, if it be a free one, its parts are so necessarily connected that an alteration in one will work an alteration in all; and this cobbler, however pure and honest his intentions, will, in the end, find that what came to his hands a fair and lovely fabric goes from them a miserable piece of patchwork.

Nor are great and striking alterations alone to be shunned. A succession of small changes, a perpetual tampering with minute parts, steal away the breath though they leave the body; for it is true that a government may lose all its real character, its genius and its temper, without losing its appearance. You may have a despotism under the name of a republic. You may look on a government and see it possess all the external essential modes of freedom, and yet see nothing of the essence, the vitality, of freedom in it: just as you may behold Washington or Franklin in wax-work; the form is perfect, but the spirit, the life, is not there.

The first thing to be said in favor of our system of government is that it is truly and genuinely free, and the man has a base and slavish heart that will call any government good that is not free. If there be, at this day, any advocate for arbitrary power, we wish him the happiness of living under a government of his choice. If he is in love with chains, we would not deny him the gratification of his passion. Despotism is the point where everything bad centers, and from which everything good departs. As far as a government is distant from this point, so far it is good; in proportion as it approaches towards this, in the same proportion it is detestable. In all other forms there is something tolerable to be found; in despotism there is nothing. Other systems have some amiable features, some right principles, mingled with their errors; despotism is all error. It is a dark and cheerless void, over which the eye wanders in vain in search of anything lovely or attractive.

The true definition of despotism is government without law. It may exist, therefore, in the hands of many as well as of one. Rebellions arc despotisms; factions are despotisms; loose democracies are despotisms. These are a thousand times more dreadful than the concentration of all power in the hands of a single tyrant. The despotism of one man is like the thunderbolt, which falls here and there, scorching and consuming the individual on whom it lights; but popular commotion, the despotism of a mob, is an earthquake, which in one moment swallows up everything. It is the excellence of our government that it is placed in a proper medium between these two extremes, that it is equally distant from mobs and from thrones.

In the next place our government is good because it is practical. It is not the sick offspring of closet philosophy. It did not rise, vaporous and evanescent, from the brains of Rousseau and Godwin, like a mist from the ocean. It is the production of men of business, of experience, and of wisdom. It is suited to what man is, and what it is in the power of good laws to make him. Its object—the just object of all governments—is to secure and protect the weak against the strong, to unite the force of the whole community against the violence of oppressors. Its power is the power of the nation; its will is the will of the people. It is not an awkward, unshapely machine which the people cannot use when they have made it, nor is it so dark and complicated that it is the labor of one’s life to investigate and understand it. All are capable of comprehending its principles and its operations. It admits, too, of a change of men and of measures. At the will of a majority, we have seen the government of the nation pass from the hands of one description of men into those of another. Of the comparative merits of those different men, of their honesty, their talents, their patriotism, we have here nothing to say. That subject we leave to be decided before the impartial tribunal of posterity. The fact of a change of rulers, however, proves that the government is manageable, that it can in all cases be made to comply with the public will. It is, too, an equal government. It rejects principalities and powers. It demolishes all the artificial distinctions which pride and ambition create. It is encumbered with no lazy load of hereditary aristocracy. It clothes no one with the attributes of God; it sinks no one to a level with brutes: yet it admits those distinctions in society which are natural and necessary. The correct expression of our Bill of Rights is that men are born equal. It then rests with themselves to maintain their equality by their worth. The illustrious framers of our system, in all the sternness of republicanism, rejected all nobility but the nobility of talents, all majority but the majority of virtue.

WashingtonDelawareLastly, the government is one of our choice; not dictated to us by an imperious Chief Consul, like the governments of Holland and Switzerland; not taught us by the philosophers, nor graciously brought to us on the bayonets of our magnanimous Bister republic on the other side the ocean. It was framed by our fathers for themselves and for their children. Far the greater portion of mankind submit to usurped authority, and pay humble obedience to self-created law-givers; not that obedience of the heart which a good citizen will yield to good laws, but the obedience which a harnessed horse pays his driver, an obedience begotten by correction and stripes.

The American Constitution is the purchase of American valor. It is the rich prize that rewards the toil of eight years of war and of blood: and what is all the pomp of military glory what are victories, what are armies subdued, fleets captured, colors taken, unless they end in the establishment of wise laws and national happiness? Our Revolution is not made renowned for the brilliancy of its scenes than for the benefit of its consequences. The Constitution is the great memorial of the deeds of our ancestors. On the pillars and on the arches of that dome their names are written and their achievements recorded. While that lasts, while a single page or a single article can be found, it will carry down the record to future ages. It will teach mankind that glory, empty, tinkling glory, was not the object for which Americans fought. Great Britain had carried the fame of her arms far and wide. She had humbled France and Spain; she had reached her arm across the Eastern Continent, and given laws on the banks of the Ganges. A few scattered colonists did not rise up to contend with such a nation for mere renown. They had a nobler object, and in pursuit of that object they manifested a courage, constancy, and union, that deserve to be celebrated by poets and historians while language lasts.

The valor of America was not a transient, glimmering ray shot forth from the impulse of momentary resentment. Against unjust and arbitrary laws she rose with determined, unalterable spirit. Like the rising sun, clouds and mists hung around her, but her course, like his, brightened as she proceeded. Valor, however, displayed in combat, is a less remarkable trait in the character of our countrymen than the wisdom manifested when the combat was over. All countries and all ages produce warriors, but rare are the instances in which men sit down coolly at the close of their labors to enjoy the fruits of them. Having destroyed one despotism, nations generally create another; having rejected the dominion of one tyrant, they make another for themselves. England beheaded her Charles, but crowned her Cromwell. France guillotined her Louises, but obeys her Bonapartes. Thanks to God, neither foreign nor domestic usurpation flourishes on our soil!

Having thus, fellow-citizens, surveyed the principal features of our excellent Constitution and paid an inadequate tribute to the wisdom which produced it, let us consider seriously the means of its preservation. To perpetuate the government we must cherish the love of it. One chief pillar in the republican fabric is the spirit of patriotism. But patriotism hath, in these days, become a good deal questionable. It hath been so often counterfeited that even the genuine coin doth not pass without suspicion. If one proclaims himself a patriot, this uncharitable, misjudging world is pretty likely to set him down for a knave, and it is pretty likely to be right in this opinion. The rage for being patriots hath really so much of the ridiculous in it that it is difficult to treat it seriously. The preaching of politics hath become a trade, and there are many who leave all other trades to follow it. Benevolent, disinterested men! With Scriptural devotion they forsake houses and lands, father and mother, wife and children, and wander up and down the community to teach mankind that their rulers oppress them! About the time when it was fashionable in France to cut off men’s heads, as we lop away superfluous sprouts from, our apple-trees, the public attention was excited by a certain monkey, that had been taught to act the part of a patriot to great perfection. If you pointed at him, says the historian, and called him an aristocrat or a monarchist, he would fly at you with great rage and violence; but, if you would do him the justice to call him a good patriot, he manifested every mark of joy and satisfaction. But, though the whole French nation gazed at this animal as a miracle, he was, after all, no very strange sight. There are, in all countries, a great many monkeys who wish to be thought patriots, and a great many others who believe them such. But, because we are often deceived by appearances, let us not believe that the reality does not exist. If our faith is ever shaken, if the crowd of hypocritical demagogues lead us to doubt, we will remember Washington and be convinced; we will cast our eyes around us, on those who have toiled and fought and bled for their country, and we will be persuaded that there is such a thing as real patriotism, and that it is one of the purest and noblest sentiments that can warm the heart of man.

To preserve the government we must also preserve a correct and energetic tone of morals. After all that can be said, the truth is that liberty consists more in the habits of the people than in anything else. When the public mind becomes vitiated and depraved, every attempt to preserve it is vain. Laws are then a nullity, and Constitutions waste paper. There are always men wicked enough to go any length in the pursuit of power, if they can find others wicked enough to support them. They regard not paper and parchment. Can you stop the progress of a usurper by opposing to him the laws of his country? then you may check the careering winds or stay the lightning with a song. No. Ambitious men must be restrained by the public morality: when they rise up to do evil, they must find themselves standing alone. Morality rests on religion. If you destroy the foundation, the superstructure must fall. In a world of error, of temptation, of seduction; in a world where crimes often triumph, and virtue is scourged with scorpions,—in such a world, certainly, the hope of an hereafter is necessary to cheer and to animate. Leave us, then, the consolations of religion. Leave to man, to frail and feeble man, the comfort of knowing, that, when he gratifies his immortal soul with deeds of justice, of kindness, and of mercy, he is rescuing his happiness from final dissolution and laying it up in Heaven.

Benjamin Rush GospelOur duty as citizens is not a solitary one. It is connected with all the duties that belong to us as men. The civil, the social, the Christian virtues are requisite to render us worthy the continuation of that government which is the freest on earth. Yes, though the world should hear me, though I could fancy myself standing in the congregation of all nations, I would say: Americans, you are the most privileged people that the sun shines on. The salutary influences of your climate are inferior to the salutary influences of your laws. Your soil, rich to a proverb, is less rich than your Constitution. Your rivers, large as the oceans of the old world, are less copious than the streams of social happiness which flow around you. Your air is not purer than your civil liberty, and your hills, though high as heaven and deep as the foundations of the earth, are less exalted and less firmly founded than that benign and everlasting religion which blesses you and shall bless your offspring. Amidst these profuse blessings of nature and of Providence, Beware! Standing in this place, sacred to truth, I dare not undertake to assure you that your liberties and your happiness may not be lost. Men are subject to men’s misfortunes. If an angel should be winged from Heaven, on an errand of mercy to our country, the first accents that would glow on his lips would be, Beware! be cautious! you have everything to lose; you have nothing to gain. We live under the only government that ever existed which was framed by the unrestrained and deliberate consultations of the people. Miracles do not cluster. That which has happened but once in six thousand years cannot be expected to happen often. Such a government, once gone, might leave a void, to be filled, for ages, with revolution and tumult, riot and despotism. The history of the world is before us. It rises like an immense column, on which we may see inscribed the soundest maxims of political experience. These maxims should be treasured in our memories and written on our hearts. Man, in all countries,, resembles man. Wherever you find him, you find human nature in him and human frailties about him. He is, therefore,, a proper pupil for the school of experience. He should draw wisdom from the example of others,—encouragement from their success, caution from their misfortunes. Nations should diligently keep their eye on the nations that have gone before them. They should mark and avoid their errors, not travel on heedlessly in the path of danger and of death while the bones of their perished predecessors whiten around them. Our own times afford us lessons that admonish us both of our duty and our danger. We have seen mighty nations, miserable in their chains, more miserable when they attempted to shake them off. Tortured and distracted beneath the lash of servitude, we have seen them rise up in indignation to assert the rights of human nature; but, deceived by hypocrites, cajoled by demagogues, ruined by false patriots, overpowered by a resistless mixed multitude of knaves and fools, we have wept at the wretched end of all their labors. Tossed for ten years in the crazy dreams of revolutionary liberty, we have seen them at last awake, and, like the slave who slumbers on his oar and dreams of the happiness of his own blessed home, they awake to find themselves still in bondage. Let it not be thought that we advert to other nations to triumph in their sufferings or mock at their calamities. Would to God the whole earth enjoyed pure and rational liberty, that every realm that the human eye surveys or the human foot treads, were free! Wherever men soberly and prudently engage in the pursuit of this object, our prayers in their behalf shall ascend unto the Heavens and unto the ear of Him who filleth them. Be they powerful or be they weak, in such a cause they deserve success. Yes, “The poorest being that crawls on earth, contending to save itself from injustice and oppression, is an object respectable in the eyes of God and man.” Our purpose is only to draw lessons of prudence from the imprudence of others, to argue the necessity of virtue from the consequences of their vices.

Unhappy Europe! the judgment of God rests hard upon thee. Thy sufferings would deserve an angel’s pity, if an angel’s tears could wash away thy crimes! The Eastern Continent seems trembling on the brink of some great catastrophe. Convulsions shake and terrors alarm it. Ancient systems are falling; works reared by ages are crumbling into atoms. Let us humbly implore Heaven that the wide-spreading desolation may never reach the shores of our native land, but let us devoutly make up our minds to do our duty in events that may happen to us. Let us cherish genuine patriotism. In that, there is a sort of inspiration that gives strength and energy almost more than human. When the mind is attached to a great object, it grows to the magnitude of its undertaking. A true patriot, with his eye and his heart on the honor and happiness of his country, hath an elevation of soul that lifts him above the rank of ordinary men. To common occurrences he is indifferent. Personal considerations dwindle into nothing, in comparison with his high sense of public duty. In all the vicissitudes of fortune, he leans with pleasure on the protection of Providence and on the dignity and composure of his own mind. While his country enjoys peace, he rejoices and is thankful; and, if it be in the counsel of Heaven to send the storm and the tempest, his bosom proudly swells against the rage that assaults it. Above fear, above danger, he feels that the last end which can happen to any man never comes too soon, if he falls in defence of the laws and liberties of his country.

DANIEL WEBSTER AND OUR AMERICAN FLAG

American-Flag-Cross-1Daniel Webster saw the rising glory of our national government and the adoring admiration of the people of this free country for our national banner, the bright symbol of our liberties and our progress, and in a burst of loyal enthusiasm he exclaimed, “Let it rise! let it rise, till it meet the sun in his coming; let the earliest light of the morning gild it, and the parting day linger and play upon its summit.

flag_and_eagleSo let me say of the Banner of Brotherly love, which is the symbol of so much of hopefulness and cheer to the way-worn servants of the Lord who have done so much to promote the best interests of our country: “Let it rise.” Lift it up! let it float over our beloved Church, let the wayworn missionary from the Orient see its bright folds floating continually to give him a welcome home; let the self-denying missionary on our wide-extended home land see its shining glory as he lays down the sickle in the field of ripened grain, proclaiming to him, after having borne the burden and heat of the day, that there is sweet rest for the weary provided by a sympathizing host of friends; let the widow and the fatherless lift up their eyes and rejoice that a grateful people have hearts and hands open to supply their wants in the days of their dependent widowhood and childhood; and let the friends of humanity, the participants in the merits of the Redeemer’s death, the sharers in the blessings of this Christian land, raise that bright Banner of Brotherly-love higher, and still higher, as the Church of our fathers lengthens her cords and strengthens her stakes on the ever-increasing territory of the conquests of the world for our Emmanuel and Redeemer, and let it proclaim as it waves in heavenly grandeur that our Church is not ungrateful to her faithful servants, but that she will provide for them the comforts of an earthly home as long as God keeps them in the wilderness, awaiting his own time to translate them to the better land and to their rewards in glory.

My thoughts; obviously the government has grown into a state sponsor of religion, that religion being climate change and that faith being in the liberal, marxist, facist, socialist, progressive, ideology that regresses us back to the failed policies of the past where tyranny, oppression, serfdom and slavery reigned.

See also: THE DUTY AND VALUE OF PATRIOTISM by John Ireland 1894
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
THE AMERICAN FLAG! A Poem By Joseph Rodman Drake May 29, 1819
NO SLAVE BENEATH THE FLAG by George Lansing Taylor 1835-1903
OUR FLAG-THE PROUD EMBLEM OF THE REPUBLIC. by Gen. Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe July 4th 1876
OUR FLAG by Rev Henry H. Birkins July 4th 1876
TRUE FREEDOM! A Poem by James Russell Lowell 1819-1891
True American Patriotism Defined by Hon. Curtis Guild and H. F. Kinnerney 1876
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
SCORN TO BE SLAVES by Dr. Joseph Warren 1741-1775
 

Eulogy of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams by Daniel Webster

Renowned American statesman Daniel Webster was called to deliver a eulogy for Adams and Jefferson at Boston’s Fanueil Hall one month after their deaths.  They both died July 4th, 1826, the Year of Jubilee i.e. 50th Anniversary of Independence from Great Britain

JeffersonAdamsEULOGY ON ADAMS AND JEFFERSON.
DANIEL WEBSTER.
Faneuil Hall, Boston, August 2, 1826.

This is an unaccustomed spectacle. For the first time, fellow citizens, badges of mourning shroud the columns and overhang the arches of this hall. These walls, which were consecrated so long ago to the cause of American liberty, which witnessed her infant struggles, and rung with the shouts of her earliest victories, proclaim now that distinguished friends and champions of the great cause have fallen. It is right that it should be thus. The tears which flow, and the honors that are paid, when the founders of the republic die, give hope that the republic itself may be immortal. It is fit that by public assembly and solemn observance, by anthem and by eulogy, we commemorate the services of national benefactors, extol their virtues, and render thanks to God for eminent blessings, early given and long-continued, to our favored country.

Adams and Jefferson are no more; and we are assembled, fellow citizens—the aged, the middle-aged, and the young—by the spontaneous impulse of all, under the authority of the municipal government, with the presence of the chief magistrate of the commonwealth, and others its official representatives, the university, and the learned societies, to bear our part in those manifestations of respect and gratitude which universally pervade the land. Adams and Jefferson are no more. On our fiftieth anniversary, the great day of national jubilee, in the very hour of public rejoicing, in the midst of echoing and re-echoing voices of thanksgiving, while their own names were on all tongues, they took their flight together to the world of spirits.

If it be true that no one can safely be pronounced happy while he lives; if that event which terminates life can alone crown its honors and its glory, what felicity is here! The great epic of their lives, how happily concluded! Poetry itself has hardly closed illustrious lives and finished the career of earthly renown, by such a consummation. If we had the power we could not wish to reverse this dispensation of the Divine Providence. The great objects of life were accomplished; the drama was ready to be closed; it has closed; our patriots have fallen; but so fallen, at such age, with such coincidence, on such a day, that we cannot rationally lament that that end has come, which we knew could not be long deferred. Neither of these great men, fellow-citizens, could have died at any time without leaving an immense void in our American society. They have been so intimately, and for so long a time, blended with the history of the country, and especially so united, in our thoughts and recollections, with the events of the revolution, that the death of either would have touched the strings of public sympathy. We should have felt that one great link, connecting us with former times, was broken; that we had lost something more, as it were, of the presence of the revolution itself, and of the act of independence, and were driven on by another great remove from the days of our country’s early distinction to meet posterity and to mix with the future. Like the mariner, whom the ocean and the winds carry along till he sees the stars which have directed his course, and lighted his pathless way, descend one by one beneath the rising horizon; we should have felt that the stream of time had borne us onward, till another great luminary, whose light had cheered us, and whose guidance we had followed, had sunk away from our sight.

But the concurrence of their death, on the anniversary of independence, has naturally awakened stronger emotions. Both had been presidents; both had lived to great age; both were early patriots; and both were distinguished and even honored by their immediate agency in the act of independence. It cannot but seem striking and extraordinary that these two should live to see the fiftieth year from the date of that act; that they should complete that year; and that then, on the day which had fast linked forever their own fame with their country’s glory, the heavens should open to receive them both at once. As their lives themselves were the gifts of Providence, who is not willing to recognize in their happy termination, as well as in their long continuance, proofs that our country and its benefactors are objects of His care?

Adams and Jefferson, I have said, are no more. As human beings, indeed, they are no more. They are no more, as in 1776, bold and fearless advocates of independence: no more, as on subsequent periods, the head of the government; no more, as we have recently seen them, aged and venerable objects of admiration and regard. They are no more. They are dead. But how little is there of the great and good which can die! To their country they yet live, and live forever. They live in all that perpetuates the remembrance of men on earth; in the recorded proofs of their own great actions, in the offspring of their intellect, in the deep engraved lines of public gratitude, and in the respect and homage of mankind. They live in their example; and they live, emphatically, and will live in the influence which their lives and efforts, their principles and opinions, now exercise, and will continue to exercise, on the affairs of men, not only in their own country but throughout the civilized world. A superior and commanding human intellect, a truly great man, when Heaven vouchsafes so rare a gift, is not a temporary flame, burning bright for a while, and then expiring, giving place to returning darkness. It is rather a spark of fervent heat, as well as radiant light, with power to enkindle the common mass of human mind; so that when it glimmers, in its own decay, and finally goes out in death, no night follows, but it leaves the world all light, all on fire, from the potent contact of its own spirit. Bacon died; but the human understanding, roused by the touch of his miraculous wand, to a perception of the true philosophy, and the just mode of inquiring after truth, has kept on its course, successfully and gloriously. Newton died; yet the courses of the spheres are still known, and they yet move on in the orbits which he saw, and described for them, in the infinity of space.

No two men now live, fellow-citizens,—perhaps it may be doubted, whether any two men have ever lived in one age,—who, more than those we now commemorate, have impressed their own sentiments, in regard to politics and government, on mankind, infused their own opinions more deeply into the opinions of others, or given a more lasting direction to the current of human thought. Their work doth not perish with them. The tree which they assisted to plant, will flourish, although they water it and protect it no longer; for it has struck its roots deep; it has sent them to the very centre; no storm, not of force to burst the orb, can overturn it; its branches spread wide; they stretch their protecting arms broader and broader, and its top is destined to reach the heavens. We are not deceived. There is no delusion here. No age will come, in which the American revolution will appear less than it is, one of the greatest events in human history. No age will come, in which it will cease to be seen and felt, on either continent, that a mighty step, a great advance, not only in American affairs, but in human affairs, was made on the fourth of July, 1776. And no age will come, we trust, so ignorant or so unjust, as not to see and acknowledge the efficient agency of these we now honor, in producing that momentous event.

We are not assembled, therefore, fellow-citizens, as men overwhelmed with calamity by the sudden disruption of the ties of friendship or affection, or as in despair for the republic, by the untimely blighting of its hopes Death has not surprised us by an unseasonable blow. We have, indeed, seen the tomb close, but it has closed only over mature years, over long-protracted public service, over the weakness of age, and over life itself only when the ends of living had been fulfilled. These suns, as they rose slowly, and steadily, amidst clouds and storms, in their ascendant, so they have not rushed from their meridian to sink suddenly in the west. Like the mildness, the serenity, the continuing benignity of a summer’s day, they have gone down with slow descending, grateful, long-lingering light, and now that they are beyond the visible margin of the world, good omens cheer us from “the bright track of their fiery car.”

There were many points of similarity in the lives and fortunes of these great men. They belonged to the same profession, and had pursued its studies and its practice, for unequal lengths of time indeed, but with diligence and effect. Both were learned and able lawyers. They were natives and inhabitants, respectively, of those two of the colonies, which, at the revolution, were the largest and most powerful, and which naturally had a lead in the political affairs of the times. When the colonies became, in some degree, united, by the assertions; of a general congress, they were brought to act together, in its deliberations, not indeed at the same time, but both at early periods. Each had already manifested his attachment to the cause of the country, as well as his ability to maintain it, by printed addresses, public speeches, extensive correspondence, and whatever other mode could be adopted, for the purpose of exposing the encroachments of the British Parliament and animating the people to a manly resistance. Both were not only decided, but early friends of independence. While others yet doubted, they were resolved; while others hesitated, they pressed forward. They were both members of the committee for preparing

the Declaration of Independence, and they constituted the sub-committee, appointed by the other members to make the draught. They left their seats in Congress, being called to other public employments, at periods not remote from each other, although one of them returned to it, afterwards, for a short time. Neither of them was of the assembly of great men which formed the present constitution, and neither was at any time member of Congress under its provisions. Both have been public ministers abroad, both vice-presidents, and both presidents. These coincidences are now singularly crowned and completed. They have died together; and they died on the anniversary of liberty.

When many of us were last in this place, fellow-citizens, it was on the day of that anniversary. We were met to enjoy the festivities belonging to the occasion, and to manifest our grateful homage to our political fathers.

We did not, we could not here, forget our venerable neighbor of Quincy. We knew that we were standing, at a time of high and palmy prosperity, where he had stood in the hour of utmost peril; that we saw nothing but liberty and security, where he had met the frown of power; that we were enjoying every thing, where he had hazarded every thing; and just and sincere plaudits rose to his name, from the crowds which filled this area, and hung over these galleries. He whose grateful duty it was to speak to us, on that day, of the virtues of our fathers, had, indeed, admonished us that time and years were about to level his venerable frame with the dust. But he bade us hope, that the “sound of a nation’s joy, rushing from our cities, ringing from our valleys, echoing from our hills, might yet break the silence of his aged ear; that the rising blessings of grateful millions might yet visit, with glad light, his decaying vision.” Alas! that vision was then closing forever. Alas! the silence which was then settling on that aged ear, was an everlasting silence! For, lo! in the very moment of our festivities, his freed spirit ascended to God who gave it! Human aid and human solace terminate at the grave; or we would gladly have borne him upward, on a nation’s outspread hands; we would have accompanied him, and with the blessings of millions, and the prayers of millions, commended him to the divine favor.

While still indulging our thoughts on the coincidence of the death of this venerable man with the anniversary of independence, we learn that Jefferson, too, has fallen; and that these aged patriots, these: illustrious fellow-laborers, had left our world together. May not such events raise the suggestion that they are not undesigned, and that Heaven does so order things as sometimes to attract strongly the attention, and excite the thoughts of men? The occurrence has added new interest to our anniversary, and will be remembered in all time to come.

The occasion, fellow-citizens, requires some account of the lives and services of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. This duty must necessarily be performed with great brevity; and, in the discharge of it, I shall be obliged to confine myself, principally, to those parts of their history and character which belonged to them as public men.

John Adams was born at Quincy, then part of the ancient town of Braintree, on the i9th day of October (old style), 1735. He was a descendant of the Puritans, his ancestors having early emigrated from England and settled in Massachusetts. Discovering early a strong love of reading and of knowledge, together with marks of great strength and activity of mind, proper care was taken by his worthy father, to provide for his education. He pursued his youthful studies in Braintree, under Mr. Marsh, a teacher whose fortune it was that Josiah Quincy, Jr. as well as the subject of these remarks, should receive from him his instruction in the rudiments of classical literature. Having been admitted, in 1751, a member of Harvard college, Mr. Adams was graduated, in course, in 1755; and on the catalogue of that institution, his name, at the time of his death, was second among the living alumni, being preceded only by that of the venerable Holyoke. With what degree of reputation he left the university, is not now precisely known. We know only that he was distinguished, in a class which numbered Locke and Hemenway among its members. Choosing the law for his profession, he commenced and prosecuted his studies at Worcester, under the direction of Samuel Putnam, a gentleman whom he has himself described as an acute man, an able and learned lawyer, and as in large professional practice at that time. In 1758, he was admitted to the bar, and commenced business in Braintree. He is understood to have made his first considerable effort, or to have obtained his first signal success, at Plymouth, on one of those occasions which furnish the earliest opportunity for distinction to many young men of the profession, a jury trial, and a criminal cause. His business naturally grew with his reputation, and his residence in the vicinity afforded the opportunity, as his growing eminence gave the power, of entering on the larger field of practice which the capital presented. In 1766, he removed his residence to Boston, still continuing his attendance on the neighboring circuits, and not unfrequently called to remote parts of the province. In 1770, his professional firmness was brought to a test of some severity, on the application of the British officers and soldiers to undertake their defence, on the trial of the indictments found against them on account of the transactions of the memorable fifth of March. He seems to have thought, on this occasion, that a man can no more abandon the proper duties of his profession, than he can abandon other duties. The event proved, that as he judged well for his own reputation, so he judged well, also, for the interest and permanent fame of his country. The result of that trial proved, that notwithstanding the high degree of excitement then existing, in consequence of the measures of the British government, a jury of Massachusetts would not deprive the most reckless enemies, even the officers of that standing army, quartered among them, which they so perfectly abhorred, of any part of that protection which the law, in its mildest and most indulgent interpretation, afforded to persons accused of crimes.

Without pursuing Mr. Adams’s professional course further, suffice it to say, that on the first establishment of the judicial tribunals under the authority of the state, in 1776, he received an offer of the high and responsible station of chief justice of the Supreme Court. But he was destined for another and a different career. From early life the bent of his mind was towards politics; a propensity, which the state of the times, if it did not create, doubtless very much strengthened. Public subjects must have occupied the thoughts and filled up the conversation in the circles in which he then moved; and the interesting questions, at that time just arising, could not but seize on a mind, like his, ardent, sanguine and patriotic. The letter, fortunately preserved, written by him at Worcester so early as the I2th of October, 1755, is a proof of very comprehensive views, and uncommon depth of reflection, in a young man not yet quite twenty. In this letter he predicted the transfer of power, and the establishment of a new seat of empire in America: he predicted, also, the increase of population in the colonies; and anticipated their naval distinction, and foretold that all Europe, combined, could not subdue them. All this is said, not on a public occasion, or for effect, but in the style of sober and friendly correspondence, as the result of his own thoughts. “I sometimes retire,” said he, at the close of the letter, “and, laying things together, form some reflections, pleasing to myself. The produce of one of these reveries you have read above.” This prognostication, so early in his own life, so early in the history of the country, of independence, of vast increase of numbers, of naval force, of such augmented power as might defy all Europe, is remarkable. It is more remarkable, that its author should live to see fulfilled to the letter, what could have seemed to others, at the time, but the extravagance of youthful fancy. His earliest political feelings were thus strongly American; and from this ardent attachment to his native soil he never departed.

While still living at Quincy, at the age of twenty-four, Mr. Adams was present, in this town, on the argument before the Supreme Court, respecting writs of assistance, and heard the celebrated and patriotic speech of James Otis. Unquestionably, that was a masterly performance. No flighty declamation about liberty, no superficial discussion of popular topics, it was a learned, penetrating, convincing, constitutional argument, expressed in a strain of high and resolute patriotism. He grasped the question, then pending between England and her colonies, with the strength of a lion; and if he sometimes sported, it was only because the lion himself is sometimes playful. Its success appears to have been as great as his merits, and its impression was widely felt. Mr. Adams himself seems never to have lost the feeling it produced, and to have entertained constantly the fullest conviction of its important effects. “I do say,” he observes, “in the most solemn manner, that Mr. Otis’s oration against writs of assistance breathed into this nation the breath of life.”

In 1765, Mr. Adams laid before the public what I suppose to be his first printed performance, except essays for the periodical press, a Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law. The object of this work was to show that our New England ancestors, in consenting to exile themselves from their native land, were actuated, mainly, by the desire of delivering themselves from the power of the hierarchy, and from the monarchical and aristocratical political systems of the other continent; and to make this truth bear with effect on the politics of the times. Its tone is uncommonly bold and animated, for that period. He calls on the people not only to defend, but to study and understand their rights and privileges; urges earnestly the necessity of diffusing general knowledge; invokes the clergy and the bar, the colleges and academies, and all others who have the ability and the means, to expose the insidious designs of arbitrary power, to resist its approaches, and to be persuaded that there is a settled design on foot to enslave all America. “Be it remembered,” says the author, “that liberty must, at all hazards, be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned it, and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estate, their pleasure, and their blood. And liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an undisputable, unalienable, indefeasible right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the character and conduct of their rulers. Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents, and trustees, of the people; and if the cause, the interest, and trust, is insidiously betrayed, o< wantonly trifled away, the people have a right to revoke the authority that they themselves have deputed, and to constitute other and better agents, attorneys and trustees.”

The citizens of this town conferred on Mr. Adams his first political distinction, and clothed him with his first political trust, by electing him one of their representatives, in 1770. Before tins time he had become extensively known throughout the province, as well by the part he had acted in relation to public affairs, as by the exercise of his professional ability. He was among those who took the deepest interest in the controversy with England, and whether in or out of the legislature, his time and talents were alike devoted to the cause. In the years 1773 and 1774, he was chosen a counselor, by the members of the General Court, but rejected by governor Hutchinson, in the former of those years, and by governor Gage in the latter.

The time was now at hand, however, when the affairs of the colonies urgently demanded united councils. An open rupture with the parent state appeared inevitable, and it was but the dictate of prudence, that those who were united by a common interest and a common danger, should protect that interest, and guard against that danger, by united efforts. A general congress of delegates from all the colonies having been proposed and agreed to, the House of Representatives, on the 17th of June, 1774, elected James Bowdoin, Thomas Gushing, Samuel Adams, John Adams, and Robert Treat Paine, delegates from Massachusetts. This appointment was made at Salem, where the general court had been convened by governor Gage, in the last hour of the existence of a House of Representatives under the provincial charter. While engaged in this important business, the governor, having been informed of what was passing, sent his secretary with a message dissolving the general court. The secretary, finding the door locked, directed the messenger to go in and inform the speaker that the secretary was at the door with a message from the governor. The messenger returned, and informed the secretary that the orders of the house were that the doors should be kept fast; whereupon the secretary soon after read a proclamation, dissolving the general court upon the stairs. Thus terminated, forever, the actual exercise of the political power of England in or over Massachusetts. The four last named delegates accepted their appointments, and took their seats in Congress, the first day of its meeting, September 5, 1774, in Philadelphia.

The proceedings of the first Congress are well known, and have been universally admired. It is in vain that we would look for superior proofs of wisdom, talent and patriotism. Lord Chatham said, that, for himself he must declare, that he had studied and admired the free states of antiquity, the master states of the world, but that, for solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, no body of men could stand in preference to this Congress. It is hardly inferior praise to say, that no production of that great man himself can be pronounced superior to several of the papers published as the proceedings of this most able, most firm, most patriotic assembly. There is, indeed, nothing superior to them in the range of political disquisition. They not only embrace, illustrate, and enforce everything which political philosophy, the love of liberty, and the spirit of free inquiry, had antecedently produced, but they add new and striking views oi their own, and apply the whole, with irresistible force, in support of the cause which had drawn them together.

Mr. Adams was a constant attendant on the deliberations of this body, and bore an active part in its important measures. He was of the committee to state the rights of the colonies, and of that also which reported the address to the king.

As it was in the continental congress, fellow-citizens, that those whose deaths have given rise to this occasion, were first brought together, and called on to unite their industry and their ability in the service of the country, let us now turn to the other of these distinguished men, and take a brief notice of his life, up to the period when appeared within the walls of congress.

Thomas Jefferson, descended from ancestors who had been settled in Virginia for some generations, was born near the spot on which he died, in the county of Albemarle, on the 2d of April (old style), 1743. His youthful studies were pursued in the neighborhood of his father’s residence, until he was removed to the college of William and Mary, the highest honors of which he in due time received. Having left the college with reputation, he applied himself to the study of the law, under the tuition of George Wythe, one of the highest judicial names of which that state can boast. At an early age he was elected a member of the legislature, in which he had no sooner appeared than he distinguished himself by knowledge, capacity, and promptitude. Mr. Jefferson appears to have been imbued with an early love of letters and science, and to have cherished a strong disposition to pursue these objects. To the physical sciences, especially, and to ancient classic literature, he is understood to have had a warm attachment, and never entirely to have lost sight of them, in the midst of the busiest occupations. But the times were times for action, rather than for contemplation. The country was to be defended, and to be saved, before it could be enjoyed. Philosophic leisure and literary pursuits, and even the objects of professional attention, were all necessarily postponed to the urgent calls of the public service. The exigency of the country made the same demand on Mr. Jefferson that it made on others who had the ability and the disposition to serve it; and he obeyed the call—thinking and feeling, in this respect, with the great Roman orator; Quis enim est tarn cupidus in perspicioida cognoscendaque rerum naiura, ut, si ei tmctanti con(emplantique >es cognition* dignissimas subito sit allatum periculum discrimenque patritz, cui subvenire opitularique possit, non ilia omnia relitiquat atque abjicial, etiatn si dinumerare se Stellas, aut metiri mundi magnitudinem posse arbitretur?

(Translation best I can figure out is: “For who is so absorbed in the investigation of things, of nature, so that, if, or handling, contemplate to him, the matter is then brought in the knowledge of the danger of a sudden, these most worthy of his country, to hazard, to whom he may be able to come to the aid, it does not cast out all those things and that he must leave, even if he would count the stars, and to measure the magnitude of the world could he think?”)

Entering, with all his heart, into the cause of liberty, his ability, patriotism, and power with the pen, naturally drew upon him a large participation in the most important concerns. Wherever he was, there was found a soul devoted to the cause, power to defend and maintain it, and willingness to incur all its hazards. In 1774, he published a Summary View of the Rights of British America, a valuable production among those intended to show the dangers which threatened the liberties of the country, and to encourage the people in their defence. In June, 1775, he was elected a member of the continental congress, as successor to Peyton Randolph, who had retired on account of ill health, and took his seat in that body on the 21st of the month

And now, fellow-citizens, without pursuing the biography of these Illustrious men further, for the present, let us turn our attention to the most prominent act of their lives, their participation in the Declaration of Independence.

Preparatory to the introduction of that important measure, a committee, at the head of which was Mr. Adams, had reported a resolution, which Congress adopted the loth of May, recommending, in substance, to all the colonies which had not already established governments suited to the exigencies of their affairs, to adopt such government, as would, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.

This significant vote was soon followed by the direct proposition, which Richard Henry Lee had the honor to submit to Congress, by resolution, on the 7th day of June. The published journal does not expressly state it, but there is no doubt, I suppose, that this resolution was in the same words, when originally submitted by Mr. Lee, as when finally passed. Having been discussed, on Saturday the 8th, and Monday the loth of June, this resolution was on the last-mentioned day postponed, for further consideration, to the 1st day of July; and, at the same time, it was voted, that a committee be appointed to prepare a declaration, to the effect of the resolution. This committee was elected by ballot, on the following day, and consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston.

It is usual, when committees are elected by ballot, that their members are arranged in order, according to the number of votes which each has received; Mr. Jefferson, therefore, had received the highest, and Mr. Adams the next highest number of votes. The difference is said to have been but of a single vote. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams, standing thus at the head of the committee, were requested by the other members to act as a sub-committee, to prepare the draught; and Mr. Jefferson drew up the paper. The original draught, as brought by him from his study, and submitted to the other members of the committee, with interlineations in the hand-writing of Dr. Franklin, and others in that of Mr. Adams, was in Mr. Jefferson’s possession at the time of his death. The merit of this paper is Mr. Jefferson’s. Some changes were made in it, on the suggestion of other members of the committee, and others by Congress while it was under discussion; but none of them altered the tone, the frame, the arrangement, or the general character of the instrument. As a composition, the declaration is Mr. Jefferson’s. It is the production of his mind, and the high honor of it belongs to him, clearly and absolutely.

It has sometimes been said, as if it were a derogation from the merits of this paper, that it contains nothing new; that it only states grounds of proceeding, and presses topics of argument, which had often been stated and pressed before. But it was not the object of the declaration to produce anything new. It was not to invent reasons for independence, but to state those which governed the Congress. For great and sufficient causes, it was proposed to declare independence; and the proper business of the paper to be drawn, was to set forth those causes, and justify the authors of the measure, in any event of fortune, to the country, and to posterity. The cause of American independence, moreover, was now to be presented to the world, in such a manner, if it might so be, as to engage its sympathy, to command its respect, to attract its admiration; and in an assembly of most able and distinguished men, Thomas Jefferson had the high honor of being the selected advocate of this cause. To say that he performed his great work well, would be doing him injustice. To say that he did excellently well, admirably well, would be inadequate and halting praise. Let us rather say, that he so discharged the duty assigned him, that all Americans may well rejoice that the work of drawing the title-deed of their liberties devolved on his hands.

With all its merits, there are those who have thought that there was one thing in the declaration to be regretted; and that is, the asperity and apparent anger with which it speaks of the person of the king; the industrious ability with which it accumulates and charges upon him all the injuries which the colonies had suffered from the mother country. Possibly some degree of injustice, now or hereafter, at home or abroad, may be done to the character of Mr. Jefferson, if this part of the declaration be not placed in its proper light. Anger or resentment, certainly, much less personal reproach and invective, could not properly find place in a composition of such high dignity, and of such lofty and permanent character.

A single reflection on the original ground of dispute, between England and the colonies, is sufficient to remove any unfavorable impression, in this respect.

The inhabitants of all the colonies, while colonies, admitted themselves bound by their allegiance to the king; but they disclaimed, altogether, the authority of Parliament; holding themselves, in this respect, to resemble the condition of Scotland and Ireland, before the respective unions of those kingdoms with England, when they acknowledged allegiance to the same king, but each had its separate legislature. The tie, therefore, which our revolution was to break, did not subsist between us and the British Parliament, or between us and the British government in the aggregate, but directly between us and the king himself. The colonies had never admitted themselves subject to Parliament. That was precisely the point of the original controversy. They had uniformly denied that Parliament had authority to make laws for them. There was, therefore, no subjection to Parliament to be thrown off. But allegiance to the king did exist, and had been uniformly acknowledged; and down to 1775, the most solemn assurances had been given that it was not intended to break that allegiance, or to throw it off. Therefore, as the direct object and only effect of the declaration, according to the principles on which the controversy had been maintained, on our part, was to sever the tie of allegiance which bound us to the king, it was properly and necessarily founded on acts of the Crown itself, as its justifying causes. Parliament is not so much as mentioned in the whole instrument. When odious and oppressive acts are referred to, it is done by charging the king with confederating with others “in pretended acts of legislation;” the object being, constantly, to hold the king himself directly responsible for those measures which were the grounds of separation. Even the precedent of the English revolution was not overlooked, and in this case, as well as in that, occasion was found to say that the king had abdicated the government. Consistency with the principles upon which resistance began, and with all the previous state papers issued by Congress, required that the declaration should be bottomed on the misgovernment of the king; and therefore it was properly framed with that aim and to that end. The king was known, indeed, to have acted, as in other cases, by his ministers, and with his parliament; but as our ancestors had never admitted themselves subject either to ministers or to Parliament, there were no reasons to be given for now refusing obedience to their authority. This clear and obvious necessity of founding the declaration on the misconduct of the king himself, gives to that instrument its personal application, and its character of direct and pointed accusation.

The declaration having been reported to Congress by the committee, the resolution itself was taken up and debated on the first day of July, and again on the second, on which last day it was agreed to and adopted in these words:—

“Resolved, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

Having thus passed the main resolution, Congress proceeded to consider the reported draught of the declaration. It was discussed on the second, and third, and fourth days of the month, in Committee of the Whole; and on the last of those days, being reported from that committee, it received the final approbation and sanction of Congress. It was ordered, at the same time, that copies be sent to the several states, and that it be proclaimed at the head of the army. The declaration, thus published, did not bear the names of the members, for as yet it had not been signed by them. It was authenticated, like other papers of the Congress, by the signatures of the president and secretary. On the 19th of July, as appears by the secret journal, Congress “resolved that the declaration, passed on the fourth be fairly engrossed on parchment, with the title and style of ‘The unanimous declaration of the Thirteen United States of America,’ and that the same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress;” and, on the second day of August following, “the declaration, being engrossed and compared at the table, was signed by the members.” So that it happens, fellow-citizens, that we pay these honors to their memory on the anniversary of that day on which these great men actually signed their names to the declaration. The declaration was thus made—that is, it passed, and was adopted as an act of Congress—on the fourth of July; it was then signed and certified by the president and secretary, like other acts. The fourth of July, therefore, is the anniversary of the declaration; but the signatures of the members present were made to it, it being then engrossed on parchment, on the second day of August. Absent members afterwards signed, as they came in; and indeed it bears the names of some who were not chosen members of Congress until after the fourth of July. The interest belonging to the subject will be sufficient, I hope, to justify these details.

The Congress of the Revolution, fellow-citizens, sat with closed doors, and no report of its debates was ever taken. The discussion, therefore, which accompanied this great measure, has never been preserved, except in memory and by tradition. But it is, I believe, doing no injustice to others to say, that the general opinion was, and uniformly has been, that in debate, on the side of independence, John Adams had no equal. The great author of the declaration himself has expressed that opinion uniformly and strongly. “John Adams,” said he, in the hearing of him who has now the honor to address you, “John Adams was our colossus on the floor. Not graceful, not eloquent, not always fluent, in his public addresses, he yet came out with a power, both of thought and of expression, which moved us from our seats.”

For the part which he was here to perform, Mr. Adams was doubtless eminently fitted. He possessed a bold spirit, which disregarded danger, and a sanguine reliance on the goodness of the cause, and the virtues of the people, which led him to overlook all obstacles. His character, too, had been formed in troubled times. He had been rocked in the early storms of the controversy, and had acquired a decision and a hardihood proportioned to the severity of the discipline which he had undergone.

He not only loved the American cause devoutly, but had studied and understood it. It was all familiar to him. He had tried his powers, on the questions which it involved, often, and in various ways; and had brought to their consideration whatever of argument or illustration the history of his own country, the history of England, or the stores of ancient or of legal learning could furnish. Every grievance enumerated in the long catalogue of the declaration had been the subject of his discussion, and the object of his remonstrance and reprobation. From 1760, the colonies, the rights of the colonies, the liberties of the colonies, and the wrongs inflicted on the colonies, had engaged his constant attention; and it has surprised those, who have had the opportunity of observing, with what full remembrance, and with what prompt recollection, he could refer, in his extreme old age, to every act of Parliament affecting the colonies, distinguishing and stating their respective titles, sections and provisions—and to all the colonial memorials, remonstrances and petitions, with whatever else belonged to the intimate and exact history of the times from that year to 1775. It was, in his own judgment, between these years, that the American people came to a full understanding and thorough knowledge of their rights, and to a fixed resolution of maintaining them; and bearing himself an active part in all important transactions—the controversy with England being then, in effect, the business of his life —facts, dates, and particulars, made an impression which was never effaced. He was prepared, therefore, by education and discipline, as well as by natural talent and natural temperament, for the part which he was now to act.

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

In July, 1776, the controversy had passed the stage of argument. An appeal had been made to force, and opposing armies were in the field. Congress then, was to decide whether the tie which had so long bound us to the parent state, was to be severed at once, and severed forever. All the colonies had signified their resolution to abide by this decision, and the people looked for it with the most intense anxiety. And surely, fellow-citizens, never, never were men called to a more important political deliberation. If we contemplate it from the point where they then stood, no question could be more full of interest; if we look at it now, and judge of its importance by its effects, it appears in still greater magnitude.

Let us, then, bring before us the assembly, which was about to decide a question thus big with the fate of empire. Let us open their doors, and look in upon their deliberations. Let us survey the anxious and care-worn countenances—let us hear the firm-toned voices of this band of patriots.

Hancock presides over this solemn sitting; and one of those not yet prepared to pronounce for absolute independence, is on the floor, and is urging his reasons for dissenting from the declaration.

“Let us pause! This step, once taken, cannot be retraced. This resolution, once passed, will cut off all hope of reconciliation. If success attend the arms of England, we shall then be no longer colonies, with charters, and with privileges. These will all be forfeited by this act; and we shall be in the condition of other conquered people—at the mercy of the conquerors. For ourselves, we may be ready to run the hazard; but are we ready to carry the country to that length?—Is success so probable as to justify it? Where is the military, where the naval, power, by which we are to resist the whole strength of the arm of England? for she will exert that strength to the utmost. Can we rely on the constancy and perseverance of the people ?—or will they not act as the people of other countries have acted, and, wearied with a long war, submit in the end, to a worse oppression? While we stand on our old ground, and insist on redress of grievances, we know we are right, and are not answerable for consequences. Nothing, then, can be imputable to us. But if we now change our object, carry our pretensions farther, and set up for absolute independence, we shall lose the sympathy of mankind. We shall no longer be defending what we possess, but struggling for something which we never did possess, and which we have solemnly and uniformly disclaimed all intention of pursuing, from the very outset of the troubles. Abandoning thus our old ground, of resistance only to arbitrary acts of oppression, the nations will believe the whole to have been mere pretense, and they will look on us, not as injured, but as ambitious subjects. I shudder before this responsibility. It will be on us, if, relinquishing the ground we have stood on so long, and stood on so safely, we now proclaim independence, and carry on the war for that object, while these cities burn, these pleasant fields whiten and bleach with the bones of their owners, and these streams run blood. It will be upon us, it will be upon us, if failing to maintain this unseasonable and ill-judged declaration, a sterner despotism, maintained by military power, shall be established over our posterity, when we ourselves, given up by an exhausted, a harassed, a misled people, shall have expiated our rashness and atoned for our presumption on the scaffold.”

It was for Mr. Adams to reply to arguments like these. We know his opinions, and we know his character. He would commence with his accustomed directness and earnestness.

“Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my hand and my heart to this vote. It is true, indeed, that in the beginning we aimed not at independence. But there’s a divinity which shapes our ends. The injustice of England has driven us to arms; and, blinded to her own interest, for our good, she has obstinately persisted, till independence is now within our grasp. We have but to reach forth to it, and it is ours. Why, then, should we defer the declaration? Is any man so weak as now to hope for a reconciliation with England, which shall leave either safety to the country and its liberties, or safety to his own life and his own honor? Are not you, sir, who sit in that chair,—is not he, our venerable colleague near you,—are you not both already the proscribed and predestined objects of punishment and of vengeance? Cutoff from all hope of royal clemency; what are you, what can you be, while the power of England remains, but outlaws? If we postpone independence, do we mean to carry on, or to give up, the war? Do we mean to submit to the measures of Parliament, Boston port-bill and all? Do we mean to submit, and consent that we ourselves shall be ground to powder, and our country and its rights trodden down in the dust? I know we do not mean to submit. We never shall submit. Do we intend to violate that most solemn obligation ever entered into by men—that plighting, before God, of our sacred honor to Washington, when, putting him forth to incur the dangers of war, as well as the political hazards of the times, we promised to adhere to him, in every extremity, with our fortunes and our lives? I know there is not a man here, who would not rather see a general conflagration sweep over the land, or an earthquake sink it, than one jot or tittle of that plighted faith fall to the ground. For myself, having, twelve months ago, in this place, moved you, that George Washington be appointed commander of the forces, raised or to be raised, for defence of American liberty, may my right hand forget her cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I hesitate or waver in the support I give him. The war, then, must go on. We must fight it through. And, if the war must go on, why put off longer the declaration of independence? That measure will strengthen us. It will give us character abroad. The nations will then treat with us, which they never can do while we acknowledge ourselves subjects in arms against our sovereign. Nay, I maintain that England herself will sooner treat for peace with us on the footing of independence, than consent, by repealing her acts, to acknowledge that her whole conduct towards us has been a course of injustice and oppression. Her pride will be less wounded, by submitting to that course of things, which now predesignates our independence, than by yielding the points in controversy to her rebellious subjects. The former, she would regard as the result of fortune; the latter, she would feel as her own deep disgrace. Why, then—why, then, sir, do we not, as soon as possible, change this from a civil to a national war? And, since we must fight it through, why not put ourselves in a state to enjoy all the benefits of victory, if we gain the victory?

“If we fail, it can be no worse for us. But we shall not fail. The cause will raise up armies: the cause will create navies. The people —the people, if we are true to them, will carry us, and will carry themselves, gloriously through this struggle. I care not how fickle other people have been found. I know the people of these colonies, and I know that resistance to British aggression is deep and settled in their hearts and cannot be eradicated. Every colony, indeed, has expressed its willingness to follow, if we but take the lead. Sir, the declaration will inspire the people with increased courage. Instead of a long and bloody war for restoration of privileges, for redress of grievances, for chartered immunities, held under a British king, set before them the glorious object of entire independence, and it will breathe into them anew the breath of life. Read this declaration at the head of the army; every sword will be drawn from its scabbard, and the solemn vow uttered, to maintain it, or to perish on the bed of honor. Publish it from the pulpit; religion will approve it, and the love of religious liberty will cling round it, resolved to stand with it, or fall with it. Send it to the public halls; proclaim it there; let them hear it, who heard the first roar of the enemy’s cannon; let them see it, who saw their brothers and their sons fall on the field of Bunker Hill, and in the streets of Lexington and Concord, and the very walls will cry out in its support.

“Sir, I know the uncertainty of human affairs, but I see, I see clearly, through this day’s business. You and I, indeed, may rue it. We may not live to the time when this declaration shall be made good. We may die; die, colonists; die, slaves; die, it may be,. ignominiously and on the scaffold. Be it so. Be it so. If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready, at the appointed hour of sacrifice, come when that hour may. But, while I do live, let me have a country, or at least the hope of a country, and that a free country.

“But, whatever may be our fate, be assured, be assured, that this declaration will stand. It may cost treasure, and it may cost blood; but it will stand, and it will richly compensate for both. Through the thick gloom of the present I see the brightness of the future as the sun in heaven. We shall make this a glorious, an immortal day. When we are in our graves, our children will honor it. They will celebrate it with thanksgiving, with festivity, with bonfires and illuminations. On its annual return they will shed tears, copious, gushing tears, not of subjection and slavery, not of agony and distress, but of exultation, of gratitude, and of joy. Sir, before God, I believe the hour has come. My judgment approves this measure, and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope, in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it; and I leave off, as I began, that, live or die, survive or perish, I am for the declaration. It is my living sentiment, and, by the blessing of God, it shall be my dying sentiment; independence now, and independence forever.”

And so that day shall be honored, illustrious prophet and patriot! so that day shall be honored, and, as often as it returns, thy renown shall come along with it, and the glory of thy life, like the day of thy death, shall not fail from the remembrance of men.

It would be unjust, fellow-citizens, on this occasion, while we express our veneration for him who is the immediate subject of these remarks, were we to omit a most respectful, affectionate, and grateful mention of those other great mean, his colleagues, who stood with him, and, with the same spirit, the same devotion, took part in the interesting transaction. Hancock, the proscribed Hancock, exiled from his home by a military governor, cut off, by proclamation, from the mercy of the Crown—Heaven reserved for him the distinguished honor of putting this great question to the vote, and of writing his own name first, and most conspicuously, on that parchment which spoke defiance to the power of the Crown of England. There, too, is the name of that other proscribed patriot, Samuel Adams; a man who hungered and thirsted for the independence of his country; who thought the declaration halted and lingered, being himself not only ready, but eager, for it, long before it was proposed; a man of the deepest sagacity, the clearest foresight, and the profoundest judgment in men. And there is Gerry, himself among the earliest and the foremost of the patriots, found, when the battle of Lexington summoned them to common councils, by the side of Warren; a man who lived to serve his country at home and abroad, and to die in the second place in the government. There, too, is the inflexible, the upright, the Spartan character, Robert Treat Paine. He, also, lived to serve his country through the struggle, and then withdrew from her councils, only that he might give his labors and his life to his native state in another relation. These names, fellow-citizens, are the treasures of the commonwealth, and they are treasures which grow brighter by time.

It is now necessary to resume, and to finish, with great brevity, the notice of the lives of those whose virtues and services we have met to commemorate.

Mr. Adams remained in Congress from its first meeting till November, 1777, when he was appointed minister to France. He proceeded on that service, in the February following, embarking in the Boston frigate, on the shore of his native town, at the foot of Mount Wallaston. The year following, he was appointed commissioner to treat of peace with England. Returning to the United States, he was a delegate from Braintree in the convention for framing the constitution of this commonwealth, in 1780. At the latter end of the same year, he again went abroad, in the diplomatic service of the country, and was employed at various courts, and occupied with various negotiations, until 1788. The particulars of these interesting and important services this occasion does not allow time to relate. In 1782 he concluded our first treaty with Holland. His negotiations with that republic; his efforts to persuade the States-General to recognize our independence; his incessant and indefatigable exertions to represent the American cause favorably, on the continent, and to counteract the designs of his enemies, open and secret; and his successful undertaking to obtain loans, on the credit of a nation yet new and unknown,— are among his most arduous, most useful, most honorable services. It was his fortune to bear a part in the negotiation for peace with England, and, in something more than six years from the declaration which he had so strenuously supported, he had the satisfaction to see the minister plenipotentiary of the Crown subscribe to the instrument which declared that his “Britannic Majesty acknowledged the United States to be free, sovereign, and independent.” In these important transactions Mr. Adams’s conduct received the marked approbation of Congress and of the country.

While abroad, in 1787, he published his Defence of the American Constitutions; a work of merit and ability, though composed with haste, on the spur of a particular occasion, in the midst of other occupations, and under circumstances not admitting of careful revision. The immediate object of the work was to counteract the weight of opinions advanced by several popular European writers of that day—M. Turgot, the Abbe de Mably, and Dr. Price—at a time when the people of the United States were employed in forming and revising their systems of government. . -. Returning to the United States in 1788, he found the new government about going into operation, and was himself elected the first vice-president a situation which he filled with reputation for eight years, at the expiration of which he was raised to the presidential chair, as immediate successor to the immortal Washington. In this high station he was succeeded by Mr. Jefferson, after a memorable controversy between their respective friends, in 1801; and from that period his manner of life has been known to all who hear me. He has lived, for five-and-twenty years, with every enjoyment that could render old age happy. Not inattentive to the occurrences of the times, political cares have yet not materially, or for any long time disturbed his repose. In 1820, he acted as elector of president and vice-president, and in the same year we saw him, then at the age of eighty-five, a member of the convention of this commonwealth, called to revise the constitution. Forty years before, he had been one of those who formed that constitution; and he had now the pleasure of witnessing that there was little which the people desired to change. Possessing all his faculties to the end of his long life, with an unabated love of reading and contemplation, in the centre of interesting circles of friendship and affection, he was blessed, in his retirement, with whatever of repose and felicity the condition of man allows. He had, also, other enjoyments. He saw around him that prosperity and general happiness, which had been the object of his public cares and labors. No man ever beheld more clearly, and for a longer time, the great and beneficial effects of the services rendered by himself to his country. That liberty, which he so early defended, that independence, of which he was so able an advocate and supporter, he saw, we trust, firmly and securely established. The population of the country thickened around him faster, and extended wider, than his own sanguine predictions had anticipated; and the wealth, respectability, and power, of the nation sprang up to a magnitude which it is quite impossible he could have expected to witness in his day. He lived, also, to behold those principles of civil freedom, which had been developed, established, and practically applied in America, attract attention, command respect, and awaken imitation, in other regions of the globe; and well might, and well did he, exclaim, “Where will the consequences of the American revolution end?”

If anything yet remain to fill this cup of happiness, let it be added, that he lived to see a great and intelligent people bestow the highest honor in their gift, where he had bestowed his own kindest parental affections, and lodged his fondest hopes. Thus honored in life, thus happy at death, he saw the jubilee, and he died; and with the last prayers which trembled on his lips, was the fervent supplication for his country, “independence forever.”

Mr. Jefferson, having been occupied, in the years 1778 and 1770. In the important service of revising the laws of Virginia, was elected governor of that state, as successor to Patrick Henry, and held the situation when the state was invaded by the British arms. In 1781, he published his Notes on Virginia, a work which attracted attention in Europe as well as America, dispelled many misconceptions respecting this continent, and gave its author a place among men distinguished for science. In November, 1783, he again took his seat in the continental congress; but in the May following was appointed minister plenipotentiary, to act abroad in the negotiation of commercial treaties, with Dr Franklin and Mr. Adams. He proceeded to France, in execution of this mission, embarking at Boston, and that was the only occasion on which he ever visited this place. In 1785, he was appointed minister to France, the duties of which situation he continued to perform, until October, 1789, when he obtained leave to retire, just on the eve of that tremendous revolution which has so much agitated the world, in our times. Mr. Jefferson’s discharge of his diplomatic duties was marked by great ability, diligence, and patriotism, and while he resided at Paris, in one of the most interesting periods, his character for intelligence, his love of knowledge, and of the society of learned men, distinguished him in the highest circles of the French capital. No court in Europe had, at that time, in Paris, a representative commanding or enjoying higher regard, for political knowledge or for general attainment, than the minister of this then infant republic. Immediately on his return to his native country, at the organization of the government under the present constitution, his talents and experience recommended him to president Washington, for the first office in his gift. He was placed at the head of the department of state. In this situation, also, he manifested conspicuous ability. His correspondence with the ministers of other powers residing here, and his instructions to our own diplomatic agents abroad, are among our ablest state-papers. A thorough knowledge of the laws and usages of nations, perfect acquaintance with the immediate subject before him, great felicity, and still greater facility, in writing, show themselves in whatever effort his official situation called on him to make. It is believed, by competent judges, that the diplomatic intercourse of the government of the United States, from the first meeting of the continental congress in 1774 to the present time, taken together, would not suffer, in respect to the talent with which it has been conducted, by comparison with anything which other and older states can pro- 1duce; and to the attainment of this respectability and distinction, Mr. Jefferson has contributed his full part.

On the retirement of General Washington from the presidency, and the election of Mr. Adams to that office, in 1797, he was chosen vice-president. While presiding, in this capacity, over the deliberations of the Senate, he compiled and published a Manual of Parliamentary Practice—a work of more labor and more merit than is indicated by its size. It is now received as the general standard by which proceedings are regulated, not only in both houses of Congress, but in most of the other legislative bodies in the country. In 1801, he was elected president, in opposition to Mr. Adams, and re-elected in 1805, by a vote approaching towards unanimity.

From the time of his final retirement from public life, in 1807, Mr. Jefferson lived as became a wise man. Surrounded by affectionate friends, his ardor in the pursuit of knowledge undiminished, with uncommon health, and unbroken spirits, he was able to enjoy largely the rational pleasures of live, and to partake in that public prosperity which he had so much contributed to produce. His kindness and hospitality, the charm of his conversation, the ease of his manners, the extent of his acquirement’s, and especially the full store of revolutionary incidents, which he possessed, and which he knew when and how to dispense, rendered his abode in a high degree attractive to his admiring countrymen; while his high public and scientific character drew towards him every intelligent and educated traveler from abroad. Both Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson had the pleasure of knowing that the respect which they so largely received, was not paid to their official stations. They were not men made great by office; but great men, on whom the country for its own benefit had conferred office. There was that in them which office did not give, and which the relinquishment of office did not and could not take away. In their retirement, in the midst of their fellow-citizens, themselves private citizens, they enjoyed as high regard and esteem as when filling the most important places of public trust.

There remained to Mr. Jefferson yet one other work of patriotism and beneficence—the establishment of a university in his native state. To this object he devoted years of incessant and anxious attention, and by the enlightened liberality of the legislature of Virginia, and the co-operation of other able and zealous friends, he lived to see it accomplished. May all success attend this infant seminary; and may those who enjoy its advantages, as often as their eyes shall rest on the neighboring height, recollect what they owe to their disinterested and indefatigable benefactor; and may letters honor him who thus labored in the cause of letters.

Thus useful, and thus respected, passed the old age of Thomas Jefferson. But time was on its ever-ceaseless wing, and was now bringing the last hour of this illustrious man. He saw its approach with undisturbed serenity. He counted the moments as they passed, and beheld that his last sands were falling. That day, too, was at hand, which he had helped to make immortal. One wish, one hope —if it were not presumptuous—beat in his fainting breast. Could it be so—might it please God—he would desire—once more—to see the sun—once more to look abroad on the scene around him, on the great day of liberty. Heaven, in its mercy, fulfilled that prayer. He saw that sun—he enjoyed its sacred light—he thanked God for this mercy, and bowed his aged head to the grave. “Felix, non vita tantum claritate, sed etiam opportunitate mostis.” (Translation: Thou wast indeed fortunate, not only in the splendour of thy life, but in the opportune moment of thy death)

The last public labor of Mr. Jefferson naturally suggests the expression of the high praise which is due, both to him and to Mr. Adams, for their uniform and zealous attachment to learning, and to the cause of general knowledge. Of the advantages of learning, indeed, and of literary accomplishments, their own characters were striking recommendations and illustrations. They were scholars, ripe and good scholars; widely acquainted with ancient as well as modern literature, and not altogether uninstructed in the deeper sciences. Their acquirement’s, doubtless, were different, and so were the particular objects of their literary pursuits; as their tastes and characters, in these respects, differed like those of other men. Being, also, men of busy lives, with great objects requiring action constantly before them, their attainments in letters did not become showy or obtrusive. Yet I would hazard the opinion, that if we could now ascertain all the causes which gave them eminence and distinction in the midst of the great men with whom they acted, we should find, not among the least, their early acquisition in literature, the resources which it furnished, the promptitude and facility which it communicated, and the wide field it opened, for analogy and illustration; giving thus, on every subject, a larger view, and a broader range, as well for discussion as for the government of their own conduct.

Literature sometimes, and pretensions to it much oftener, disgusts, by appearing to hang loosely on the character, like something foreign or extraneous, not a part, but an ill-adjusted appendage; or by seeming to overload and weigh it down, by its unsightly bulk, like the productions of bad taste in architecture, where there is messy and cumbrous ornament, without strength or solidity of column. This has exposed learning, and especially classical learning, to reproach. Men have seen that it might exist, without mental superiority, without vigor, without good taste, and without utility. But, in such cases, classical learning has only not inspired natural talent; or, at most, it has but made original feebleness of intellect, and natural bluntness of perception, something more conspicuous. The question, after all, if it be a question, is, whether literature, ancient as well as modern, does not assist a good understanding, improve natural good taste, add polished armor to native strength, and render its possessor not only more capable of deriving private happiness from contemplation and reflection, but more accomplished, also, for action in the affairs of life, and especially for public action. Those whose memories we now honor, were learned men ; but their learning was kept in its proper place, and made subservient to the uses and objects of life. They were scholars, not common, nor superficial; but their scholarship was so in keeping with their character, so blended and in-wrought, that careless observers, or bad judges, not seeing an ostentatious display of it, might infer that it did not exist: forgetting, or not knowing, that classical learning, in men who act in conspicuous public stations, perform duties which exercise the faculty of writing, or address popular, deliberative, or judicial bodies, is often felt, where it is little seen, and sometimes felt more effectually, because it is not seen at all.

But the cause of knowledge, in a more enlarged sense, the cause of general knowledge and of popular education, had no warmer friends, nor more powerful advocates, than Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson. On this foundation, they knew, the whole republican system rested; and this great and all-important truth they strove to impress by all the means in their power. In the early publication, already referred to, Mr. Adams expresses the strong and just sentiment, that the education of the poor is more important, even to the rich themselves, than all their own riches. On this great truth, indeed, is founded that unrivaled, that invaluable political and moral institution, our own blessing, and the glory of our fathers—the New England system of free schools.

As the promotion of knowledge had been the object of their regard through life, so these great men made it the subject of their testamentary bounty. Mr. Jefferson is understood to have bequeathed his library to the university, and that of Mr. Adams is bestowed on the inhabitants of Quincy. ‘.

Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson, fellow-citizens, were successively presidents of the United States. The comparative merits of their respective administrations for a long time agitated and divided public opinion. They were rivals, each supported by numerous and powerful portions of the people, for the highest office. This contest, partly the cause, and partly the consequence, of the long existence of two great political parties in the country, is now part of the history of our government. We may naturally regret that any thing should have occurred to create difference and discord between those who had acted harmoniously and efficiently in the great concerns of the revolution. But this is not the time, nor this the occasion, for entering into the grounds of that difference, or for attempting to discuss the merits of the questions which it involves. As practical questions, they were canvassed when the measures which they regarded were acted on and adopted; and as belonging to history, the time has not come for their consideration.

It is, perhaps, not wonderful, that when the constitution of the United States went first into operation, different opinions should be entertained as to the extent of the powers conferred by it. Here was a natural that event, about contemporary with our government, under the present constitution, which so entirely shocked all Europe, and disturbed our relations with her leading powers, should be thought, by different men, to have different bearings on our own prosperity; and that the early measures adopted by our government, in consequence of this new state of things, should be seen in opposite lights. It is for the future historian, when what now remains of prejudice and misconception shall have passed away, to state these different opinions, and pronounce impartial judgment. In the mean time, all good men rejoice, and well may rejoice, that the sharpest differences sprung out of measures, which, whether right or wrong, have ceased, with the exigencies that gave them birth, and have left no permanent effect, either on the constitution, or on the general prosperity of the country. This remark, I am aware, may be supposed to have its exception in one measure, the alteration of the constitution as to the mode of choosing president; but it is true in its general application. Thus the course of policy pursued towards France, in 1798, on the one hand, and the measures of commercial restriction, commenced in 1807, on the other, both subjects of warm and severe opposition, have passed away, and left nothing behind them. They were temporary, and, whether wise or unwise, their consequences were limited to their respective occasions. It is equally clear, at the same time, and it is equally gratifying, that those measures of both administrations, which were of durable importance, and which drew after them interesting and long-remaining consequences, have received general approbation. Such was the organization, or rather the creation, of the navy, in the administration of Mr. Adams; such the acquisition of Louisiana, in that of Mr. Jefferson. The country, it may safely be added is not likely to be willing either to approve, or to reprobate, indiscriminately, and in the aggregate, all the measures of either, or of any, administration. The dictate of reason and of justice is, that holding each one his own sentiments on the points in difference, we imitate the great men themselves, in the forbearance and moderation which they have cherished, and in the mutual respect and kindness which they have been so much inclined to feel and to reciprocate.

No men, fellow-citizens, ever served their country with more entire exemption from every imputation of selfish and mercenary motive than those to whose memory we are paying these proofs of respect. A suspicion of any disposition to enrich themselves or to profit by their public employments, never rested on either. No sordid motive approached them. The inheritance which they have left to their children, is of their character and their fame.

Fellow-citizens, I will detain you no longer by this faint and feeble tribute to the memory of the illustrious dead. Even in other hands, adequate justice could not be performed, within the limits of this occasion. Their highest, their best praise, is your deep conviction of their merits, your affectionate gratitude for their labors and services. It is not my voice,—it is this cessation of ordinary pursuits, this arresting of all attention, these solemn ceremonies, and this crowded house, which speak their eulogy. Their fame, indeed, is safe. That is now treasured up beyond the reach of accident. Although no sculptured marble, should rise to their memory, nor engraved stone bear record of their deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored. Marble columns may, indeed, moulder into dust, time may erase all impress from the crumbling stone, but their fame remains; for which American Liberty it rose, and with American Liberty Only can it perish. It was the last swelling peal of yonder choir, “THEIR BODIES ARE BURIED IN PLACE, BUT THEIR NAME LIVETH EVER MORE.” I catch that solemn song, I echo that lofty strain of funeral triumph, “Their NAME LIVETH EVERMORE,”

Of the illustrious signers of the Declaration of Independence there now remains only Charles Carroll. He seems an aged oak, standing alone on the plain, which time has spared a little longer, after all its contemporaries have been leveled with the dust. Venerable object! we delight to gather round its trunk, while yet it stands, and to dwell beneath its shadow. Sole survivor of an assembly of as great men as the world has witnessed, in a transaction, one of the most important that history records, what thoughts, what interesting reflections must fill his elevated and devout soul! If he dwell on the past, how touching its recollections; if he survey the present, how happy, how joyous, how full of the fruition of that hope, which his ardent patriotism indulged; if he glance at the future, how does the prospect of his country’s advancement almost bewilder his weakened conception! Fortunate, distinguished patriot! Interesting relic of the past’ Let him know that while we honor the dead, we do not forget the living; and that there is not a heart here which does not fervently pray that Heaven may keep him yet back from the society of his companions.

And now, fellow-citizens, let us not retire from this occasion without a deep and solemn conviction of the duties which have devolved upon us. This lovely land, this glorious liberty, these benign institutions, the dear purchase of our fathers, are ours; ours to enjoy, ours to preserve, ours to transmit. Generations past, and generations to come, hold us responsible for this sacred trust. Our fathers, from behind, admonish us, with their anxious paternal voices; posterity calls out to us, from the bosom of the future ;the world turns hither its solicitous eyes—all, all conjure us to act wisely, and faithfully, in the relation which we sustain. We can never, indeed, pay the debt which is upon us; but by virtue, by morality, by religion, by the cultivation of every good principle and every good habit, we may hope to enjoy the blessing, through our day, and to leave it unimpaired to our children. Let us feel deeply how much, of what we are and of what we possess, we owe to this liberty, and these institutions of government. Nature has, indeed, given us a soil which yields bounteously to the hands of industry; the mighty and fruitful ocean is before us, and the skies over our heads shed health and vigor. But what are lands, and seas, and skies, to civilized man, without society, without knowledge, without morals, without religious culture? and how can these be enjoyed, in all their extent, and all their excellence, but under the protection of wise institutions and a free government? Fellow-citizens, there is not one of us, there is not one of us here present, who does not, at this moment, and at every moment, experience iu his own condition, and in the condition of those most near and dear to him, the influence and the benefits of this liberty, and these institutions. Let us then acknowledge the blessing; let us feel it deeply and powerfully ; let us cherish a strong affection for it, and resolve to maintain and perpetuate it. The blood of our fathers, let it not have been shed in vain; the great hope of posterity, let it not be blasted.

The striking attitude, too, in which we stand to the world around us, —a topic to which I fear, I advert too often, and dwell on too long,— cannot be altogether omitted here. Neither individuals nor nations can perform their part well until they understand and feel its importance, and comprehend and justly appreciate all the duties belonging to it. It is not to inflate national vanity, nor to swell a light and empty feeling of self-importance; but it is that we may judge justly of our situation, and of our own duties, that I earnestly urge this consideration of our position, and our character, among the nations of the earth. It cannot be denied, but by those who would dispute against the sun, that with America, and in America, a new era commences in human affairs This era is distinguished by free representative governments, by entire religious liberty, by improved systems of national intercourse, by a newly awakened and an unconquerable spirit of free inquiry, and by a diffusion of knowledge through the community, such as has been before altogether unknown and unheard of. America, America, our country, fellow citizens, our own dear and native land, is inseparably connected, fast bound up, in fortune and by fate, with these great interests. If they fall, we fall with them; if they stand, it will be because we have uphold them. Let us contemplate, then, this connection, which binds the prosperity of others to our own ; and let us manfully discharge all the duties which it imposes. If we cherish the virtues and the principles of our fathers, Heaven will assist us to carry on the work of human liberty and human happiness. Auspicious omens cheer us. Great examples are before us. Our own firmament now shines brightly upon our path. Washington is in the clear upper sky. Those other stars have now joined the American constellation ; they circle round their centre, and the heavens beam with new light. Beneath this illumination, let us walk the course of life, and at its close devoutly commend our beloved country, the common parent of us all, to the Divine Benignity.