Thomas Jefferson Defines What a True Republic Is

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

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

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

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

Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, May 28, 1816

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

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

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

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Thomas Jefferson Biography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thomas Jefferson: Encroaches on Liberty & Rights by Government

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From Thomas Jefferson to Noah Webster, Jr.

Philadelphia Dec. 4. 1790.

Sir

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

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

Your most obedt. & most humble servt,

Th. Jefferson

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Thomas Jefferson Concerning His Personal Privacy Rights

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Thomas Jefferson to Colonel James Monroe

Monticello, May 20th, 1782

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

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

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

Your most obedient and most humble servant.

Jefferson was replying to the following letter by Monroe, dated

Richmond, 11th of May, 1782.

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

Your sincere friend and obedient servant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Thomas Jefferson Notes on the Illuminati and Free Masons

Thomas Jefferson concerning Honest Ignorance

Thomas Jefferson concerning Honest Ignorance

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

DEAR SIR,

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

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

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

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

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

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

your affectionate friend.

Th. Jefferson

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

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

RELIGIOUS VIEWS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON; source: The Jefferson Bible

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

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

Dear Sir,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BENJAMIN RUSH. Philadelphia, March 10, 1791.

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The Declaration of Independence: Its History; Chapter 3 1776

The Declaration of Independence Its History Chapter 3 1776

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

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

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

SEVENTEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-SIX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common Sense says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Adams also felt at once that the goal was near. “It has ever appeared to me “, he writes to Henry, June 3d, “that the natural course and order of things was this; for every colony to institute a government; for all the colonies to confederate, and define the limits of the continental Constitution; then to declare the colonies a sovereign state, or a number of confederated states; and last of all, to form treaties with foreign powers. But I fear we cannot proceed systematically, and that we shall be obliged to declare ourselves independent States, before we confederate, and indeed before all the colonies have established their governments. It is now pretty clear that all these measures will follow one another in a rapid succession, and it may not perhaps be of much importance which is done first.”
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The Declaration of Independence: Its History Chapter 2, 1775

The Declaration of Independence: Its History Chapter 2, 1775

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

Paul Revere's Ride

Paul Revere’s Ride

SEVENTEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE SEVENTEEN hundred and seventy-five is the year of Paul Revere’s ride — the year of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill. War had become a reality.

Strangely enough, however, the majority of the people still desired reconciliation ‘ — the love of Liberty of the Anglo-Saxon, as a race, not yet having overcome in them the cradle-nurtured spirit of the subject; and, of the comparatively few who favored independence, many feared and others seemed ashamed openly to express their opinions.

Only six days before the end of the year, Portsmouth, N. H., instructed her Representatives to the Provincial Congress: “We are of opinion that the present times are too unsettled to admit of perfecting a firm, stable and permanent government [for New Hampshire]; and that to attempt it now would injure us, by furnishing our enemies in Great Britain with arguments to persuade the good people there that we are aiming at independency, which we totally disavow . . . We particularly recommend, that you strictly guard against every measure that may have a tendency to cause disunion . . .”

In England In America
1. A trial by a jury of his country, in all cases of life and property.
1. A trial by jury only in some cases, subjected in others to a single Judge, or a Board of Commissioners.
2. A trial where the offence was committed.
2. A trial, if a Governor pleases, 3000 miles from the place where the offence was committed.
3. A civil authority supreme over the military, and no standing army in time of peace kept up, but by the consent of the people.
3. The military superior to the civil authority, and America obliged to contribute to the support of a standing army, kept up without and against its consent.
4. The Judges independent of the Crown and people.
4. The Judges made independent of the people, but dependent on the Crown for the support and tenure of their commissions.
5. No tax or imposition laid, but by those who must partake of the burden.
5. Taxes and impositions laid by those, who not only do not partake of the burdens, but who ease themselves by it
6. A free trade to all the world, except the East-Indies.
6. A trade only to such places as Great-Britain shall permit.
7. A free use and practice of all engines and other devices, for saving labour and promoting manufactures.
7. The use only of such engines as Great-Britain has not prohibited.
8. A right to petition the King, and all prosecutions and commitments therefor illegal.
8. Promoting and encouraging petitions to the King declared the highest presumption, and the legislative Assemblies of America dissolved therefore in 1768.
9. Freedom of debate and proceedings in their legislative deliberations.
9. Assemblies dissolved, their legislative power suspended, for the free exercise of their reason and judgment, in their legislative capacity.
10. For redress of grievances, amending, strengthening and preserving the laws, parliaments to be held frequently.
10. To prevent the redress of grievances, or representations tending thereto, Assemblies postponed for a great length of time, and prevented meeting in the most critical times.

It is very significant of the spirit of the times that the same writer should declare: “When I hear America charged with aspiring after independence, I ask, Were we independent of Great-Britain in 1762? That is the era to which we all look back with regret, and to which we are anxiously seeking to return.” ” That the Americans have entire independence on the Mother Country in view, as the great object of their present contest . . . [is] false and groundless . . .”

Even Franklin — in a letter to Lord Howe, dated July 20, 1776 — declares that “tears of joy . . . wet my cheek, when, at your good sister’s in London, you once gave me expectations that a reconciliation might soon take place.” Indeed, in a letter to his son, written at sea, March 22d(1775), — speaking of a visit he had paid to Lord Chatham in London — he writes: “I assured him that, having more than once travelled almost from one end of the Continent to the other, and kept a great variety of company, eating, drinking, and conversing with them freely, I never had heard in any conversation from any person, drunk or sober, the least expression of a wish for a separation, or a hint that such a thing would be advantageous to America … he expressed much satisfaction … in the assurances I had given him that America did not aim at independence.”

The Assembly of Pennsylvania instructed her Delegates, November 9th: “We strictly enjoin you, that you, in behalf of this Colony, dissent from, and utterly reject, any propositions, should such be made, that may cause or lead to a separation from our Mother Country . . .”

Similar views prevailed in Maryland.

On August 2d, one of her clergymen writes to England: “The King has not more affectionate or loyal subjects in any part of his dominions than the Americans. They desire no other King; they wish not a division from, or independence on the Mother Country.”

The instructions of December to her Delegates in Congress contained the expressions “our strong desire of reconciliation ” and “disavowing in the most solemn manner, all design in these Colonies of independence “. Charles Carroll of Carrollton writes, from Annapolis to Washington, September 26th: “If a treaty is but once set on foot, I think, it must terminate in a lasting & happy peace; an event, I am persuaded, you most earnestly desire, as every good citizen must, in which number you rank foremost … If we cannot obtain a peace on safe & just terms, my next wish is, that you may extort by force from our enemies what their policy, & justice should have granted, and that you may long live to enjoy the fame of the best, the noblest deed, the defending & securing the liberties of your country.”

An idea of the feeling in Virginia in the early part of the year is given us by Wirt. He says that, when (March 23d) Patrick Henry offered, in the old church in Richmond, the resolutions that the Colony be put immediately into a state of defense, “some of the warmest patriots of the convention opposed them. Richard Bland, Benjamin Harrison, and Edmund Pendleton . . . resisted them with all their influence and abilities.” He adds that it was by Henry’s eloquence only that the resolutions were carried.

We know that, later in the year, Thomas Anderson was “charged with saying . . . that this Country . . . aimed at a state of independence,” and was acquitted (September 5th) by the Committee of Hanover County “from further prosecution” only upon signing a concession.

The position of Jefferson is outlined in his own letters. He writes from Monticello, August 25th, to John Randolph: “I am sincerely one of those [wishing reunion], and would rather be in dependence on Great Britain, properly limited, than on any nation upon earth, or than on no nation. But I am one of those, too, who, rather than submit to the rights of legislating for us, assumed by the British Parliament . . . would lend my hand to sink the whole island in the ocean.” To the same gentleman, November 29th, he says: “. . . there is not in the British empire a man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain, than I do. But, by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament propose; and in this I think I speak the sentiments of America. We want neither inducement nor power, to declare and assert a separation. It is will, alone, which is wanting, and that is growing apace under the fostering hand of our King.”

So is also the position of General Charles Lee. On the 1st day of the last month of the year, he writes, to General Burgoyne: “You ask me, in your letter, if it is independence at which the Americans aim? I answer no; the idea never entered a single American’s head until a most intolerable oppression forced it upon them . . . On the contrary, do they not all breathe the strongest attachment and filial piety for their parent country? . . . I swear by all that’s sacred . . . that I most earnestly and devoutly love my native country; that I wish the same happy relation to subsist for ages, betwixt her and her children, which has raised the wide arch of her empire to so stupendous and enviable a height; but at the same time I avow, that if the Parliament and people should be depraved enough to support any longer the present Ministry in their infernal scheme … I would advise not to hesitate a single instant, but decisively to cut the Gordian knot now besmeared with civil blood”; and, three days later, speaking of this letter, he says, from “Camp on Prospect Hill”, to Dr. Benjamin Rush, that it “in my opinion is the best of my performances. I believe it does not tally with your political creed in some parts — but I am convinced that you have not virtue enough for independence nor do I think it calculated for your happiness; besides I have some remaining prejudices as an Englishman — but you will judge from the perusal of my letter whether they are honest and liberal — if they shock you be gentle in your censures.”

North Carolina, at least in one County, was more advanced — though to just what extent has been much mooted.

In the Essex Register (C) — published in Salem, Mass. — of June 5, 1819, appeared the following:

From the Raleigh Register.

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

It is not probably known to many of our readers, that the citizens of Mecklenburg county, in this state, made a declaration of independence more than a year before Congress made theirs. The following document on the subject has lately come in the hands of the editor from unquestionable authority, and is published that it may go down to posterity:

N. Carolina, Mecklenburg County, May 20, 1775.

In the spring of 1775, the leading characters of Mecklenburg county . . . held several detached meetings, in each of which the individual sentiments were, “that the cause of Boston was the cause of all . . .” Conformably to these principles, Col. Adam Alexander, through solicitation, issued an order to each Captain’s Company in the county of Mecklenburg . . . directing each militia company to elect two persons … to adopt measures … to secure, unimpaired, their inalienable rights, privileges and liberties . . .

… on the 19th of May, 1775, the said delegation met in Charlotte, vested with unlimited powers; at which time official news, by express, arrived of the battle of Lexington on that day of the preceding month . . . Abraham Alexander was then elected Chairman, and John M’Knitt Alexander, Clerk. After a free and full discussion of the various objects for which the delegation had been convened, it was unanimously Ordained —

1. Resolved, That whosoever directly or indirectly abetted, or in any way, form, or manner, countenanced, the unchartered and dangerous invasion of our rights, as claimed by Great Britain, is an enemy to this country, — to America, — and to the inherent and inalienable rights of man.

2. Resolved, That we, the citizens of Mecklenburg county, do hereby dissolve the political bands which have connected us to the Mother Country, and hereby absolve ourselves from all allegiance to the British Crown, and abjure all political connection, contract, or association with that Nation, who have wantonly trampled on our rights and liberties — and inhumanly shed the innocent blood of American patriots at Lexington.

3. Resolved, That we do hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people; are, and of right ought to be, a sovereign & self governing association, under the control of no power other than that of our God and the General Government of the Congress; to the maintenance of which independence, we solemnly pledge to each other our mutual co-operation, our lives, our fortunes, & our most sacred honor.

4. Resolved, That as we now acknowledge the existence and control of no law or legal officer, civil or military, within this county, we do hereby ordain and adopt, as a rule of life, all, each, and every of our former laws — wherein, nevertheless, the crown of Great Britain never can be considered as holding rights, privileges, immunities, or authority therein.

5.. . . After sitting in the court house all night, neither sleepy, hungry, or fatigued, and after discussing every paragraph, they were all passed, sanctioned, and decreed, unanimously, about two o’clock, A. M. May 20. In a few days, a deputation of said delegation convened, when capt. James Jack, of Charlotte, was deputed as express to the Congress at Philadelphia, with a copy of said resolves and proceedings, together with a letter addressed to our three representatives, viz. Richard Caswell, William Hooper, and Joseph Hughes, under express injunction, personally, and through the state representation, to use all possible means to have said proceedings sanctioned and approved by the general Congress. On the return of captain Jack, the delegation learned that their proceedings were individually approved by the members of Congress, but that it was deemed premature to lay them before the house. A joint letter from said three members of Congress was also received, complimentary of the zeal in the common cause, and recommending perseverance, order, and energy . . .

[The foregoing is a true copy of the papers on the above subject, left in my hands by John Matthew Alexander, deceased. I find it mentioned on file that the original book was burned in April, 1800; that a copy of the proceedings was sent to Hugh Williamson, in New-York, then writing a history of North Carolina, and that a copy was sent to general W. R. Davies.

J. M’KNITT.]

John Adams, then at Quincy, immediately (June 22d) wrote to Jefferson: “May I enclose you one of the greatest curiosities and one of the deepest mysteries that ever occurred to me … it is entitled the Raleigh Register Declaration of Independence — How is it possible that this paper should have been concealed from me to this day — had it been communicated to me in the time of it — I know, if you do not know, that it would have been printed in every Whig Newspaper upon this Continent — you know if I had possessed it — I would have made the Hall of Congress Echo — and re-echo, with it fifteen months before your Declaration of Independence — What a poor ignorant, malicious, shortsighted, crapulous mass, is Tom Pains Common Sense; in comparison with this paper— had I known it I would have commented upon it — from the day you entered Congress till the fourth of July 1776. — The genuine sense of America at that moment was never so well expressed before nor since. — Richard Caswell, William Hooper, and Joseph Hughs the then Representatives of North Carolina in Congress you know as well as I do — and you know that the Unanimity of the States finally depended upon the Vote of Joseph Hughes — and was finally determined by him — and yet History is to ascribe the American Revolution to Thomas Paine — Sat verbum sapient —”

Another letter from Adams, dated July 15th, to William Bentley, says: “A few weeks ago I received an Essex Register, containing resolutions of independence by a county in North Carolina … I was struck with so much astonishment on reading this document, that I could not help inclosing it immediately to Mr. Jefferson, who must have seen it, in the time of it, for he has copied the spirit, the sense, and the expressions of it verbatim, into his Declaration … Its total concealment from me is a mystery, which can be unriddled only by the timidity of the delegates in Congress from North Carolina, by the influence of Quakers and proprietary gentlemen in Pennsylvania, the remaining art and power of toryism throughout the continent at that time.”

Jefferson replied, July 9th: “what has attracted my peculiar notice is the paper from Mecklenburg county … I believe it spurious. I deem it to be a very unjustifiable quiz … if this paper be really taken M from the Raleigh Register, as quoted, I wonder it should have escaped Ritchie who culls what is good from every paper, as the bee from every flower; and the National Intelligencer too, which is edited by a N. Carolinian, and that the fire should blaze out all at once in Essex [Salem], 1000 miles from where the spark is said to have fallen, but if really taken from the Raleigh Register, who is the narrator, and is the name subscribed real, or is it as fictitious as the paper itself? it appeals too to an original book, which is burnt, to Mr. Alexander who is dead, to a joint letter from Caswell, Hughes and Hooper, all dead, to a copy sent to the dead Caswell, and another sent to Doctor Williamson whose memory, now probably dead, did not recollect, in the history he has written of N. Carolina, this Gigantic step of it’s county of Mecklenburg. Horry too is silent in his history of Marion, whose scene of action was the county bordering on Mecklenburg Ramsay, Marshal, Jones, Girardin, Wirt, Historians of the adjacent states, all silent, when Mr. Henry’s resolutions, far short of independence, flew like lightning thro every paper and kindled both sides of the Atlantic, this flaming declaration of the same date, of the independence of Mecklenburg county of N. Carolina, absolving it from British allegiance, and abjuring all political connection with that nation, altho’ sent to Congress too, is never heard of. it is not known even a twelve month after even a similar proposition is first made in that body, armed with this bold example, would not you have addressed our timid brethren in peals of thunder, on their tardy fears? would not every advocate of independence have rung the glories of Mecklenburg county in N. Carolina in the ears of the doubting Dickinson and others, who hung so heavily on us? yet the example of independent Mecklenburg county in N. Carolina was never once quoted, the paper speaks too of the continued exertion of their delegation, (Caswell, Hooper, Hughes) “in the cause of liberty and independence.” now you remember as well as I do, that we had not a greater Tory in Congress than Hooper, that Hughes was very wavering, sometimes firm, sometimes feeble, according as the day was clear or cloudy; that Caswell indeed was a good Whig, and kept these gentlemen to the notch, while he was present; but that he left us B soon, and their line of conduct became then uncertain till Penn came26, who fixed Hughes and the vote of the state. I must not be understood as suggesting any doubtfulness in the state of N. Carolina, no state was more fixed or forward, nor do I affirm positively that this paper is a fabrication: because the proof of a negative can only be presumptive, but I shall believe it such until positive and solemn proof of it’s authenticity shall be produced, and if the name of McKnitt be real, and not a part of the fabrication, it needs a vindication by the production of such proof, for the present I must be an unbeliever in this apocryphal gospel.”

On the 21st, Adams wrote again: “. . . your Letter of the 9th . . . has entirely convinced me that the Mecklenburg Resolutions are fiction … as they were unknown to you “, they must have been unknown to all mankind — I have sent a copy of your letter to Salem, not to be printed but to be used as decisive authority for the Editor [Warwick Palfray, Jr.] to correct his error, in the Essex Register. — But who can be the Demon to invent such a machine after five and forty years, and what could be his Motive — was it to bring a Charge of Plagiarism against the Congress or against you; the undoubted acknowledged draughtsmen of the Declaration of Independence — or could it be the mere vanity of producing a jeu d’esprit, to set the world a guess and afford a topic of Conversation in this piping time of Peace—Had such Resolutions appeared in June, they would have flown through the Universe like wild fire; they would have Elevated the heads of the inhabitants of Boston; — and of all New-England above the Stars — and they would have rung a peal in Congress — to the utter Confusion of Tory’ism and timidity, for a full year before they were discomforted —”

This letter was followed by a third (to Jefferson) but seven days later: “I inclose you a National Register, to convince you that the Essex Register is not to blame for printing the Mecklingburg County Resolutions, on the Contrary I think it to be commended — for if those Resolutions were genuine they ought to be published in every Gazette in the World — If they are one of those tricks which our fashionable Men in England call hoax’es and boares — they ought to be printed in all American journals; exposed to public resentment and the Author of them hunted to his dark Cavern—”

To Bentley, under date of August 21st, he says: “I thank you for the Raleigh Register and National Intelligencer. The plot thickens … I was on social, friendly terms with Caswell, Hooper, and Hewes, every moment of their existence in Congress; with Hooper, a Bostonian, and a son of Harvard, intimate and familiar. Yet, from neither of the three did the slightest hint of these Mecklenburg resolutions ever escape … I cannot believe that they were known to one member of Congress on the fourth of July, 1776 . . . The papers of Dr. Hugh Williamson ought to be searched for the copy sent to him, and the copy sent to General W. R. Davie. The Declaration of Independence made by Congress … is a document . . . that ought not to be disgraced or trifled with.”

Discussion was now rife; and, on February 18, 1820, the Raleigh Register printed a number of affidavits and letters, introduced as follows: “When the Declaration was first published in April last, some doubts were expressed in the Eastern papers as to its authenticity, (none of the Histories of the Revolution having noticed the circumstance.) Col. William Polk, of this City, (who, though a mere youth at the time, was present at the meeting which made the Declaration, and whose Father being Colonel of the County, appears to have acted a conspicuous part on the occasion,) observing this, assured us of the correctness of the facts generally, though he thought there were errors as to the name of the Secretary, &c. and said that he should probably be able to correct these, and throw some further light on the subject, by Enquiries amongst some of his old friends in Mecklenburg county. He has accordingly made Enquiries, and communicated to us . . . Documents as the result, which, we presume, will do away [with] all doubts on the subject.”

The matter was still further investigated, in 1831, under the direction of the General Assembly of the State and a report made.

These (the Raleigh Register of 1820 and the report of the General Assembly, embracing other affidavits) established, it would seem, many of the facts at issue — certainly that, sometime in May, 1775, certain resolutions of an advanced character were adopted in Mecklenburg County; that resolutions of an advanced character were publicly read by Thomas Polk and received with great joy; and that, in June, James Jack set out with a copy of resolutions of an advanced character for Congress, that he stopped at Salisbury, where, at the request of the General Court, an attorney by the name of Kennon read the resolutions, and that Jack delivered a copy of the resolutions to Caswell and Hooper in Philadelphia.

Many claim that these established also that the resolutions in question expressly declared independence and that the date of their adoption was May 20th.

With this, however, we cannot agree. Not only is the wording itself of almost all of the affidavits very uncertain, but it is very apparent that none of the affiants was considering — and we might in any event question the power of any of them to recall — the exact wording of the resolutions adopted or the exact day in May on which adopted.

Under these circumstances, The South-Carolina Gazette; and Country Journal 31 of June 13, 1775, which has since come to light, is, we think, of the first importance. It contains:

Charlotte-town, Mecklenburg County, May 31, 1775 This day the Committee of this county met, and passed the following Resolves:

WHEREAS by an Address presented to his Majesty by both Houses of Parliament, in February last, the American colonies are declared to be in a state of actual rebellion, we conceive, that all laws and commissions confirmed by, or derived from the authority of the King or Parliament, are annulled and vacated, and the former civil constitution of these colonies, for the present, wholly suspended. To provide, in some degree, for the exigencies of this county, in the present alarming period, we deem it proper and necessary to pass the following Resolves, viz:

I. That all commissions, civil and military, heretofore granted by the Crown, to be exercised in these colonies, are null and void, and the constitution of each particular colony wholly suspended.

II. That the Provincial Congress of each province, under the direction of the great Continental Congress, is invested with all legislative and executive powers within their respective provinces; and that no other legislative or executive power, does, or can exist, at this time, in any of these colonies.

III. As all former laws are now suspended in this province, and the Congress have not yet provided others, we judge it necessary, for the preservation of good order, to form certain rules and regulations for the internal government of this county, until laws shall be provided for us by the Congress.

IV. That the inhabitants of this county do meet . . . and having formed themselves into nine companies … do chuse a Colonel and other military officers, who shall hold and exercise their several powers by virtue of this choice, and independent of the Crown of Great-Britain, and former constitution of this province.

V. That for the better preservation of the peace and administration of justice, each of those companies do chuse from their own body, two discreet freeholders, who shall be empowered . . . to decide and determine all matters of controversy . . .

VI . . .

XIV. That all these officers hold their commissions during the pleasure of their several constituents.

XV . . .

XVI. That whatever person shall hereafter receive a commission from the Crown, or attempt to exercise any such commission heretofore received, shall be deemed an enemy to his country . . .

XVII. That any person refusing to yield obedience to the above Resolves, shall be considered equally criminal . . .

XVIII. That these Resolves be in full force and virtue, until instructions from the Provincial Congress, regulating the jurisprudence of the province, shall provide otherwise, or the legislative body of Great-Britain, resign its unjust and arbitrary pretentions with respect to America.

XIX . . .

XX. That the Committee appoint Colonel Thomas Polk, and Doctor Joseph Kennedy, to purchase 300 lb. of powder . . . Signed by order of the Committee,

EPH BREVARD, Clerk of the Committee.

This certainly should be considered, we think, adequate proof that the ” Committee of this county” of Mecklenburg passed the resolves there given on May 31, 1775; and the only question, therefore, we think, is, Were the resolves accredited (in 1819) to the “delegation” composed of “two persons” from “each militia company” “in the county of Mecklenburg” and to the 20th of the same month also passed?

We cannot but say that this seems to us very unlikely. We can see no reasons why the resolves attributed to the 20th, if in fact passed, should not have been the ones published in The South-Carolina Gazette, etc., rather than those of the 31st — especially as some resolves are admitted to have been read publicly in “Charlotte-Town” and in the General Court and sent to the Delegates in Congress and as it would be but natural to make public in the press the more pronounced, admitting that there were two sets of resolves. Indeed, if we can credit at all the resolves given in The South Carolina Gazette, etc., the military companies would seem not to have been organized in Mecklenburg County until after the 31st and in accordance with these resolves.

Certain it is that Hewes, who is stated “individually” to have “approved” of the “proceedings” a copy of which was carried to Philadelphia by James Jack, writes, from Philadelphia, December 1st, to Samuel Johnston (?): “no plan of Separation has been offered, the Colonies will never Agree to Any ’till drove to it by dire Necessity. I wish the time may not come too soon, I fear it will be the case if the British Ministry pursue their present diabolical Schemes, I am weary of politics and wish I could retire to my former private Station (to speak in the language of J. Child) a pence & farthings Man . . . P. S. The bearer William Chew who is sent express is to receive from you Sixty Dollars which you must charge to North Carolina, if he does not find you at Edenton he is to have Six pence per Mile and All ferryages paid, for any distance — that he may go out of his way to find you after he gets to Edenton[.]”

Of importance, too, are the facts that it also has come to light since the report of the General Assembly that there was attached to the ” Davie copy “a certificate from John M’Knitte Alexander and that this stated: “it may be worthy of notice here to observe that the foregoing statement though fundamentally correct, yet may not literally correspond with the original records of the transactions of said delegation and court of inquiry, as all those records and papers were burnt, with the house, on April 6th, 1800; but previous to that time of 1800, a full copy of said records, at the request of Doctor Hugh Williamson, then of New York, but formerly a representative in Congress from this State, was forwarded to him by Col. Wm. Polk in order that those early transactions might fill their proper place in a history of this State then writing by said Doctor Williams in New York. Certified to the best of my recollection and belief this 3d day of September, 1800, by J. McN. Alexander Mecklenburg County, N. C.”

On the other hand, it is zealously claimed that the resolves of the 20th were passed by a more or less popular assemblage (of which Alexander was clerk) and those of the 31st by the regular Committee of the County; or that those of the 31st were a revised set.

The passage in May, 1775, of even such resolutions as are given in The South-Carolina Gazette, etc., however, are greatly to the credit of Mecklenburg County; but they do not take from the fame of Jefferson.

It was not until Lexington and Concord — followed shortly by the death of Warren at Bunker Hill — that a declaration of independence became even a possibility.

Jefferson writes, May 7th, to Dr. William Small: “This accident has cut off our last hope of reconciliation, and a phrenzy of revenge seems to have seized all ranks of people . . . This may perhaps be intended to intimidate into acquiescence; but the effect has been most unfortunately otherwise.”

Samuel Adams, according to his biographer, came to the second Continental Congress (May 10th) “impressed with the necessity of an immediate declaration of independence.” (Indeed, there is a note among the Bancroft papers in the New York Public Library, Lenox, which says: “Samuel Adams said to Rush: For seven years before the commencement of the war [i. e. from 1768] independence has been the first wish of my heart.”)

Franklin, May 16th, sends a letter to London in which he says: “The breach between the two countries is grown wider, and in danger of becoming irreparable; and, on December 9th, he writes, to Charles W. F. Dumas: “… we wish to know whether … if, as it seems likely to happen, we should be obliged to break off all connection with Britain, and declare ourselves an independent people, there is any state or power in Europe who would be willing to enter into an alliance with us for the benefit of our commerce . . .”

Dr. Benjamin Church writes, July 23d: “The people of Connecticut are raving in the cause of liberty . . . The Jerseys are not a whit behind Connecticut in zeal. The Philadelphians exceed them both … I mingled freely and frequently with the members of the Continental Congress; they were united and determined in opposition . . . A view to independence appears to be more and more general.”

John Adams writes, to James Warren, July 24th: “We ought to have had in our hands, a month ago, the whole legislative, executive, and judicial of the whole continent, and have completely modeled a constitution; to have raised a naval power, and opened all our ports wide; to have arrested every friend of government on the continent and held them as hostages for the poor victims in Boston, and then opened the door as wide as possible for peace and reconciliation. After this, they might have petitioned, negotiated, addressed, &c. if they would.”

This, with a letter to his wife, fell into the hands of the enemy and was sent to England and published. Adams, in his Autobiography, says: “They [the British] thought them a great prize. The ideas of independence, to be sure, were glaring enough, and they thought they should produce quarrels among the members of Congress and a division of the Colonies. Me they expected utterly to ruin, because, as they represented, I had explicitly avowed my designs of independence. I cared nothing for this. I had made no secret, in or out of Congress, of my opinion that independence was become indispensable, and I was perfectly sure that in a little time the whole continent would be of my mind. I rather rejoiced in this as a fortunate circumstance, that the idea was held up to the whole world, and that the people could not avoid contemplating it and reasoning about it. Accordingly, from this time at least, if not earlier, and not from the publication of ‘ Common Sense,’ did the people in all parts of the continent turn their attention to this subject . . . Colonel Reed . . . said that Providence seemed to have thrown those letters before the public for our good .. .”

A member of Congress writes, to London, August 26th: “All trade to England, and every other part of the world, will most certainly be stopped on the tenth of next month . . . Whether that will be one means of dissolving our connections entirely with Great Britain, I shall leave to wiser heads to determine. I am far, very far, from wishing such an event, but, nevertheless, I am very apprehensive, from the present temper of our people, that a few more violent steps will lay a foundation for it.”

General Greene writes, to Washington from Prospect Hill, October 23d: “I hinted, in my last, that people begin heartily to wish a declaration of independence . . .” On December 20th, he says: “George the Third’s last speech has shut the door of hope for reconciliation . . . We are now driven to the necessity of making a declaration of independence.”

Bowdoin writes, to Samuel Adams, December 9th: “Our salvation under God depends upon a spirited exertion upon our part, & therefore all delicacy in our hostilities ought to be laid aside . . . We have already shewn too much of it, which instead of attributing it to the true cause — a desire on our part of a reconciliation & the keeping open a door for it — they have looked on as proceeding wholly from pusillanimity, which they expected would end, if rigorous measures were taken with us, in an abject submission . . . The Independence of America will probably grow out of the present dispute. A willing dependence on Great Britain cannot easily be apprehended, as her injuries have been so many & grievous, & all confidence in her justice is lost: — to such a degree lost, that we should not know how to trust her, even if she were sincerely to offer equitable terms of accommodation … I beg you would present my best regards to Dr. Franklin, Mr. Lynch, Col. Harrison, & the Mass Delegates . . .”

The second Continental Congress also met (May 10th) in Philadelphia — but at the State House, not at Carpenters Hall. Franklin had left England on March 21st, had arrived in Philadelphia on May 5th and had been unanimously chosen a Delegate by Pennsylvania on the 6th. The other new Delegates who appeared in Congress on the 10th were John Hancock of Massachusetts, John Langdon of New Hampshire, Thomas Willing of Pennsylvania and John Hall of Maryland. Still others attended later: Lyman Hall from the Parish of St. John’s in Georgia and Thomas Stone of Maryland on the 13th; Philip Schuyler, George Clinton, Lewis Morris (who arrived in Philadelphia on the 10th) and Robert R. Livingston of New York and James Wilson of Pennsylvania on the 15th; Jefferson of Virginia on June 21st; and Archibald Bullock, John Houston” and Rev. J. J. Zubly” of Georgia on September 13th. New York had elected for the first time also Francis Lewis. On the last day (September 13th) appeared as well George Wythe, Thomas Nelson, Jr., and Francis Lightfoot Lee of Virginia — who had been elected for the first time following the adjournment of Congress. Following this adjournment, New Hampshire also elected one new Delegate — Josiah Bartlett; North Carolina also one new Delegate — John Penn; Connecticut also two new Delegates — Samuel Huntington and Oliver Wolcott (together with one new alternate — William Williams; Pennsylvania two new Delegates — Robert Morris and Andrew Allen; Maryland two new Delegates — Robert Alexander and John Rogers; and Virginia one new Delegate — Carter Braxton.

Randolph was for the second time elected President.

He served, however, for a few days only. On the 24th of May, as shown by the Journal, ” The Congress met according to adjournment, but the honorable” Peyton Randolph Pres’ being under a necessity of returning home & having set out this morning early the chair was vacant wherefore on motion, the Honorable John Hancock was unanimously chosen President.”

This Congress, during the year, like the Congress of 1774, took no action whatever upon the question of independence.

John Adams writes to his wife, June nth: ” I have found this Congress like the last. When we first came together, I found a strong jealousy of us from New England, and the Massachusetts in particular; suspicions entertained of designs of independency; an American Republic; Presbyterian principles, and twenty other things. Our sentiments were heard in Congress with great caution, and seemed to make but little impression; but the longer we sat, the more clearly they saw the necessity of pushing vigorous measures. It has been so now . . . But America is a great unwieldy body. Its progress must be slow . . . Like a coach and six, the swiftest horses must be slackened, and the slowest quickened, that all may keep an even pace.”

Franklin, in a letter of October 3d, says: “We have as yet resolved only on defensive measures.”

The spirit73 which prevailed in the body is well shown by an incident described by Jefferson in his Autobiography: “Mr. Dickinson . . . still retained the object of reconciliation … he was so honest a man, and so able a one that he was greatly indulged even by those who could not feel his scruples . . . Congress gave a signal proof of their indulgence to Mr. Dickinson, and of their great desire not to go too fast for any respectable part of our body, in permitting him to draw their second petition to the king according to his own ideas, and passing it with scarcely any amendment, the disgust against it’s humility was general; and Mr. Dickinson’s delight at it’s passage was the only circumstance which reconciled them to it. the vote being past, altho’ further observe on it was out of order, he could not refrain from rising and expressing his satisfaction and concluded by saying “there is but one word, Mr. President, in the paper which I disapprove, & that is the word Congress.” on which Ben Harrison rose and said “there is but one word in the paper, Mr. President, of which I approve, and that is the word Congress [.] “”

Indeed, looking backward, many of the words of this Congress seem like anomalies! Especially is this true of the declaration — the most important measure of the year — setting forth the causes of taking up arms. Though, in effect, a declaration of war, it said: “Lest this declaration should disquiet the minds of our friends and fellow subjects in any part of the Empire, we assure them that we mean not to dissolve that union which has so long and so happily subsisted between us, and which we sincerely wish to see restored.”

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The Declaration of Independence: Its History Chapter 1 1774

The Declaration of Independence: Its History; Chapter 1 Year 1774

Old photo of Independence Hall; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where the Declaration was signed

Old photo of Independence Hall Assembly Room; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where the Declaration was signed

NOTE: There are many greater works on the history of the Declaration of Independence, due to the constraints of the blog format I am sharing this more concise one.

“I have sometimes asked myself whether my country is better for my
having lived at all? I do not know that it is. I have been the
instrument of doing the following things; but they would have been
done by others; some of them perhaps a little better.”
The declaration of independence; Jefferson’s Autobiography

Preface to The Declaration of Independence: Its History

THIS work is offered to the American people not only in the hope that it may be welcomed as a readable and reliable history of the Declaration of Independence but in the hope that it may in some degree tend to keep alive in their hearts the love of Liberty that possessed the [Founding] Fathers.

Benjamin Rush writes, to Rev. Mr. Gordon, at Roxbury, Mass., December 10, 1778: “Put us not off with Great Britain’s acknowledging our independance Alas! the great Ultimatum of our modern patriots. It is liberty alone that can make us happy. And without it the memorable 4th of July 1776 will be execrated by posterity as the day in which pandora’s box was opened in this country. I am impatient to see your history.”

That there are numerous quotations between its covers is due to a belief of the author that the subject called less for his own views than for facts, and also to a belief that the very words afforded the most pleasing presentation.

From some of those whose names have come down to us, numerous quotations have been made; from others, none at all. In this, there has been no intent to slight any particular person or Colony. Many of the patriots were engaged in other fields, equally important to the cause, and had nothing to do directly with the Declaration. Many others, we believe, never put their thoughts or described their deeds on paper. Still more perhaps were unfortunate (or fortunate) enough to have their writings either destroyed or lost. Indeed, John Adams writes to William Tudor, June 5, 1817: “The letters he [Samuel Adams] wrote and received, where are they? I have seen him, at Mrs. Yard’s in Philadelphia, when he was about to leave Congress, cut up with his scissors whole bundles of letters into atoms that could never be reunited, and throw them out of the window, to be scattered by the winds. This was in summer, when he had no fire …”

As to the accuracy of the history, it can be said that, without regard to the labor involved, original sources, wherever practicable, have been examined personally.

The author gratefully acknowledges courtesies extended to him by Charles Francis Adams, by James G. Barnwell and Bunford Samuel, of The Library Company of Philadelphia, by Edmund M. Barton, of the American Antiquarian Society, by John D. Crimmins and W. M. Reynolds, by Wilberforce Eames and Victor H. Paltsits, of the New York Public Library (Lenox), by Worthington Chauncey Ford, of the Library of Congress, by Simon Gratz, by Dr. Samuel A. Green, of the Massachusetts Historical Society, by S. M. Hamilton, formerly of the Bureau of Rolls and Library of the Department of State, by Dr. I. Minis Hays, of The American Philosophical Society, by John W. Jordan, of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, by Robert H. Kelby, of the New York Historical Society, by Otto Kelsey, Comptroller of the State of New York, by J. Pierpont Morgan and Junius S. Morgan, by John Boyd Thacher, by George C. Thomas and A. Howard Ritter and by Arnold J. F. van Laer, of the New York State Library, in the examination of original manuscripts; by Worthington Chauncey Ford, in the securing of photographs of manuscripts, etc.; by Z. T. Hollingsworth; by Joseph F. Sabin; and by others mentioned.

J. H. H. [John Hampden Hazelton]
New York; 1905

SEVENTEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FOUR

SEVENTEEN hundred and seventy-four saw the people at large for the first time recognize that the cause of Boston was a common cause.

Accordingly, it was determined to hold a meeting of Delegates from the various Colonies; and Philadelphia was chosen as the place and the 5th of September as the day of meeting.

When the time approached, “Washington”, says Irving, “was joined at Mount Vernon by Patrick Henry and Edmund Pendleton, and they performed the journey together on horseback. It was a noble companionship. Henry was then in the youthful vigor and elasticity of his bounding genius; ardent, acute, fanciful, eloquent. Pendleton, schooled in public life, a veteran in council, with native force of intellect, and habits of deep reflection. Washington, in the meridian of his days, mature in wisdom, comprehensive in mind, sagacious in foresight.”

We have even a more interesting account of the journey of the Delegates of Massachusetts.

She had selected James Bowdoin, Samuel and John Adams, Thomas Cushing and Robert Treat Paine. Bowdoin having declined the appointment, the others set out from Boston, from Cushing’s house, in one coach, August 10th.

On the 15th, they were in Hartford, whither Silas Deane came to meet them; and, from him, they received an account of the New York Delegates, with whom they were unacquainted. On the 16th, about dusk, they arrived in New Haven; and “all the bells in town were set to ringing”. There, the next day, at the tavern (Isaac Bears’), Roger Sherman called upon them, and expressed the opinion “that the Parliament of Great Britain had authority to make laws for America in no case whatever.”

On the 20th, they ” Lodged at Cock’s, at Kingsbridge”; then breakfasted at Day’s; and arrived in New York “at ten o’clock, at Hull’s, a tavern, the sign the Bunch of Grapes “, whence they ” went to private lodgings at Mr. Tobias Stoutenberg’s, in King Street, very near the City Hall one way, and the French Church the other.” John Adams writes in his Diary: “The streets of this town are vastly more regular and elegant than those in Boston, and the houses are more grand, as well as neat. They are almost all painted, brick buildings and all.”

At 9 o’clock on the 26th, they “crossed Paulus Hook Ferry to New Jersey, then Hackinsack Ferry, then Newark Ferry, and dined at Elizabethtown”; and thence on to Brunswick. About noon on the 27th, they came to the tavern in Princeton, “which holds out the sign of Hudibras, near Nassau Hall College. The tavern keeper’s name is Hire.” Here they spent Sunday also, when they heard Dr. John Witherspoon preach, and, from Jonathan D. Sergeant, learned of the Delegates from Pennsylvania and Virginia, with whom also they were unacquainted, and still more of the Delegates from New York.

Having breakfasted, on Monday, at Trenton, they crossed the Delaware and passed through Bristol to Frankford, five miles from Philadelphia, where a number of gentlemen came from that city to meet them —among them, Thomas M:Kean, Thomas Mifflin, John Sullivan, Nathaniel Folsom and (?) Rutledge. They ” then rode into town, and dirty, dusty, and fatigued as we were,” writes John Adams in his Diary, “we could not resist the importunity to go to the tavern, the most genteel one in America”, where they met Thomas Lynch. Adams, on taking a walk around the city the next day, was much impressed with its “regularity and elegance”, in comparison with the “cowpaths” of Boston. On the last day of August, he and his associates moved their “lodgings to the house of Miss Jane Port, in Arch Street, about halfway between Front Street and Second Street”.

On September 1st, in the evening, the Massachusetts Delegates, together with the Delegates from the other Colonies who had arrived in Philadelphia, 25 in number, met at Smith’s, the new City Tavern. The Adamses, Cushing and Paine were introduced, the next day, to Peyton Randolph, Benjamin Harrison and Richard Henry Lee. On the 3d, they met Matthew Tilghman (perhaps) and Caesar Rodney.

Two days later (Monday, the 5th of September, the day which had been set for the meeting), “At ten”, writes John Adams in his Diary, “the delegates all met at the City Tavern, and walked to the Carpenters’ Hall, where they took a view of the room, and of the chamber where is an excellent library; there is also a long entry where gentlemen may walk, and a convenient chamber opposite to the library. The general cry was, that this was a good room …”

Thus began what has since become known as the First Continental Congress.

The Journal shows us that, on this day, Cushing, Samuel and John Adams and Paine of Massachusetts, Sullivan and Folsom of New Hampshire, Stephen Hopkins and Samuel Ward of Rhode Island, Eliphalet Dyer, Deane and Sherman of Connecticut, James Duane, John Jay, Philip Livingston, Isaac Low and William Floyd of New York, James Kinsey, William Livingston, John De Hart, Steven Crane and Richard Smith of New Jersey, Joseph Galloway, Samuel Rhoads, Mifflin, Charles Humphreys, John Morton and Edward Biddle of Pennsylvania, Rodney, McKean and George Read of Delaware, Robert Goldsborough, William Paca and Samuel Chase of Maryland, Randolph, Washington, Henry, Richard Bland, Harrison and Pendleton of Virginia and Henry Middleton, John and Edward Rutledge, Christopher Gadsden and Thomas Lynchof South Carolina were present. R. H. Lee of Virginia and Thomas John son, Jr., of Maryland took their seats on the next day. Tilghman of Maryland did not attend until the 12th; William Hooper and Joseph Hewes of North Carolina, Henry Wisner and John Alsop of New York and George Ross of Pennsylvania until the 14th; Richard Caswell of North Carolina until the 17th; John Herring of New York until the 26th; Simon Boerum of New York until October 1st; and John Dickinson of Pennsylvania until October 17th.

Randolph was unanimously chosen President; and Charles Thomson of Pennsylvania became Secretary.

This Congress agreed not to import, after the 1st of December, any goods, wares or merchandise from Great Britain or Ireland, or any East India tea, or any molasses, syrups, paneles, coffee or pimento from the British plantations or Dominica, or any wines from Madeira or the Western Islands or any foreign indigo; and the Delegates embodied in the agreement a nonconsumptive clause, binding themselves, as an effectual security for the observation of the non-importation. It was the beginning of the American Union.

Toward declaring independence, however, the First Continental Congress took no action whatever; nor does such a measure seem to have been considered even as a possibility.

Indeed, the association spoken of, of October 20th, itself avowed allegiance to his Majesty; and the address of this Congress to the King stated that the Colonists yielded to no other British subjects in affectionate attachment to his Majesty’s person, family and government.

Nor was there any real thought of independence among the people at large; though Hooper writes, to James Iredell, April 26th: “They [the Colonies] are striding fast to independence, and ere long will build an empire upon the ruin of Great Britain; will adopt its constitution purged of its impurities, and from an experience of its defects will guard against those evils which have wasted its vigor and brought it to an untimely end … I know too well your reverence for our Constitution not to forgive it in another, although it borders upon enthusiasm.” On May 31st, John Scollay writes — from Boston! — to Arthur Lee: “We have too great a regard for our parent State (although cruelly treated by some of her illegitimate sons) to withdraw our connection.” The General Assembly of New Jersey declared, July 21st, that their people and, indeed, the whole country ” detest all thoughts of an independence . . .” Even Washington, in a letter to Captain Mackenzie, written in October, says: “Give me leave to add, and I think I can announce it as a fact, that it is not the wish or interest of that government [Massachusetts], or any other upon this continent, separately or collectively, to set up for independence.”

These views are borne out by a letter dated April 12, 1776, from “A. B.” to Alexander Pardie: “It may, with certainty, be affirmed, that, among the ends which the Colonies (from South-Carolina to New York, inclusively) had in view when they began the present contest, independence held no place; and that the New England Governments, if they had it in view at all, considered it as a remote and contingent object.”

Most of the few who desired a separation lived in or about Boston. “A view to independence grows more and more general” appears in a letter from Dr. Benjamin Church intercepted by Washington at Cambridge in October.

There, Samuel Adams was a central figure. On April 4th, he writes to Arthur Lee: “… if the British administration and government do not return to the principles of moderation and equity, the evil which they profess to aim at preventing by their rigorous measures, will the sooner be brought to pass, viz.— the entire separation and independence of the Colonies … It requires but a small portion of the gift of discernment for anyone to foresee that Providence will erect a mighty empire in America . . .”

Of the opinions of John Adams during this year respecting independence, we have found no contemporaneous record; but a letter to Timothy Pickering, describing the trip to Philadelphia, written many years later (August 6, 1822) says: “I can write nothing which will not be suspected of personal vanity, local prejudice or Provincial & State partiality … As Mr Hancock was sick and confined Mr Bowdoin was chosen at the head of the Massachusetts delegation to Congress. His relations thought his great fortune ought not to be hazarded. Cushing, two Adams’s and Paine . . . were met at Frankfort by Dr Rush, Mr Miffin, Mr Bayard and several others of the most active Sons of Liberty, in Philadelphia, who desired a conference with us. We invited them to take Tea with us in a private apartment. They asked leave to give us some information and advice, which we thankfully granted. They represented to us, that the friends of Government in Boston and in the Eastern States, in their correspondence with their friends in Pennsylvania and all the Southern States, had represented us as four desperate adventurers. Mr Cushing was a harmless kind of man; but poor, and wholly dependent upon his popularity for his subsistence. Mr Samuel Adams was a very artful designing man, but desperately poor and wholly dependent on his popularity with the lowest vulgar for his living. John Adams and Mr Paine were two young Lawyers of no great talents reputation or weight, who had no other means of raising themselves into consequence but by courting popularity. We were all suspected of having Independence in view. Now, said they, you must not utter the word Independence, nor give the least hint or insinuation of the idea, neither in Congress or any private conversation; if you do — you are undone; for the idea of Independence is as unpopular in Pennsylvania and in all the middle and Southern States as the Stamp Act itself. No Man dares to speak of it. Moreover, you are the Representatives of the suffering State . . . you are thought to be too warm, too zealous, too sanguine, you must be therefore very cautious. You must not come forward with any bold measures: you must not pretend to take the lead. You know Virginia is the most populous State in the Union. They are very proud of their ancient Dominion, as they call it; they think they have a right to take the lead, and the Southern States and the middle States too, are too much disposed to yield it to them. This . . . made a deep impression on my mind and it had an equal effect on all my Colleagues. This conversation and the principles, facts and motives suggested in it, have given a colour, complection and character to the whole policy of the United States, from that day to this. Without it . . . Mr. Jefferson [would never] have been the Author of the declaration of Independence, nor Mr. Richard Henry Lee the mover of it . . . Although this advice dwelt deeply on my mind, I had not in my nature prudence and caution enough always to observe it … It soon became rumoured about the City that John Adams was for Independence; the Quakers and Proprietary gentlemen, took the alarm; represented me as the worst of men; the true-blue-sons of Liberty pitied me; all put me under a kind of Coventry. I was avoided like a man infected with the Leprosy. I walked the Streets of Philadelphia in solitude, borne down by the weight of care and unpopularity. But every ship for the ensuing year, brought us fresh proof of the truth of my prophesies, and one after another became convinced of the necessity of Independence.”

Of Virginians, very many think that [Patrick] Henry contributed more than any other man to light the fires of the Revolution; and Wirt goes much farther — claiming for him the credit of being the first of all the leading men of the Colonies to suggest independence. In the account of this patriot’s burst of eloquence, in 1773, he tells us that one of the audience reported that “the company appeared to be startled; for they had never heard anything of the kind even suggested.” Henry, in speaking of Great Britain, (his biographer continues) said: “I doubt whether we shall be able, alone, to cope with so powerful a nation. But where is France? Where is Spain? Where is Holland? the natural enemies of Great Britain — Where will they be all this time? . . . Will Louis the XVI, be asleep all this time? Believe me, no! When Louis the XVI, shall be satisfied by our serious opposition, and our Declaration of Independence, that all prospect of reconciliation is gone, then, and not till then, will he furnish us with arms, ammunition, and clothing; and not with these only, but he will send his fleets and armies to fight our battles for us; he will form with us a treaty offensive and defensive, against our unnatural mother. Spain and Holland will join the confederation! Our independence will be established! and we shall take our stand among the nations of the earth.”

Even Wirt’s claim, however, is outdone by Dr. Joseph Johnson. He says: “We claim for Christopher Gadsden that he first spoke of Independence in 1764, to his friends under Liberty Tree, and there renewed the subject in 1766, rather than submit to the unconstitutional taxes of Great Britain.”
Copyright © 2014 © 2015 TeaPartyEdu http://teapartyedu.net Foundation Truths http://captainjamesdavis.net The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

Jefferson Foresaw and Prophesied about This Time in American History

Thomas Jefferson Foresaw and Prophesied about This Exact Time in American History!

ThomasJeffersonQuoteSpiritOurTimes

The SPIRIT OF THE TIMES MAY ALTER, WILL ALTER. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecution, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and THEIR RIGHTS DISREGARDED. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. THE SHACKLES, THEREFORE, WHICH SHALL NOT BE KNOCKED OFF AT THE CONCLUSION OF THIS WAR, WILL REMAIN ON US LONG, WILL BE MADE HEAVIER AND HEAVIER, TILL OUR RIGHTS SHALL REVIVE OR EXPIRE IN A CONVULSION.”—Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, query XVII.

These words of one of the wisest statesmen of all time imply that the rights of the individual, those civil and religious liberties purchased by our fathers at so dear a price, can be endangered only by a great and radical change in “the spirit of the times.” Obviously, no man, no set of men, no internal or external conditions, could rebind the souls, or even curtail the temporal rights, of those sturdy children of the Reformers to whom the above words were first addressed. Liberty (in America) could again be endangered only by such a radical change in the character of the people themselves as would effect a change in “the spirit of the times.”

“They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights.”

Most clear thinkers have known all along that this is not an age of pre-eminent mental or moral development. They realize that mere intellectual knowledge is not power in the realm of morals. The wide diffusion of intelligence is of little conservative value for either the individual or society at large, if not accompanied by a corresponding improvement in morals. In other words, we may educate the senses, the memory, the reason; but if we do not reach the heart, the will, the conscience, if the secret motives of the soul are not purified, this general diffusion of “education” merely tends to enable the individual to display on a wider stage the motives controlling him. Intellectual education, or what we term in a collective form “civilization” and “culture,” merely gives the individual more power, more opportunities. And in their practical outworkings, as seen all around us, we must own that modern conditions, in some way or other, are as far as ever from developing greater contentment or more self-control on the part of the masses, or more unselfishness on the part of the classes.

It is a very superficial view that leads any one to say that the race as a whole is developing physically or mentally or morally. The unit of the nation is the home, the individual character; and who will say that in these respects “the spirit of the times ” has not noticeably fallen away from the standards of colonial times, or even of two or three generations ago? The creature comforts of a high civilization have never in the history of our world tended to strengthen man’s moral backbone or to hold more secure the moral foundations of society. In biology we have learned that acquired characters are not transmitted to offspring. Similarly we cannot biologically inherit the progress that our fathers made in heart culture, any more than in art; and we all know that in the latter we are sadly degenerate. He who reads the thoughts says the same of our morals. The Bible says that “in the last days perilous times shall come,” that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse; ” and it enumerates a list of characteristics belonging to those who have a “form of godliness,” of the truthfulness and accuracy of which the daily papers of every land are a sad and terrible witness.

In the words of James A. Froude. “We live in days of progress and enlightenment; nature on a hundred sides has unlocked her storehouses of knowledge. But she has furnished no ‘open sesame’ to bid the mountain gate fly wide which leads to conquest of self.”— Essay on Bunyan, p. 34.

In morals and ethics, as in art, our laws and models are all in the dim, misty past; and the dark centuries of sin and woe that separate us from those bright ideals seem to have resulted only in weakening our moral powers of discernment and resolve, and in rendering even more incurable the race’s inherited taint of mental, moral, and physical decay.

“Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race, we kept them free, we kept the faith.” ~ President Ronald Reagan

“For a half century or so the moral and religious training of the millions has been neglected, or even counteracted by doctrines that have shriveled up every moral and religious motive, until nothing is left as a guide of life but expediency and self-interest; and how long can a community, or a nation, or a world, hold together on such a basis without a strong central authority, when ninety-nine per cent are fired with the conviction that they are being oppressed and defrauded by the other one per cent.” ~ George McCready Price (Creationist; 1920) This is what the liberal democrats / progressives have been working towards!

Isaiah 59:14-15 The United States under Democrat Leadership after Liberal Democrats and pop culture in our education system and government since the early 1900’s culminating in the 60’s radicals now in power.

Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:

2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.

4 None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.

5 They hatch cockatrice’ eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper.

6 Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.

7 Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.

8 The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.

9 Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.

10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.

11 We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.

12 For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them;

13 In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.

14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.

15 Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.

16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.

17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.

18 According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence.

19 So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.

20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.

21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.

2 Chronicles 7:14-16
14 If my people, which are called by my name, 
shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face,
and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear 
from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal 
their land.
15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears 
attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.
16 For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, 
that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes 
and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
Sources: Religious Liberty Library Vol 1.
Back to the Bible: Or, The New Protestantism By George McCready Price
King James Holy Bible

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

JOHN ADAMS LETTER TO BENJAMIN RUSH; 1811

TheEducatorGodTrust

JOHN ADAMS LETTER TO BENJAMIN RUSH;

Quincy, 28 August, 1811.

Your letter of the 20th, my dear friend, has filled my eyes with tears, and, indurated stoic as I am, my heart with sensations unutterable by my tongue or pen; not the feelings of vanity, but the overwhelming sense of my own unworthiness of such a panegyric from such a friend. Like Louis the sixteenth, I said to myself, “Qu’est ce que fai fait pour le meriter?”
[What is done to deserve?]

Have I not been employed in mischief all my days? Did not the American revolution produce the French revolution? And did not the French revolution produce all the calamities and desolations to the human race and the whole globe ever since? I meant well, however. My conscience was clear as a crystal glass, without a scruple or a doubt. I was borne along by an irresistible sense of duty. God prospered our labors; and, awful, dreadful, and deplorable as the consequences have been, I cannot but hope that the ultimate good of the world, of the human race, and of our beloved country, is intended and will be accomplished by it. While I was in this reverie, I handed your letter to my brother Cranch, the postmaster, of eighty-five years of age, an Israelite indeed, who read it with great attention, and at length started up and exclaimed, ” I have known you sixty years, and I can bear testimony as a witness to every word your friend has said in this letter in your favor.” This completed my humiliation and confusion.

Your letter is the most serious and solemn one I ever received in my life. It has aroused and harrowed up my soul. I know not what to say in answer to it, or to do in consequence of it.

It is most certain that the end of my life cannot be remote. My eyes are constantly fixed upon it, according to the precept or advice of the ancient philosopher; and, if I am not in a total delusion, I daily behold and contemplate it without dismay.

If by dedicating all the rest of my days to the composition of such an address as you propose,(1) I could have any rational assurance of doing any real good to my fellow-citizens of United America, I would cheerfully lay aside all other occupations and amusements, and devote myself to it. But there are difficulties and embarrassments in the way, which to me, at present, appear insuperable.

The ” sensibility of the public mind,” which you anticipate at my decease, will not be so favorable to my memory as you seem to foresee. By the treatment I have received, and continue to receive, I should expect that a large majority of all parties would cordially rejoice to hear that my head was laid low.

I am surprised to read your opinion, that “my integrity has never been called in question, and that friends and enemies agree in believing me to be an honest man.” (2) If I am to judge by the newspapers and pamphlets that have been printed in America for twenty years past, I should think that both parties believed me the meanest villain in the world.

If they should not suspect me of sinning in the grave, they will charge me with selfishness and hypocrisy before my death, in preparing an address to move the passions of the people, and excite them to promote my children, and perhaps to make my son a king. Washington and Franklin could never do any thing but what was imputed to pure, disinterested patriotism; I never could do any thing but what was ascribed to sinister motives.

I agree with you in sentiment, that religion and virtue are the only foundations, not only of republicanism and of all free government, but of social felicity under all governments and in & all the combinations of human society. But if I should inculcate this doctrine in my will, I should be charged with hypocrisy and a desire to conciliate the good will of the clergy towards my family, as I was charged by Dr. Priestley and his friend Cooper, and by Quakers, Baptists, and I know not how many other sects, for instituting a national fast, for even common civility to the clergy, and for being a church-going animal.

If I should inculcate those “national, social, domestic, and religious virtues” you recommend, I should be suspected and charged with an hypocritical, machiavelian, jesuitical, pharisaical attempt to promote a national establishment of Presbyterianism in America; whereas I would as soon establish the Episcopal Church, and almost as soon the Catholic Church.

If I should inculcate “fidelity to the marriage bed,” it would be said that it proceeded from resentment to General Hamilton, and a malicious desire to hold up to posterity his libertinism. Others would say that it is only a vainglorious ostentation of my own continence. For among all the errors, follies, failings, vices, and crimes, which have been so plentifully imputed to me, I cannot recollect a single insinuation against me of any amorous intrigue, or irregular or immoral connection with woman, single or married, myself a bachelor or a married man.

If I should recommend the sanctification of the sabbath, like a divine, or even only a regular attendance on public worship, as a means of moral instruction and social improvement, like a philosopher or statesman, I should be charged with vain ostentation again, and a selfish desire to revive the remembrance of my own punctuality in this respect; for it is notorious enough that I have been a church-going animalfor seventy-six years, from the cradle. And this has been alleged as one proof of my hypocrisy.

Fifty-three years ago I was fired with a zeal, amounting to enthusiasm, against ardent spirits, the multiplication of taverns, retailers, and dram-shops, and tippling houses. Grieved to the heart to see the number of idlers, thieves, sots, and consumptive patients made for the physicians, in those infamous seminaries, I applied to the Court of Sessions, procured a committee of inspection and inquiry, reduced the number of licensed houses, &c. But I only acquired the reputation of a hypocrite and an ambitious demagogue by it. The number of licensed houses was soon reinstated; drams, grog, and sotting were not diminished, and remain to this day as deplorable as ever. You may as well preach to the Indians against rum as to our people. Little Turtle petitioned me to prohibit rum to be sold to his nation, for a very good reason; because he said I had lost three thousand of my Indian children in his nation in one year by it. Sermons, moral discourses, philosophical dissertations, medical advice, are all lost upon this subject . Nothing but making the commodity scarce and dear will have any effect; and your republican friend, and, I had almost said, mine, Jefferson, would not permit rum or whiskey to be taxed.

If I should then in my will, my dying legacy, my posthumous exhortation, call it what you will, recommend heavy, prohibitory taxes upon spirituous liquors, which I believe to be the only remedy against their deleterious qualities in society, every one of your brother republicans and nine tenths of the federalists would say that I was a canting Puritan, a profound hypocrite, setting up standards of morality, frugality, economy, temperance, simplicity, and sobriety, that I knew the age was incapable of.

Funds and banks (3)I never approved, or was satisfied with our funding system; it was founded in no consistent principle; it was contrived to enrich particular individuals at the public expense. Our whole banking system I ever abhorred, I continue to abhor, and shall die abhorring.

But I am not an enemy to funding systems. They are absolutely and indispensably necessary in the present state of the world. An attempt to annihilate or prevent them would be as romantic an adventure as any in Don Quixote or in Oberon. A national bank of deposit I believe to be wise, just, prudent, economical, and necessary. But every bank of discount, every bank by which interest is to be paid or profit of any kind made by the deponent, is downright corruption. It is taxing the public for the benefit and profit of individuals; it is worse than old tenor, continental currency, or any other paper money.

Now, Sir, if I should talk in this strain, after I am dead, you know the people of America would pronounce that I had died mad.

My opinion is, that a circulating medium of gold and silver only ought to be introduced and established; that a national bank of deposit only, with a branch in each State, should be allowed; that every bank in the Union ought to be annihilated, and every bank of discount prohibited to all eternity. Not one farthing of profit should ever be allowed on any money deposited in the bank. Now, my friend, if, in my posthumous sermon, exhortation, advice, address, or whatever you may call it, I should gravely deliver such a doctrine, nine tenths of republicans as well as federalists will think that I ought to have been consigned to your tranquillizing chair rather than permitted to write such extravagances. Franklin, Washington, Hamilton, and all our disinterested patriots and heroes, it will be said, have sanctioned paper money and banks, and who is this pedant and bigot of a John Adams, who, from the ground, sounds the tocsin against all our best men, when every body knows he never had any thing in view but his private interest from his birth to his death?

Free schools, and all schools, colleges, academies and seminaries of learning,(4)I can recommend from my heart; but I dare not say that a suffrage should never be permitted to a man who cannot read and write. What would become of the republic of France, if the lives, fortunes, character, of twenty-four millions and a half of men who can neither read nor write, should be at the absolute disposal of five hundred thousand who can read?

I am not qualified to write such an address. The style should be pure, elegant, eloquent, and pathetic in the highest degree. It should be revised, corrected, obliterated, interpolated,amended, transcribed twenty times, polished, refined, varnished, burnished. To all these employments and exercises I am a total stranger. To my sorrow, I have never copied, nor corrected, nor embellished. I understand it not. I never could write declamations, orations, or popular addresses.

If I could persuade my friend Rush, or my friend Jay, my friend Trumbull, or my friend Humphreys, or perhaps my friend Jefferson, to write such a thing for me, I know not why I might not transcribe it, as Washington did so often. Borrowed eloquence, if it contains as good stuff, is as good as own eloquence.

The example you recollect of Caesar’s will, is an awful warning. Posthumous addresses may be left by Caesar as well as Cato, Brutus, or Cicero, and will oftener, perhaps, be applauded, and make deeper impressions; establish empires easier than restore republics; promote tyranny sooner than liberty.

Your advice, my friend, flows from the piety, benevolence, and patriotism of your heart. I know of no man better qualified to write such an address than yourself. If you will try your hand at it and send me the result, I will consider it maturely. I will not promise to adopt it as my own, but I may make a better use of it than of any thing I could write.

My brother Cranch thinks you one of the best and one of the profoundest Christians. He prays me to present you his best compliments, and although he has not the honor nor the pleasure of a personal acquaintance, has the highest esteem for your character. He prays me to inclose a sermon, not for its own sake as much as for the appendix, which he asks you to read and give him your opinion of it. Will you show it to our friend Wharton, and get his opinion of it?

John Adams.

 

Footnotes:
1.” Suppose you avail yourself, while in health, of the sensibility which awaits the public mind to your character soon after your death, by leaving behind you a posthumous address to the citizens of the United States, in which shall be inculcated all those great national, social, domestic, and religious virtues, which alone can make a people free, great, and happy.” B. Rush to J. A.

 2. “You stand nearly alone in the history of our public men, in never having had your integrity called in question, or even suspected. Friends and enemies agree in believing you to be an honest man.” B. Ruth to J. A.

3. “In exposing the evils of funding systems and banks, summon all the fire of your genius, as it blazed forth on the 2d of July in the year 1776 upon the floor of Congress.” B. Rush to J. A.

 4. “The benefits of free schools should not be overlooked. Indeed, suffrage, in my opinion, should never be permitted to a man that could not write or read.” B. R. lo J. A.

John Adams on the Death of George Washington

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REPLY TO THE ADDRESS OF THE SENATE, ON THE DEATH OF GEORGE WASHINGTON. 23 December, 1799.

Gentlemen Of The Senate,

I receive, with the most respectful and affectionate sentiments, in this impressive address, the obliging expressions of your regard for the loss our country has sustained in the death of her most esteemed, beloved, and admired citizen.

In the multitude of my thoughts and recollections on this melancholy event, you will permit me only to say, that I have seen him in the days of adversity, in some of the scenes of his deepest distress and most trying perplexities; I have also attended him in his highest elevation, and most prosperous felicity, with uniform admiration of his wisdom, moderation, and constancy.

Among all our original associates in that memorable league of the continent in 1774, which first expressed the sovereign will of a free nation in America, he was the only one remaining in the general government.

Although, with a constitution more enfeebled than his at an age when he thought it necessary to prepare for retirement, I feel myself alone, bereaved of my last brother, yet I derive a strong consolation from the unanimous disposition which appears, in all ages and classes, to mingle their sorrows with mine on this common calamity to the world.

The life of our Washington cannot suffer by a comparison with those of other countries who have been most celebrated and exalted by fame. The attributes and decorations of royalty could have only served to eclipse the majesty of those virtues which made him, from being a modest citizen, a more resplendent luminary. Misfortune, had he lived, could hereafter have sullied his glory only with those superficial minds, who, believing that characters and actions are marked by success alone, rarely deserve to enjoy it. Malice could never blast his honor, and envy made him a singular exception to her universal rule. For himself, he had lived enough to life and to glory. For his fellow-citizens, if their prayers could have been answered, he would have been immortal. For me, his departure is at a most unfortunate moment. Trusting, however, in the wise and righteous dominion of Providence over the passions of men, and the results of their counsels and actions, as well as over their lives, nothing remains for me but humble resignation.

His example is now complete, and it will teach wisdom and virtue to magistrates, citizens, and men, not only in the present age, but in future generations, as long as our history shall be read. If a Trajan found a Pliny, a Marcus Aurelius can never want biographers, eulogists, or historians.

John Adams.

John Adams Letter To Benjamin Rush; 21 January, 1810

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John Adams Letter To Benjamin Rush; 21 January, 1810

Quincy, 21 January, 1810.

Learned, ingenious, benevolent, beneficent old friend of 1774! Thanks for “the light and truth,” as I used to call the Aurora, which you sent me. You may descend in a calm, but I have lived in a storm, and shall certainly die in one.(1)

I never asked my son any questions about the motives, designs, or objects of his mission to St. Petersburgh.(2) If I had been weak enough to ask, he would have been wise enough to be silent; for although a more dutiful and affectionate son is not in existence, he knows his obligations to his country and his trust are superior to all parental requests or injunctions. I know therefore no more of his errand than any other man. If he is appointed to be a Samson to tie the foxes’ tails together with a torch or firebrand between them, I know nothing of it. One thing I know, we ought to have had an ambassador there these thirty years; and we should have had it, if Congress had not been too complaisant to Vergennes. Mr. Dana was upon the point of being received, and had a solemn promise of a reception, when he was recalled. Under all the circumstances of those times, however, I cannot very severely blame Congress for this conduct, though I think it was an error. It is of great importance to us at present to know more than we do of the views, interests, and sentiments of all the northern powers. If we do not acquire more knowledge than we have, of the present and probable future state of Europe, we shall be hoodwinked and bubbled by the French and English.

Of Mr. Jackson, his talents, knowledge, manners, or morals, I know nothing, but am not unwilling to think favorably of them all. His conduct to our President and his minister is not, however, a letter of recommendation of his temper, policy, or discretion. His lady was an intimate acquaintance of my daughter, and consequently well known to both my sons at Berlin. Thomas speaks handsomely of her person and accomplishments.

I have not seen, but am impatient to see, Mr. Cheetham’s life of Mr. Paine. His political writings, I am singular enough to believe, have done more harm than his irreligious ones. He understood neither government nor religion. From a malignant heart he wrote virulent declamations, which ‘the enthusiastic fury of the times intimidated all men, even Mr. Burke, from answering as he ought. His deism, as it appears to me, has promoted rather than retarded the cause of revolution in America, and indeed in Europe. His billingsgate, stolen from Blount’s Oracles of Reason, from Bolingbroke, Voltaire, Bdrenger, &c., will never discredit Christianity, which will hold its ground in some degree as long as human nature shall have any thing moral or intellectual left in it. The Christian religion, as I understand it, is the brightness of the glory and the express portrait of the character of the eternal, self-existent, independent, benevolent, all powerful and all merciful creator, preserver, and father of the universe, the first good, first perfect, and first fair. It will last as long as the world. Neither savage nor civilized man, without a revelation, could ever have discovered or invented it. Ask me not, then, whether I am a Catholic or Protestant, Calvinist or Arminian. As far as they are Christians, I wish to be a fellow-disciple with them all.

Footnotes:
1 “I inclose a few numbers of the Aurora. Shall we descend in a calm or a storm to our graves?” B. Rush to J. A.

2 “We are told your son is gone to Petersburgh to put a torch to the flame of war, and that we are to be allies of France, and of all the powers on the Baltic, in it” B. R. to J. A.

JOHN ADAMS TO THE GRAND JURORS OF THE COUNTY OF HAMPSHIRE, MASSACHUSETTS. 3 OCTOBER, 1798

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John Adams To The Grand Jurors Of The County Of Hampshire, Massachusetts.

3 October, 1798.

Gentlemen,

I have received with much pleasure your address of the 28th of September from Northampton.

The manifestations of your respect, approbation, and confidence are very flattering to me, and your determination to support the Constitution and laws of your country is honorable to yourselves. If a new order of things has commenced, it behooves us to be cautious, that it may not be for the worse. If the abuse of Christianity can be annihilated or diminished, and a more equitable enjoyment of the right of conscience introduced, it will be well; but this will not be accomplished by the abolition of Christianity and the introduction of Grecian mythology, or the worship of modern heroes or heroines, by erecting statues of idolatry to reason or virtue, to beauty or to taste. It is a serious problem to resolve, whether all the abuses of Christianity, even in the darkest ages, when the Pope deposed princes and laid nations under his interdict, were ever so bloody and cruel, ever bore down the independence of the human mind with such terror and intolerance, or taught doctrines which required such implicit credulity to believe, as the present reign of pretended philosophy in France.

John Adams.

 

AMERICAN FOUNDATIONS

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AMERICAN FOUNDATIONS
The Rev. ARTHUR J. PENNELL, New Haven, Conn.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God.—Matt. 6: 33.

A QUESTION often arises in the minds of men whether this country is a Christian country! The status of a notion is determined by its ideals. Ideals are found in the highest aspirations and noblest ambitions of a nation’s leaders. The artist of whatever school is judged not by his first operation in the dusting of the canvas, nor by the mixing of the colors for the dubbing, nor by the first effort of his brush; a Raphael is supreme because of his Madonna. So the test of a people is to be found in their highest conception of conduct as portrayed through life and transmitted by printed page or word of mouth to posterity.

In the days preceding the printing press, man was educated in the deeds of heroism through the minstrel, thereafter by copied pages of historic accomplishments. Now through the utilization of the minerals of the earth and the harnessing of the vapors a power-driven writer presents for man’s perusal and careful study the achievements of men and nations. History is the record of the world’s noblest, and the meridian splendor of the achievement by man was when the sublime manifestation of character was exhibited to mankind through Jesus Christ.

We are brought, therefore, to the conclusion that we can estimate the ideals of a nation by its heroes—those supermen, who in the strain and stress of life’s performances stood unabashed and unafraid before every element which sought to destroy the God-germ within them. Every nation has its heroes: a Kossuth, a Garibaldi, a Napoleon, a Cromwell, a Washington or a Lincoln, a King Albert, or n Foch; but these are, so to speak, limited heroes. The world needs one who transcends limitations, whose country has no physical confines, whose nationality is lost in its broad universalism. Such is the Christ. The record of his life is the newer portion of the world’s greatest historical record now extant—the New Testament—indissolubly bound up with that other volume which in combination forms the Guide Book for human destiny. It if herein that men have ever found their ideals. It is interesting, herewith, to note, that this book, which is the basic foundation of all Christian institutions, the hope of all Christ believing souls, the inspiration of all Jesus inclined mortals, was chosen for use in the recent inauguration of a new President because in the days of yesterday’s great American utilized this time-honored volume by turning to its pages and with sincerity of heart and nobility of purpose pledged himself thereon to preserve the Constitution and to uphold the laws of this youthful republic. Surely, if apostolic succession was ever fulfilled, it was on March fourth last—when the mantle of the first American fell upon the new President, the spirit of our immortal Lincoln and the beauty of the martyred McKinley were recalled in the simple ceremony of the inauguration of the twenty-ninth President of the United States of America. Foundations, whether individual or national, to be lasting must go down deep into the past and be linked to the great minds of by-gone days. The Bible opened before that great gathering in Washington was the book which had been consecrated by the taking of the oath of office by the “Father of his country” and carried in procession at the unveiling of that monument which like a noble character towers to the skies. It was the heritage of that people of whom we are compelled to think when the word America is pronounced.

Read the Bible—read the Bible, let no religious book take its place. Through all my perplexities and distresses I never read any other book, and I never felt the want of any other. It has been my hourly study; and all my knowledge of the doctrines, and all my acquaintance with the experience and realities of religion, have been derived from the Bible only.” William Wilberforce Early American Statesman and Leader of the movement to abolish slavery

One cannot talk of “American Foundations” without recalling the struggles of the Puritan Fathers, who with their Pilgrim associates fought out the battles of religious freedom, shackled the usurping powers of overbearing government, and “with a heart for any fate” journeyed forth “seeking first the kingdom of God” to launch their project of government where, unmolested by governmental edicts and churchly intolerance, man might live and thrive.

In their native land laws were enacted, limitations were placed, punishments were meted out, restrictive measures were enforced, until the soul of God-fearing man was trammeled, religion became a mockery, and will was but a machine. Hope kept alive in these heroic souls the thought of a newer and a brighter day. Each morning’s sun dawned upon a day of more oppressive measures and firmer determination to wipe out those obnoxious people whose wills were their own. Fleeing their own country, they waited with patience in a land of friends, and for eleven years passed their time in strengthening their organization. Unlike the Huguenots who had fled to Germany, they never contemplated the losing of their individuality or of being absorbed by their surroundings. It was this desire to maintain their separate existence which impelled them to journey to lands practically unknown. At home there was no freedom, abroad there would be no separateness; migration was their only hope.

Westward this band of Pilgrims wended their way, oblivious of dangers, fearless of terrors, undaunted by hardship. These heroes of early American life were buoyed up in their distress with the thoughts of such as Andrew Melville who, on being called in question for a statement made in a public address in which he had alluded to King James VI as “God’s silly vassal,” replied, “I tell you, sir, there are two kingdoms and two kings in Scotland. There is Christ Jesus the King, and his kingdom in the Kirk,[Kirk refers to the Church] whose subject James VI is, and of whose kingdom he is not a king, nor a lord, nor a head, but a member.” And back of Melville was a people fully aroused to the conviction that there is an eternal law of God which kings no less than the meanest subject must obey. This kind grows only on the tree of Bible knowledge and religious freedom. Thus we see that the primal foundation of America is the Bible, for it was this book with these principles which the Pilgrims brought, which they utilized until they welded them into the very fiber of the nation’s life.

“The general diffusion of the Bible, is the most effectual way to civilize and humanize mankind; to purify and exalt the general system of public morals; to give efficacy to the just precepts of international and municipal law; to enforce the observance of prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude, and to improve all the relations of social and domestic life.” Chancellor James Kent author of Commentaries on American Law

A second foundation of the American republic is education. Wherever the Bible is found as an open book there also will be found education for the people. Spiritual and intellectual death stalk in those lands where the Bible is closed. Those heroes of Americanism, realizing that freedom can not survive in ignorance, established America’s two greatest institutions at the same time and place. Wherever the meeting house was erected there also was the school house; and in the early days of this nation’s history most colleges and schools of learning could trace their beginnings to the inspiration of the Church. Wisely our early fathers emphasized the value and importance of mental development. The citizen of to-morrow is the student of to-day. Education enables us through reading and study to utilize the values of the past. Napoleon once said, “Show me a family of readers and I will show you the rulers of the world.” The effect of educational advance has not been confined to the little experiment in free government, but has extended its influence to the uttermost parts of the earth. Through the influence of those far-seeing heroes, penetrating into nations of different ideals, Western education has caused democracy to find lodgment even in lands hitherto uncongenial to it, and to-day the principles of our forefathers are seen in economic life and governmental reform throughout the world. So long as the institutions of learning maintain their proper position in the life of our country, the ideals of the fathers and the principles of our republic can never be lost to mankind.

A third foundation of this republic is equal opportunity. This question has ever been prominent in our history. This foundation was bought for American humanity as dearly as any privilege enjoyed by the human race. If 1776 saw the struggle for the conviction that “divine right” of government resides in the average citizen, we may as truly say that 1861-65 saw the struggle to make plain that in this republic the success of the individual does not depend upon the ability of the few to enslave the many, but that “the laborer is worthy of his hire,” and that no laborer is worthy to be hired unless he has ample opportunity to become all that is possible for him to be. As an institution, then, a false foundation was removed from under the structure of our heritage, and after reconstructing our building in harmony with those higher views, we set forth again upon the course of national life. Again in 1898 we declared to the world that the principles we held must be respected within the radius of our possibilities. The unlimited invitation which has been extended to the world’s oppressed has resulted in the gathering together within our borders of peoples whose ideals and principles are as distantly removed from ours as is the atmosphere of the frozen Arctic from the oppressive heat of the equatorial regions. This strange admixture of alien ideals with American foundations has resulted in much unrest and social disturbance. It has stirred up strife where only the peaceful waters of a summer sea had flowed. It has sometimes turned the honest workman into an avaricious traveler or into a guerrilla of social warfare and a destroyer of national industry.

“I deem myself fortunate,” said the venerable Ex-President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, “in having the opportunity—at a stage of a long life drawing rapidly to its close, to bear, at this place, the capital of the National Union, in the Hall of Representation of the North American people, in the chair of the presiding officer of an assembly representing the whole people, the personification of the great and mighty nation—to bear my solemn testimonial of reverence and gratitude to that Book of books, the Holy Bible. In the midst of the painful and perilous conflicts inseparable from public life, and at the eve of that moment when the grave shall close over them for ever, I may be permitted to indulge the pleasing reflection, that, having been taught in childhood the unparalleled blessings of the Christian gospel, in the maturity of manhood I associated with my brethren of that age, for spreading the light of that gospel over the face of the earth, by the simple and silent process of placing in the hands of every human being who needed, and could not otherwise procure it, the Book which contains the duties and admonitions, the promises and the rewards of the Christian gospel.”

At first glimpse one may possibly find in himself a feeling of pessimism; but think carefully! The foundations of this great nation are deeply rooted and well founded. When he who has been chosen by the multitude of bis fellows exercising their prerogative as citizens and voters in a land of democratic ideals steps forward to take his solemn obligation of service and to vow before God and men his determination to conserve the interests of the people; when with head bared and hand uplifted he stands before the open Bible, the basis of our Constitution, the inspiration of our fathers, the book of life’s principles; when with solemnity and with sincerity the chief executive—with no further ceremony, no pomp and splendor, no pretension or spirit of arrogance, but “with singlemindedness of purpose and humility of spirit—implores the favor and guidance of God, and can say with these, “I am unafraid and confidently face the future”—then Americans all, with one chief executive, one God, one confident hope, can rally, and imploring this same God of our American heritage, found in this open Bible of our inheritance, educated in and through our educational systems, strongly intrenched in the belief of opportunity for all, and, reiterating the injunctions of the past to the present and future, can pledge ourselves ever to uphold those ideals which were written into our life by Washington. We may resolve that the spirit of Lincoln shall ever live in us, and slavery of no race or color shall exist wherever the American flag shall fly; that ignorance shall never encircle the mind of our youth; that the Bible, which has been the spring of education, the spur to freedom of the individual, and has shown the highway to God in man’s search for the higher spirituality, shall ever be in this land an open book.

John Randolph of Roanoke, “I would not give up my slender portion of the price paid for our redemption—I would not exchange my little portion in the Son of David, for the power and glory of the Parthian or Roman empires, as described by Milton in the temptation of our Lord and Saviour—not for all with which the enemy tempted the Saviour of man….” Speaking of Randolph ex-Senator Thomas Benton in his Thirty Years’ View said; “The last time I saw him, which was in that last visit to Washington, after his return from the Russian mission, and when he was in the full view of death, I heard him read the chapter in the Revelation (of the opening of the seals), with such power and beauty of voice and delivery, and such depth of pathos, that I felt as if I had never heard the chapter read before. When he had got to the end of the opening of the sixth seal, he stopped the reading, laid the book (open at the place) on his breast, as he lay on his bed, and began a discourse upon the beauty and sublimity of the Scriptural writings, compared to which he considered all human compositions vain and empty. Going over the images presented by the opening of the seals, he averred that their divinity was in their sublimity—that no human power could take the same images, and inspire the same awe and terror, and sink ourselves into such nothingness in the presence of the ‘wrath of the Lamb’—that he wanted no proof of their Divine origin but the sublime feelings they inspired.”

Source: The Homiletic Review – Volume 82 published 1921

Death of General George Washington by John Marshall

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George Washington: Prayer at Valley Forge

Death of General George Washington; by John Marshall (Washington Biographer)

On Friday, the 13th of December, 1799, while attending to some improvements upon his estate, he was exposed to a slight rain, by which his neck and hair became wet. Unapprehensive of danger from this circumstance, he passed the afternoon in his usual manner; but in the night he was seized with an inflammatory affection of the windpipe. The disease commenced with a violent ague, accompanied with some pain in the upper and fore part of the throat, a sense of stricture in the same part, a cough, and a difficult, rather than a painful, deglutition, which were soon succeeded by a fever, and a quick and laborious respiration.

Believing bloodletting to be necessary, he procured a bleeder, who took from his arm twelve or fourteen ounces of blood; but he would not permit a messenger to be dispatched for his family physician until the appearance of day. About eleven in the morning, Dr. Craik arrived; and, perceiving the extreme danger of the case, requested that two consulting physicians should be immediately sent for. The utmost exertions of medical skill were applied in vain. The powers of life were manifestly yielding to the force of the disorder; speaking, which was painful from the beginning, became almost impracticable; respiration became more and more contracted and imperfect; until half past eleven on Saturday night, when, retaining the full possession of his intellect, he expired without a struggle.

Believing, at the commencement of his complaint, as well as through every succeeding stage of it, that its conclusion would be mortal, he submitted to the exertions made for his recovery rather as a duty than from any expectation of their efficacy. Some hours before his death, after repeated efforts to be understood, he succeeded in expressing a desire that he might be permitted to die without interruption. After it became impossible to get anything down his throat, he undressed himself, and went to bed, there to die. To his friend and physician, Dr. Craik, who sat on his bed, and took his head in his lap, he said with difficulty, “Doctor, I am dying, and have been dying for a long time; but I am not afraid to die.”

During the short period of his. illness, he economized his time in arranging, with the utmost serenity, those few concerns which required his attention, and anticipated his approaching dissolution with every demonstration of that equanimity, for which his life was so uniformly and singularly conspicuous.

The deep and wide-spreading grief, occasioned by this melancholy event, assembled a great concourse of people, for the purpose of paying the last tribute of respect to the first of Americans. On Wednesday, the 18th of December, attended by military honours and the ceremonies of religion, his body was deposited in the family vault at Mount Vernon

So short was his illness, that, at the seat of government, the intelligence of his death preceded that of his indisposition. It was first communicated by a passenger in the stage to an acquaintance whom he met in the street, and the report quickly reached the house of representatives, which was then in session. The utmost dismay and affliction were displayed for a few minutes, after which a member stated in his place the melancholy information which had been received. This information, he said, was not certain, but there was too much reason to believe it true.

“After receiving intelligence,” he added, “of a national calamity so heavy and afflicting, the house of representatives can be but ill fitted for public business.” He therefore moved an adjournment. Both houses adjourned until the next day.

On the succeeding day, as soon as the orders were read, the same member addressed the chair, and afterwards offered the following resolutions :*

“Resolved, that this house will wait upon the president, in condolence of this mournful event.

“Resolved, that the speaker’s chair be shrouded with black, and that the members and officers of the house wear black during the session.

“Resolved, that a committee, in conjunction with one from the senate, be appointed to consider on the most suitable manner of paying honour to the memory of the Man first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his fellow-citizens.”

* These resolutions were prepared by General Lee, and offered by John Marshall, the future biographer of Washington. The last sentiment in them has been often quoted and admired.—Ed.

Prophetic: Necessity of a Pure National Morality by Lyman Beecher

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Prophetic Sermon by Lyman Beecher; the father of Henry Ward Beecher

Necessity of a Pure National Morality; by Lyman Beecher (1775 – 1863) Presbyterian minister.

Ezekiel, xxxiii. 10.

Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; thus ye speak, saying, if our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?

At the time this direction was given to the prophet, the nation of Israel had become very wicked, and were suffering in captivity the punishment of their sins; and yet they did not reform. They affected to doubt whether, if they did reform, the Most High would pardon them; and if he would, it would afford them no consolation, for reformation, they insisted, had become hopeless. “Our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?” The burden has increased, until we are crushed beneath it—the disease has progressed, until it has become incurable.

They were correct in the inference that if they did not reform they must die; but they erred lamentably in the conclusion that reformation was hopeless.

To wipe off such an aspersion from his character, and to banish from the minds of his people such desponding apprehensions, the Most High condescends to expostulate with them. Have I any pleasure in the death of him that dieth? Is it my fault, that nations are wicked? Do I constrain them to sin, or prevent their reformation? As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: “turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”

We are brought, therefore, by the text and its connections, to the doctrine,

That A Work Of Reformation, In A Time Of Great Moral Declension, Is A Difficult, But By No Means An Impracticable Work.

In the illustration of this doctrine, it is proposed to consider,

I. Some of the difficulties, which may be expected to impede a work of reformation.

II. Show that such a work is, notwithstanding, entirely practicable.

III. Consider some of the ways, in which it may be successfully attempted. And

IV. The motives to immediate exertion.

With respect to the difficulties which may be expected to attend a work of reformation, one obvious impediment will be found in the number and character of those who must be immediately affected by such a work.

The sons of Belial, in a time of declension, are numerous and daring. Emboldened by impunity, they have declared themselves independent both of God and man, and are leagued by a common interest and a common feeling, to defend their usurped immunities. They are watchful and zealous; and the moment an effort is made to execute the laws, every mouth is open against the work; and their clamors, and sneers, and threatenings, and lies, like the croakings of Egypt, fill the land.

This direct opposition, may be expected to receive from various sources collateral aid. In this wicked world, where the love of money is the root of evil, there are not a few who traffic in the souls and bodies of men. Not immoral always, in their own conduct, they thrive by the vices of other men; and may be tempted to resist a reformation which would dry up these impure sources of revenue. They would not justify intemperance, nor the means of promoting it; but pretexts are never wanting to conceal the real motives of men, and justify opposition to whatever they deem inconsistent with their interest. Though reformation, therefore, might be admitted to be desirable, either the motives of those who make the attempt, or the means by which they make it, will always be wrong; and it will be impossible ever to devise a right way, till their interest is on the other side. In many cases, it is to be hoped, that integrity would get the victory over cupidity; but in many more, it is to be feared, that avarice, secretly or openly, would send recruits to the standard of opposition.

This phalanx may receive some augmentation from those, whose pride may be wounded through the medium of their unhappy relatives. They could endure to see them live in infamy, and die in despair, while they shrink from the imagined disgrace of applying a remedy which may rescue the victim, or limit the influence of his pestilent example. How long shall it be, ere men will learn that sin is infamy, and that reformation is glory and honor!

To the preceding, must be added the opposition of all the timid, falsely called, peace makers.

They lament bitterly the prevailing evils of the day, and multiply predictions of divine judgments and speedy ruin; but if a voice be raised, or a finger be lifted to attempt a reformation, they are in a tremor lest the peace of society be invaded. Their maxim would seem to be, ‘better to die in sin, if we may but die quietly, than to purchase life and honor by contending for them.’ If men will be wicked, let them be wicked, if they will but be peaceable. But the mischief is, men freed from restraint will be wicked, and will not be peaceable. No method can be devised more effectual to destroy the peace of society, than tamely to give up the laws to conciliate the favor of the flagitious. Like the tribute paid by the degenerate Romans to purchase peace of the northern barbarians, every concession will increase the demand, and render resistance more hopeless.

Another class of men will encamp very near the enemy, through mere love of ease.

They would have no objection that vice should be suppressed and good morals promoted, if these events would come to pass of their own accord; but, when the question is asked, ‘What must be done?’ this talk of action is a terrific thing; and if, in their panic, they go not over to the enemy, it is only because the enemy also demands courage and enterprise. In this dilemma, it is judged expedient to put in requisition the resources of wisdom, and gravely to caution against rashness, and innovation, and zeal without knowledge, until all about them are persuaded that the safest, and wisest, and easiest way, is to do nothing.

There is another class of men, not too indolent, but too exclusively occupied with schemes of personal enterprise, to bestow their time or labor upon plans which regard only the general good.

If their fields bring forth abundantly, if their profession be lucrative, if they can buy, and sell, and get gain, it is enough. Society must take care of itself. Distant consequences are not regarded, and generations to come must provide for their own safety. The stream of business hurries them on without the leisure of a moment, or an anxious thought concerning the general welfare.

Another impediment to be apprehended when the work of reformation is attempted, is found in the large territory of neutral ground, which, on such occasions, is often very populous.

Many would engage in the enterprise cheerfully, were they quite certain it could be done with perfect safety. But perhaps it may injure their interest, or affect their popularity. They take their stand therefore, on this safe middle ground—they will not oppose the work, for perhaps it may be popular; and they will not help the work, for perhaps it may be unpopular. They wait therefore, till they perceive whether Israel or Amalek prevail, and then, with much self complacency, fall in on the popular side. This neutral territory is especially large in a republican government, where so much emolument and the gratification of so much ambition depend upon the suffrages of the people. It requires no deep investigation to make it manifest to the candidate for suffrage, that if he lend his influence to prevent travelling on the sabbath, the sabbath-breaker will not vote for him; if he lay his hand upon tippling shops and drunkards, the whole suffrage of those who are implicated will be turned against him. Hence, many who should be a terror to evil doers, will bear the sword in vain. They will persuade themselves that theirs is a peculiar case; and that it is not best for them to volunteer in the work of reformation.

To reduce the power of this, temptation, it may be laid down as a maxim, that when the toleration of crimes becomes the price of public suffrage, when the people will not endure the restraint of righteous laws, but will reward magistrates who violate their oath and suffer them to sin with impunity, and when magistrates will sell their consciences and the public good for a little brief authority,’ then the public suffrage is of but little value, for the day of liberty is drawing to a close, and the night of despotism is at hand. The people are prepared to become slaves; and the flagitious to usurp the government, and rule them with a rod of iron. No compact formed by man is more unhallowed or pernicious, than this tacit compact between rulers and the people to dispense with the laws, and tolerate crimes.

In the midst of these difficulties, there are not a few who greatly magnify them by despondency. Like the captive Israelites, they sit down, and fold their hands, and sigh, and weep, and wish that something might be done, but inculcate unceasingly the disheartening prediction, that nothing can be done. “It is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants; and we were in our oivn sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” Because the work cannot be done at once, they conclude that it can never be done. Because all that might be desirable cannot, perhaps ever, be obtained, they conclude that nothing can be obtained. Talk of reformation, and the whole nation with all its crimes rises up before them, and fills them with dismay and despair. It seems never to have occurred to them, that if we cannot do great good, it is best to do a little; and that, by accomplishing with persevering industry all that is practicable, the ultimate amount may be great, surpassing expectation.

There is yet another class of people who by no means despair of deliverance, but they have no conception that human exertion will be of much avail. ‘If we are delivered, God must deliver us, and we must pray and wait, till it shall please him to come and save us.’ But, upon this principle we may pray and wait forever, and the Lord will not come. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of means, and though the excellency of the power belongs to him exclusively, human instrumentality is indispensable.

It is by no means improbable that some may be aroused to oppose any special efforts at reformation, merely from their novelty. It is lamentable that such efforts should be a novelty in a world, where they are always so necessary to keep back the encroachments of vice—but so it is. If the exertions, however good and proper, have not been made before, it seems to be with some a valid reason why they never should be made.—’ What new thing is this? Did our fathers ever do so?’ They had not the same occasion. But because they did not make special efforts to repel an enemy which did not assail them, shall we neglect to resist an enemy which is pouring in like a flood, and threatening to sweep us away? There are some who look with cold philosophic eye upon the progress of crimes, as a part of that great course of events which will roll on resistless in spite of human endeavor. And we know, that the genius of the government, the progress of science, and the refinement of wealth and luxury, will draw after them a train of consequences which no human efforts can prevent. But are these consequences evil only? Are not certain vices left behind in the rude age, and certain virtues produced by the age of refinement? If there be greater facilities of committing crimes, are there not also increased facilities of preventing them? And if the balance be, on the whole, against us, is this an argument that we can do nothing; or only that we should double our diligence as dangers increase? Because nations have not resisted this tide of human events, does it follow that it cannot be resisted? May not the deleterious causes be modified and counteracted, and their results delayed, if not averted? Will the christian religion and its institutions exert no saving influence in our favor? Because Greece and Rome who had not this precious system, perished by their vices, is it certain that nations must perish now, who experience its preserving influence? We have seen what idols can do, and we have before us the results of atheism. Let us now, with double diligence water the tree whose leaves are for the healing of the nations; and not despair of its restoring influence, till the experiment has been faithfully made and has failed.

But not a few, after all, it may be feared, will stand aloof from the work of reformation, from the persuasion that we are in no danger. ‘The world is no worse than it always has been, and this pretence of growing wickedness, is only a song of alarm sung by superstition, from age to age.’ Surely then, if we may credit testimony, the world has been uniformly bad enough to make reformation desirable; and if, without special efforts, it has been stationary, the prospect of improvement by exertion is bright, and we are utterly inexcusable if we do not make the attempt.

But is it true that nations do not decline? Whence then the punishment of the Israelites for this sin, and whence the maxim we have just combated, that they must and will decline? Were the morals of the Roman empire as good when it was sold at auction, as at any antecedent period? Was the age of Charles the Second in England as favorable to virtue, as any preceding age? Did the late war produce in our own land, no change for the worse? Are the morals of New England as pure now, as they ever have been? Is the God of heaven as universally worshipped in the family? Are children as much accustomed to subordination, and as faithfully instructed in religion? Are the laws against immorality as faithfully executed, and the occasions for their interference as few, as at any former period? Has there been no increase of slander, falsehood, and perjury? Is the sabbath day remembered and kept holy, with its ancient strictness? Did our fathers journey, and labor in the field, and visit, and ride out for amusement on that holy day, and do these things with impunity? Has there been no increase of intemperance? Was there consumed, in the days of our fathers, the proportion of five gallons of ardent spirits for every man, woman, and child in the land; and at an expense, more than sufficient to support the Gospel, the civil government, and every school and literary institution? Did our fathers tolerate tippling-shops all over the land, and enrich merchants and beggar their families, by mortgaging their estates to pay the expenses of intemperance? Did the ardent spirits consumed by laborers amount, not unfrequently, to almost half the price of their labor; and did they faint often ere the day was past, and fail before the summer was ended, and die of intemperance in the midst of their days? It is capable of demonstration, that the vigor of our countrymen, the amount of productive labor and their morals, are declining together under the influence of this destructive sin.

We are to show

II. That notwithstanding all these impediments, a reformation is entirely practicable.

If it were not practicable, why should it be commanded, and disobedience be followed with fearful punishment? Shall not the judge of all the earth do right? Are not all his requisitions according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not? The commands of God are the measure and the evidence of human ability. He is not an hard master, reaping where he has not sowed, and gathering where he has not strawed. The way of the Lord is not unequal—he never demands of men the performance of impossibilities. We conclude therefore, that reformation is practicable, because it is the unceasing demand of heaven, that nations, as well as individuals, do turn from their evil ways.

But facts corroborate theory. Reformations great and difficult, have been achieved. Such was the reformation from Popery begun by Luther. Who, before the event, would have conceived it possible, that an individual could awake half of Europe from the slumber of ages, and shed upon the nations that light, which is shining more and more to the perfect day.

The abolition of the slave trade in England, and in our own country, is a memorable exhibition of what may be done by well directed, persevering efforts. The inhuman traffic was sanctioned by custom, defended by argument, and, still more powerfully, by a vast monied capital embarked in the trade. It is not yet fifty years since this first effort was made, and-now the victory is won. Who produced this mighty revolution? A few men at first lifted up their voice, and were reinforced by others, till the immortal work was done.

A thousandth part of the study, and exertion, and expense, and suffering, endured to achieve our independence, would be sufficient with the divine blessing, to preserve our morals and perpetuate our liberties forever. Should a foreign foe invade us, there would be no despondency; every pulse would beat high, and every arm would be strong. It is only when criminals demand the surrender of our laws and institutions, that all faces gather paleness and all hearts are faint. Men, who would fly to the field of battle to rescue their country from shame, tremble at the song of the drunkard, and flee, panic struck, before the army of the aliens.

But we have facts to produce, facts, more decisive than a thousand arguments, to prove that such reformation as we need is practicable.

Desperate as the state of the Jews was in their own estimation, they were reformed, and did not at that time, pine away and die in their sins. And never, perhaps, was such a work attended with circumstances of greater difficulty. The whole order of God’s worship had been superseded by the captivity, and was again to be restored. Many of the people had contracted unlawful marriages; and husbands and wives were to be separated, and parents and children. Some had been in the habit of treading the wine press on the sabbath day, and bringing in sheaves, and wine, and grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens. The people held also constant intercourse with Syrian merchants, who came into their city on the sabbath and traded with them. But great as were the difficulties, Nehemiah and Ezra and the elders of the land undertook, and by the help of God accomplished the work of reformation.

Other efforts of the same kind have been crowned with similar success. A society was established in London about the year 1697, to suppress vice by promoting the execution of the laws. The moral state of the city and nation at that time, and the success of their association, are thus described by a respectable historian:

“It is well known, to our shame, that profane swearing and cursing, drunkenness, and open lewdness and profanation of the Lord’s day have been committed with great impunity, and without control, without either shame, or fear of laws, so that they were seen and heard at noon day, and in the open streets. Debauchery had diffused itself through the whole body of the nation, till, at last, our morals were so corrupted, that virtue and vice had with too many changed their names. It is was reckoned breeding, to swear—gallantry, to be lewd—good humor, to be drunk—and wit, to despise serious things. In this state of things, reformation was indeed talked of as an excellent thing, but vice was looked upon as too formidable an enemy to be provoked; and public reformation was thought to be so difficult a thing, that those who gave it very good words, thought it not safe to set about it. When things were in this dismal, and almost desperate state, it came into the hearts of five or six private gentlemen to engage in this hazardous enterprise. This was such an undertaking, as might well be expected soon to alarm the enemy, and which the patrons of vice would attempt to defeat, before any progress could be made—and so it proved. The champions of debauchery put themselves in array to defend their infamous liberties, to ridicule, to defame, and to oppose this design. And others, whom in charity we could not look upon as enemies, were forward to censure these attempts as the fruit of an imprudent zeal. But notwithstanding a furious opposition from adversaries, and the unkind neutrality of friends, these gentlemen not only held their ground, but made advances into the territory of the enemy. The society, commencing with five or six, soon embraced numbers and persons of eminence in every station. In imitation of this society and for the same purpose, other societies were formed in every part of the city, and among the sober of almost every profession and occupation. Beside these, there were about thirty-nine religious societies in and about London, who, among other objects, made that of reformation a prominent one.

“The effects of these combinations were favorable beyond the most sanguine expectation. From their vigilance and promptitude the growing vices of the day were checked, insomuch, that it was soon found difficult to detect a single criminal in the streets and markets, where, a little before, horrid oaths, curses, and imprecations might be heard, day and night. Multitudes of drunkards, profaners of the Lord’s day, besides hundreds of disorderly houses, were brought to justice, and such open vices suppressed. Nor were the good effects of these associations limited to the city. They soon extended to most of the principal towns and cities of the nation, to Scotland and Ireland; so that a great part of the kingdom have been awakened in some measure to a sense of duty, and thereby a very hopeful progress is made towards a general reformation.”

Similar societies have been formed in England, at different times, ever since. In 1802, a very respectable society of the above description was established in London. It experienced, at first, most virulent opposition, but has completely surmounted every obstacle, and now commands fear, and respect, and gratitude. Such has been its influence in preventing crimes, that at one annual meeting the number of convictions reported was an hundred and seventy-eight, at the next, only seventy. As it respects the observation of the sabbath particularly, the whole city of London exhibits, to a considerable degree, a new face. A vast number of shops which used to be open on that day, are closed. The butchers of several markets have thanked the society for compelling them to an act which they find productive of so much comfort to themselves; and have even associated to secure that triumph, which the labors of the society had won.

Their useful and disinterested labors have received the commendation and thanks of the Lord Chief Justice, of more than one of the judges, and of a variety of magistrates. We desire also to bring our gift to their altar, (says the Christian Observer, from which work we have taken this account,) and to add the feeble testimony of our opinion, that this society deserves well of its country.

In this country, about the year 1760, a society was formed in the State of Maryland, to aid the civil magistrate in the execution of the laws. And so well, it is said, did the society succeed, as to induce numbers in different States to imitate their example. From that time to the present similar associations have been formed in various places, as exigencies have demanded, and with good effect, whenever their exertions have been made with prudence and decision.

We consider the fact, therefore, as now established, that reformation in a season of prevailing moral declension, is entirely practicable. And if it be so, it is a glorious fact, shedding light upon the darkness of the present day.

We are to consider

III. Some of the ways, in which this great work may be successfully attempted.

And doubtless, in the first place, the public attention must be called to this subject, and the public mind must be impressed with a proper sense of danger, and of the necessity of reformation.

From various causes,nations are prone to sleep over the dangers of moral depravation till their destruction comes upon them. A small portion only of the whole mass of crimes is seen at any one point. A few tippling shops are observed in a particular place, impoverishing families, and rearing up drunkards, but it is not considered that thousands, with like pestilential influence, are at work all over the land, training up recruits to hunt down law and order. A few instances are witnessed of needless travelling, or labor, or amusement on the sabbath, which excite a momentary alarm. But it is not considered that a vast army, probably three millions of people, are assailing at the same time this great bulwark of christian lands.

The progress of declension is also so gradual, as to attract from day to day but little notice, or excite but little alarm. Now this slow but certain approximation of the community to destruction must be made manifest. The whole army of conspirators against law and order, and the shame, and the bondage, and the woe, which they are preparing for us, must be brought out and arrayed before the public eye.

This exposition of public guilt and danger is the appropriate work of Gospel ministers. They are watchmen set upon the walls of Zion to descry and announce the approach of danger. And if, through sloth, or worldly avocations, or fear of man, they blow not the trumpet at the approach of the enemy, and the people perish, the blood of the slain will the Lord require at their hands. Civil magistrates are also ministers of God, attending continually upon this very thing. It is their exclusive work, “to see to it, that the commonwealth receives no detriment.” Indeed, every man is bound to be vigilant, and firm, and unceasing, in this great work. And by sermons, and conversation, and tracts, and newspapers, and magazines, and legislative aid, the point may be gained. The public attention may be called up to the subject, and just apprehensions of danger may be excited; and when this is done, the greatest danger is past—the work is half accomplished.

The next thing to be attempted, is the reformation of the better part of the community.

In a time of general declension, some who are comparatively virtuous, perhaps professedly pious, yield insensibly to the influence of bad example. Habits are formed, and practices are allowed, which none would, indulge in better days but the openly vicious. Each says of his own indulgence, “Is it not a little one?” But the aggregate guilt is great; and the aggregate demoralizing influence of such license in such persons, is dreadful. It annihilates the influence of their good example; tempts the inexperienced to enter, and the hardened to go on, in the downward road; and renders all efforts to save them unavailing. If we would attempt therefore^ successfully, the work of reformation, we must make the experiment first upon ourselves. We must cease to do evil, and learn to do well, that with pure hands and clear vision, we may be qualified to reclaim others. If our liberty, even in things lawful, should become a stumbling block to the weak or the wicked, it may be no superfluous benevolence to forego gratifications innocent in themselves, that we may avoid the appearance of evil, and cut off occasion of reproach from all whom our exertions may provoke to desire occasion.

The next thing demanding attention, is the religious education of the rising generation.

When the subject of reformation is proposed, multitudes turn their eyes to places of the greatest depravation, and to criminals of the most abandoned character, and because these strong holds cannot be carried, and these sons of Belial reformed, they conclude that nothing can be done. But reformation is not the work of a day, and, if the strong holds of vice cannot be stormed, there is still a silent, certain way of reformation. Immoral men do not live forever; and if good heed be taken that they draw no new recruits from our families, death will achieve for us a speedy victory. We may stand still, and see the salvation of God. Death will lay low the sons of Anak, and a generation of another spirit will occupy without resistance their fortified places.

From various causes the ancient discipline of the family has been extensively neglected. Children have neither been governed nor instructed in religion, as they were in the days of our fathers. The imported discovery that human nature is too good to be made better by discipline, . that children are enticed from the right way by religious instruction, and driven from it by the rod, and kept in thraldom [the state of being a thrall; bondage; slavery; servitude] by the conspiracy of priests and legislators, has united not a few in the noble experiment of emancipating the world by the help of an irreligious, ungoverned progeny. The indolent have rejoiced in the discovery that our fathers were fools and bigots, and have cheerfully let loose their children to help on the glorious work, while thousands of families, having heard from their teachers, or believing in spite of them, that morality will suffice both for earth and heaven, and not doubting that morality will nourish without religion, have either not reared the family altar, or have put out the sacred fire, and laid aside together the rod and the Bible as superfluous auxiliaries in the education of children. From the school too, with pious regard for its sacred honors, the Bible has been withdrawn, lest, by a too familiar knowledge of its contents, children should learn to despise it; as if ignorance were the mother of devotion, and the efficacy of laws depended upon their not being understood. With similar benign wisdom has not only the rod, but government, and catechetical instruction, and a regard to the moral conduct of children been exiled from the school. These sagacious counsels emerging from beneath, were heedlessly adopted by many as the wisdom from above, until their result began to disclose their different origin. For it came to pass in many places, that the school, instead of a nursery of piety, became often a place of temptation, where children, forgetting the scanty instruction of the family, learned insubordination by indulgence and impiety, and immorality, by the example of those who were permitted to sin with impunity. The consequence has been, that on all sides our ancient institutions are assailed, and our venerable habits and usages are passing away.

To retrieve these mischiefs of negligence and folly, a general effort must be made to restore our ancient system of education. There must be concert, new zeal, and special exertion; and let no man predict that the holy enterprise cannot succeed. Because we have listened to the siren song of vain philosophy, and floated listlessly down the stream till the precipice appears, shall we despair to row back when danger inspires courage, and calls aloud for a common effort?

Our fathers were not fools; they were as far from it as modern philosophers are from wisdom. Their fundamental maxim was, that man is desperately wicked, and cannot be qualified for good membership in society, without the influence of moral restraint. With great diligence therefore, they availed themselves of the laws and institutions of revelation, as embodying the most correct instruction and the most powerful moral restraint. The word of God was daily read, and his worship celebrated in the family and in the school, and children were trained up under the eye ol Jehovah. In this great work, pastors and churches and magistrates co-operated. And what moral restraint could not accomplish, was secured by parental authority and the coercion of the law. The success of these efforts corresponded with the wisdom of the system adopted, and the fidelity with which it was reduced to practice. Our fathers established and, for a great while preserved the most perfect state of society, probably, that has ever existed in this fallen world.

The same causes will still produce the same effects, and no other causes will produce them. New England can only retain her pre-eminence, by upholding those institutions and habits which produced it. Divested of these, like Samson shorn of his locks, she will become as weak and as contemptible as any other land. But let the family and the school be organized and ordered according to the ancient pattern; let parents, and schoolmasters, and pastors, and churches, and magistrates, do their duty, and all will be well. The crown of glory will return, and the most fine gold will shine again in all its ancient luster.

But we must here state more particularly, the indispensable necessity of executing promptly the laws-against immorality.

Much may be done in the way of prevention; but, in a free government, moral suasion and coercion must be united. If children be not religiously educated, and accustomed in early life to subordination, the laws will fail in the unequal contest of subduing tigers to their yoke. But if the influence of education and habit be not confirmed and guarded by the supervening influence of law, this salutary restraint will be swept away by the overpowering force of human depravity. To retrieve therefore our declension, it is indispensable, not only that new fidelity pervade the family, the school, and the church of God, but that the laws against immorality be restored to their ancient vigor. Laws unexecuted are worse than nothing; mere phantoms, which excite increased audacity, when the vain fears subside which they have inspired. If the stream must have its course, it is better not to oppose obstructions which will only increase its fury, and extend the desolation when they are swept away.

But in a season of great moral declension, how shall we raise from the dust neglected laws, and give to them life and vigor? The multiplication of new prohibitions and penalties will not avail, for the evil to be redressed is the non-execution of laws already competent, if executed, to our protection., Shall the government itself stand forth the watchful guardian of its own laws? Too often it may lack the inclination, and it will always be too much occupied by other concerns, to exercise the minute agency that is requisite.

Shall the work then be delegated to a subordinate magistracy? The neglect of official duty is the very evil for which we now seek a remedy. Shall individuals then, volunteer their assistance? It is possible, that they may sometimes experience a rebuke from the magistrate to whose aid they come. The workers of iniquity also, will conspire constantly to hunt them down; while thousands of prudent well wishers to the public morals will look on and see them sacrificed, pitying their rashness, and blessing themselves, that they were wise enough to stand aloof from enterprises of so much danger.

Direct evils compel men to execute the law, while crimes full of deadly consequences are suffered to prevail with impunity. With relentless zeal the sword pursues the fugitive thief and murderer, and no city of refuge affords them a sanctuary; while thousands devote themselves to the work of training up thieves and murderers, and in open day cut the moral ties which bind them, and let them loose upon society. And yet the sword sleeps; and judgment is turned away backward; and justice standeth afar off; while truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.

To secure then, the execution of the laws against immorality in a time of prevailing moral declension, an influence is needed distinct from that of the government, independent of popular suffrage, superior in potency to individual efforts, and competent to enlist and preserve the public opinion on the side of law and order.

This most desirable influence as we have before observed, has been found in local voluntary associations of the wise and the good, to aid the civil magistrate in the execution of the laws. These associations are eminently adapted to answer their intended purpose. They awaken the public attention, and by the sermons, the reports, and the conversation they occasion, diffuse much moral instruction; they combine the wisdom and influence of all who desire to prevent crimes, and uphold peace and good order in society; they have great influence to form correctly the public opinion, and to render the violation of the law disgraceful, as well as dangerous; they teach the virtuous part of the community their strength, and accustom them to act, as well as to wish and to pray; they constitute a sort of disciplined moral militia, prepared to act upon every emergency, and repel every encroachment upon the liberties and morals of the State. By their numbers, they embolden the timid, and intimidate the enemy; and in every conflict, the responsibility being divided among many, is not feared. By this auxiliary band the hands of the magistrate are strengthened, the laws are rescued from contempt, the land is purified, the anger of the Lord is turned away, and his blessing and protection restored.

If, beside these local associations, a more extended concert of wise and good men could be formed, to devise ways and means of suppressing vice and guarding the public morals, to collect facts and extend information, and, in a thousand nameless ways, to exert a salutary general influence, it would seem to complete a system of exertion, which, we might hope, would retrieve what we have lost, and perpetuate forever civil and religious institutions. Associations of this general nature for the promotion of the arts and sciences, have exerted a powerful influence with great success; and no reason, it is presumed, can be given, why the cause of morals may not be equally benefitted by similar associations.

Finally; To counteract the prevalent declension, and raise the standard of public morals, it is peculiarly necessary to preserve indissoluble the connection between sin and shame.

A sense of shame will deter multitudes from the commission of crimes, whom conscience alone would not deter. Happily, in New England, immorality of every description has from the beginning been associated with disgrace. But the prevalence of wickedness in high places, and the growing frequency of crimes have at length paralyzed the public sensibility, and lightened the tax of shame. Hence, criminals whom our fathers would have abhorred, have been first “endured, then pitied, then embraced.” This compromise with crimes if persisted in, will undo us. Let the profligate be received with complacency into virtuous society, and enjoy without impediment the suffrage of the community, and the public conscience will be seared as with a hot iron; the distinctions between right and wrong will disappear; the wicked, openmouthed, will walk on every side, and tread down with impunity the remnants of law and order. If we would reform the land we must return therefore to the stern virtue of our ancestors, and lay the whole tax of shame upon the dissolute and immoral.

Let this circumspection concerning moral character attend us in the selection of schoolmasters to instruct our children; of subordinate magistrates to manage the concerns of the town, and to execute the laws of the State; and in selecting the members of our State and National Legislatures; and we shall soon experience the good effects of our caution. But disregard this single consideration, and clothe with power irreligious and immoral men, and we cannot stop the prevalence of crimes. From the bad eminence to which we exalt the wicked, the flood of iniquity will roll down upon us, and the judgments of God will follow and sweep us away.

IV. We are to consider some of the motives which should animate the wise and the good to make immediate and vigorous exertion for the reformation of morals, and the preservation of our laws and institutions.

And certainly, the importance of the interest in jeopardy demands our first and most serious regard.

If we consider only the temporal prosperity of the nation, the interest is the most important earthly interest that ever called forth the enterprise of man. No other portion of the human race ever commenced a national existence as we – commenced ours. Our very beginning was civilized, learned, and pious. The sagacious eye of our ancestors looked far down the vale of time. Their benevolence laid foundations, and reared superstructures, for the accommodation of distant generations. Through peril, and tears, and blood, they procured the inheritance, which, with many prayers, they bequeathed unto us. It has descended in an unbroken line. It is now in our possession impaired indeed by our folly, perverted and abused, but still the richest inheritance which the mercy of God continues to the troubled earth. Nowhere beside, if you search the world over, will you find so much real liberty; so much equality; so much personal safety, and temporal prosperity; so general an extension of useful knowledge; so much religious instruction; so much moral restraint; and so much divine mercy, to make these blessings the power of God, and the wisdom of God unto salvation. Shall we throw away this precious bequest? Shall we surrender our laws and liberties, our religion and morals, our social and domestic blessings, to the first invader? Shall we despair and die of fear, without an effort to avert our doom? What folly! What infatuation! What madness to do so! With what indignation, could indignation be in heaven, would our fathers look down upon the deed? With what lamentation, could tears be in heaven, would they weep over it? With what loud voices, could they speak to us from heaven, would they beseech their degenerate children to put their trust in God, and contend earnestly for those precious institutions and laws for which they toiled and bled.

2. If we do not awake and engage vigorously in the work of reformation, it will soon be too late.

Though reformation be always practicable if a people are disposed to reform, there is a point of degradation from which neither individuals nor nations are disposed to arise, and from which the Most High is seldom disposed to raise them. When irreligion and vice shall have contaminated the mass of the people, when the majority, emancipated from civil and moral restraint shall be disposed to set aside the laws and institutions and habits of their fathers, then indeed it may be feared that our transgressions and our sins will be upon us, and that we shall pine away and die in them. The means of preservation passing into other hands, will become tiie means of destruction. Talents, and official influence, and the power of legislation, and all the resources of the State may be perverted to demolish our institutions, laws and usages, until every vestige of ancient wisdom and prosperity is gone.

To this state of things we are hastening, and, if no effort be made to stop our progress, the sun in his course is not more resistless than our doom. Our vices are digging the grave of our liberties, and preparing to entomb our glory. We may sleep, but the work goes on. We may despise admonition, but our destruction slumbereth not. Travelling, and worldly labor, and visiting, and amusement on the sabbath, will neither produce nor preserve such a state of society, as the conscientious observance of the sabbath has helped to produce and preserve; the enormous consumption of ardent spirits in our land will produce neither bodies nor minds like those which were the offspring of temperance and virtue. The neglect of family government, and family prayer, and the religious education of children, will not produce such freemen as were formed by early habits of subordination, and the constant influence of the fear of God; the neglect of official duty in magistrates to execute the laws, will not produce the same effects, which were produced by the vigilance and fidelity of our fathers, to restrain and punish crimes.

Our institutions, civil and religious, have out-lived that domestic discipline and official vigilance in magistrates to execute the laws which rendered obedience easy and habitual. The laws now are beginning to operate extensively upon necks unaccustomed to the yoke, and when they shall become irksome to the majority, their execution will become impracticable. To this situation we are already reduced in some districts of the land. Drunkards reel through the streets, day after day, and year after year, with entire impunity. Profane swearing is heard, and even by magistrates, as though they heard it not. Efforts to stop travelling on the sabbath, have in all places become feeble, and in many places, they have wholly ceased. Informing officers complain that magistrates will not regard their informations, and that the public sentiment will not bear them out in executing the laws; and conscientious men who dare not violate an oath, have begun to refuse the office. The only proper characters to sustain it, the only men who can retrieve our declining state, are driven into the back ground, and their places filled with men of easy conscience, who will either do nothing, or by their own example help on the ruin. The public conscience is becoming callous by the frequency and impunity of crimes. The sin of violating the sabbath is becoming in the public estimation a little sin, and the shame of it, nothing. The disgrace is divided among so many, that none regard it. The sabbath is trodden down by a host of men, whom shame alone, in better days, would have deterred entirely from this sin. In the mean time, many, who lament these evils are augmenting them by predicting that all is lost, encouraging the enemy, and weakening the hands of the wise and good. But truly, we do stand on the confines of destruction. The mass is changing. We are becoming another people. Our habits have held us, long after those moral causes which formed them have in a great degree ceased to operate. These habits, at length, are giving way. So many hands have so long been employed to pull away foundations, and so few to repair the breaches, that the building totters. So much enterprise has been displayed in removing obstructions from the current of human depravity, and so little to restore them, that the stream at length is beginning to run. It may be stopped now, but it will soon become deep, and broad, and rapid, and irresistible.

The crisis then has come. By the people of this generation, by ourselves probably, the amazing question is to be decided, whether the inheritance of our fathers shall be preserved, or thrown away—whether our sabbaths shall be a delight, or a loathing—whether the taverns on that holy day, shall be crowded with drunkards, or the sanctuary of God with humble worshippers—whether riot and profanity shall fill our streets, and poverty our dwellings, and convicts our jails, and violence our land; or whether industry, and temperance, and righteousness, shall be the stability of our times— whether mild laws shall receive the cheerful submission of freemen, or the iron rod of a tyrant compel the trembling homage of slaves. Be not deceived. Human nature in this nation is like human nature everywhere. All actual difference in our favor is adventitious, and the result of our laws, institutions, and habits. It is a moral influence which, with the blessing of God, has formed a state of society so eminently desirable. The same influence which has formed it, is indispensable to its preservation. The rocks and hills of New England will remain till the last conflagration; but, let the sabbath be profaned with impunity, the worship of God be abandoned, the government and religious instruction of children be neglected, and the streams of intemperance be permitted to flow, and her glory will depart. The wall of fire will no more surround her, and the munition of rocks will no longer be her defense. But,

3. If we do neglect our duty, and suffer our laws and institutions to go down, we give them up forever. It is easy to relax, easy to retreat, but impossible, when the abomination of desolation has once passed over, to rear again the prostrate altars, and gather again the fragments, and build up the ruins of demolished institutions. Neither we nor our children shall ever see another New England, if this be destroyed. All is lost irretrievably when the landmarks are once removed, and the bands which now hold us are once broken. Such institutions, and such a state of society, can be established only by such men as our fathers were, and in such circumstances as they were. They could not have made a New England in Holland. They made the attempt but failed. Nowhere could they have succeeded, but in a wilderness; where they gave the precepts, and set the example, and made, and executed the laws. By vigilance, and prayer, and exertion, we may defend these institutions, retrieve much of what we have lost, and perpetuate a better state of society than can elsewhere be made by the art of man. But, let the enemy come in like a flood, and overturn, and overturn, and no place will be found for repentance, though it be sought carefully with tears.

4. If we give up our laws and institutions, our guilt and misery will be very great.

We shall become slaves, and slaves to the worst of masters. The profane and the profligate, men of corrupt minds, and to every good work reprobate, will be exalted to pollute us by their example, to distract us by their folly, and impoverish us by fraud and rapine. Let loose from wholesome restraint, and taught to sin by the example of the great, a scene most horrid to be conceived, but more dreadful to be experienced, will ensue. No people are more fitted to destruction, if they go to destruction, than we ourselves. All the daring enterprise of our countrymen emancipated from moral restraint, will become the desperate daring of unrestrained sin. Should we break the bands of Christ, and cast his cords from us, and begin the work of self-destruction, it will be urged on with a malignant enterprise which has no parallel in the annals of time; and be attended with miseries, such as the sun has never looked upon.

The hand that overturns our laws and altars is the hand of death unbarring the gate of Pandemonium, and letting loose upon our land the crimes and the miseries of hell. Even if the Most High should stand aloof, and cast not a single ingredient into our cup of trembling, it would seem to be full of superlative woe. But he will not stand aloof. As we shall have begun an open controversy with him, he will contend openly with us; and never, since the earth stood, has it been so fearful a thing for nations to fall into the hands of the living God. The day of vengeance is in his heart— the day of judgment has come—the great earthquake which is to sink Babylon is shaking the nations, and the waves of the mighty commotion are dashing upon every shore. Is this, then, a time to remove foundations, when the earth itself is shaken? Is this a time to forfeit the protection of God, when the hearts of men are failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth? Is this a time to run upon his neck, and the thick bosses of his buckler, when the nations are drinking blood, and fainting, and passing away in his wrath? Is this a time to throw away the shield of faith, when his arrows are drunk with the blood of the slain; to cut from the anchor of hope, when the clouds are collecting, and the sea and the waves are roaring, and thunders are uttering their voices, and lightning’s blazing in the heavens, and the great hail is falling from heaven upon men, and every mountain, sea, and island is fleeing in dismay from the face of an incensed God?

5. The judgments of God which we feel, and those which impend, call for immediate repentance and reformation. Our country has never seen such a day as this.[1812] By our sins we are fitted to destruction. God has begun in earnest, his work, his strange work, of national desolation. For many years the ordinary gains of industry have, to a great extent, been cut off. The counsels of the nation have by one part of it been deemed infatuation, and by the other part oracular wisdom; while the action and reaction of parties have shaken our institutions to their foundations, debased our morals, and awakened animosities which expose us to dismemberment and all the horrors of civil war. But for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. On our seaboard, are the alarms and the plagues of war. On our frontiers is heard the trumpet of alarm mingling with the war-whoop of the savage, and the cries and dying groans of murdered families. In the south, a volcano whose raging fires and murmuring thunders have long been suppressed, is now with loud admonition threatening an eruption. In the midst of these calamities the angel of God has received commission to unsheath his sword, and extend far and wide the work of death. The little child and the blooming youth, the husband and the wife, men of talents and usefulness, the ministers of the sanctuary and the members of the church of God, bow before the stroke, and sink to the grave. That dreadful tempest, the sound of which, till late, was heard only from afar as it was borne across the Atlantic, has at length begun to beat upon us, and those mighty burnings, the smoke of which we have hitherto beheld from afar, have begun in our nation their devouring course. Nothing can avert the tempest, and nothing can extinguish our burning, but repentance and reformation; for it is the tempest of the wrath of God, and the fire of his indignation.

6. Our advantages to achieve a reformation of morals are great, and will render our guilt and punishment proportionally aggravated, if we neglect to avail ourselves of them.

We are not yet undone. The harvest is not past; the summer is not ended. There is yet remaining much health and strength, in many parts of our land. This State especially, is by its laws thoroughly furnished to every good-.work. Let our laws be executed, and we may live for ever. Nor is their execution to be despaired of. In every town in the State the majority of the population are decidedly opposed, it is believed, to those immoral practices which our laws condemn. And in most towns, and societies, it is a small minority who corrupt with impunity the public morals. Let the friends of virtue, then, express their opinions, and unite their influence, and the laws can be executed. Crimes will become disgraceful, and the non-execution of the laws more hazardous to popularity than their faithful execution. The friends of good morals and good government, have it yet in their power to create a public opinion which nothing can resist.(1) The wicked are bold in appearance but they are cowards at heart; their threats and boasting are loud, but they are “vox et preterea nihil.” [“Mere noise and nothing else.”] God is against them— their own consciences are against them—the laws are against them—and let only the public opinion be arrayed against them, and five shall chase a thousand, and an hundred shall put ten thousand to flight.

It is not as if we were called upon to make new laws, and establish usages unknown before. We make no innovation. We embark in no novel experiment. We set up no new standard of morals. We encroach upon no man’s liberty. We lord it over no man’s conscience. We stand upon the defensive merely. We contend for our altars and our firesides. We rally around the standard which our fathers reared, and our motto is, ‘The Inheritance Which They BEQUEATHED, NO MAN SHALL TAKE FROM US.’ The executive, legislative, and judicial departments of the government are in the hands of men, who, w:e doubt not, will lend to the work of reformation their example, their prayers, their weight of character, official influence, and their active cooperation. And will not the clergy, and christian churches of all denominations array themselves on the side of good morals and the laws? Will they not like a band of brothers, and terrible to the wicked as an army with banners, contend earnestly for the precepts of the Gospel ?’ If with such means of self preservation, we pine away and die in our sins, we shall deserve to die; and our death will be dreadful.

7. But, were our advantages fewer than they are, the Lord will be on our side and will bless us, if we repent and endeavor to do our duty.

He commands us to repent and reform, and what he commands his people to do, he will help them to accomplish if they make the attempt. He has promised to help them.

He always has given efficacy, more or less, to the faithful exertions of men to do good. At the present time, in a peculiar manner does he smile upon every essay to do good. Not a finger is lifted in vain in any righteous cause, the result of every enterprise surpasses expectation, the grain of mustard becomes a tree, the little leaven, leavens the lump. The voice of providence now is, “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand, for this and that shall both prosper.” The God in whose help we confide is also our fathers’ God, who remembers mercy to the thousandth generation of them that fear him, and keep his commandments. Within the broad circumference of this covenant we stand, and neither few nor obscure are the indications of his mercy in the midst of wrath.

8. The work of reformation is already, it may be hoped, auspiciously begun.

Though in some things there is a fearful declension of morals, which, if not arrested, will inevitably destroy us; yet, it ought to be gratefully acknowledged, that, in some respects, our moral state has for a considerable period been growing better. The progress of civilization and religion has softened the manners of the people, and banished to a great extent, that violence of passion which ended in broils and lawsuits. Those indecencies also, which too often polluted the intercourse of the sexes, and warred upon the best interests of society, have, to a great extent, given place to habits of refinement and virtue. Though at this time there be heresies, that they which are approved may be manifest; there has never been in this State, perhaps never in the nation, a more extensive prevalence of evangelical doctrine. Great efforts have been made also, and with signal success, to raise up a learned and pious ministry for the churches, from which, in time, a great reforming influence may be expected: for the morals of a nation will ever hold a close alliance with the talents and learning, the piety and orthodoxy, of its clergy. The number of pious persons has, in the course of fifteen years, been greatly increased, and has been attended with a more than correspondent increase of prayer. Those local weekly associations for prayer which are now spread over our land, are, most of them, of comparatively recent origin.

In perfect accordance with this increased spirit of prayer, has been the effusion of the Holy Spirit in the revival of religion. These revivals have been numerous, great, and glorious; and, blessed be God, they still prevail. Their reforming influence has been salutary beyond expression. Wherever they have existed, they have raised up the foundations of many generations. They have done more than all other -causes to arrest our general decline, and are this moment turning back the captivity of our land. The churches under their renovating influence, are beginning to maintain a more efficient discipline, and to superintend with more fidelity the religious education of their baptized children. The principles of infidel philosophy with respect to civil government, and the government and religious education of children, have it is hoped had their day, and are retiring to their own place, succeeded happily, by the maxims of revelation and common sense.

The missionary spirit which is beginning to pervade our land, promises also, an auspicious reforming influence. It teaches us to appreciate more justly our own religious privileges, and calls off the hearts of thousands from political and sectarian bickerings, to unite them in one glorious enterprise of love. Who, but the Lord our God, has created that extensive and simultaneous predisposition in the public mind, to favor a work of reformation? Who, in this day of clouds and tempest, has opened the eyes of the people to recognize their dependence upon God, and his avenging hand in the judgments which they feel, and turned their hearts to seek him to an unusual extent, by fasting, and humiliation, and prayer? Who, indeed, has poured out upon our land, a spirit of reformation as real, if not yet as universal, as the spirit of missions? The fact is manifest from the zeal of individuals, the reviving fidelity of magistrates in various places, the addresses of ecclesiastical bodies, and the formation of general and local associations to suppress crimes, and support the laws and institutions of our land.(2)

The Most High, then, has begun to help us. While his judgments are abroad, the nation is beginning to learn righteousness. These favorable circumstances do by no means supersede the necessity of special exertion; but they are joyful pledges that our labor shall not be in vain in the Lord. They are his providential voice, announcing that he is waiting to be gracious; and that, if we “hearken to him, he will soon subdue our enemies, and turn his hand against our adversaries; that the haters of the Lord shall submit themselves unto him, but that our time shall endure forever.” Therefore,

9. If we endure a little longer, the resources of the millennial day will come to our aid.

Many are the prophetic signs which declare the rapid approach of that day. Babylon the great is fallen. The false Prophet is hastening to perdition. That wicked one hath appeared, whom the Lord will destroy by the breath of his mouth and the brightness of his coming. The day of his vengeance is wasting the earth. The last vial of the wrath of God is running. The angel having the everlasting Gospel to preach to men, has begun his flight; and, with trumpet sounding long, and waxing loud, is calling to the nations to look unto Jesus and be saved. Soon will the responsive song be heard from every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, as the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying; hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

On the confines of such a day, shall we despair? While its blessed light is beginning to shine, shall we give up our laws and institutions, and sink down to the darkness and torments of the bottomless pit?

10. But considerations, before which the kingdoms of this, world fade and are forgotten, call us to instant exertion in the work of reformation.

Every one of us must stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Every one of us, as a friend, or an enemy, shall live under his government forever. We shall drink of the river of pleasure, or of the cup of trembling. We shall sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, or lift up our cries with the smoke of our torment. The institutions in danger, are the institutions of heaven, provided to aid us in fleeing from the wrath to come. The laws to be preserved, are laws which have lent their congenial influence to the immortal work of saving sinners. The welfare of millions through eternity, depends, under God, upon their preservation.

Ye parents—which of your children can you give up to the miseries of a profligate life, and the pangs of an impenitent death? Which, undone by your example, or negligence and folly, are you prepared to meet on the left hand of your Judge? Which, if by a miracle of mercy you should ascend to heaven, can you leave behind, to go away into everlasting punishment? Call around you the dear children whom God has given you, and look them o’er and o’er, and, if among them all you cannot find a victim to sacrifice, awake, and with all diligence uphold those institutions which the good shepherd has provided to protect and save them.

My fathers and brethren, who minister at the altar—the time is short. We mast soon meet our people at the bar of God; should we meet any of them undone by our example, or sloth, or unbelief, dreadful will be the interview! Shall we not lift up our voice as a trumpet, and do quickly, and with all our might, what our hands find to do?

Ye magistrates of a christian land, ye ministers of God for good—the people of this land, alarmed by the prevalence of crimes and by the judgments of God, look up to you for protection. By the glories and terrors of the judgment day, by the joys of heaven and the miseries of hell they beseech you, as the ministers of God, to save them and their children from the dangers of this untoward generation.

Ye men of wealth and influence—will ye not help in this great attempt to reform and save our land? Are not these distinctions, talents, for the employment of which you must give an account to God; and can you employ them better, than to consecrate them to the service of your generation by the will of God?

Let me entreat those unhappy men who haste to be rich by unlawful means, who thrive by the vices and ruin of their fellow men, to consider their end. How dreadful to you will be the day of death! How intolerable, the day of judgment! How many broken hearted widows, and fatherless children, will then lift up their voices to testify against you. How many of the lost spirits will ascend from the world of woe, to cry out against you, as the wretches who ministered to their lusts, and fitted them for destruction. In vain will you plead that if you had not done the murderous deed, other men would have done it; or that, if you had not destroyed them, they had still destroyed themselves. If other men had done the deed, they, and not you, would answer for it; if they had destroyed themselves without your agency, their blood would be upon their own heads. But as you contributed voluntarily to their destruction, you will be beholden as partakers in their sin, and their blood will be required at your hands. Why, then, will you” traffic in the souls and bodies of men, and barter away your souls for the gains of a momentary life?

To conclude; Let me entreat the unhappy men who are the special objects of legal restraint, to cease from their evil ways, and, by voluntary reformation, supersede the necessity of coercion and punishment. Why will you die? What fearful thing is there in heaven, which makes you flee from that world? What fascinating object in hell, that excites such frenzied exertion to burst every band, and overleap every mound, and force your way downward to the chambers of death? Stop, I beseech you, and repent, and Jesus Christ shall blot out your sins, and remember your transgressions no more. Stop, and the host who follow your steps shall turn, and take hold on the path of life. Stop, and the wide waste of sin shall cease, and the song of angels shall be heard again; “Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, good will to men.” Stop, and instead of wailing with the lost, you shall join the multitudes which no man can number, in the ascription of blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, to him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever.

Footnotes:

(1) The writer has lived to see that a new moral power must be applied by sabbath schools, revivals of religion, and bible, tract, and missionary societies, before immoralities in a popular government can be suppressed by law.

(2) A society was formed in Boston, on the 5tb of February, 1813, entitled “The Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance.” The object of the society is stated to be, ” to discountenance and suppress the too frequent use of ardent spirits, and its kindred vices, profaneness, and gaming; and to encourage and promote temperance, and general morality. With a view to this object, the society will recommend the institution of auxiliary societies in different parts of the commonwealth; and hold correspondence with other societies which may be instituted for the same general object.

“Besides the usual officers of a society, there is a board of counsel consisting of eight persons, which is to act as the executive of the society, to make communications to the auxiliary societies, and to receive communications from them; to collect, combine, and digest facts, and general information, relating to the purposes of the society; to devise ways and means for the furtherance of these purposes; to apply the society’s funds according to direction; and, at each annual meeting, to report to the society their doings, a digest of the facts, and general information which they may have collected, and such measures as they may judge suitable for the society to adopt and pursue. They shall hold stated quarterly meetings.” —Panoptic for February, 1813. pp. 418, 419, 42

Franklin’s First Entrance into Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin

Franklin Returns to Philadelphia 1785

My first Entrance into Philadelphia; by Benjamin Franklin

I Have entered into the particulars of my voyage, and shall, in like manner, describe my first entrance into this city, that you may be able to compare beginnings so little auspicious with the figure I have since made.

On my arrival at Philadelphia, I was in my working dress, my best clothes being to come by sea. I was covered with dirt; my pockets were filled with shirts and stockings; I was unacquainted with a single soul in the place, and knew not where to seek a lodging. Fatigued with walking, rowing, and having passed the night without sleep, I was extremely hungry, and all my money consisted of a Dutch dollar, and about a shilling’s worth of coppers, which I gave to the boatmen for my passage. As I had assisted them in rowing, they refused it at first; but I insisted on their taking it. A man is sometimes more generous when he has little than when he has much money; probably because, in the first case, he is desirous of concealing his poverty.

I walked towards the top of the street, looking eagerly on both sides, till I came to Market Street, where I met with a child with a loaf of bread. Often had I made my dinner on dry bread. I inquired where he had bought it, and went straight to the baker’s shop, which he pointed out to me. I asked for some biscuits, expecting to find such as we had at Boston; but they made, it seems, none of that sort at Philadelphia. I then asked for a threepenny loaf. They made no loaves of that price. Finding myself ignorant of the prices, as well as of the different kinds of bread, I desired him to let me have threepenny-worth of bread of some kind or other. He gave me three large rolls. I was surprised at receiving so much: I took them, however, and, having no room in my pockets, I walked on with a roll under each arm, eating a third. In this manner I went through Market Street to Fourth Street, and passed the house of Mr. Read, the father of my future wife. She was standing at the door, observed me, and thought, with reason, that 1 made a very singular and grotesque appearance.

I then turned the corner, and went through Chestnut Street, eating my roll all the way; and, having made this round, I found myself again on Market Street wharf, near the boat in which I arrived. I stepped into it to take a draught of the river water; and, finding myself satisfied with my first roll, I gave the other two to a woman and her child, who had come down with us in the boat, and was waiting to continue her journey. Thus refreshed, I regained the street, which was now full of well-dressed people, all going the same way. I joined them, and was thus led to a large Quakers’ meeting-house near the market place. I sat down with the rest and, after looking round me for some time, hearing nothing said, and being drowsy from my last night’s labor and want of rest, I fell into a sound sleep. In this state I continued till the assembly dispersed, when one of the congregation had the goodness to wake me. This was consequently the first house I entered, or in which I slept, at Philadelphia.

I began again to walk along the street by the river-side, and, looking attentively in the face of every one I met with, I at length perceived a young Quaker whose countenance pleased me. I accosted him and begged him to inform me where a stranger might find a lodging. We were then near the sign of the Three Mariners.

“They receive travellers here,” said he, “but it is not a house that bears a good character; if you will go with me, I will show you a better one.”

He conducted me to the Crooked Billet, in Water Street. There I ordered something for dinner, and during my meal a number of curious questions were put to me, my youth and appearance exciting the suspicion of my being a runaway. After dinner my drowsiness returned, and I threw myself upon a bed without taking off my clothes and slept till six o’clock in the evening, when I was called to supper. I afterward went to bed at a very early hour, and did not awake till the next morning.

As soon as I got up I put myself in as decent a trim as I could and went to the house of Andrew Bradford, the printer. I found his father in the shop, whom I had seen at New York. Having travelled on horseback, he had arrived at Philadelphia before me. He introduced me to his son, who received me with civility and gave me some breakfast, but told me he had no occasion at present for a journeyman, having lately procured one. He added that there was another printer newly settled in the town, of the name of Keimer, who might perhaps employ me, and that in case of refusal I should be welcome to lodge at his house, and he would give me a little work now and then till something better should offer.

The old man offered to introduce me to the new printer. When we were at his house, “Neighbor,” said he, “I bring you a young man in the printing business; perhaps you may have need of his services.”

Keimer asked me some questions, put a composing-stink in my hand to see how I could work, and then said that at present he had nothing for me to do, but that he should soon be able to employ me. At the same time, taking old Bradford for an inhabitant of the town well disposed toward him, he communicated his project to him, and the prospect he had of success. Bradford was careful not to discover that he was the father of the other printer, and from what Keimer had said—that he hoped shortly to be in possession of the greater part of the business of the town—led him, by artful questions and by starting some difficulties, to disclose all his views, what his hopes were founded upon and how he intended to proceed. I was present, and heard it all. I instantly saw that one of the two was a cunning old fox and the other a perfect novice. Bradford left me with Keimer, who was strangely surprised when I informed him who the old man was.

I found Keimer’s printing-materials to consist of an old, deranged press and a small fount of worn-out English letters, with which he himself was at work upon an elegy upon Aquila Rose, an ingenious young man and of an excellent character, highly esteemed in the town, secretary to the Assembly and a very tolerable poet. Keimer also made verses, but they were indifferent ones. He could not be said to write in verse, for his method was to set the lines as they flowed from his Muse; and, as he worked without copy, had but one set of letter-cases and the elegy would occupy all his types, it was impossible for anyone to assist him. I endeavored to put his press in order, which he had not yet used, and of which, indeed, he understood nothing; and, having promised to come and work off his elegy as soon as it should be ready, I returned to the house of Bradford, who gave me some trifles to do for the present, for which I had my board and lodging.

In a few days Keimer sent for me to print off his elegy. He had now procured another set of letter-cases, and had a pamphlet to reprint, upon, which he set me to work.

The two Philadelphia printers appeared destitute of every qualification necessary in their profession. Bradford had not been brought up to it, and was very illiterate. Keimer, though he understood a little of the business, was merely a compositor and wholly incapable of working at press. He had been one of the French prophets, and knew how to imitate their supernatural agitations. At the time of our first acquaintance he professed no particular religion, but a little of all upon occasions. He was totally ignorant of the world and a great knave at heart, as I had afterward an opportunity of experiencing.

Keimer could not endure that, working with him, I should lodge at Bradford’s. He had, indeed, a house, but it was unfurnished; so that he could not take me in. He procured me a lodging at Mr. Read’s, his landlord, whom I have already mentioned. My trunk and effects being now arrived, I thought of making in the eyes of Miss Read a more respectable appearance than when chance exhibited, me to her view eating my roll and wandering in the streets.

From this period I began to contract acquaintance with such young people as were fond of reading, and spent my evenings with them agreeably, while at the same time I gained money by my industry, and, thanks to my frugality, lived contentedly.

Passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge Mountains by Thomas Jefferson

William Roberts painted this watercolor image of the Harpers Ferry landscape entitled "Junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah, Virginia."

William Roberts painted this watercolor image of the Harpers Ferry landscape entitled “Junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah, Virginia.”

Passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge Mountains by Thomas Jefferson

In the background is the gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains where the Potomac River flows. source: www.hyperbear.com

In the background is the gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains where the Potomac River flows. source: http://www.hyperbear.com

The passage of the Potomac, through the Blue Ridge, is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature. You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Potomac, seeking a passage also. In the moment of their junction, they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder, and pass off to the sea. The first glance at this scene hurries our senses into the opinion, that this earth has been created in time; that the mountains were formed first; that the rivers began to flow afterwards; that, in this place particularly, they have been dammed up by the Blue Ridge of mountains, and have formed an ocean which filled the whole valley; that, continuing to rise, they have at length broken over at this spot, and have torn the mountain down from its summit to its base. The piles of rock on each hand, but particularly on the Shenandoah, the evident marks of their disrupture and avulsion from their beds by the most powerful agents of nature, corroborate the impression. But the distant finishing, which Nature has given to the picture, is of a very different character. It is a true contrast to the foreground. It is as placid and delightful as that is wild and tremendous. For, the mountain being cloven asunder, she presents to your eye, through the cleft, a small catch of smooth blue horizon, at an infinite distance in the plain country, inviting you, as it were, from the riot and tumult roaring around, to pass through the breach, and participate of the calm below. Here the eye ultimately composes itself; and that way, too, the road happens actually to lead. You cross the Potomac above its junction, pass along its side through the base of the mountain for three miles, its terrible precipices hanging in fragments over you, and within about twenty miles reach Fredericktown, and the fine country round that. This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic. Yet here, as in the neighborhood of the Natural Bridge, are people who have passed their lives within half a dozen miles, and have never been to survey these monuments of a war between rivers and mountains, which must have shaken the earth itself to its centre.