Thomas Jefferson and John Adams Explain Why Muslims Turn to Terrorism

Jefferson quote concerning the advantages of serving Jesus

Thomas Jefferson concerning the advantages of Jesus’ mission  [Click to enlarge]

Background

The first countries to declare war on the newly formed United States were the Muslim Barbary States of North Africa….From 1783, until the Presidency of George Washington in 1789, the newborn Republic had no strong central authority, and that is when the Barbary pirates struck.

In 1784 Congress voted to send Thomas Jefferson to Europe in order to join John Adams and Benjamin Franklin who were already there.  These three Ministers Plenipotentiary [Ministers Plenipotentiary: a person, especially a diplomat, invested with the full power of independent action on behalf of their government, typically in a foreign country.] were tasked with negotiating various treaties with other nations / states that would benefit the United States of America in her infancy. These treaties needed to be negotiated due to the colonies breaking away from the mother countries and gaining independence from Britain in the American Revolutionary War of Independence.

These treaties allowed for transactions of commerce with other nations, and in the context of the Barbary States were negotiated to stop the attacks on American merchant ships, the capturing, ransoming, and enslaving of American sailors by the Musselmen or Barbary pirates {i.e. Muslims] who believed it their god-given right to “tax”, kill or sell into slavery non-believers as the Ambassador of Tripoli told Thomas Jefferson, when Jefferson asked him on what grounds the Barbary state Muslims felt they had a right to attack unprovoked the ships, sailors and merchants from other nations. [See letter from Jefferson & Adams to John Jay dated March 28, 1786, relating their conversation below; According to the appeasers in the democrat party and Obama, Muslim Terrorists have been misinterpreting the Qu’ran for centuries. The Barbary states started attacking vessels of Christian nations and the nations themselves almost since they killed, enslaved and conquered the Roman Catholics and other christian governments in the Muslim Conquests of North Africa]

Before I go further: In the last year I have heard two different ex-jihadi Islamic terrorists refer to what the Islamists taught them. Not only were they taught by the mosques that they would go to paradise and have 72 virgins. They were also taught that if they died while killing the infidel, [non-Muslims] not only would they go to heaven “without judgement” so would all of their family. Now that’s a pretty strong teaching , if you were already of such loose morals, you could kill those who were doing nothing to harm you, it would be a strong draw. For the White House to suggest the Muslim terrorists commit atrocities because of they have no jobs, or they come from poor neighborhoods etc., is just ignoring the facts. The Muslim who beheaded the woman in Moore Okla., had a job, the Ft. Hood shooter had a career. the 19 hijackers that flew the planes into the World Trade Towers were mainly from rich or well-to-do families. So we can brush that aside, as an excuse for their behavior.  They are motivated by a religion that promotes ungodliness, selfishness and that reflects the basest thoughts and feelings of humanity. They are not motivated by economics, unless those economics help them in their jihadist cause.

If we analyze why this would be a draw to the Muslim terrorists, who without conscience commit the brutal acts they do in the name of their god. It is because they are selfish individuals to begin with, they also are susceptible to their basest lusts. Inspired because of the 72 virgins they will receive after death shows their basic lusts. Never mind all of the women and little girls they have been raping or forcing into marriage, the 72 virgins should be enough to convince people that these Muslim terrorists are motivated by their fleshy. carnal nature. The fact they are drawn by the teaching they will go to heaven “without judgement” shows how they are motivated by selfishness, which is also a part of mans carnal nature.  As I have said elsewhere, the Islamic terrorists are following in the footsteps of Mohammed who was the original and first Islamic terrorist.

The story of Mohammed’s aggression has been documented in detail by his biographers, – surprise raids on trade caravans and tribal settlements, the use of plunder thus obtained for recruiting an ever growing army of greedy desperadoes, assassinations of opponents, blackmail. He ordered the expulsion and massacre of the Jews of Medina, attack and enslavement of the Jews of Khayber, rape of women and children, sale of these victims after rape, trickery, treachery and bribery employed to their fullest extent to grow the numbers of his religion  He organized no less than 86 expeditions, 26 of which he led himself.

At the Battle of Badr, Mohammed after gaining the victory ordered those slain, who he considered “infidels” to be buried in a well in the area of Badr, as his Muslim followers were dumping the dead bodies of those they had killed, Mohammed is said to have stood at the mouth of the well and naming the dead one by one, demanded of them if they had found the promises of God true, as he had done. “You were a bad kindred to your prophet,” said he; “others declared me true, but you called me a liar and drove me from my native place, while strangers gave me protection.” The Muslim followers interrupted him by asking if he addressed the dead. “They hear me as well as you do”, he replied, “although they cannot answer, and they now find true what I formerly declared to them.” This shows Mohammed was also motivated by self-aggrandizement, which is also a base trait of the carnal man.

I’ve heard various Muslims like Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and others talk about how there needs to be a reformation of, or in Islam like there was in Judaism or in Christianity. One thing about the reformation in Christianity. Christian reformation happened to 1. get the sacred scriptures into hands of the people, and 2, to get back to the simplicity of Christ’ teaching and to follow his example and words. How can a reformation of Islam do the same as the Christian reformation, if people continue to follow example of Mohammed and the Quran? It would seem to me, if you want a true religion of peace, with a man of peace to follow, real reform of Islam would be Christianity! If you have reform of Islam and get rid of all the teachings of fundamental Mohammedeans you would have to discard the Quran, or else you take the risk in the future of young men reading the Quran & once again following the example set forth by founder. The founder of Islam being Mohammed, just how do you reform Islam into a religion of peace when its founder was a man of war? The growth and spread of Islam has always been accompanied by the sword. It is a teaching that appeals to what is base & corrupt in man.

Extract from the Secret Journal of Foreign Affairs, May 7th, 1784

“Mr. John Jay was elected Secretary for Foreign Affairs, having been previously nominated by Mr. Gerry. On motion of Mr. Hardy, seconded by Mr. Gerry,

Resolved, That a Minister Plenipotentiary be appointed in addition to Mr. John Adams and Mr. Benjamin Franklin, for the purpose of negotiating treaties of commerce.

Congress proceeded to the election, and the ballots being taken; Mr. Thomas Jefferson was elected, having been previously nominated by Mr. Hardy.

Instructions [were sent] to the Ministers of the United States for making peace with Great Britain, dated May 30th, 1783.

Instructions [were sent] to the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States of America at the Court of Versailles, empowered to negotiate a peace, &c, dated the 29th of October, 1783, May 7th, 1784, and May 11th, 1784.

On the report of the Committee, to whom was recommitted the report on sundry letters from the Ministers of the United States in Europe, Congress came to the following resolutions:

Whereas, instructions bearing date the 29th day of October, 1783 were sent to the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States of America at the Court of Versailles, empowered to negotiate a peace, or to any one or more of them, for concerting drafts or proposition for treaties of amity and commerce with the commercial powers of Europe:

Resolved, That it will be advantageous to these United States to conclude such treaties with Russia, the Court of Vienna, Prussia Denmark, Saxony, Hamburg, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Genoa, Tuscany, Rome, Naples, Venice, Sardinia, and the Ottoman Porte.

The attitude of Muslim terrorists has scarcely changed since the time of Mohammed. Again, according to the appeasers in the democrat party and Obama, Muslim Terrorists have been misinterpreting the Qu’ran for centuries.

LETTER FROM THE COMMISSIONERS [Jefferson & Adams] TO JOHN JAY.

Grosvenor Square, March 28, 1786.

Sir,

Soon after the arrival of Mr. Jefferson in London, we had a conference with the Ambassador of Tripoli at his house.

The amount of all the information we can obtain from him was, that a perpetual peace was in all respects the most advisable, because a temporary treaty would leave room for increasing demands upon every renewal of it, and a stipulation for annual payments would be liable to failures of performance, which would renew the war, repeat the negotiations, and continually augment the claims of his nation; and the difference of expense would by no means be adequate to the inconvenience, since 12,500 guineas to his constituents, with ten per cent. upon that sum for himself, must be paid if the treaty was made for only one year.

That 30,000 guineas for his employers, and £3,000 for himself, was the lowest terms upon which a perpetual peace could be made; and that this must be paid in cash on the delivery of the treaty, signed by his Sovereign; that no kind of merchandizes could be accepted.

That Tunis would treat upon the same terms, but he could not answer for Algiers or Morocco.

We [Adams & Jefferson] took the liberty to make some enquiries concerning the ground of their pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation.  [Note they clarify “nations who have done them [i.e. Muslim Barbary States] no injury”]

The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their prophet [i.e. Mohammed]; that it was written in their Koran; that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners; that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Mussulman [Muslims] who was slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.

That it was a law that the first who boarded an enemy’s vessel should have one slave more than his share with the rest, which operated as an incentive to the most desperate valor and enterprize; that it was the practice of their corsairs to bear down upon a ship, for each sailor to take a dagger in each hand and another in his mouth, and leap on board, which so terrified their enemies that very few ever stood against them; that he verily believed the devil assisted his countrymen, for they were almost always successful. We took time to consider, and promised an answer; but we can give him no other than that the demands exceed our expectation and that of Congress so much that we can proceed no further without fresh instructions.

There is but one possible way that we know of to procure the money, if Congress should authorize us to go to the necessary expense; and that is to borrow it in Holland. We are not certain it can be had there, but if Congress should order us to make the best terms we can with Tunis, Tripoli, and Morocco, and to procure this money wherever we can find it, upon terms like those of the last loan in Holland, our best endeavor shall be used to remove this formidable obstacle out of the way of the prosperity of the United States.

Enclosed is a copy of a letter from Paul R. Randall, Esq., at Barcelona. The last from Mr. Barclay was dated Bayonne. It is hoped we shall soon have news from Algiers and Morocco, and we wish it may not be made more disagreeable than this from Tunis and Tripoli.

JOHN ADAMS, THOS. JEFFERSON.

Overview of actions by Thomas Jefferson, the first President to declare war on Muslim Terrorists

Muslims who kept attacking the people of the United States for no other reason than the teachings of their false prophet Mohammed told them too. The Islamic Terrorist Muslims didn’t need the excuses the democrat party, Obama and the liberal leftists in the United States now give them, Muslim terrorists need no further provocation than the fact the United States of America exists, the people in the U.S.A. are not followers of Islam, the U.S.A. is founded on Christian principles, we are infidels and therefore are to be subjugated, enslaved, or put to the sword. It is really that simple, we exist, therefore we are their enemies.

Begin overview:

Before the United States obtained its independence in the American Revolution, 1775-83, American merchant ships and sailors had been protected from the ravages of the North African pirates by the naval and diplomatic power of Great Britain. British naval power and the tribute or subsidies Britain paid to the piratical states protected American vessels and crews. During the Revolution, the ships of the United States were protected by the 1778 alliance with France, which required the French nation to protect “American vessels and effects against all violence, insults, attacks, or depredations, on the part of the said Princes and States of Barbary or their subjects.” After the United States won its independence in the treaty of 1783, it had to protect its own commerce against dangers such as the Barbary pirates. As early as 1784 Congress followed the tradition of the European shipping powers and appropriated $80,000 as tribute to the Barbary states, directing its ministers in Europe, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, to begin negotiations with them. Trouble began the next year, in July 1785, when Algerians captured two American ships and the dey of Algiers held their crews of twenty-one people for a ransom of nearly $60,000. Thomas Jefferson, United States minister to France, opposed the payment of tribute, as he later testified in words that have a particular resonance today. In his autobiography Jefferson wrote that in 1785 and 1786 he unsuccessfully “endeavored to form an association of the powers subject to habitual depredation from them. I accordingly prepared, and proposed to their ministers at Paris, for consultation with their governments, articles of a special confederation.” Jefferson argued that “The object of the convention shall be to compel the piratical States to perpetual peace.” Jefferson prepared a detailed plan for the interested states. “Portugal, Naples, the two Sicilies, Venice, Malta, Denmark and Sweden were favorably disposed to such an association,” Jefferson remembered, but there were “apprehensions” that England and France would follow their own paths, “and so it fell through.” Paying the ransom would only lead to further demands, Jefferson argued in letters to future presidents John Adams, then America’s minister to Great Britain, and James Monroe, then a member of Congress. As Jefferson wrote to Adams in a July 11, 1786, letter, “I acknolege [sic] I very early thought it would be best to effect a peace thro’ the medium of war.” Paying tribute will merely invite more demands, and even if a coalition proves workable, the only solution is a strong navy that can reach the pirates, Jefferson argued in an August 18, 1786, letter to James Monroe: “The states must see the rod; perhaps it must be felt by some one of them. . . . Every national citizen must wish to see an effective instrument of coercion, and should fear to see it on any other element than the water. A naval force can never endanger our liberties, nor occasion bloodshed; a land force would do both.” “From what I learn from the temper of my countrymen and their tenaciousness of their money,” Jefferson added in a December 26, 1786, letter to the president of Yale College, Ezra Stiles, “it will be more easy to raise ships and men to fight these pirates into reason, than money to bribe them.” Jefferson’s plan for an international coalition foundered on the shoals of indifference and a belief that it was cheaper to pay the tribute than fight a war. The United States’s relations with the Barbary states continued to revolve around negotiations for ransom of American ships and sailors and the payment of annual tributes or gifts. Even though Secretary of State Jefferson declared to Thomas Barclay, American consul to Morocco, in a May 13, 1791, letter of instructions for a new treaty with Morocco that it is “lastly our determination to prefer war in all cases to tribute under any form, and to any people whatever,” the United States continued to negotiate for cash settlements. In 1795 alone the United States was forced to pay nearly a million dollars in cash, naval stores, and a frigate to ransom 115 sailors from the dey of Algiers. Annual gifts were settled by treaty on Algiers, Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli. When Jefferson became president in 1801 he refused to accede to Tripoli’s demands for an immediate payment of $225,000 and an annual payment of $25,000. The pasha of Tripoli then declared war on the United States. Although as secretary of state and vice president he had opposed developing an American navy capable of anything more than coastal defense, President Jefferson dispatched a squadron of naval vessels to the Mediterranean. As he declared in his first annual message to Congress: “To this state of general peace with which we have been blessed, one only exception exists. Tripoli, the least considerable of the Barbary States, had come forward with demands unfounded either in right or in compact, and had permitted itself to denounce war, on our failure to comply before a given day. The style of the demand admitted but one answer. I sent a small squadron of frigates into the Mediterranean. . . .” The American show of force quickly awed Tunis and Algiers into breaking their alliance with Tripoli. The humiliating loss of the frigate Philadelphia and the capture of her captain and crew in Tripoli in 1803, criticism from his political opponents, and even opposition within his own cabinet did not deter Jefferson from his chosen course during four years of war. The aggressive action of Commodore Edward Preble (1803-4) forced Morocco out of the fight and his five bombardments of Tripoli restored some order to the Mediterranean. However, it was not until 1805, when an American fleet under Commodore John Rogers and a land force raised by an American naval agent to the Barbary powers, Captain William Eaton, threatened to capture Tripoli and install the brother of Tripoli’s pasha on the throne, that a treaty brought an end to the hostilities. Negotiated by Tobias Lear, former secretary to President Washington and now consul general in Algiers, the treaty of 1805 still required the United States to pay a ransom of $60,000 for each of the sailors held by the dey of Algiers, and so it went without Senatorial consent until April 1806. Nevertheless, Jefferson was able to report in his sixth annual message to Congress in December 1806 that in addition to the successful completion of the Lewis and Clark expedition, “The states on the coast of Barbary seem generally disposed at present to respect our peace and friendship.” In fact, it was not until the second war with Algiers, in 1815, that naval victories by Commodores William Bainbridge and Stephen Decatur led to treaties ending all tribute payments by the United States. European nations continued annual payments until the 1830s. However, international piracy in Atlantic and Mediterranean waters declined during this time under pressure from the Euro-American nations, who no longer viewed pirate states as mere annoyances during peacetime and potential allies during war.

WAR WITH BARBARY COAST ALGERINE PIRATES

The cowardice of the Muslims were exhibited back then, just as it is today. The Jihadists attack only those who are ill equipped to defend themselves or attack only by subterfuge, then they hide behind women, children and civilians. Until very recently the so called moderates had not stood against the Jihadis with the rest of the world. 

Overview of War with the Barbary Muslim States

Congress declared war on Tripoli during the first Presidential term of Thomas Jefferson who as shown above was completely against paying tribute to the Muslims to keep them from attacking American interests. Jefferson wanted to annihilate them. See Thomas Jefferson First Annual Message as President December 1801

While we were thus broadening our territories at home, we were having trouble abroad with no less formidable enemies than Algerine pirates who infested the Mediterranean Sea, and all the coasts of southern Europe. The Barbary States, you know, comprise the countries of Algiers, Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli, and are formed of a narrow strip of land in northeastern Africa. They are inhabited by Moors, Turks, Arabs, and a sprinkling of Jews. The principal religion is that of Mohammed, and they were sworn enemies to all Christian nations. For years the pirates of the Barbary States, or, as they were generally called, ” Algerine pirates,” had been a terror to every merchant vessel who came to trade with the countries near the Mediterranean. Any unlucky, ship, which found itself near the Atlantic coast of Africa, might see at any moment an odd-looking boat with long lateen sails, swooping down upon her from some sheltered inlet or harbor, where she had lain at watch for her prey. In a twinkling she would sail alongside the merchantman, grapple her, drop her long sails over the vessel’s side, and a host of swarthy, turbaned Moors, with bare, sharp sabres held between their teeth, belts stuck thick with knives and pistols, would come swarming over from sails and rigging, boarding their prize from all sides at once. The merchantman, with a crew untrained to fighting, would surrender. Every man on board would be made prisoner, and carried to Algiers or Tripoli to be held for the payment of a large ransom. If this sum were not paid they were sold as slaves in the public marketplaces.

It is wonderful [amazing], when we read of this thing, to see the terror in which these miserable, half clad pirates held half a dozen European nations. Italy feared them as a mouse fears a cat; Holland and Sweden trembled at the name of Algiers; Denmark paid them yearly a large tribute; the only nation of whom they stood in awe was England. For her, they had some respect, as one of their proverbs, “as hard-headed as an Englishman,” testifies.

When the pirates found America had become an independent nation, they immediately made demands on the government to pay them tribute. The Emperor of Morocco, Dey of Algiers, Bey of Tunis, and Bashaw of Tripoli (such were the high sounding titles of these squalid potentates) all thought they had found a new nation weak enough to submit to their piratical demands. And at first the United States did submit in the most astonishing manner. They sent consuls to the Barbary States to arrange on the amount of money or presents to be given these rulers to buy their favor and exempt our ships from their plunder. General Eaton, an officer who had served in the Revolutionary War, was one of these consuls, and very indignant he wiis at the manner in which his government submitted to the demands of these barbarians. When he called to see the Bey of Tunis, he was ordered to take off his shoes in the anteroom, and enter In his stocking feet. When he approached the bey in the stifling little den only eight by twelve, which served for grand audience chamber, he was ordered to “kiss his majesty’s hand.” “Having performed this ceremony,” says the bluff old soldier, “we were allowed to take our shoes and other property and depart, without any other injury than the humiliation of being obliged in this way to violate one of God’s commandments and offend common decency.”

These potentates of Barbary were constantly begging. They asked for ships, gunpowder, arms, cloth, and jewels from our consuls. General Eaton says, while he lived in the consulate at Tunis, not only the bey, but his minister and half a dozen officers of his court, sent for their coffee, spices, sugar, and other groceries, to the American house, demanding it as tribute. Once the bey saw there a handsome looking-glass, for which he sent next day, and the American consul could do no better than pack it off to him. If he refused to comply with any demand, the bey threatened to let his pirates loose on the American trading vessels. Here is a specimen of the letters sent by this prince of pirates to the Danish consul.

“On account of the long friendship subsisting between us we take the liberty to give you a commission for sundry articles, naval and military, which I find indispensable. I give you six months to answer this letter, and one year to forward the goods. And remember, if we do not hear from you we know what steps to take.”

As demand followed demand, and our consuls found it was like filling a bottomless tub with water to satisfy these fellows, they began to demur.

“When will these demands end?” asked United States Consul Cathcart of the Bashaw of Tripoli. “Never! They will never be at an end,” answered the bashaw, coolly. “Then I will declare war on my own responsibility,” said the consul. And so finally war was declared.

In 1804 the American squadron, under Commodore Preble, was sent into the Mediterranean, and bombarded the city of Tripoli. they arrived shortly after the pirates had captured the American ship Philadelphia. The officers and crew of the captured vessel were taken to Tripoli and a ransom of five hundred dollars a head placed on each man. The Philadelphia was anchored in the harbor in plain sight of the town.

One of the officers on Preble’s ship, young Stephen Decatur, begged to be allowed to destroy the Philadelphia, in order that the pirates might not be able to use her in their war against the United States. Permission was given him, and Decatur took a party of picked men and started on his adventure. He first captured a boat belonging to the pirates which was loaded with a cargo of women slaves they were sending to the markets of Constantinople. This vessel he fitted up and new baptized The Intrepid. She sailed into the harbor of Tripoli one midnight with all her crew, Lieutenant Decatur, except the man at the helm, lying flat on their faces on the deck. The ship was hailed, but her captain gave plausible answers till they reached the side of the Philadelphia. In a moment Decatur and his crew had boarded her, and throwing over the deck pitch, tarred cloth, and all sorts of combustibles, set fire to her. Before the enemy had recovered from their surprise, the Intrepid with all sails spread was outside the harbor, which was lighted up as brightly as noonday by the burning ship. Decatur lost not one man, while the Tripolitans lost twenty, or nearly that number, who were surprised on the ship, and part of whom were drowned from leaping off the burning vessel.

DecaturPhiladelphia

Decatur burning the Philadelphia

In the mean time General Eaton Eaton forms a convention with Hamet, the expelled bashaw of Tripoli, for the subjugation of that government: an army is raised in Egypt, and Eaton appointed general under Hamet: from Egypt they cross a desert 1000 miles in extent, to Derne, a Tripolitan city on the Mediterranean, which they attack and carry, in which Eaton is wounded, another battle is fought, and Eaton again victorious, June 10, 1805: the bashaw offers terms of peace, which are, acceded to, and 200 prisoners were given up.

[graphic]

Lieutenant Decatur

The American valor in this war had the good effect of convincing the pirates that the United States was not a country to be trifled with. They said we were too much like the English, and for the present no more demands were made for either ships or jewels as presents, by these autocrats of the seas.

  On the breaking out of the war between the United States and England in 1812, the Algerines and their associates seized all the American ships that came in their way. On the conclusion of peace, in 1815, the United States’ government determined to put an end to the disgraceful system of piracy by the Muslim Barbary States. An American squadron under Commodore Decatur was dispatched to the Mediterranean. Two Algerian ships of war were taken by Decatur, immediately after passing the Straits of Gibraltar. He then suddenly made his appearance before Algiers.

  The Dey, terrified by these unexpected movements, was glad to make peace on any terms, and a treaty was dictated by the American commodore. The Dey was compelled to make indemnity for the spoliations committed on American commerce, to renounce all claim of tribute from the United States, and give up all the Christian prisoners without ransom. The other Barbary powers were struck with a panic at the fate of Algiers, and agreed to the same terms. Thus the United States of America was the first Christian nation that threw off the disgraceful servitude of paying tribute to the pirates of the Mediterranean.

 The European nations were ashamed any longer to submit to the yoke, and the Congress of Vienna resolved to put an end to Christian slavery in Barbary. In pursuance of this determination, a British fleet, under Lord Exmouth, bombarded Algiers in 1816, and compelled the Dey to submit, as he had done to the Americans.

 The Barbary states after this remained quiet; but in 1827 the French became involved in a quarrel with the Algerines, and in 1830 a powerful armament was sent from France, which took possession of Algiers. The Dey was deprived of his authority, and allowed to go into exile’ in foreign parts. The French established themselves permanently in the city.

A note from the Ancient Historian John Foxe;

It is amazing when reading Foxe’s accounts, after 13 1/2 centuries the Muslims have done little to change their tactics and techniques, both “moderate” and extremists.

PERSECUTIONS IN THE STATES OF BARBARA. [i.e. Barbary States]

In no part of the globe are Christians so hated, or treated with such severity, as at Algiers. The conduct of the Algerines towards them is marked with perfidy and cruelty. By paying a most exorbitant fine, some Christians are allowed the title of Free Christians; these are permitted to dress in the fashion of their respective countries, but the Christian slaves are obliged to wear a coarse grey suit, and a seaman’s cap.

The following are the various punishments exercised towards them: 1. If they join any of the natives in open rebellion, they are strangled with a bow-string, or hanged on an iron hook. 2. If they speak against Mahomet, they must become Mahometans, or be impaled alive. 3. If they profess Christianity again, after having changed to the Mahometan persuasion, they are roasted alive, or thrown from the city walls, and caught upon large sharp hooks, on which they hang till they expire. 4. If they kill a Turk they are burnt. 5. If they attempt to escape, and are retaken, they suffer death in the following manner: they are hung naked on a high gallows by two hooks, the one fastened quite through the palm of one hand, and the other through the sole of the opposite foot, where they are left till death relieves them. Other punishments for crimes committed by the Christians are left to the discretion of the judges, who usually decree the most barbarous tortures.

At Tunis, if a Christian is caught in attempting to escape, his limbs are all broken; and if he slay his master, he is fastened to the tail of a horse, and dragged about the streets till he expires.

Fez and Morocco conjointly form an empire, and are the most considerable of the Barbary states. The Christian slaves are treated with the greatest rigour: the rich have exorbitant ransoms fixed upon them; the poor are hard worked and half starved, and sometimes, by the emperor, or their brutal masters, they are murdered.

Sources: The Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States of America from the signing of the Definitive Treaty of Peace, dated September 10, 1783; to the Adoption of the Constitution, March 4, 1789. Published under the direction of the Secretary of State, from the original Manuscript in the Department of State, conformably to an Act of Congress, approved May 6,1832.
America and the Barbary Pirates: An International Battle Against an Unconventional Foe by Gerard W. Gawalt, Library of Congress online.
Islam vs the United States by Niall Kilkenny, 2009
A History of Africa by Samuel Griswold Goodrich; 1850
The History of Our Country from Its Discovery by Columbus to the Celebration of the Centennial Anniversary of its Declaration of Independence. by Abby Sage Richardson; 1875

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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

JohnAdamsQuotesChristianity2

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

JohnAdamsQuotesChristianity

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.

 

JOHN ADAMS TO THE GRAND JURY OF THE COUNTY OF DUTCHESS, NEW YORK. 22 SEPTEMBER, 1798

JohnAdamsQuotesForeigners

John Adams To The Grand Jury Of The County Of Dutchess, New York. 22 September, 1798.

Gentlemen,

I have received and read with great pleasure your address of the 1st of September, which, in this kind of writing, with a few explanations, may be considered as a model of sense and spirit, as well as of taste and eloquence.

Is there any mode imaginable in which contempt of the understanding and feelings of a nation can be expressed with so much aggravation, as by affecting to treat the government of their choice as an usurpation?

If in some instances marks of disaffection have appeared in your State, it is indeed exceedingly to be regretted. If this has been owing to the influx of foreigners, of discontented characters, it ought to be a warning. If we glory in making our country an asylum for virtue in distress and for innocent industry, it behooves us to beware, that under this pretext it is not made a receptacle of malevolence and turbulence, for the outcasts of the universe.

The conduct of France must not disgrace the cause of free governments. With the tears and the blood of millions, she has demonstrated that a free government must be organized and adjusted with a strict attention to the nature of man, and the interests and passions of the various classes of which society is composed; but she has not made any rational apology for the advocates of despotic government. Society cannot exist without laws, and those laws must be executed. In nations that are populous, opulent, and powerful, the concurrent interests of great bodies of men operate very forcibly on their passions, break down the barriers of modesty, decency, and morality, and can be restrained only by force; but there are methods of combining the public force in such a manner as to restrain the most formidable combinations of interests, passions, imagination, and prejudice, without recourse to despotic government. To these methods it is to be hoped the nations of Europe will have recourse, rather than to surrender all to military dictators or hereditary despots.

John Adams.

 

JOHN ADAMS INAUGURAL SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS, 4 March, 1797

JohnAdamsQuotesPrivateProperty

INAUGURAL SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS, 4 March, 1797.

when it was first perceived, in early times, that no middle course for America remained between unlimited submission to a foreign legislature and a total independence of its claims, men of reflection were less apprehensive of danger from the formidable power of fleets and armies they must determine to resist, than from those contests and dissensions, which would certainly arise, concerning the forms of government to be instituted, over the whole, and over the parts of this extensive country. Relying, however, on the purity of their intentions, the justice of their cause, and the integrity and intelligence of the people, under an overruling Providence, [Divine Providence or Providence the founding fathers referred to on numerous occasions equals God’s Governance, Will, Judgement, Foresight and Care]  which had so signally protected this country from the first, the representatives of this nation, then consisting of little more than half its present numbers, not only broke to pieces the chains which were forging, and the rod of iron that was lifted up, but frankly cut asunder the ties which had bound them, and launched into an ocean of uncertainty.

The zeal and ardor of the people during the revolutionary war, supplying the place of government, commanded a degree of order, sufficient at least for the temporary preservation of society. The confederation, which was early felt to be necessary, was prepared from the models of the Batavian and Helvetic confederacies, the only examples which remain, with any detail and precision, in history, and certainly the only ones which the people at large had ever considered. But, reflecting on the striking difference in so many particulars between this country and those where a courier may go from the seat of government to the frontier in a single day, it was then certainly foreseen by some, who assisted in Congress at the formation of it, that it could not be durable.

Negligence of its regulations, inattention to its recommendations, if not disobedience to its authority, not only in individuals but in States, soon appeared, with their melancholy consequences; universal languor, jealousies, rivalries of States; decline of navigation and commerce; discouragement of necessary manufactures; universal fall in the value of lands and their produce; contempt of public and private faith; loss of consideration and credit with foreign nations; and, at length, in discontents, animosities, combinations, partial conventions, and insurrection; threatening some great national calamity.

In this dangerous crisis the people of America were not abandoned by their usual good sense, presence of mind, resolution, or integrity. Measures were pursued to concert a plan to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty. The public disquisitions, discussions, and deliberations, issued in the present happy constitution of government .

Employed in the service of my country abroad, during the whole course of these transactions, I first saw the Constitution of the United States in a foreign country. Irritated by no literary altercation, animated by no public debate, heated by no party animosity, I read it with great satisfaction, as a result of good heads, prompted by good hearts; as an experiment better adapted to the genius, character, situation, and relations of this nation and country, than any which had ever been proposed or suggested. In its general principles and great outlines, it was conformable to such a system of government as I had ever most esteemed, and in some States, my own native State in particular, had contributed to establish. Claiming a right of suffrage in common with my fellow-citizens, in the adoption or rejection of a constitution, which was to rule me and my posterity as well as them and theirs, I did not hesitate to express my approbation of it on all occasions, in public and in private. It was not then nor has been since any objection to it, in my mind, that the Executive and Senate were not more permanent . Nor have I entertained a thought of promoting any alteration in it, but such as the people themselves, in the course of their experience, should see and feel to be necessary or expedient, and by their representatives in Congress and the State legislatures, according to the Constitution itself, adopt and ordain.

Returning to the bosom of my country, after a painful separation from it for ten years, I had the honor to be elected to a station under the new order of things, and I have repeatedly laid myself under the most serious obligations to support the Constitution. The operation of it has equalled the most sanguine expectations of its friends; and, from an habitual attention to it, satisfaction in its administration, and delight in its effect upon the peace, order, prosperity, and happiness of the nation, I have acquired an habitual attachment to it, and veneration for it.

What other form of government, indeed, can so well deserve our esteem and love?

There may be little solidity in an ancient idea, that congregations of men into cities and nations, are the most pleasing objects in the sight of superior intelligences; but this is very certain, that, to a benevolent human mind, there can be no spectacle presented by any nation, more pleasing, more noble, majestic, or august, than an assembly like that which has so often been seen in this and the other chamber of Congress; of a government, in which the executive authority, as well as that of all the branches of the legislature, are exercised by citizens selected at regular periods by their neighbors, to make and execute laws for the general good. Can any thing essential, any thing more than mere ornament and decoration, be added to this by robes or diamonds? Can authority be more amiable or respectable, when it descends from accidents or institutions established in remote antiquity, than when it springs fresh from the hearts and judgments of an honest and enlightened people? For it is the people only that are represented; it is their power and majesty that is reflected, and only for their good, in every legitimate government, under whatever form it may appear. The existence of such a government as ours, for any length of time, is a full proof of a general dissemination of knowledge and virtue throughout the whole body of the people. And what object of consideration, more pleasing than this, can be presented to the human mind? If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable, it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence.

In the midst of these pleasing ideas, we should be unfaithful to ourselves, if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties, if any thing partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections. If an election is to be determined by a majority of a single vote, and that can be procured by a party, through artifice or corruption, the government may be the choice of a party, for its own ends, not of the nation, for the national good. If that solitary suffrage can be obtained by foreign nations, by flattery or menaces; by fraud or violence; by terror, intrigue, or venality; the government may not be the choice of the American people, but of foreign nations. It may be foreign nations who govern us, and not we, the people, who govern ourselves. And candid men will acknowledge, that, in such cases, choice would have little advantage to boast of over lot or chance.

Such is the amiable and interesting system of government (and such arc some of the abuses to which it may be exposed), which the people of America have exhibited, to the admiration and anxiety of the wise and virtuous of all nations, for eight years; under the administration of a citizen, who, by a long course of great actions regulated by prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude, conducting a people, inspired with the same virtues, and animated with the same ardent patriotism and love of liberty, to independence and peace, to increasing wealth and unexampled prosperity, has merited the gratitude of his fellow-citizens, commanded the highest praises of foreign nations, and secured immortal glory with posterity.

In that retirement which is his voluntary choice, may he long live to enjoy the delicious recollection of his services, the gratitude of mankind, the happy fruits of them to himself and the world, which are daily increasing, and that splendid prospect of the future fortunes of his country, which is opening from year to year! His name may be still a rampart, and the knowledge that he lives, a bulwark against all open or secret enemies of his country’s peace.

This example has been recommended to the imitation of his successors, by both Houses of Congress, and by the voice of the legislatures and the people throughout the nation.

"if a resolution to do justice, as far as may depend upon me, at 
all times, and to all nations, and maintain peace, friendship, and 
benevolence with all the world; if an unshaken confidence in the 
honor, spirit, and resources of the American people, on which I 
have so often hazarded my all, and never been deceived; if elevated 
ideas of the high destinies of this country, and of my own duties 
towards it, founded on a knowledge of the moral principles and 
intellectual improvements of the people, deeply engraven on my mind 
in early life, and not obscured, but exalted by experience and age; 
and with humble reverence I feel it my duty to add, if a veneration 
for the religion of a people, who profess and call themselves 
Christians, and a fixed resolution to consider a decent respect 
for Christianity among the best recommendations for the public 
service; — can enable me in any degree to comply with your wishes, 
it shall be my strenuous endeavor that this sagacious injunction 
of the two Houses shall not be without effect."

On this subject it might become me better to be silent, or to speak with diffidence; but, as something may be expected, the occasion, I hope, will be admitted as an apology, if I venture to say, that, if a preference upon principle of a free republican government, formed upon long and serious reflection, after a diligent and impartial inquiry after truth; if an attachment to the Constitution of the United States, and a conscientious determination to support it, until it shall be altered by the judgments and the wishes of the people, expressed in the mode prescribed in it; if a respectful attention to the constitutions of the individual States, and a constant caution and delicacy towards the State governments; if an equal and impartial regard to the rights, interests, honor, and happiness of all the States in the Union, without preference or regard to a northern or southern, eastern or western position, their various political opinions on essential points, or their personal attachments; if a love of virtuous men of all parties and denominations; if a love of science and letters, and a wish to patronize every rational effort to encourage schools, colleges, universities, academies, and every institution for propagating knowledge, virtue, and religion among all classes of the people, not only for their benign influence on the happiness of life in all its stages and classes and of society in all its forms, but as the only means of preserving our constitution from its natural enemies, the spirit of sophistry, the spirit of party, the spirit of intrigue, profligacy, and corruption, and the pestilence of foreign influence, which is the angel of destruction to elective governments; if a love of equal laws, of justice and humanity, in the interior administration; if an inclination to improve agriculture, commerce, and manufactures for necessity, convenience, and defence; if a spirit of equity and humanity towards the aboriginal nations of America, and a disposition to meliorate their condition by inclining them to be more friendly to us, and our citizens to be more friendly to them; if an inflexible determination to maintain peace and inviolable faith with all nations, and that system of neutrality and impartiality among the belligerent powers of Europe, which has been adopted by the government, and so solemnly sanctioned by both Houses of Congress, and applauded by the legislatures of the States and the public opinion, until it shall be otherwise ordained by Congress; if a personal esteem for the French nation, formed in a residence of seven years chiefly among them, and a sincere desire to preserve the friendship which has been so much for the honor and interest of both nations; if, while the conscious honor and integrity of the people of America, and the internal sentiment of their own power and energies must be preserved, an earnest endeavor to investigate every just cause, and remove every colorable pretence of complaint; if an intention to pursue, by amicable negotiation, a reparation for the injuries that have been committed on the commerce of our fellow-citizens by whatever nation, and (if success cannot be obtained) to lay the facts before the legislature, that they may consider what further measures the honor and interest of the government and its constituents demand; if a resolution to do justice, as far as may depend upon me, at all times, and to all nations, and maintain peace, friendship, and benevolence with all the world; if an unshaken confidence in the honor, spirit, and resources of the American people, on which I have so often hazarded my all, and never been deceived; if elevated ideas of the high destinies of this country, and of my own duties towards it, founded on a knowledge of the moral principles and intellectual improvements of the people, deeply engraven on my mind in early life, and not obscured, but exalted by experience and age; and with humble reverence I feel it my duty to add, if a veneration for the religion of a people, who profess and call themselves Christians, and a fixed resolution to consider a decent respect for Christianity among the best recommendations for the public service; — can enable me in any degree to comply with your wishes, it shall be my strenuous endeavor that this sagacious injunction of the two Houses shall not be without effect.

With this great example before me, with the sense and spirit, the faith and honor, the duty and interest of the same American people, pledged to support the Constitution. of the United States, 1 entertain no doubt of its continuance in all its energy; and my mind is prepared without hesitation, to lay myself under the most solemn obligations to support it to the utmost of my power.

And may that Being, who is supreme over all, the patron of order, the fountain of justice, and the protector, in all ages of the world, of virtuous liberty, continue his blessing upon this nation and its government, and give it all possible success and duration, consistent with the ends of his providence!

John Adams.

To The Officers Of The First Brigade Of The Third Division Of The Militia Of Massachusetts: John Adams

TheEducatorIgnorantSelfSeeking

John Adams; To The Officers Of The First Brigade Of The Third Division Of The Militia Of Massachusetts.

11 October, 1798.

Gentlemen,

I have received from Major-General Hull and Brigadier General Walker your unanimous address from Lexington, animated with a martial spirit, and expressed with a military dignity becoming your character and the memorable plains on which it was adopted.

While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation while it is practicing iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world; because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

An address from the officers commanding two thousand eight hundred men, consisting of such substantial citizens as are able and willing at their own expense completely to arm and clothe themselves in handsome uniforms, does honor to that division of the militia which has done so much honor to its country.

Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. That which you have taken and so solemnly repeated on that venerable spot, is an. ample pledge of your sincerity and devotion to your country and its government.

John Adams

Preface To Resolutions of Virginia and Kentucky by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson and Madison

Jefferson and Madison

The administration of Mr. John Adams was a dark day for the republic. Then, alien and sedition acts were let loose upon us: the purity of the constitution itself was violated by the madness of party: and those rights which had been respectively reserved to the states and to the people, were exposed to the most fearful jeopardy by the usurpations of the federal government.

But, the friends of the constitution did not “despair of the republic.” Though the liberty of speech and of the press were invaded; though the power and patronage of the government were exerted to intimidate or seduce the people; the republicans did not abandon the cause of their country. Their resistance continued with the crisis: the form of it only was varied. While Mr. Jefferson remained in the senate of the United States, and Mr. Gallatin in the house of representatives, most of their most able and active friends, in some of the states, retired from the walks of the general [federal] government, and retreated to the state legislatures; in which great citadels of the public liberty, they proposed to re-assert the true principles of the government. The republicans succeeded; and the constitution was saved.

Among the most memorable productions of those times, were the resolutions and reports, which were adopted by the legislatures of Kentucky and Virginia. These were penned by Jefferson and Madison. To Mr. Madison is due, the honor of having drafted the Virginia resolutions of the 21st December, 1798; and that masterly vindication of them, which was adopted by the legislature of Virginia during the session of ’99-1800: a paper, which is familiarly known by the name of “Madison’s Report,” and which deserves to last as long as the constitution itself.

The resolutions of Kentucky, were submitted to the legislature of that state, by Mr. John Breckenridge, and adopted by them on the 10th November, 1798. They had the honor of being penned by the author of the declaration of American independence.

founding-fathers-madison-jefferson

Jefferson and Madison

Both these esteemed productions are scarce, and out of print. They are frequently asked for. They are again wanting, to re-establish the land marks of the constitution; and to stay that flood of encroachment which threatens to sweep our country. The rights of the states and of the people, are again assailed in an alarming manner. Doctrines are preached in high places, which are directly at war with the principles of our government. The centripetal power is assuming a new and fearful energy. Under the authority of great names, great errors are maintained. Is it not time, then, for the friends of truth to rally together, and to re-assert her principles? Where can we find these principles more clearly stated, or the arguments in their defence more powerfully developed, than in the celebrated productions which the publisher of this pamphlet [post will] now lays before his readers? [The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions] – Richmond ( Va.) February, 1826.

The Life of Founder John Adams

adams_lgJohn Adams was born at Quincy, then part of the ancient town of Braintree, on the 19th day of October, old style, 1735. He was a descendant of the Puritans, his ancestors having early emigrated from England, and settled in Massachusetts. Discovering early a strong love of rending and of knowledge, proper care was taken by his father to provide for his education. His youthful studies were prosecuted in Braintree, under Mr. Marsh, a gentleman whose fortune it was to instruct several children, who in manhood were destined to act a conspicuous part in the scenes of the revolution.

He became a member of Harvard College, 1751, and was graduated in course in 1755: with what degree of reputation he left the university is not now precisely known; we only know that he was distinguished in a class of which the Reverend Dr. Hemmenway was a member, who bore honorable testimony to the openness and decision of his character, and to the strength and activity of his mind.

Having chosen the law for his profession, he commenced and prosecuted its studies under the direction of Samuel Putnam, a barrister of eminence at Worcester. By him he was introduced to the celebrated Jeremy Gridley, then attorney general of the province of Massachusetts Bay. At the first interview they became friends; Gridley at once proposed Mr. Adams for admission to the bar of Suffolk, and took him into special favor. Soon after his admission, Mr. Gridley led his young friend into a private chamber with an air of secrecy, and, pointing to a book case, said, “Sir, there is the secret of my eminence, and of which you may avail yourself as you please.” It was a pretty good collection of treatises of the civil law. In this place Mr. Adams spent his days and nights, until he had made himself master of the principles of the code.

AdamsArmsFrom early life, the bent of his mind was towards politics, a propensity which the state of the times, if it did not create, doubtless very much strengthened. While a resident at Worcester, he wrote a letter of which the following is an extract. The letter was dated October 12th, 1755. “Soon after the reformation, a few people came over into this new world for conscience sake: perhaps this apparently trivial incident may transfer the great seat of empire into America. It looks likely to me; for, if we can remove the turbulent Gallicks, our people, according to the exactest computations, will in another century become more numerous than England itself. Should this be the case, since we have, I may say, all the naval stores of the nation in our hands, it will be easy to obtain a mastery of the seas; and the united force of all Europe will not be able to subdue us. The only way to keep us from setting up for ourselves is to disunite us.

“Be not surprised that I am turned politician. This whole town is immersed in politics. The interests of nations and all the dira of war make the subject of every conversation. I sit and hear, and after having been led through a maze of sage observations, I sometimes retire, and lay things together, and form some reflections pleasing to myself. The produce of one of these reveries you have read.”

This prognostication of independence, and of so vast an increase of numbers, and of naval force, as might defy all Europe, is remarkable, especially as coming from so young a man, and so early in the history of the country. It is more remarkable that its author should have lived to see fulfilled to the letter, what would have seemed to others at the time, but the extravagance of youthful fancy. His early political feelings were thus strongly American, and from this ardent attachment to his native soil he never departed.

In 1758 he was admitted to the bar, and commenced business in Braintrce. He is understood to have made his first considerable effort, or to have obtained his most signal success, at Plymouth, in a jury trial, and a criminal cause. In 1765, Mr. Adams laid before the public his “Essay on the Canon and Feudal Law,” [A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law] a work distinguished for its power and eloquence. The object of this work was to show, that our New-England ancestors, in consenting to exile themselves from their native land, were actuated mainly by the desire of delivering themselves from the power of the hierarchy, and from the monarchical, aristocratical, and political system of the other continent; and to make this truth bear with effect on the politics of the times. Its tone is uncommonly bold and animated for that period. He calls on the people not only to defend, but to study and understand their rights and privileges; and urges earnestly the necessity of diffusing general knowledge.

In conclusion, he exclaims, “let the pulpit resound with the doctrines and sentiments of religious liberty. Let us hear the danger of thraldom [One who is intellectually or morally enslaved; slave, serf] to our consciences, from ignorance, extreme poverty and dependence, in short, from civil and political slavery. Let us see delineated before us, the true map of man—let us hear the dignity of his nature, and the noble rank he holds among the works of God! That consenting to slavery is a sacrilegious breach of trust, as offensive in the sight of God, as it is derogatory from our own honor, or interest, or happiness; and that God Almighty has promulgated from heaven, liberty, peace, and good will to man.

John-Adams-Poster-Principles-of-FreedomLet the bar proclaim the laws, the rights, the generous plan of power delivered down from remote antiquity; inform the world of the mighty struggles and numberless sacrifices made by our ancestors in the defence of freedom. Let it be known that British liberties are not the grants of princes or parliaments, but original rights, conditions of original contracts, coequal with prerogative, and coeval with government. That many of our rights are inherent and essential, agreed on as maxims and established as preliminaries even before a parliament existed. Let them search for the foundation of British laws and government in the frame of human nature, in the constitution of the intellectual and moral world. There let us see that truth, liberty, justice, and benevolence, are its everlasting basis; and if these could be removed, the superstructure is overthrown of course.

Let the colleges join their harmony in the same delightful concert. Let every declamation turn upon the beauty of liberty and virtue, and the deformity, turpitude, and malignity of slavery and vice. Let the public disputations become researches into the grounds, nature, and ends of government, and the means of preserving the good and demolishing the evil. Let the dialogues and all the exercises become the instruments of impressing on the tender mind, and of spreading and distributing far and wide the ideas of right, and the sensations of freedom.”

In 1766, Mr. Adams removed his residence to Boston, still continuing his attendance on the neighboring circuits, and not infrequently called to remote parts of the province.

In 1770 occurred, as has already been noticed, the “Boston massacre.” Mr. Adams was solicited by the British officers and soldiers to undertake their defence, on the indictment found against them, for their share in that tragical scene. This was a severe test of his professional firmness, He was well aware of the popular indignation against these prisoners, and he was at that time a representative of Boston in the general court, an office which depended entirely upon popular favor. But he knew that it was due to his profession, and to himself, to undertake their defence, and to hazard the consequences. “The trial was well managed. The captain was severed in his trial from the soldiers, who were tried first, and their defence rested in part upon the orders, real or supposed, given by the officer to  his men to fire. This was in a good measure successful. On the trial of Capt. Preston, no such order to fire could be proved. The result was, as it should have been, an acquittal. It was a glorious thing that the counsel and jury had nerve sufficient to breast the torrent of public feeling. It showed Britain that she had not a mere mob to deal with, but resolute and determined men, who could restrain themselves. Such men are dangerous to arbitrary power.”

The event proved, that as he judged well for his own reputation, so he judged well for the interest and permanent fame of his country. The same year he was elected one of the representatives in the general assembly, an honor to which the people would not have called him, had he lost their confidence and affection.

In the year 1773, and 1774, he was chosen a counselor by the members of the general court; but was rejected by Governor Hutchinson, in the former of these years, and by Governor Gage, in the latter.

In this latter year, he was appointed a member of the continental congress, from Massachusetts. “This appointment was made at Salem, where the general court had been convened by Governor Gage, in the last hour of the existence of a house of representatives, under the provincial charter While engaged in this important business, the governor having been informed of what was passing, sent his secretary with a message, dissolving the general court. The secretary finding the door locked, directed the messenger to go in, and inform the speaker that the secretary was at the door, with a message from the governor. The messenger returned, and informed the secretary that the orders of the house were, that the doors should be kept fast; whereupon the secretary soon after read a proclamation, dissolving the general court, upon the stairs. Thus terminated, forever, the actual exercise of the political power of England in or over Massachusetts.”

On the meeting of congress in Philadelphia, 1774, Mr. Adams appeared and took his seat. To talents of the highest order, and the most commanding eloquence, he added an honest devotion to the cause of his country, and a firmness of character, for which he was distinguished through life. Prior to that period he had, upon all occasions, stood forth openly in defence of the rights of his country, and in opposition to the injustice and encroachments of Great Britain. He boldly opposed them by his advice, his actions, and his eloquence; and, with other worthies, succeeded in spreading among the people a proper alarm for their liberties. Mr. Adams was placed upon the first and most important committees. During the first year, addresses were prepared to the king, to the people of England, of Ireland, Canada, and Jamaica. The name of Mr. Adams is found upon almost all those important committees. His firmness and eloquence in debate, soon gave him a standing among the highest in that august body.

john-adams-on-the-american-revThe proceedings of this congress have already passed in review. Among the members, a variety of opinions seem to have prevailed, as to the probable issue of the contest, in which the country was engaged. On this subject, Mr. Adams, a few years before his death, expressed himself, in a letter to a friend, as follows: “When congress had finished their business, as they thought, in the autumn of 1774, I had with Mr. Henry, before we took leave of each other, some familiar conversation, in which I expressed a full conviction that our resolves, declaration of rights, enumeration of wrongs, petitions, remonstrances, and addresses, associations, and non-importation agreements, however they might be viewed in America, and however necessary to cement the union of the colonies, would be but waste water in England. Mr. Henry said, they might make some impression among the people of England, but agreed with me, that they would be totally lost upon the government. I had but just received a short and hasty letter, written to me by Major Joseph Hawley, of Northampton, containing a few broken hints, as he called them, of what he thought was proper to be done, and concluding with these words, ‘after all, we must fight.’ This letter I read to Mr. Henry, who listened with great attention, and as soon as I had pronounced the words, ‘after all, we must fight,’ he raised his head, and, with an energy and vehemence that I can never forget, broke out with, ‘I am of that man’s mind.’ I put the letter into his hand, and when he had read it he returned it to me, with an equally solemn asseveration, that he agreed entirely in opinion with the writer.

“The other delegates from Virginia returned to their state in full confidence that all our grievances would be redressed. The last words that Mr. Richard Henry Lee said to me, when we parted, were, ‘we shall infallibly carry all our points. You will be completely relieved; all the offensive acts will be repealed; the army and fleet will be recalled, and Britain will give up her foolish project.’

“Washington only was in doubt. He never spoke in public. In private, he joined with those who advocated a non-exportation, as well as a non-importation agreement. With both, he thought we should prevail; without either, he thought it doubtful. [Patrick] Henry was clear in one opinion, Richard Henry Lee in an opposite opinion, and Washington doubted between the two.”

On the 15th day of June, the continental congress appointed General Washington commander in chief of the American armies. To Mr. Adams is ascribed the honour of having suggested and advocated the choice of this illustrious man. When first suggested by Mr. Adams, to a few of his confidential friends in Congress, the proposition was received with a marked disapprobation. Washington, at this time, was almost a stranger to them; and, besides, to elevate a man who had never held a higher military rank than that of colonel, over officers of the highest grade in the militia, and those, too, already in the field, appeared not only irregular, but likely to produce much dissatisfaction among them, and the people at large. To Mr. Adams, however, the greatest advantage appeared likely to result from the choice of Washington, whose character and peculiar fitness for the station he well understood. Samuel Adams, his distinguished colleague, coincided with him in these views, and through their instrumentality this felicitous choice was effected. When a majority in congress had been secured, Mr. Adams introduced the subject of appointing a commander in chief of the armies, and having sketched the qualifications which should be found in the man to be elevated to so responsible a station, he concluded by nominating George Washington, of Virginia, to the office.

To Washington, himself, nothing could have been more unexpected. Until that moment he was ignorant of the intended nomination. The proposal was seconded by Samuel Adams, and the following day it received the unanimous approbation of congress.

When Mr. Adams was first made a member of the continental congress, it was hinted that he, at that time, inclined to a separation of the colonies from England, and the establishment of an independent government. On his way to Philadelphia, he was warned, by several advisers, not to introduce a subject of so delicate a character, until the affairs of the country should wear a different aspect. Whether Mr. Adams needed this admonition or not, will not, in this place, be determined. But in 1776, the affairs of the colonies, it could no longer be questioned, demanded at least the candid discussion of the subject. On the 6th of May, of that year, Mr. Adams offered, in committee of the whole, a resolution that the colonies should form governments independent of the crown. On the 10th of May, this resolution was adopted, in the following shape: “That it be recommended to all the colonies, which had not already established governments suited to the exigencies of their case, to adopt such governments as would, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and Americans in general.”

Vigilance-2“This significant vote was soon followed by the direct proposition, which Richard Henry Lee had the honor to submit to congress, by resolution, on the 7th day of June. The published journal does not expressly state it, but there is no doubt that this resolution was in the same words, when originally submitted by Mr. Lee, as when finally passed. Having been discussed on Saturday the 8th, and Monday the 10th of June, this resolution was, on the last mentioned day, postponed for further consideration to the first day of July , and at the same time it was voted, that a committee be appointed to prepare a Declaration, to the effect of the resolution. This committee was elected by ballot on the following day, and consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston.”

It is usual when committees are elected by ballot, that their members are arranged in order, according to the number of votes which each has received. Mr. Jefferson, therefore, probably received the highest, and Mr. Adams the next highest number of votes. The difference is said to have been but a single vote.

Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams, standing thus at the head of the committee, were requested by the other members, to act as a sub-committee to prepare the draft; and Mr. Jefferson drew up the paper. The original draft, as brought by him from his study, and submitted to the other members of the committee, with interlineations in the hand writing of Dr. Franklin, and others in that of Mr. Adams, was in Mr. Jefferson’s possession at the time of his death. The merit of this paper is Mr. Jefferson’s. Some changes were made in it, on the suggestion of other members of the committee, and others by Congress, while it was under discussion. But none of them altered the tone, the frame, the arrangement, or the general character of the instrument. As a composition, the declaration is Mr. Jefferson’s. It is the production of his mind, and the high honor of it belongs to him clearly and absolutely.

“While Mr. Jefferson was the author of the declaration itself, Mr. Adams was its great supporter on the floor of Congress. This was the unequivocal testimony of Mr. Jefferson. ‘John Adams,’ said he, on one occasion, ‘was our Colossus on the floor; not graceful, not elegant, not always fluent in his public addresses, he yet came out with a power, both of thought and of expression, that moved us from our seats;” and at another time, he said, ‘John Adams was the pillar of its support on the floor of Congress; its ablest advocate and defender against the multifarious assaults, which were made against it.'”

On the second day of July, the resolution of independence was adopted, and on the fourth, the declaration itself was unanimously agreed to. Language can scarcely describe the transport of Mr. Adams at this time. He has best described them himself, in a letter written the day following, to his wife. “Yesterday,” says he, “the greatest question was decided that was ever debated in America; and greater, perhaps, never was or will be decided among men. A resolution was passed, without one dissenting colony, ‘ That these United States are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.’ The day is passed. The 4th of July, 1776, will be a memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to Almighty God. It ought to be solemnized with pomp, shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward, forever. You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states; yet through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means; and that posterity will triumph, although you and I may rue, which I hope we shall not.”

About the time of the declaration of independence, occurred the disastrous battle of Flatbush on Long Island. The victory thus gained by the British, was considered by Lord Howe as a favorable moment for proposing to congress an accommodation; and for this purpose, he requested an interview with some of the members. In the deliberations of congress, Mr. Adams opposed this proposal, on the ground that no accommodation could thus be effected.

john_adams_constitutionA committee, however, was appointed to wait on Lord Howe, consisting of himself, Dr. Franklin, and Mr. Rutledge. On being apprised of their intended interview, Lord Howe sent one of his principal officers as a hostage, but the commissioners taking him with them, fearlessly repaired to the British camp. On their arrival, they were conducted through an army of twenty thousand men, drawn up for the purpose of show and impression. But the display was lost on the commissioners, who studiously avoided all signs of wonder or anxiety. As had been predicted by Mr. Adams, the interview terminated without any beneficial result. On being introduced, Lord Howe informed them that he could not treat with them as a committee of congress, but only as private gentlemen of influence in the colonies; to which Mr. Adams replied, “You may view me in any light you please, sir, except that of a British subject.”

During the remainder of the year 1776, and all 1777, Mr. Adams was deeply engaged in the affairs of congress. He served as a member of ninety different committees, and was chairman of twenty-five committees. From his multiform and severe labors he was relieved in December of the latter year, by the appointment of commissioner to France, in the place of Silas Deane.

In February, 1778, he embarked for that country on board of the frigate Boston. On his arrival in France, he found that Dr. Franklin, and Arthur Lee, who had been appointed commissioners the preceding year, and were then in France, had already concluded a treaty with the French government. Little business, therefore, of a public nature was left him to do. In the summer of 1779, he returned to America.

About the time of his arrival, the people of Massachusetts were adopting measures for calling a convention to form a new state constitution. Of this convention he was elected a member, and was also a member of the committee appointed by the convention to report a plan for their consideration. A plan which he drew up was accepted, and was made the basis of the constitution of that state.

In the August following, in consequence of an informal suggestion from the court of St. James, he received the appointment of minister plenipotentiary for negotiating a treaty of peace, and a treaty of commerce, with Great Britain. A salary of twenty-five hundred pounds sterling was voted him. In the month of October, he embarked on board the French ship La Sensible, and after a tedious voyage was landed at Ferrol, in Spain, whence he proceeded to Paris, where he arrived in the month of February. He there communicated with Dr. Franklin, who was at that time envoy of the United States at the court of France, and with the Count de Vergennes, the French prime minister. But the British government, it was found, were not disposed to peace, and the day seemed far distant when any negotiation could be opened with a hope of success. Mr. Adams, however, was so useful in various ways, that towards the close of the year, congress honored him by a vote of thanks, “for his industrious attention to the interest and honor of these United States abroad.”

In June, 1780, congress being informed that Mr. Laurens, who had been appointed to negotiate a loan in Holland for the United States, had been taken prisoner by the English, forwarded a commission to Mr. Adams to proceed to Holland, for the above purpose. To this, soon after, was added the new appointment of commissioner to conclude a treaty of amity and commerce with the States General of Holland; and, at the same time, authority was given him to pledge the faith of the United States to the “armed neutrality” proposed by the Russian government.

Mr. Adams repaired with promptitude to Holland, and engaged with great zeal in the business of his commission. From this station he was suddenly summoned by the Count de Vergennes, to consult, at Paris, with regard to a project for a general peace, suggested by the courts of Vienna and St. Petersburgh.

Adams-2-waysThis was one of the most anxious periods in the eventful life of Mr. Adams. France was, indeed, ready to fulfill her guaranty of independence to the United States; but it was the politic aim of the Count de Vergennes, to secure important advantages for his own country, in the settlement of American difficulties. Hence, no effort was spared to make Mr. Adams, in this important matter, the subordinate agent of the French cabinet. He, on the other hand, regarded solely the interests of the United States, and the instructions of congress; and his obstinate independence, unshaken by the alternate threats and blandishments of the court of Versailles, occasioned an effort by the Count de Vergennes to obtain, through the French minister in Philadelphia, such a modification of the instructions to Mr. Adams, as should subject him to the direction of the French cabinet.

The effect of this artful and strenuous measure was, a determination on the part of congress, that Mr. Adams should hold the most confidential intercourse with the French ministers; and should “undertake nothing in the negotiation of a peace, or truce, without their knowledge and concurrence.

Under these humiliating restrictions, the independent and decisive spirit of Mr. Adams was severely tried. The imperial mediators proposed an armistice, but without any withdrawal of troops from America. Mr. Adams firmly opposed this stipulation; and the negotiation proceeded no farther at that time.

It was, obviously, the policy of the French minister, not to facilitate the peace between Great Britain and the United States, without previously securing to France a large share in the fisheries; and at the same time so establishing the western boundary, as to sacrifice the interests of the United States to those of Spain.

Finding all attempts at negotiation unavailing, Mr. Adams returned to Holland.

Meantime, the apprehensions of congress being much excised by the insinuations of the French minister in Philadelphia, they added to the commission for forming a treaty with Great Britain, Dr. Franklin, then plenipotentiary at Paris; Mr. Jay, the minister at Madrid; Mr. Henry Laurens, who had recently been appointed special minister to France; and Mr. Jefferson. The whole were instructed to govern themselves by the advice and opinion of the ministers of the king of France. This unaccountable and dishonorable concession, in effect, made the Count de Vergennes minister plenipotentiary for the United States.

But the indefatigable exertions of Mr. Adams in Holland, had a most important bearing upon the proposed negotiations. By a laborious and striking exhibition of the situation and resources of the United States, he succeeded in so far influencing public opinion, as to obtain a loan of eight millions of guilders, on reasonable terms. This loan, effected in the autumn of 1782, was soon followed by a treaty of amity and commerce with Holland, recognizing the United States as independent and sovereign states.

The disposition towards peace, on the part of the English ministry, was wonderfully quickened by the favorable negotiation of this loan. During Lord Shelburne’s administration, the independence of the states was unconditionally acknowledged, and the first effectual steps were taken to put an end to the war.

During the negotiations that followed, the disposition of France again evinced itself, to cut off the United States from a share of the fisheries, and to transfer a portion of the American territory to Spain. The American commissioners, therefore, were not a little embarrassed by their instructions from congress, to govern themselves by the opinion and advice of the French minister. But, as Mr. Adams had, on a former occasion, found it necessary to depart from instructions of a similar import; the other commissioners now joined with him, in the determination to secure the best interests of their country, regardless of the interference of the French minister, and of the inconsiderate restrictions imposed on them by congress.

Accordingly, provisional articles were signed by them, on the 30th of November, 1782; and this measure was followed by an advantageous definitive treaty in September, 1783.

Mr. Adams spent a part of the year 1784 in Holland, but returned eventually to Paris, on being placed at the head of a commission, with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jefferson as coad jutors, to negotiate several commercial treaties with different foreign nations.

Near the commencement of the year 1785, congress resolved to send a minister plenipotentiary to represent the United States at the court of St. James. To this responsible station, rendered peculiarly delicate by the fact that the United States had so recently and reluctantly been acknowledged as an independent nation, Mr. Adams was appointed. It was doubtful in what manner and with what spirit an American minister would be received by the British government. On leaving America, Mr. Jay, the then secretary of state, among other instructions, used the following language: “The manner of your reception at that court, and its temper, views, and dispositions respecting American objects, are matters concerning which particular information might be no less useful than interesting. Your letters will, I am persuaded, remove all suspense on those points.”

In accordance with this direction, Mr. Adams subsequently forwarded to Mr. Jay the following interesting account of his presentation to the king.

“During my interview with the marquis of Carmarthen, he told me it was customary for every foreign minister, at his first presentation to the king, to make his majesty some compliments conformable to the spirit of his credentials; and when Sir Clement Cottrel Dormer, the master of ceremonies, came to inform me that he should accompany me to the secretary of state, and to court, he said, that every foreign minister whom he had attended to the queen, had always made an harangue to her majesty, and he understood, though he had not been present, that they always harangued the king. On Tuesday evening, the Baron de Lynden (Dutch ambassador) called upon me, and said he came from the Baron de Nolkin, (Swedish envoy,) and had been conversing upon the singular situation I was in, and they agreed in opinion that it was indispensable that I should make a speech, and that it should be as complimentary as possible. All this was parallel to the advice lately given by the Count de Vergennes to Mr. Jefferson. So that finding it was a custom established at both these great courts, that this court and the foreign ministers expected it, I thought I could not avoid it, although my first thought and inclination had been to deliver my credentials silently and retire. At one, on Wednesday the first of June, the master of ceremonies called at my house, and went with me to the secretary of state’s office, in Cleveland Row, where the marquis of Carmarthen received me, and introduced me to Mr. Frazier, his under secretary, who had been, as his lordship said, uninterruptedly in that office through all the changes in administration for thirty years, having first been appointed by the earl of Holderness. After a short conversation upon the subject of importing my effects from Holland and France, free of duty, which Mr. Frazier himself introduced, Lord Carmarthen invited me to go with him in his coach to court. When we arrived in the antechamber, the œil de bœuf [Oeil-de-boeuf, French literally means, ‘eye of the steer’] of St. James’s, the master of the ceremonies met me, and attended me, while the secretary of state went to take the commands of the king. While I stood in this place, where it seems all ministers stand on such occasions, always attended by the master of ceremonies, the room very full of courtiers, as well as the next room, which is the king’s bed chamber, you may well suppose, that I was the focus of all eyes.

“I was relieved, however, from the embarrassment of it by the Swedish and Dutch ministers, who came to me and entertained me in a very agreeable conversation during the whole time. Some other gentlemen whom I had seen before came to make their compliments too, until the marquis of Carmarthen returned, and desired me to go with him to his majesty: I went with his lordship through the levee room into the king’s closet; the door was shut, and I was left with his majesty and the secretary of state alone. I made the three reverences, one at the door, another about half way, and the third before the presence, according to the usage established at this and all the northern courts of Europe, and then addressed myself to his majesty in the following words:

“Sir, the United States have appointed me their minister plenipotentiary to your majesty, and have directed me to deliver to your majesty this letter, which contains the evidence of it. It is in obedience to their express commands, that I have the honor to assure your majesty of their unanimous disposition and desire to cultivate the most friendly and liberal intercourse between your majesty’s subjects and their citizens, and of their best wishes for your majesty’s health and happiness, and for that of your royal family.

“The appointment of a minister from the United States to your majesty’s court, will form an epoch in the history of England and America. I think myself more fortunate than all my fellow citizens, in having the distinguished honor to be the first to stand in your majesty’s royal presence in a diplomatic character; and I shall esteem myself the happiest of men, if I can be instrumental in recommending my country more and more to your majesty’s royal benevolence, and of restoring an entire esteem, confidence, and affection, or in better words, ‘the old good nature, and the old good humor,’ between people who, though separated by an ocean, and under different governments, have the same language, a similar religion, and kindred blood. I beg your majesty’s permission to add, that although I have sometimes before been entrusted by my country, it was never, in my whole life, in a manner so agreeable to myself.’

“The king listened to every word I said, with dignity, it is true, but with an apparent emotion. Whether it was the nature of the interview, or whether it was my visible agitation, for I felt more than I did or could express, that touched him, I cannot say, but he was much affected, and answered me with more tremor than I had spoken with, and said:

“Sir, the circumstances of this audience are so extraordinary, the language you have now held is so extremely proper, and the feelings you have discovered so justly adapted to the occasion, that I must say, that I not only receive with pleasure the assurances of the friendly disposition of the people of the United States, but that I am very glad the choice has fallen upon you to be their minister. I wish you, sir, to believe, and that it may be understood in America, that I have done nothing in the late contest but what I thought myself indispensably bound to do, by the duty which I owed to my people. I will be very frank with you. I was the last to conform to the separation; but the separation having been made, and having become inevitable, I have always said, as I say now, that I would be the first to meet the friendship of the United States, as an independent power. The moment I see such sentiments and language as yours prevail, and a disposition to give this country the preference, that moment I shall say, let the circumstances of language, religion, and blood, have their natural and full effect.’

“I dare not say that these were the king’s precise words, and it is even possible that I may have, in some particular, mistaken his meaning; for although his pronunciation is as distinct as I ever heard, he hesitated sometimes between his periods, and between the members of the same period. He was, indeed, much affected, and I was not less so; and, therefore, I cannot be certain that I was so attentive, heard so clearly, and understood so perfectly, as to be confident of all his words or sense; this I do say, that the foregoing is his majesty’s meaning, as I then understood it, and his own words, as nearly as I can recollect.”

The year following, 1788, Mr. Adams requested permission to resign his office, which, being granted, after an absence of between eight and nine years, he returned to his native country. The new government was, at that time, about going into operation. In the autumn of 1788, he was elected vice president of the United States, a situation which he filled, with reputation for eight years.

On the retirement of General Washington from the presidency, in 1796, Mr. Adams was a candidate for that elevated station. At this time, two parties had been formed in the United States. At the head of one stood Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Adams, and at the head of the other stood Mr. Jefferson. After a close contest between these two parties, Mr. Adams was elected president, having received seventy-one of the electoral votes, and Mr. Jefferson sixty-eight. In March, 1797, these gentlemen entered upon their respective offices of president and vice president of the United States.

Of the administration of Mr. Adams we shall not, in this place, give a detailed account. Many circumstances conspired to render it unpopular. An unhappy dispute with France had arisen a little previously to his inauguration. In the management of this dispute, which had reference to aggressions by France upon American rights and commerce, the popularity of Mr. Adams was in no small degree affected, although the measures which he recommended for upholding the national character, were more moderate than congress, and a respectable portion of the people, thought the exigencies of the case required. Other circumstances, also, conspired to diminish his popularity. Restraints were imposed upon the press, and authority vested in the president to order aliens to depart out of the United States, when he should judge the peace and safety of the country required. To these measures, acts were added for raising a standing army, and imposing a direct tax and internal duties. These, and other causes, combined to weaken the strength of the party to whom he owed his elevation, and to prevent his re-election. He was succeeded by Mr. Jefferson, in 1801.

On retiring from the presidency he removed to his former residence at Quincy, where, in quiet, he spent the remainder of his days. In 1820, he voted as elector of president and vice president; and, in the same year, at the advanced age of 85, he was a member of the convention of Massachusetts, assembled to revise the constitution of that commonwealth.

Mr. Adams retained the faculties of his mind, in remarkable perfection, to the end of his long life. His unabated love of reading and contemplation, added to an interesting circle of friendship and affection, were sources of felicity in declining years, which seldom fall to the lot of any one.

“But,” to use the language of a distinguished eulogist Webster, “he had other enjoyments. He saw around him that prosperity and general happiness, which had been the object of his public cares and labours. No man ever beheld more clearly, and for a longer time, the great and beneficial effects of the services rendered by himself to his country. That liberty, which he so early defended, that independence, of which he was so able an advocate and supporter, he saw, we trust, firmly and securely established. The population of the country thickened around him faster, and extended wider, than his own sanguine predictions had anticipated; and the wealth, respectability, and power of the nation, sprang up to a magnitude, which it is quite impossible he could have expected to witness, in his day. He lived, also, to behold those principles of civil freedom, which had been developed, established, and practically applied in America, attract attention, command respect, and awaken imitation, in other regions of the globe; and well might, and well did he exclaim, ‘Where will the consequences of the American revolution end!’

“If any thing yet remains to fill this cup of happiness, let it be added, that he lived to see a great and intelligent people bestow the highest honor in their gift, where he had bestowed his own kindest parental affections, and lodged his fondest hopes.

“At length the day approached when this eminent patriot was to be summoned to another world; and, as if to render that day forever memorable in the annals of American history, it was the day on which the illustrious Jefferson was himself, also, to terminate his distinguished earthly career. That day was the fiftieth anniversary of the declaration of independence.

“Until within a few days previous, Mr. Adams had exhibited no indications of a rapid decline. The morning of the fourth of July, 1826, he was unable to rise from his bed. Neither to himself, or his friends, however, was his dissolution supposed to be so near. He was asked to suggest a toast, appropriate to the celebration of the day. His mind seemed to glance back to the hour in which, fifty years before, he had voted for the declaration of independence, and with the spirit with which he then raised his hand, he now exclaimed, ‘Independence forever.‘ At four o’clock in the afternoon he expired. Mr. Jefferson had departed a few hours before him.”

We close this imperfect sketch of the life of this distinguished man in the language of one who, from the relation in which he stood to the subject of this memoir, must have felt, more than any other individual, the impressiveness of the event. “They, (Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson,) departed cheered by the benediction of their country, to whom they left the inheritance of their fame, and the memory of their bright example. If we turn our thoughts to the condition of their country, in the contrast of the first and last day of that half century, how resplendent and sublime is the transition from gloom to glory! Then, glancing through the same lapse of time, in the condition of the individuals, we see the first day marked with the fulness and vigor of youth, in the pledge of their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, to the cause of freedom and of mankind. And on the last, extended on the bed of death, with but sense and sensibility left to breathe a last aspiration to heaven of blessing upon their country; may we not humbly hope, that to them, too, it was a pledge of transition from gloom to glory; and that while their mortal vestments were sinking into the clod of the valley, their emancipated spirits were ascending to the bosom of their God!”

See also:
Eulogy of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams by Daniel Webster
The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 1: Novanglus Papers
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
 PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis Smith 1808-1895
RISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY by Dr. Richard Salter Storrs July 4 1876
THE FIRST CENTURY OF THE REPUBLIC by Judge Isaac W Smith 1876
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed in 1876
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876

A RESUME OF AMERICAN HISTORY by Lawrence A. Gobright , Esq., (1816-1881)

A RESUME OF AMERICAN HISTORY, An Oration by Lawrence A. Gobright , Esq., (1816-1881) Delivered At  Washington D.C., (Ford’s Opera House),  July 4th, 1876.

Ladies And Gentlemen, Fellow-members Of The Oldest Inhabitants Association, And Soldiers Of The War Of 1812:— Time was with some of us when on the Fourth of July revolutionary soldiers adorned the platform, and were objects of curiosity, but they have all passed away, leaving their works as our inheritance. At first they fought for their rights as British subjects, but these being denied, the Continental Congress in 1776 meditated a separation from British rule, and on the 7th of June, Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, introduced the following resolution:

Resolved that these united Colonies are, and of right ought to be. free and independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Before the final discussion a committee, consisting of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert C. Livingston, was appointed to draft a Declaration of Independence. The Declaration having been reported to Congress by the committee, the resolution itself was taken up and debated on the first day of July, and again on the 2nd, on which latter day it was agreed to and adopted. Having thus passed the main resolution, Congress proceeded to consider the reported draft of the Declaration. It was discussed on the second, third, and fourth days of the month, and on the last of those days received the final approbation and sanction of Congress. It was ordered at the same time that copies be sent to the several States, and that it be proclaimed at the head of the army. The Declaration thus published did not bear the names of the members, for as yet it had not been signed by them. It was authenticated, like other papers of the Congress, by the signatures of the President and the Secretary. On the 19th of July, as appears by the Secret Journal, Congress resolved that the Declaration passed on the 4th be fairly engrossed on parchment, with the title and style of “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America,” and the same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress; and the 2nd day of August following, the Declaration being engrossed and compared with the original, was signed by the members.

Absent members afterwards signed as they came in, and it bears the names of some who were not chosen members of Congress until after the 4th of July.

We must be unanimous,” said Hancock; “there must be no pulling different ways; we must all hang together.” “Yes.” replied Franklin, “we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.

On the 9th of July Washington caused the Declaration to be read at the head of each brigade of the army, “The General hopes,” he said in his orders, “that this important event will serve as a fresh incentive to every officer and soldier to act with fidelity, as knowing that now the peace and safety of the country depend, under God, solely on the success of our arms, and that he is now in the service of a State possessed of sufficient power to reward his merit and advance him to the highest honors of a free country.

The people of the City of New York not only indulged themselves in the usual demonstrations of joy by the ringing of bells and the like, but also concluded that the leaden statue of his Majesty, George the Third, in the Bowling Green, might now be turned to good account. They therefore pulled down the statue, and the lead was run into bullets for the good cause.

Everywhere throughout the country the Declaration was hailed with joy. Processions were formed, bells were rung, cannon fired, orations delivered, and in every practicable way the popular approbation was manifested.

The causes which led to the Revolutionary War are sufficiently set forth in the Declaration of Independence, which has just been read in your hearing, and therefore need no elaboration. The result of the conflict is stated in the treaty of peace—1783— in which his Majesty the King of Great Britain acknowledges the American Colonies as free, sovereign, and independent States; “treats with them as such for himself, his heirs, and successors, and relinquishes all claims to the Government, proprietary and territorial rights of the same, and any part thereof.” After coming through the night of the Revolution,

“Our ancestors, with Joy, beheld’  the rays of freedom pour
O’er every nation, race, and clime—on every sea and shore;
Such glories as the patriarch viewed, when, ‘mid the darkest skies,
He saw, above a ruined world, the bow of promise rise.”

With a view of maintaining the Declaration of Independence a resolution was passed making an appropriation to the committee of safety for a supply of gun flints for the troops at New York, and the secret committee were instructed to “order the gun flints belonging to the continent and then at Rhode Island, to the commanding general at New York.” An agent was also sent to Orange county, New York, for a supply of flint-stone, and a board was empowered to “employ such number of men as they should think necessary to manufacture flints for the continent.”

Additional measures were also taken to arm the militia, provide flying camps, and to procure lead, to build ships, make powder, to manufacture cannon and small arms, and provide generally for vigorous warfare.

washington-prayerColonel Washington had been appointed Commander-in-chief of the American forces in June, 1775, by the unanimous voice of the colonies. In accepting the trust, he declared, “with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command with which I am honored.” His modesty, perhaps, gentlemen, would not suit the fashion of the present time.

It is necessary merely to allude to the present appliances of war in contrast with the means then accessible, namely, the monster cannon; the giant powder, with shot and shell in proportion to the explosive power; the mailed ship, propelled by steam; the perfected rifle, with its percussion caps and longer range than the musket, and no anxiety about a plentiful supply of flints, such as exercised our patriotic sires.

american-eagle-and-flagEver since 1776 the subject of the Declaration has afforded fourth of July orators an opportunity to glorify the Eagle as the symbol of America.

You have often been told of the victory of this same American eagle over the British Lion, in a kind of allegorical description. But this was more poetic than historic. In the common-sense moments of the youngest as well as of the “oldest inhabitants,” we should not think the contest between two such forces exactly equal!

Tobias Smollett, the English novelist, reconciles the Lion with the Eagle thus:

Thy spirit Independence let me share,
Lord of the Lion heart and Eagle eye.
Thy steps I follow with my bosom bare,
Nor heed the storm that howls along the sky.

EagleThe eagle, no matter what may be said of his predatory habits, and of the scriptural expression that “where the carcass is there will the eagle be gathered together,” triumphs. He is seen on the buttons of our warriors, on our coin, and the seal of the United States, the last-named designed by a committee consisting of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Wilson, the American ornithologist, says of the bird: “Formed by nature for braving the severest cold, feeding equally on the produce of the sea and of the land, possessing powers of flight capable of outstripping even the tempests themselves, unawed by anything but man, and from the ethereal heights from which he soars, looking abroad at one glance on an immeasurable expanse of forests, fields, lakes, and ocean deep below him, he appears indifferent to the localities of change of seasons, as in a few minutes he can pass from summer to winter, from the lower to the higher regions of the atmosphere, and thence descend at will to the arctic, the abode of eternal cold, or to the torrid regions of the earth.

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Gentlemen, our Government has such veneration for the proud bird that it has three fine live specimens in our own Franklin Square, in a cage for public admiration! The eagle is one of our institutions, and therefore has our enforced respect.

UniteOrDieThe eagle, however, was not the only symbol recognized by our ancestors. The rattlesnake was displayed on many of their banners. One of the arrangements was a rattlesnake divided in thirteen parts, with the initial letters of the colonies to each, and the motto “Unite or Die!” And another, the rattlesnake, in the act of striking, the motto being, “Don’t tread on me!” The rattles were thirteen in number. This device, stranger than that of ” Excelsior,“was a favorite with the colonists, and was meant to signify retaliation for the wrong upon America:

“The snake was ready with his rattle.
To warning give of coming battle.”

DontTreadOnMeSomething may here be said about the American flag, the one that has taken the place of all others. It was not till the 14th of June, 1777, that the design of the flag was formally adopted by the Continental Congress, although it is said a similar flag flew over the headquarters at Cambridge more than a year before that time. The act of Congress thus described it: “The flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, the Union thirteen stars, white, in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

dont_tread_me_flagThis continued to be the flag until two new States were admitted into the Union, namely, Vermont, in March, 1791, and . Kentucky, in June, 1792, when Congress passed an act, June 13, 1794, making an alteration in the flag, which provided that from and after the first day of May, 1795, the flag of the United States shall be fifteen stripes, with fifteen stars. There seems to have been no further agitation of the subject until 1816, when a bill was introduced making another alteration in the flag. The number of stripes were restored to thirteen, the stars to correspond to the number of States in the Union, a new star to be added to the flag whenever a new State should be admitted, the star to be placed there on the 4th day of July thereafter.

Among the reasons for altering the flag was that “There was a prospect at no distant period that the number of States would be considerably multiplied, and this rendered it highly inexpedient to increase the number of stripes on each flag, which must be limited in size.” As a consequence of this arrangement we have now thirty-seven stars, with room for many more on the azure field; and additional brightness will be added this centennial year to our constellation by the silver beams of Colorado.

This flag has for it century “braved the battle and the breeze;”
A blazing light upon the land, a beacon on seas.

It would be a mistake to suppose that our forefathers conquered Great Britain. The question might be put in this way: Great Britain did not conquer them. She found, after experience, that, having to transport, at enormous expense, large bodies of troops across the ocean—three thousand miles, in sailing vessels—was very unprofitable, as they did not accomplish the desired object, namely, the subjugation of the Colonists, who, of determined spirit, and having resolved to be free and independent of British rule, were not to be frightened from their patriotic purpose by coats of red, typical of the fire that boomed from their unfriendly cannon, and, besides, Holland having joined the belligerents against England, and England having been humiliated by the crowning battle of the contest—the surrender of Cornwallis—she departed from our soil, leaving the Colonists in full possession.

bald_eagle_in_flight_denali_national_park_alaskaIt was not until 1789 that the General or Federal Government went into full operation. At that time the population was supposed to be three millions, but in the eighty-seven years past it has, from various causes, increased to forty millions. The American eagle, which could fly over our original country without stopping to drink or to rest, finds that he cannot now without frequent stoppages on his course for refreshments, owing to enlarged limits, accomplish the distance from ocean to ocean without complaining, in his own natural way, of a weary wing.

A hundred years ago the people never thought of railroads, the steam engine and the electric telegraph—those great revolutionizes in everything that pertains to individual and national comfort—or if they did, there is no record of the fact. The traveling was on horseback, in gigs, and wagons, and carryalls, and sailing vessels, and row boats. And think: the time between England and America was from six weeks to two months, the duration of the voyage depending upon the state of the weather and the temper of the sea. Steam now propels the magnificent steamer across the Atlantic in eight or nine days— 3,000 miles—and the same distance is traveled from Washington to the Pacific Ocean, by railroad, in seven days. An experimental trip recently showed that the journey from New York to San Francisco could be made in eighty-three hours and thirtyfour minutes, or at the rate of one thousand miles a day! And, instead of waiting for weeks or months to receive intelligence from remote parts of our own country, and the world at large, the path of the subtle fluid, electricity, affords an instantaneous means of intercommunication, and thus annihilates space!

DoIIf our Revolutionary sires could reappear on earth, and see these wondrous things, together with the results of inventive genius, and progression in the arts and sciences, their expressions of surprise would be equal to, if they did not exceed, those of the hero of the Catskill mountains—but in a more agreeable sense—when he awoke from his long slumber, to be startled by the actual changes which meanwhile had taken place! We ourselves can scarcely realize the growth of the infant Republic, from its cradle in Independence Hall to the present time, when it stands forth in the pride of manhood with unconquerable strength!

It may here be appropriately mentioned that the first voyage across the Atlantic in a steam vessel was performed by the steamship Savannah in 1819. She was built in New York the year previous. On nearing Liverpool she was discerned from a lookout, and, as nothing of that kind had been seen there before, supposing a ship was on fire, one of the King’s cruisers was sent to her relief.

An item of the past will not be uninteresting in connection with the subject of locomotion. The Pennsylvania Gazette, of Philadelphia, January 3, 1776, had the “latest dates,” namely: ten days from Boston, and five days from New York. The “freshest” foreign dates from London were sixty days old, and these contained “an humble address of the House of Commons to the King,” in which they say:

No other use has been made of the moderation and forbearance of your Majesty and your Parliament but to strengthen the preparations of this desperate conspiracy, and that the rebellious war now levied is become more general, and manifestly carried on for the purpose of establishing an independent empire; and we hope and trust that we shall, by the blessing of God, put such strength and force into your Majesty’s hands as may soon defeat and suppress this rebellion, and enable your Majesty to accomplish your gracious wish of restoring order tranquility, and happiness through all the parts of your united empire.

The King graciously returned his fervent thanks for this loyal address, saying: “I promise myself the most happy consequences from the dutiful and affectionate assurances of the support of my faithful Commons on this great and important conjuncture, and I have a firm confidence that by the blessing of God and the justice of the cause, and by the assistance of my Parliament, I shall be enabled to suppress this dangerous rebellion, and to attain the most desirable end of restoring my subjects in America to the free and happy condition and to the peace and prosperity which they enjoyed in their constitutional dependence before the breaking out of these unhappy disorders.

The King and Commons not being as successful as they anticipated, his Majesty sent to this country Admiral Viscount Howe and General William Howe, general of his Majesty’s forces, as a commissioner in the interests of peace, and it is somewhat singular that their flag-ship bore the name of our national symbol the Eagle(1)—off the coast of the Province of Massachusetts. He declared the purpose of the King “to deliver all his subjects from the calamities of war and other oppressions they now undergo, and restore the colonies to peace;” and he was authorized by the King to “grant his free and general pardon to all those who in the tumult and disorders of the times may have deviated from their first allegiance, and who are willing by a speedy return to their duty to reap the benefits of the royal favor.”

But the Colonists or “conspirators” were not desirous of thus “reaping.” The seed they had themselves sown was to mature to a more precious harvest. They turned their plowshares into swords, and their pruning-hooks into spears, with the result of a fruitage beneficial to all mankind!

JohnQuincyAdamsJohn Quincy Adams, in his oration delivered July 4, 1831, said “Frederick the First of Brunswick constituted himself King of Prussia, by putting a crown upon his own head. Napoleon Bonaparte invested his brows with the crown of Lombardy, and declared himself King of Italy. The Declaration of Independence was the crown with which the people of united America, rising in gigantic stature as one man, encircled their brows, and there it remains. There, long as this globe shall be inhabited by human beings, may it remain a crown of imperishable glory.”

My friends, it is a solemn truth that there is not now on earth an intelligent person who lived on the Fourth of July, 1776. We read of the heroic struggles of the Continental army; their want of discipline and poverty, and the scarcity of money with which to purchase the needed supplies, and of the many sacrifices they made in the cause to which the best men that ever lived consecrated their lives and fortunes, and all else they held’ dear of ease and comfort; men who set the world an example in the straggle for freedom, which they eventually established. Their Constitution and the laws they passed to put it into operation attest their wisdom and the knowledge of the needs of the people in their new condition.

My friends, in what condition will our country be one hundred years hence?—the fourth of July, 1976? Will the same form of government we now have be preserved? Will it afford the same protection of personal freedom, property and human rights? Will the proud banner still wave over a united and prosperous people V These are questions to be answered by succeeding generations. If they are true to the teachings and examples of our Revolutionary sires the Republic will endure. If not, than the bright, and we might say this haughty Republic will pass into history with that of Rome, and for similar causes. There can be no republic that is not founded on the virtue, intelligence, and assent of the people. Enforced government belongs to tyranny.

We have additional cause of rejoicing in the fact, that, although national encounters have cursed the world ever since nations have had an existence, there is now no war between any nations. This is an era of peace. Even the oldest nations, including China and Japan, and others of the East, come will those of Europe to the happy centennial greeting. They bring with them, to exhibit near our own, their useful and ornamental products; all compatible with peace, and calculated to stimulate a beneficial rivalry.

Not far from where we are assembled lie the ashes of one whose character the entire world admires.

His name is seldom heard, excepting when it is uttered to designate the city which he founded. There was a time when it was more publicly honored than it is now; but still his memory is cherished by many patriotic hearts. Whatever may be the mutations in public affairs—whosoever may, for the time being, occupy the larger share of public attention, either as a warrior or as a statesman, the name of Washington, with its patriotic associations, will always be precious to the lover of liberty. But, alas! his teachings are too often disregarded, and we have not yet completed the monument to his memory. We may, however, without a dissenting voice, on this Centennial day, the first that we have seen, and the last that We shall ever see, recall a few words from his Farewell Address, although it was written eighty years ago. He said:

The unity of government which constitutes us one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence; the support of your tranquility at home, and your peace abroad; of your safety, of your prosperity;- of that very liberty which you so highly prize.

And the Father of his Country further advised “his friends and fellow-citizens” to “indignantly frown upon the first dawning of every attempt, to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

He counseled: “Towards the preservation of your Government and the permanency of your present happy State, it is requisite not only that you steadily discountenance irregular opposition to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretext.

And again: “It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free government . Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric. Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”

US flag and bible crossMy friends, let us cherish the heavenly principle of “Peace on earth, good will to man,” and by word and example endeavor to cultivate in the hearts of those who are taking our places in the active scenes of life a love for law and liberty—a respect for the institutions of others, while preferring our own— and the enforcement of the duty of elevating the best men only to office, those who will see that the Republic suffers no detriment, for the acts of the public agent should be the reflex of the will of the constituency. A few should not plunder the many. To permit such practices is to sanction them. And let all wrongdoers be punished either by public opinion or by the criminal court, and public agents remember that the Government is for the people and not for themselves.

It was said aforetime, “Power is always stealing from the many to the few;” therefore if we would continue free we must guard against every encroachment on our liberties. And then there can be no doubt the Republic will endure, strengthened in population with the corresponding prosperity, presenting an example to the world at large for emulation, and conferring the richest blessings on the entire human race!

Footnote (1)  September 7, 1776 – Turtle Sinks Eagle
In the wee hours of the morning in New York Harbor, an explosion tore through the hull of the HMS Eagle, Admiral Richard Howe’s flagship. Though carpenters and crew rushed to save the vessel, it sank, carrying twenty-five men with it while the rest fled to shore and nearby ships. The British suspected an accident with the stored gunpowder, but two more explosions sank ships the next night. Eventually word came from old notes provided by a Loyalist spy that the Americans had a sort of “sub-marine” attack ship.
The Turtle had been invented by the young Yale student David Bushnell. While a freshman, he had begun experiments with underwater explosives, proving that gunpowder exploded underwater. He sought help from Isaac Doolittle, a New Haven clockmaker, and created the first time bomb. To implement the explosive on the hulls of ships, Bushnell designed a boat that could dive under the water. Something like an upturned clam, the one-man boat was made of two steel-reinforced wooden shells covered in tar. A hand pump and bilge tank allowed the intake and expulsion of water, thus increasing or decreasing the density of the craft and allowing it to sink. Six small windows allowed for bearings along with a compass lit by the bio luminescence of foxfire from fungus on cork.
Called the Turtle, the boat was manned by Sergeant Ezra Lee, who would later become part of Washington’s secret service. Dodging the iron plate at the Eagle’s rudder, Lee was able to secure the bomb and sneak away before spotted by soldiers. As the watch increased around the panicked British fleet, the Turtle was too easily discovered, so Washington set Bushnell on the task of improvements. The general referred to the craft as “an effort of genius” that had much promise for the future.
See also: Patrick Henry Lion of Liberty! greatest American Statesman
Founders & forefathers pledged their Sacred Honor, what did they mean?
THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)
RISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY by Dr. Richard Salter Storrs July 4 1876
Christianity and the Founding of the United States the Simple Truth
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
THE FIRST CENTURY OF THE REPUBLIC by Judge Isaac W Smith 1876
THE PERPETUITY OF THE REPUBLIC by Joseph Kidder July 4th 1876
Open Letter to ALL Politicians and Bureaucrats, we’re coming for you
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876 
THE DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC by Lewis W. Clark 1876 New Hampshire
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
The Practical Advance Of Human Freedom Under The Trumpet Call Made In 1776 by Charles F Adams
THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4, 1876
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
Constitution of the United States and it’s Governmental Operations (In Plain English so even Politicians, Lawyers and Bureaucrats can understand)
US flag and bible cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This ought to be, always, distinctly observed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gentlemen: The demonstration is around us!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So stands the Republic:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The National Utterances And Achievements Of Our First Century by John M Langston 1876

John_Mercer_LangstonThe National Utterances And Achievements Of Our First Century. An Oration By Prof. John Mercer Langston, L.L.D. Delivered At Portsmouth, Virginia, July 4th, 1876.

Mr. President Of The Banneker Lyceum And Fellow-citizens: I congratulate you upon the name which your association bears. In giving title to your association you honor one who largely unaided, by his own efforts distinguished himself as a scholar, while he made himself in no insignificant sense conspicuous as a philanthropist; certainly so far as a free and bold advocacy of freedom for his own race discovered his love for mankind.

Benjamin Banneker cultivated in his studies those matters of science which pertain to astronomical calculations; and so thorough and exact were his calculations, as they respected the different aspects of the planets, the motions of the sun and moon, their risings and settings, and the courses of the bodies of planetary systems, as to excite and command the commendation of Pitt, Fox, Wilberforce, and other eminent men of his time.

In 1791 Banneker sent to Thomas Jefferson, then President of the United States, a manuscript copy of his first almanac, enclosing it in a letter, in the closing portions of which he uses the following words: “Suffer me to recall to your mind that time, in which the arms of the British crown were exerted, with every powerful effort, in order to reduce you to a state of servitude; look back, I entreat you, on the variety of dangers to which you were exposed; reflect on that period in which every human aid appeared unavailable, and in which even hope and fortitude wore the aspect of inability to the conflict, and you cannot but be led to a serious and grateful sense of your miraculous and providential preservation; you cannot but acknowledge that the present freedom and tranquility which you enjoy you have mercifully received, and that it is the peculiar blessing of heaven. This, sir, was a time when you clearly saw into the injustice of a state of slavery, and in which you had just apprehensions of the horrors of its condition. It was then that your abhorrence thereof was so excited, that you publicly help forth this true and invaluable doctrine, which is worthy to be recorded and remembered in all succeeding ages: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’

“Here was a time in which your tender feelings for yourselves had engaged you thus to declare ; you were then impressed with proper ideas of the great violation of liberty, and the free possession of those blessings, to which you were entitled by nature; but, sir, how pitiable is it to reflect, that although you were so fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of mankind, and of His equal and impartial distribution of these rights and privileges which He hath conferred upon them, that you should at the same time counteract His mercies, in detaining by fraud and violence, so numerous a party of my brethren under groaning captivity and cruel oppression, that you should at the same time be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others, with respect to yourselves.”

In a very few days after receiving this letter the President made the following reply: “Sir, I thank you sincerely for your letter, and the almanac it contained. Nobody wishes more than I do, to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given to our black brethren talents equal to those of the other colors of men; and that the appearance of a want of them, is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence, both in Africa and America. I can add with truth, that nobody wishes more ardently to see a good system commenced for raising their condition, both of their body and mind, to what it ought to be, as far as the imbecility of their present existence, and other circumstances which cannot be neglected well admit. I have taken the liberty of sending your almanac to Monsieur de Condozett, Secretary of the Academy of Science at Paris, and member of the Philanthropic Society, because I considered it as a document to which your whole color had a right for their justification, against the doubts which have been entertained of them.”

I make no apology for making this allusion, in this connection, to the man whose memory you honor in the phraseology “Banneker Lyceum;” nor for referring to his eminence as a scholar, and his bold advocacy in addressing even the author of the Declaration of American Independence, then President of the United States, in such words as to provoke the earnest and manly reply just presented. Let the colored American contemplate with pride this brief but interesting chapter which brings the name of the scholarly negro Banneker, in such juxtaposition to that of the eminent American statesman, Thomas Jefferson.

I also congratulate you upon this vast assembly, brought together under those instincts and promptings of patriotism, admiration and gratitude, with which from one end to the other of our country, from sea to sea, our fellow-countrymen meet this day, in hall, in church, like ourselves beneath the green foliage of God’s own temple, to call to mind and note the magnificent utterances, the splendid achievements and marvelous progress of our nation made within the first hundred years of its existence.

On this occasion, I may not tarry to dwell upon the utterances of individuals, however eminent and distinguished. It is only of those great national utterances, those judgments of the nation itself, so expressed in that majestic and thrilling voice of a’ great people, that its echoes never die, that I may speak on this interesting and memorable day; and of these in the briefest manner.

On the 4th day of July 1776, one hundred years ago, thirteen colonies with an insignificant population boldly made declaration of their independence of the British crown and their sovereignty as a free and independent nation, and to the maintenance of this declaration and their independence, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, mutually pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. The annals of one hundred years radiant with proofs of the sincerity of this pledge of our Fathers, attest how well, how manfully, how successfully, and triumphantly, our country has maintained herself among the great nations of the earth.

Perhaps the history of the world furnishes no document in which individual equality, the first powers of government; the conditions upon which a people may alter or abolish one government and institute another, laying its foundations and organizing its powers in such form and upon such principles as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness, with such clearness and force, as our own declaration, the masterpiece of American State papers. Upon its very words, could we separate them from the sentiments and doctrines which they embody we would dwell with a sort of superstitious pride and pleasure. But upon the doctrines, the principles, the sentiments they contain, we dwell justly with veneration and grateful approval. How the school boy, the clergyman, the statesman, all classes with equal pride and emotion repeat the words “when in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind, requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths self-evident : that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundations on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

How often these words have been quoted on occasions like this, how thoroughly they have become a part of every American’s very being, inhaled with the moral atmosphere of every house, no one of us can tell. Nor is it material. It is enough for us to know that as they shape in their influence every act of our nation so they influence and determine largely the conscientious conviction and judgment of every elector of our country through whose vote our institutions are supported and maintained.

On the 10th day of June, 1776, Congress appointed a committee to prepare a declaration, that these colonies are of right and ought to be, free and independent states.”

This committee consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. As the declaration was presented by this committee in its original form, it contained among other charges against the King of Great Britain the following—” He has waged war against nations itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people, who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain, determined to keep open a market, where men should be bought and sold. He has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce, and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them : thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”

This clause, formidable indeed in the charge presented, but far reaching and significant in favor of the abolition of slavery was stricken from the declaration, on the suggestion of the state of Georgia. The declaration, however, as a whole is none the less emphatic in favor of the inalienability of man’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and Garrison, Phillips, Smith, Sumner, and their associates, the great apostles of the American abolition movement did well to plead the cause of the slave, and to claim the equality of the rights of the negro before American law in the name of its principles and teachings.

With regard to the courage and heroism, which distinguished the American soldier of our revolutionary period, and the triumphs which attended our armies, I need not speak, ah are acquainted with these and to-day as we go back in memory to our-struggle at Lexington, at Bunker Hill, and to the surrender of Burgoyne, our souls are filled with gratitude that the God of battles brought victory to those arms wielded in a struggle for freedom, independence and free institutions.

Eight years of conflict, brought us a victory which settled forever our independence and sovereignty, no longer a dream, but a solemn, abiding reality.

I wish to bring to your attention and emphasize two things with regard to the articles of confederation, approved the 9th day of July, 1778, in the 3d year of the Independence of America. 1st. These articles are entitled articles of confederation and perpetual union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, &c, and in the concluding article thereof, the 2d clause contains these words, “and whereas it has pleased the great Governor of the world to incline the hearts of the Legislatures, we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said articles of confederation and perpetual union: know ye, that we the undersigned delegates, by virtue of the power and authority to use given for that purpose, do, by these presents, in the name and in behalf of our respective constituents, fully and entirely ratify and confirm each and every of the said articles of confederation and perpetual union, and all and singular the matters and things therein contained; and we do further solemnly plight and engage the faith of our respective constituents, that they shall abide by the determinations of the United States, in Congress assembled, on all questions which, by the said confederation, are submitted to them; and that the articles thereof shall be inviolably observed by the States we respectively represent; and, that the union be perpetual.

Although each State under these Articles retained its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right not expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled thus forming as the articles of confederation import, simply a confederacy under the style of the “United States of America,’ the union, formed thus was to be perpetual, lading forever, as is abundantly shown from the words of t.hia document already quoted.

The union of these articles, a compact of sovereign States, was to be perpetual. It was not long, however, before the sovereignty of the States was merged, under the Constitution of the United States, in the higher and grander sovereignty of the nation. And thus our Union was made more perfect and perpetual. Let it stand forever!

Concerning the 4th Article of these Articles there is a matter of history which must prove especially interesting to all of us, when, now, our constitutional law has been so amended as to tolerate no discrimination with regard to citizenship predicated upon complexion.

When this Article was under consideration a proposition was made to qualify the phrase “free inhabitants,” occurring therein, by the insertion of the word; “white,” so as to make it read “free while inhabitants,” etc. Upon due consideration, eleven States voting upon the proposition, it was lost—eight States voting against it, two States in favor of it, while the vote of one State was divided. Early thus in the history of our nation the fathers decided to allow no discrimination among our countrymen as to citizenship based upon complexional differences, and nowhere either in the Declaration of Independence, or in the Articles of Confederation is the word white used except in the latter, it is found in the following connection, in Article 9th, “The United States in Congress assembled shall have authority among other things, to agree upon the number of land forces, and to make requisitions from each State for its quota, in proportion to the number of while inhabitants in such State.”

Why the word white is used in this connection, I am at a loss to know. It was not certainly because of the color of citizens of African descent . It was certainly not because they were not patriotic, brave, and enduring soldiers. In the revolutionary struggles they early demonstrated their fidelity and courage. One of the four first Americans falling, in the Boston massacre of 1770, being a mulatto, Crispus Attucks, whose name is one famous in the annals of that struggle. This word white was certainly not used to discriminate against citizens of African descent prejudicially as to the matter of citizenship. For generally at this time, when emancipated, they became citizens and voters without qualification or condition in the States where they resided. The distinction made here then must have been in the interest of slavery, an institution which from the very first proved itself utterly at war with every interest of the people.

Occupying, as we do this day, a high moral plain from which we may retrospect our past, we can appreciate the ordinance of 1787, which, establishing a form of government for our Western territories, concludes with six Articles of compact between the original States and the people of the territories, the same to be unalterable, except by common consent.

The first secures entire religious freedom, the second, trial by jury, the writ of habeas corpus, together with other fundamental rights usually inserted in Bills of Eights; the third provides for the encouragement and support of schools, and enjoins good faith towards the Indians; the fourth places the new States to be formed out of the territory upon an equal footing with the old ones; the fifth authorizes the future division of the territory into not less than three nor more than five States, each to be admitted into the Union when it should contain 60,000 free inhabitants; and the sixth contains the celebrated anti-slavery proviso introduced by Jefferson, “That there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said States, other than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”

Thousands of noble sons, inhabitants of the States formed of such territory, rejoice this day that no curse of slavery has blighted their toil—that no footsteps of the bondman ever pressed the pathway of their industry. The shouts of other millions, former slaves, uniting with those once their owners and masters, send back the echo of such rejoicing this day in a glad refrain of thanksgiving and joy, that no slave now breathes the air of our country.

Chief among the moral triumphs of our age and country stands that act of our nation which emancipates four million of bondsmen; and inducting them into the body-politic, throws over them the investiture of an equal and impartial citizenship.

All honor is duo him whose name is written first among the company of noble men, the chief work of whom, the glory of their endeavors, culminates in the emancipation of the American slave. All honor is due the great captain of our forces, who established through the sword, as the fixed law of our nation, the emancipation proclamation of the first day of January, 1863. Henceforth the names of Lincoln and Grant, are justly emblazoned in our history as the emancipator and defender of our enslaved race.

The Constitution of the United States, a document of rare, in many respects matchless, excellence, prior to its modification by the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, is now certainly without parallel in the history of mankind, as an enunciation of organic law; and every American, whatever his political bias or party affiliations, must experience special pleasure in knowing that no other nation of ancient or modern times has been given, the genius or the heart to produce such a document, and to establish in accordance therewith a government which in its forms and results realizes so nearly our idea of that perfect government, the subjects of which, while they enjoy the amplest possible freedom, pursue their several occupations, assured of the largest protection to life, liberty and property.

As we read and study the great State papers of our nation— The Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Ordinance of 1787, and the Constitution of the United States—and consider the workings of the Government organized in accordance therewith, in none of its departments, discriminating against any of our citizens, native or naturalized, with regard to birthplace, nationality, complexion, or former condition of life, but inviting all to partake alike of the benefits and blessings of free institutions, our hearts swell with gratitude to that beneficent Dispenser of human affairs, who gave our fathers wisdom, courage, and success, and who has abundantly blessed their sons in national unity, prosperity and happiness:

Of the material greatness of our country—its development of the great industries which distinguish its progress and civilization, I can do little more than make a passing allusion. Did I tarry to name simply our achievements in steam navigation, shipbuilding, the building of railroads, the manufacture of railroad cars, improvements in all kinds of machinery, telegraphy, and printing, I would detain you beyond your patience and endurance. I content myself and trust I satisfy you by saying, the first century of our existence as a nation has witnessed such triumphs in art, science, and industry in our land as has not been vouchsafed in the history of mankind to any other people within such period.

In all departments of business—in banking, commerce, agriculture—we witness improvement of method, implement, and the use of power and skill.

In politics, legislation and general reform, our national triumphs have been splendid; not less so, however, in the various departments of industry.

Of our improvement in all those things that pertain to a well organized system of free common schools, supported by public tax, levied and collected by the general and cordial assent of property holders, I speak with pride. Generally our common school system is so valued, its good results so appreciated, that no considerations pecuniary or other would induce the people to consent to any reduction of taxes, or the doing of anything the tendency of which would be to curtail and destroy the influence of such system. We all value the free common school as at present organized as indispensable to the education and training of the youth of all classes. Many without academic, or collegiate instruction, if not fully, measurably fitted for the pursuit of business or professional walks of life enter thereupon directly from our common schools and achieve therein commendable success. Indeed, our common schools may be properly enough regarded as the college of the people. No tuition may here be collected; no incidental fees charged; and yet, an education which furnishes excellent mental discipline, considerable knowledge, general and various, together with sound moral training may be secured.

Of improvements in methods of instruction, buildings, furniture, apparatus, text-books, treatment of pupils, character of teachers, and modes of preparing teachers for their work, I can not speak in detail . Improvements in all these respects are abundant, transcending our most sanguine expectations, of the largest advantage and most satisfactory kind.

Contrasting the system and condition of public instruction in France, Holland, Prussia, Germany, Great Britain and other countries with those of the United States of America, J. W. Hoyt, Esq., one of the Commissioners of the Paris Universal Exposition of 1867, in his report on education, under the title United States of America, says:

“From the earliest settlement of this country by those brave men and women who landed on the rocks of Massachusetts Bay, no less imbued with the spirit of freedom and popular education than the love of God and liberty of conscience, the cause of education has been one of primary interest both to Colonial and Federal governments. A history of the sacrifices and toils by which were established and maintained the schoolhouses of the ante-revolutionary times of the Colonial period, and a summing up of the truly munificent contributions of the Federal and State authorities since the adoption of the Constitutional Government, to the great end of creating a citizenship worthy of our free institutions are sufficient to awaken the ambition and enthusiasm of the dullest soul.”

Continuing, he says, “All in all, the original provisions of the government for the education of the people are more liberal than those of any other; and in connection with the additions arising from regular taxation, and from appropriations made by the States themselves, present the most magnificent financial school basis of the world. The pride with which the American citizen regards this support of common-school instruction is amplified by contemplating the scarcely less abundant endowment by which individual wealth has built up the higher grades noticed under the head of Secondary Education.”

Upon the higher grades of education, the academies, colleges, universities and professional schools, I may not dwell. The special character, claims and achievements of such schools we all appreciate. Their growth within the past fifty years has been marked, and through their instrumentality education has received decided impulse and noteworthy educational advantages have been gained.

Fellow-citizens of Virginia, and by this appellation in this regenerated hour of American freedom I designate all classes and complexions, the class formerly masters, and that formerly slaves, I congratulate you upon the change in an educational point of view which has taken place in your own State during the past ten years. Instead of leaving your sons and daughters in ignorance, to a heritage of crime and degradation, you are establishing a common school system whose advantages and benefits will compensate in popular knowledge, wisdom, and virtue an hundred fold all labor, outlay and sacrifice connected therewith. To-day your schools, a double system, white and black, I trust the day is not distant when they will be one—a common school, stand open, and provision, if not yet ample and entirely satisfactory, has been made measurably for the accommodation of the children of your State. Your people are showing already a wise appreciation of the advantages shown their children in your schools. And I but voice the feeling of your fellow-citizens throughout the country when I bid you a hearty God-speed in your noble work in this behalf.

You may rest assured that in so far forth as any schools built and conducted in your State, upon northern liberality, shall hereafter need pecuniary assistance to support and maintain them in their special work, that assistance will not be wanting, when proper appeal is made for it . The people of the north, not more in New England than the great northwest, are deeply interested in the educational welfare of your humbler classes

But I must conclude. The progress of our nation during the past’ one hundred years, in all those things which concern national greatness and glory is truly wondrous. In social, moral, and industrial growth she has no superior among the great nations of the earth. In statesmanship, jurisprudence, literature, science, arts, and arms, she compares favorably with the foremost of these great nations.

If her achievements and progress have been so great in the past, we may contemplate with confidence and pride her advancement in the future. Remaining true to the lessons of freedom, equal rights, justice, humanity and religion taught us by the fathers, the wise men of our country, and the experience of the past, so fraught with warning and admonition, relying upon the God who has so signally blest her, our nation may hope to reach even a larger growth, to show a more splendid progress; to attain a future more beautiful and magnificent than anything which distinguishes the century which this day closes the first hundred years of our national life.

See also:
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
THE FIRST CENTURY OF THE REPUBLIC by Judge Isaac W Smith 1876
THE DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC by Lewis W. Clark 1876 New Hampshire
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4, 1876
A PRAYER FOR THE NATION by Rev. William Bacon Stevens July 4, 1876
WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed in 1876
The Practical Advance Of Human Freedom Under The Trumpet Call Made In 1776 by Charles F Adams
Corruption In Politics and Society: Corrupters Of America! by John Hancock 1770
PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis Smith 1808-1895
Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in New York
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
 

Corruption In Politics and Society: Corrupters Of America! by John Hancock 1770

Something John Hancock said in regards to the British murderers who perpetuated the Boston Massacre, (March 5th, 1770) could very well be said of the many people in politics, the media, Hollywood and society today who care nothing for the United States of America. Those whose avarice, creeds, injustice, greed, obstinance and ideology have corrupted the Liberty’s, Rights, Humanity, Wisdom, Ideals and (True) Justice that these United States of America were founded upon.

Corruption-affects-everyoneBritish taxation of the American Colonists, without representation on their part in the British Parliament, resulted in a collision between the soldiers and citizens, ever memorable as one of the exciting causes of the Revolutionary War. John Hancock, one of the most vigorous denunciators of the tragedy, afterwards presided over the Continental Congress, and signed the Declaration of American Independence.

“Tell me, ye bloody butchers! ye villains, high and low! ye wretches who contrived, as well as you who executed, the inhuman deed! do you not feel the goads and stings of conscious guilt pierce through your savage bosoms? Though some of you may think yourselves exalted to a height that bids defiance to the arms of human justice, and others shroud yourselves beneath the mask of hypocrisy, and build your hopes of safety on the low arts of cunning, chicanery and falsehood; yet do you not sometimes feel the gnawings of that worm which never dies? Do not the injured shades of Maverick, Gray, Caldwell, Attucks, and Carr, attend you in your solitary walks, arrest you even in the midst of your debaucheries, and fill even your dreams with terror? ,

Ye dark, designing knaves, ye murderers, parricides! how dare you tread upon the earth which has drunk in the blood of slaughtered innocents, shed by your wicked hands? How dare you breathe that air which wafted to the ear of Heaven the groans of those who fell a sacrifice to your accursed ambition? But, if the laboring earth does not extend her jaws; if the air you breathe is not commissioned to be the minister of Death, yet, hear it and tremble! The eye of Heaven penetrates the darkest chambers of the soul, traces the leading clew through all the labyrinths which your industrious folly has devised; and you, however you may have screened yourselves from mortal eyes, must be arraigned, must lift your hands, red with the blood of those whose death you have procured, at the tremendous bar of God.”

John Hancock.

Note. — At the trial of ten British soldiers, at the November term of the Suffolk County Court of Assizes, Boston, Mass., 1770, for the murder, by shooting, of Maverick, Gray, Caldwell, Attucks, and Cary, Robert Treat Paine, Esq., and Samuel Quincy, Esq., appeared as counsel for the Crown. John Adams, Esq., Mr. Josiah Quincy, and Mr. Sampson Salter Blowers appeared as counsel for the prisoners. A verdict of “not guilty” was rendered against eight, but the remaining two were found guilty of “manslaughter.”

“Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.” Thomas Paine

“If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” Samuel Adams

See also:
Political Evils and the Remedy for them by Noah Webster 1834
A REPUBLIC! A LIVING BREATHING CONSTITUTION DEFINED! by Alphonse De Lamartine 1790-1869
THE GREAT AMERICAN REPUBLIC A CHRISTIAN STATE by Cardinal James Gibbons 1834-1921
AMERICA! FAIREST OF FREEDOM’S DAUGHTERS by Jeremiah E. Rankin 1828-1903
NO SLAVE BENEATH THE FLAG by George Lansing Taylor 1835-1903
THE DUTY AND VALUE OF PATRIOTISM by John Ireland 1894
Christianity and the Founding of the United States the Simple Truth
Constitution of the United States and it’s Governmental Operations (In Plain English)
Founders & forefathers pledged their Sacred Honor, what did they mean?
CHRISTIANITY AS A POLITICAL FORCE by Senator John A. Dix 1798-1879
 

Eulogy of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams by Daniel Webster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

johnadams2

The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 5: Novanglus Papers

NOVANGLUS: OR, A HISTORY OF THE [BRITISH] DISPUTE WITH AMERICA, FROM ITS ORIGIN, IN 1754, TO THE PRESENT TIME; WRITTEN IN 1774, BY JOHN ADAMS.

ADDRESSED TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE COLONY OF MASSACHUSETTS BAY.

See also:
The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 1: Novanglus Papers
The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 2: Novanglus Papers
The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 3: Novanglus Papers
The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 4: Novanglus Papers

PAPER NO. 4.

johnadams1Massachusettensis, whose pen can wheedle with the tongue of King Richard III., in his first paper, threatens you with the vengeance of Great Britain; and assures you, that if she had no authority over you, yet she would support her claims by her fleets and armies, Canadians and Indians. In his next, he alters his tone, and soothes you with the generosity, justice, and humanity of the nation.

I shall leave him to show how a nation can claim an authority which they have not by right, and support it by fire and sword, and yet be generous and just. The nation, I believe, is not vindictive, but the minister has discovered himself to be so in a degree that would disgrace a warrior of a savage tribe.

The wily Massachusettensis thinks our present calamity is to be attributed to the bad policy of a popular party, whose measures, whatever their intentions were, have been opposite to their profession, the public good. The present calamity seems to be nothing more nor less than reviving the plans of Mr. Bernard and the junto, and Mr. Grenville and his friends, in 1764. Surely this party are, and have been, rather unpopular. The popular party did not write Bernard’s letters, who so long ago pressed for the demolition of all the charters upon the continent, and a parliamentary taxation to support government and the administration of justice in America. The popular party did not write Oliver’s letters, who enforces Bernard’s plans; nor Hutchinson’s, who pleads with all his eloquence and pathos for parliamentary penalties, ministerial vengeance, and an abridgment of English liberties.

There is not in human nature a more wonderful phenomenon, nor in the whole theory of it a more intricate speculation, than the shiftings, turnings, windings, and evasions of a guilty conscience. Such is our unalterable moral constitution, that an internal inclination to do wrong is criminal; and a wicked thought stains the mind with guilt, and makes it tingle with pain. Hence it comes to pass, that the guilty mind can never bear to think that its guilt is known to God or man, no, nor to itself.

  • ——“Cur tamen hos tu
  • Evasisse putes, quos diri conscia facti
  • Mens habet attonitos, et surdo verbere cædit
  • Occultum quatiente animo tortore flagellum?
  • Pœna autem vehemens ac multo sævior illis,
  • Quas et Cæditius gravis invenit aut Rhadamanthus,
  • Nocte dieque suum gestare in pectore testem.”

Massachusettensis and his friends the tories are startled at the calamities they have brought upon their country; and their conscious guilt, their smarting, wounded mind, will not suffer them to confess, even to themselves, what they have done. Their silly denials of their own share in it, before a people who, they know, have abundant evidence against them, never fail to remind me of an ancient fugitive, whose conscience could not bear the recollection of what he had done. “I know not; am I my brother’s keeper?” he replies, with all the apparent simplicity of truth and innocence, to one from whom he was very sensible his guilt could not be hid. The still more absurd and ridiculous attempts of the tories, to throw off the blame of these calamities from themselves to the whigs, remind me of another story, which I have read in the Old Testament. When Joseph’s brethren had sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, in order to conceal their own avarice, malice, and envy, they dip the coat of many colors in the blood of a kid, and say that an evil beast had rent him in pieces and devoured him. However, what the sons of Israel intended for ruin to Joseph, proved the salvation of the family; and I hope and believe that the whigs will have the magnanimity, like him, to suppress their resentment, and the felicity of saving their ungrateful brothers.

This writer has a faculty of insinuating errors into the mind almost imperceptibly, he dresses them so in the guise of truth. He says, that “the revenue to the crown from America amounted to but little more than the charges of collecting it,” at the close of the last war. I believe it did not to so much. The truth is, there never was a pretence of raising a revenue in America before that time, and when the claim was first set up, it gave an alarm like a warlike expedition against us. True it is, that some duties had been laid before by parliament, under pretence of regulating our trade, and, by a collusion and combination between the West India planters and the North American governors, some years before, duties had been laid upon molasses, &c. under the same pretence; but, in reality, merely to advance the value of the estates of the planters in the West India Islands, and to put some plunder, under the name of thirds of seizures, into the pockets of the governors. But these duties, though more had been collected in this province than in any other, in proportion, were never regularly collected in any of the colonies. So that the idea of an American revenue, for one purpose or another, had never, at this time, been formed in American minds.

Our writer goes on: “She (Great Britain) thought it as reasonable that the colonies should bear a part of the national burden, as that they should share in the national benefit.”

Upon this subject Americans have a great deal to say. The national debt, before the last war, was near a hundred millions. Surely America had no share in running into that debt. What is the reason, then, that she should pay it? But a small part of the sixty millions spent in the last war was for her benefit. Did she not bear her full share of the burden of the last war in America? Did not the province pay twelve shillings in the pound in taxes for the support of it; and send a sixth or seventh part of her sons into actual service? And, at the conclusion of the war, was she not left half a million sterling in debt? Did not all the rest of New England exert itself in proportion? What is the reason that the Massachusetts has paid its debt, and the British minister, in thirteen years of peace, has paid none of his? Much of it might have been paid in this time, had not such extravagance and speculation prevailed, as ought to be an eternal warning to America, never to trust such a minister with her money. What is the reason that the great and necessary virtues of simplicity, frugality, and economy cannot live in England, Scotland, and Ireland, as well as America?

We have much more to say still. Great Britain has confined all our trade to herself. We are willing she should, so far as it can be for the good of the empire. But we say, that we ought to be allowed as credit, in the account of public burdens and expenses, so much, paid in taxes, as we are obliged to sell our commodities to her cheaper than we could get for them at foreign markets. The difference is really a tax upon us for the good of the empire. We are obliged to take from Great Britain commodities that we could purchase cheaper elsewhere. This difference is a tax upon us for the good of the empire. We submit to this cheerfully; but insist that we ought to have credit for it in the account of the expenses of the empire, because it is really a tax upon us.

Another thing; I will venture a bold assertion,—let Massachusettensis or any other friend of the minister confute me,—the three million Americans, by the tax aforesaid, upon what they are obliged to export to Great Britain only, what they are obliged to import from Great Britain only, and the quantities of British manufactures which, in these climates, they are obliged to consume more than the like number of people in any part of the three kingdoms, ultimately pay more of the taxes and duties that are apparently paid in Great Britain, than any three million subjects in the three kingdoms. All this may be computed and reduced to stubborn figures by the minister, if he pleases. We cannot do it; we have not the accounts, records, &c. Now let this account be fairly stated, and I will engage for America, upon any penalty, that she will pay the overplus, if any, in her own constitutional way, provided it is to be applied for national purposes, as paying off the national debt, maintaining the fleet, &c., not to the support of a standing army in time of peace, placemen, pensioners, &c.

Besides, every farthing of expense which has been incurred, on pretence of protecting, defending, and securing America, since the last war, has been worse than thrown away; it has been applied to do mischief. Keeping an army in America has been nothing but a public nuisance.

Furthermore, we see that all the public money that is raised here, and have reason to believe all that will or can be raised, will be applied, not for public purposes, national or provincial, but merely to corrupt the sons of America, and create a faction to destroy its interest and happiness.

There are scarcely three sentences together, in all the voluminous productions of this plausible writer, which do not convey some error in fact or principle, tinged with a coloring to make it pass for truth. He says, “the idea that the stamps were a tax, not only exceeding our proportion, but beyond our utmost ability to pay, united the colonies generally in opposing it.” That we thought it beyond our proportion and ability is true; but it was not this thought which united the colonies in opposing it. When he says that at first, we did not dream of denying the authority of parliament to tax us, much less to legislate for us, he discovers plainly either a total inattention to the sentiments of America, at that time, or a disregard of what he affirms.

The truth is, the authority of parliament was never generally acknowledged in America. More than a century since, Massachusetts and Virginia both protested against even the act of navigation, and refused obedience, for this very reason, because they were not represented in parliament and were therefore not bound; and afterwards confirmed it by their own provincial authority. And from that time to this, the general sense of the colonies has been, that the authority of parliament was confined to the regulation of trade, and did not extend to taxation or internal legislation.

In the year 1764, your house of representatives sent home a petition to the king against the plan of taxing them. Mr. Hutchinson, Oliver, and their relations and connections were then in the legislature, and had great influence there. It was by their influence that the two houses were induced to wave the word rights and an express denial of the right of parliament to tax us, to the great grief and distress of the friends of liberty in both houses. Mr. Otis and Mr. Thacher labored in the committee to obtain an express denial. Mr. Hutchinson expressly said, he agreed with them in opinion, that parliament had no right, but thought it ill policy to express this opinion in the petition. In truth, I will be bold to say, there was not any member of either house who thought that parliament had such a right at that time. The house of representatives, at that time, gave their approbation to Mr. Otis’s Rights of the Colonies, in which it was shown to be inconsistent with the right of British subjects to be taxed but by their own representatives.

In 1765, our house expressly resolved against the right of parliament to tax us. The congress at New York resolved:

“3. That it is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people, and the undoubted right of Englishmen, that no tax be imposed on them, but with their own consent, given personally, or by their representatives.

“4. That the people of the colonies are not, and from their local circumstances cannot, be represented in the house of commons of Great Britain.

“5. That the only representatives of the people of the colonies are the persons chosen therein by themselves; and that no taxes ever have been, or can be constitutionally imposed on them, but by their respective legislatures.”

Is it not a striking disregard to truth, in the artful Massachusettensis, to say, that, at first, we did not dream of denying the right of parliament to tax us? It was the principle that united the colonies to oppose it, not the quantum of the tax. Did not Dr. Franklin deny the right in 1754, in his remarks upon Governor Shirley’s scheme, and suppose that all America would deny it? We had considered ourselves as connected with Great Britain, but we never thought parliament the supreme legislature over us. We never generally supposed it to have any authority over us, but from necessity, and that necessity we thought confined to the regulation of trade, and to such matters as concerned all the colonies together. We never allowed them any authority in our internal concerns.

This writer says, “acts of parliament for regulating our internal polity were familiar.” This I deny. So far otherwise, that the Hatter’s Act was never regarded; the act to destroy the Land Bank scheme raised a greater ferment in this province than the Stamp Act did, which was appeased only by passing province laws directly in opposition to it. The act against slitting-mills and tilt-hammers never was executed here. As to the postage, it was so useful a regulation, so few persons paid it, and they found such a benefit by it, that little opposition was made to it. Yet every man who thought about it, called it a usurpation. Duties for regulating trade we paid, because we thought it just and necessary that they should regulate the trade which their power protected. As for duties for a revenue, none were ever laid by parliament for that purpose, until 1764, when, and ever since, its authority to do it has been constantly denied. Nor is this complaisant writer near the truth when he says, “We knew that in all those acts of government, the good of the whole had been consulted.” On the contrary, we know that the private interest of provincial governors and West India planters had been consulted in the duties on foreign molasses, &c., and the private interest of a few Portugal merchants, in obliging us to touch at Falmouth with fruit, &c., in opposition to the good of the whole, and in many other instances.

The resolves of the house of burgesses of Virginia upon the Stamp Act did great honor to that province, and to the eminent patriot, Patrick Henry, who composed them.1 But these resolves made no alteration in the opinion of the colonies, concerning the right of parliament to make that act. They expressed the universal opinion of the continent at that time; and the alacrity with which every other colony, and the congress at New York, adopted the same sentiment in similar resolves, proves the entire union of the colonies in it, and their universal determination to avow and support it. What follows here,—that it became so popular, that his life was in danger who suggested the contrary, and that the press was “open to one side only,”—are direct misrepresentations and wicked calumnies.

Then we are told by this sincere writer, that when we obtained a partial repeal of the statute imposing duties on glass, paper, and teas, “this was the lucky moment when to have closed the dispute.” What? with a board of commissioners remaining, the sole end of whose creation was to form and conduct a revenue? With an act of parliament remaining, the professed design of which, expressed in the preamble, was to raise a revenue, and appropriate it to the payment of governors’ and judges’ salaries; the duty remaining, too, upon an article which must raise a large sum, the consumption of which would constantly increase? Was this a time to retreat? Let me ask this sincere writer a simple question,—does he seriously believe that the designs of imposing other taxes, and of new-modelling our governments, would have been laid aside by the ministry or by the servants of the crown here? Does he think that Mr. Bernard, Mr. Hutchinson, the commissioners, and others would have been content then to have desisted? If he really thinks so, he knows little of the human heart, and still less of those gentlemen’s hearts. It was at this very time that the salary was given to the governor, and an order solicited for that to the judges.

Then we are entertained with a great deal of ingenious talk about whigs and tories, and at last are told, that some of the whigs owed all their importance to popularity.1 And what then? Did not as many of the tories owe their importance to popularity? And did not many more owe all their importance to unpopularity? If it had not been for their taking an active part on the side of the ministry, would not some of the most conspicuous and eminent of them have been unimportant enough? Indeed, through the two last administrations, to despise and hate the people, and to be despised and hated by them, were the principal recommendations to the favors of government, and all the qualification that was required.

“The tories,” says he, “were for closing the controversy.” That is, they were for contending no more; and it was equally true, that they never were for contending at all, but lying at mercy. It was the very end they had aimed at from the beginning. They had now got the governor’s salary out of the revenue, a number of pensions and places; they knew they could at any time get the judges’ salaries from the same fountain; and they wanted to get the people reconciled and familiarized to this, before they went upon any new projects.

“The whigs were averse to restoring government; they even refused to revive a temporary Riot Act which expired about this time.” Government had as much vigor then as ever, excepting only in those cases which affected this dispute. The Riot Act expired in 1770, immediately after the massacre in King Street. It was not revived, and never will be in this colony; nor will any one ever be made in any other, while a standing army is illegally posted here to butcher the people, whenever a governor or a magistrate, who may be a tool, shall order it. “Perhaps the whigs thought that mobs were a necessary ingredient in their system of opposition.” Whether they did or not, it is certain that mobs have been thought a necessary ingredient by the tories in their system of administration, mobs of the worst sort, with red coats, fuzees, and bayonets; and the lives and limbs of the whigs have been in greater danger from these, than ever the tories were from others.

“The scheme of the whigs flattered the people with the idea of independence; the tories’ plan supposed a degree of subordination.” This is artful enough, as usual, not to say jesuitical. The word independence is one of those which this writer uses, as he does treason and rebellion, to impose upon the undistinguishing on both sides of the Atlantic. But let us take him to pieces. What does he mean by independence? Does he mean independent of the crown of Great Britain, and an independent republic in America, or a confederation of independent republics? No doubt he intended the undistinguishing should understand him so. If he did, nothing can be more wicked, or a greater slander on the whigs; because he knows there is not a man in the province among the whigs, nor ever was, who harbors a wish of that sort. Does he mean that the people were flattered with the idea of total independence on parliament? If he does, this is equally malicious and injurious; because he knows that the equity and necessity of parliament’s regulating trade has always been acknowledged; our determination to consent and submit to such regulations constantly expressed; and all the acts of trade, in fact, to this very day, much more submitted to and strictly executed in this province than any other in America.

There is equal ambiguity in the words “degree of subordination.” The whigs acknowledge a subordination to the king, in as strict and strong a sense as the tories. The whigs acknowledge a voluntary subordination to parliament, as far as the regulation of trade. What degree of subordination, then, do the tories acknowledge? An absolute dependence upon parliament as their supreme legislative, in all cases whatever, in their internal polity, as well as taxation? This would be too gross, and would lose Massachusettensis all his readers; for there is nobody here who will expose his understanding so much, as explicitly to adopt such a sentiment. Yet it is such an absolute dependence and submission that these writers would persuade us to, or else there is no need of changing our sentiments and conduct. Why will not these gentlemen speak out, show us plainly their opinion, that the new government they have fabricated for this province is better than the old, and that all the other measures we complain of are for our and the public good, and exhort us directly to submit to them? The reason is, because they know they should lose their readers.

“The whigs were sensible that there was no oppression that could be seen or felt.” The tories have so often said and wrote this to one another, that I sometimes suspect they believe it to be true. But it is quite otherwise. The castle of the province was taken out of their hands and garrisoned by regular soldiers. This they could see, and they thought it indicated a hostile intention and disposition towards them. They continually paid their money to collectors of duties; this they could both see and feel. A host of placemen, whose whole business it was to collect a revenue, were continually rolling before them in their chariots. These they saw. Their governor was no longer paid by themselves, according to their charter, but out of the new revenue, in order to render their assemblies useless, and indeed contemptible. The judges’ salaries were threatened every day to be paid in the same unconstitutional manner. The dullest eyesight could not but see to what all this tended, namely,—to prepare the way for greater innovations and oppressions. They knew a minister would never spend his money in this way, if he had not some end to answer by it. Another thing they both saw and felt. Every man, of every character, who, by voting, writing, speaking, or otherwise, had favored the Stamp Act, the Tea Act, and every other measure of a minister or governor, who they knew was aiming at the destruction of their form of government, and introducing parliamentary taxation, was uniformly, in some department or other, promoted to some place of honor or profit for ten years together; and, on the other hand, every man who favored the people in their opposition to those innovations, was depressed, degraded, and persecuted, so far as it was in the power of the government to do it.

This they considered as a systematical means of encouraging every man of abilities to espouse the cause of parliamentary taxation and the plan of destroying their charter privilege, and to discourage all from exerting themselves in opposition to them. This they thought a plan to enslave them; for they uniformly think that the destruction of their charter, making the council and judges wholly dependent on the crown, and the people subject to the unlimited power of parliament as their supreme legislative, is slavery. They were certainly rightly told, then, that the ministry and their governors together had formed a design to enslave them, and that when once this was done, they had the highest reason to expect window-taxes, hearth-taxes, land-taxes, and all others; and that these were only paving the way for reducing the country to lordships. Were the people mistaken in these suspicions? Is it not now certain, that Governor Bernard, in 1764, had formed a design of this sort? Read his Principles of Polity. And that Lieutenant-Governor Oliver, as late as 1768, or 9, enforced the same plan? Read his letters. Now, if Massachusettensis will be ingenuous, avow this design, show the people its utility, and that it ought to be done by parliament, he will act the part of an honest man. But to insinuate that there was no such plan, when he knows there was, is acting the part of one of the junto.

It is true, that the people of this country in general, and of this province in special, have a hereditary apprehension of and aversion to lordships, temporal and spiritual. Their ancestors fled to this wilderness to avoid them; they suffered sufficiently under them in England. And there are few of the present generation who have not been warned of the danger of them by their fathers or grandfathers, and enjoined to oppose them. And neither Bernard nor Oliver ever dared to avow before them, the designs which they had certainly formed to introduce them. Nor does Massachusettensis dare to avow his opinion in their favor. I do not mean that such avowal would expose their persons to danger, but it would their character and writings to universal contempt.

When you were told that the people of England were depraved, the parliament venal, and the ministry corrupt, were you not told most melancholy truths? Will Massachusettensis deny any of them? Does not every man who comes from England, whig or tory, tell you the same thing? Do they make any secret of it, or use any delicacy about it? Do they not most of them avow that corruption is so established there as to be incurable, and a necessary instrument of government? Is not the British constitution arrived nearly to that point where the Roman republic was when Jugurtha left it, and pronounced it, “a venal city, ripe for destruction, if it can only find a purchaser?” If Massachusettensis can prove that it is not, he will remove from my mind one of the heaviest loads which lie upon it.

Who has censured the tories for remissness, I know not. Whoever it was, he did them great injustice. Every one that I know of that character has been, through the whole tempestuous period, as indefatigable as human nature will admit, going about seeking whom he might devour, making use of art, flattery, terror, temptation, and allurements, in every shape in which human wit could dress it up, in public and private; but all to no purpose. The people have grown more and more weary of them every day, until now the land mourns under them.

Massachusettensis is then seized with a violent fit of anger at the clergy. It is curious to observe the conduct of the tories towards this sacred body. If a clergyman, of whatever character, preaches against the principles of the revolution, and tells the people that, upon pain of damnation, they must submit to an established government, the tories cry him up as an excellent man and a wonderful preacher, invite him to their tables, procure him missions from the society and chaplainships to the navy, and flatter him with the hopes of lawn sleeves. But if a clergyman preaches Christianity, and tells the magistrates that they were not distinguished from their brethren for their private emolument, but for the good of the people; that the people are bound in conscience to obey a good government, but are not bound to submit to one that aims at destroying all the ends of government,—oh sedition! treason!

The clergy in all ages and countries, and in this in particular, are disposed enough to be on the side of government as long as it is tolerable. If they have not been generally in the late administration on that side, it is a demonstration that the late administration has been universally odious. The clergy of this province are a virtuous, sensible, and learned set of men, and they do not take their sermons from newspapers, but the Bible; unless it be a few, who preach passive obedience. These are not generally curious enough to read Hobbes. It is the duty of the clergy to accommodate their discourses to the times, to preach against such sins as are most prevalent, and recommend such virtues as are most wanted. For example,—if exorbitant ambition and venality are predominant, ought they not to warn their hearers against those vices? If public spirit is much wanted, should they not inculcate this great virtue? If the rights and duties of Christian magistrates and subjects are disputed, should they not explain them, show their nature, ends, limitations, and restrictions, how much soever it may move the gall of Massachusettensis?

Let me put a supposition. Justice is a great Christian, as well as moral, duty and virtue, which the clergy ought to inculcate and explain. Suppose a great man of a parish should, for seven years together, receive six hundred pounds sterling a year, for discharging the duties of an important office, but, during the whole time, should never do one act or take one step about it. Would not this be great injustice to the public? And ought not the parson of that parish to cry aloud and spare not, and show such a bold transgressor his sin; show that justice was due to the public as well as to an individual; and that cheating the public of four thousand two hundred pounds sterling is at least as great a sin as taking a chicken from a private hen-roost, or perhaps a watch from a fob?

Then we are told that newspapers and preachers have excited “outrages disgraceful to humanity.” Upon this subject, I will venture to say, that there have been outrages in this province which I neither justify, excuse, nor extenuate; but these were not excited, that I know of, by newspapers or sermons; that, however, if we run through the last ten years, and consider all the tumults and outrages that have happened, and at the same time recollect the insults, provocations, and oppressions which this people have endured, we shall find the two characteristics of this people, religion and humanity, strongly marked on all their proceedings. Not a life, nor, that I have ever heard, a single limb, has been lost through the whole. I will take upon me to say, there is not another province on this continent, nor in his majesty’s dominions, where the people, under the same indignities, would not have gone greater lengths. Consider the tumults in the three kingdoms; consider the tumults in ancient Rome, in the most virtuous of her periods; and compare them with ours. It is a saying of Machiavel no wise man ever contradicted, which has been literally verified in this province, that “while the mass of the people is not corrupted, tumults do no hurt.” By which he means, that they leave no lasting ill effects behind.

But let us consider the outrages committed by the tories; half a dozen men shot dead in an instant in King Street; frequent resistance and affronts to civil officers and magistrates; officers, watchmen, citizens, cut and mangled in a most inhuman manner; not to mention the shootings for desertion, and the frequent cruel whippings for other faults, cutting and mangling men’s bodies before the eyes of citizens, spectacles which ought never to be introduced into populous places. The worst sort of tumults and outrages ever committed in this province were excited by the tories. But more of this hereafter.

We are then told, that the whigs erected a provincial democracy, or republic, in the province. I wish Massachusettensis knew what a democracy or a republic is. But this subject must be considered another time.

johnadams2

The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 4: Novanglus Papers

NOVANGLUS: OR, A HISTORY OF THE [BRITISH] DISPUTE WITH AMERICA, FROM ITS ORIGIN, IN 1754, TO THE PRESENT TIME; WRITTEN IN 1774, BY JOHN ADAMS.

ADDRESSED TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE COLONY OF MASSACHUSETTS BAY.

See also:
The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 1: Novanglus Papers
The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 2: Novanglus Papers
 The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 3: Novanglus Papers

PAPER NO. 3.

547px-US_Navy-031029-CLOSEUP-N-6236G-001_A_painting_of_President_John_Adams_(1735-1826),_2nd_president_of_the_United_States,_by_Asher_B._Durand_(1767-1845)The history of the tories, begun in my last, will be interrupted for some time; but it shall be resumed, and minutely related in some future papers. Massachusettensis, who shall now be pursued in his own serpentine path, in his first paper complains that the press is not free; that a party, by playing off the resentment of the populace against printers and authors, has gained the ascendency so far as to become the licenser of it; that the press is become an engine of oppression and licentiousness, much devoted to the partisans of liberty, who have been indulged in publishing what they pleased, fas vel nefas, while little has been published on the part of government.

The art of this writer, which appears in all his productions, is very conspicuous in this. It is intended to excite a resentment against the friends of liberty, for tyrannically depriving their antagonists of so important a branch of freedom; and a compassion towards the tories, in the breasts of the people, in the other colonies and in Great Britain, by insinuating that they have not had equal terms. But nothing can be more injurious, nothing farther from the truth. Let us take a retrospective view of the period since the last peace, and see whether they have not uniformly had the press at their service, without the least molestation to authors or printers. Indeed, I believe, that the Massachusetts Spy, if not the Boston Gazette, has been open to them as well as to others. The Evening Post, Massachusetts Gazette, and Boston Chronicle have certainly been always as free for their use as the air. Let us dismiss prejudice and passion, and examine impartially whether the tories have not been chargeable with at least as many libels, as much licentiousness of the press, as the whigs? Dr. Mayhew was a whig of the first magnitude,—a clergyman equalled by very few of any denomination in piety, virtue, genius, or learning, whose works will maintain his character as long as New England shall be free, integrity esteemed, or wit, spirit, humor, reason, and knowledge admired. How was he treated from the press? Did not the reverend tories, who were pleased to write against him, the missionaries of defamation, as well as bigotry and passive obedience, in their pamphlets and newspapers, bespatter him all over with their filth? Did they not, with equal falsehood and malice, charge him with every thing evil? Mr. Otis was in civil life, and a senator, whose parts, literature, eloquence, and integrity proved him a character in the world equal to any of the time in which he flourished of any party in the province. Now, be pleased to recollect the Evening Post. For a long course of years, that gentleman, his friends and connections, of whom the world has, and grateful posterity will have, a better opinion than Massachusettensis will acknowledge, were pelted with the most infernally malicious, false, and atrocious libels that ever issued from any press in Boston. I will mention no other names, lest I give too much offence to the modesty of some, and the envy and rancor of others.

There never was before, in any part of the world, a whole town insulted to their faces, as Boston was by the Boston Chronicle. Yet the printer was not molested for printing. It was his mad attack upon other printers with his clubs, and upon other gentlemen with his pistols, that was the cause, or rather the pretence, of his flight. The truth was, he became too polite to attend to his business; his shop was neglected; procurations were coming for more than two thousand pounds sterling, which he had no inclination to pay.

Printers may have been less eager after the productions of the tories than of the whigs, and the reason has been, because the latter have been more consonant to the general taste and sense, and consequently more in demand. Notwithstanding this, the former have ever found one press, at least, devoted to their service, and have used it as licentiously as they could wish. Whether the revenue-chest has kept it alive, and made it profitable against the general sense, or not, I wot not. Thus much is certain, that two, three, four, five, six, eight, fifteen hundred pounds sterling a-year, have been the constant reward of every scribbler who has taken up the pen on the side of the ministry with any reputation, and commissions have been given here for the most wretched productions of dulness itself; whereas, the writers on the side of liberty have been rewarded only with the consciousness of endeavoring to do good, with the approbation of the virtuous, and the malice of men in power.

But this is not the first time that writers have taken advantage of the times. Massachusettensis knows the critical situation of this province; the danger it is in, without government or law; the army in Boston; the people irritated and exasperated in such a manner as was never before borne by any people under heaven. Much depends upon their patience at this critical time; and such an example of patience and order this people have exhibited, in a state of nature, under such cruel insults, distresses, and provocations, as the history of mankind cannot parallel. In this state of things, protected by an army, the whole junto are now pouring forth the torrents of their billingsgate; propagating thousands of the most palpable falsehoods, when they know that the writers on the other side have been restrained by their prudence and caution from engaging in a controversy that must excite heats, lest it should have unhappy and tragical consequences.

There is nothing in this world so excellent that it may not be abused. The abuses of the press are notorious. It is much to be desired, that writers on all sides would be more careful of truth and decency; but, upon the most impartial estimate, the tories will be found to have been the least so of any party among us.

The honest Veteran, who ought not to be forgotten in this place, says: “If an inhabitant of Bern or Amsterdam could read the newspapers, &c., he would be at a loss how to reconcile oppression with such unbounded license of the press, and would laugh at the charge, as something much more than a paradox,—as a palpable contradiction.” But, with all his taste and manly spirit, the Veteran is little of a statesman. His ideas of liberty are quite inadequate; his notions of government very superficial. License of the press is no proof of liberty. When a people are corrupted, the press may be made an engine to complete their ruin; and it is now notorious, that the ministry are daily employing it, to increase and establish corruption, and to pluck up virtue by the roots. Liberty can no more exist without virtue and independence, than the body can live and move without a soul. When these are gone, and the popular branch of the constitution is become dependent on the minister, as it is in England, or cut off, as it is in America, all other forms of the constitution may remain; but if you look for liberty, you will grope in vain; and the freedom of the press, instead of promoting the cause of liberty, will but hasten its destruction, as the best cordials taken by patients in some distempers become the most rancid and corrosive poisons.

The language of the Veteran, however, is like the style of the minister and his scribblers in England,—boasting of the unbounded freedom of the press, and assuring the people that all is safe while that continues; and thus the people are to be cheated with libels, in exchange for their liberties.

A stronger proof cannot be wished, of the scandalous license of the tory presses, than the swarms of pamphlets and speculations, in New York and Boston, since last October. “Madness, folly, delusion, delirium, infatuation, frenzy, high treason, and rebellion,” are charged in every page, upon three millions of as good and loyal, as sensible and virtuous people as any in the empire; nay, upon that congress, which was as full and free a representative as ever was constituted by any people; chosen universally, without solicitation, or the least tincture of corruption; that congress which consisted of governors, counsellors, some of them by mandamus too, judges of supreme courts, speakers of assemblies, planters and merchants of the first fortune and character, and lawyers of the highest class, many of them educated at the temple, called to the bar in England, and of abilities and integrity equal to any there.

Massachusettensis, conscious that the people of this continent have the utmost abhorrence of treason and rebellion, labors to avail himself of the magic in these words. But his artifice is vain. The people are not to be intimidated by hard words from a necessary defence of their liberties. Their attachment to their constitution, so dearly purchased by their own and their ancestors’ blood and treasure; their aversion to the late innovations; their horror of arbitrary power and the Romish religion, are much deeper rooted than their dread of rude sounds and unmannerly language. They do not want “the advice of an honest lawyer, if such an one could be found,” nor will they be deceived by a dishonest one. They know what offence it is to assemble armed, and forcibly obstruct the course of justice. They have been many years considering and inquiring; they have been instructed by Massachusettensis and his friends, in the nature of treason, and the consequences of their own principles and actions. They know upon what hinge the whole dispute turns; that the fundamentals of the government over them are disputed; that the minister pretends, and had the influence to obtain the voice of the last parliament in his favor, that parliament is the only supreme, sovereign, absolute, and uncontrollable legislative over all the colonies; that, therefore, the minister and all his advocates will call resistance to acts of parliament by the names of treason and rebellion. But, at the same time, they know that, in their own opinions, and in the opinions of all the colonies, parliament has no authority over them, excepting to regulate their trade, and this not by any principle of common law, but merely by the consent of the colonies, founded on the obvious necessity of a case which was never in contemplation of that law, nor provided for by it; that, therefore, they have as good a right to charge that minister, Massachusettensis, and the whole army to which he has fled for protection, with treason and rebellion. For, if the parliament has not a legal authority to overturn their constitution, and subject them to such acts as are lately passed, every man who accepts of any commission, and takes any steps to carry those acts into execution, is guilty of overt acts of treason and rebellion against his majesty, his royal crown and dignity, as much as if he should take arms against his troops, or attempt his sacred life. They know that the resistance against the Stamp Act, which was made through all America, was, in the opinion of Massachusettensis and George Grenville, high treason; and that Brigadier Ruggles and good Mr. Ogden pretended at the congress of New York to be of the same mind, and have been held in utter contempt and derision by the whole continent for the same reason ever since; because, in their own opinion, that resistance was a noble stand against tyranny, and the only opposition to it which could have been effectual; that if the American resistance to the act for destroying your charter, and to the resolves for arresting persons here and sending them to England for trial, is treason, the lords and commons, and the whole nation, were traitors at the revolution. They know that all America is united in sentiment, and in the plan of opposition to the claims of administration and parliament. The junto, in Boston, with their little flocks of adherents in the country, are not worth taking into the account; and the army and navy, though these are divided among themselves, are no part of America.

In order to judge of this union, they begin at the commencement of the dispute, and run through the whole course of it. At the time of the Stamp Act, every colony expressed its sentiments by resolves of their assemblies, and every one agreed that parliament had no right to tax the colonies. The house of representatives of the Massachusetts Bay then consisted of many persons who have since figured as friends to government; yet every member of that house concurred most cheerfully in the resolves then passed. The congress which met that year at New York expressed the same opinion in their resolves, after the paint, paper, and tea act was passed. The several assemblies expressed the same sentiments; and when your colony wrote the famous circular letter, notwithstanding all the mandates and threats and cajoling of the minister and the several governors, and all the crown-officers through the continent, the assemblies, with one voice, echoed their entire approbation of that letter, and their applause to your colony for sending it. In the year 1768, when a non-importation was suggested and planned by a few gentlemen at a private club in one of our large towns, as soon as it was proposed to the public, did it not spread through the whole continent? Was it not regarded like the laws of the Medes and Persians in almost all the colonies? When the paint and paper act was repealed, the southern colonies agreed to depart from the association in all things but the dutied articles; but they have kept strictly to their agreement against importing them, so that no tea worth the mentioning has been imported into any of them from Great Britain to this day. In the year 1770, when a number of persons were slaughtered in King Street, such was the brotherly sympathy of all the colonies, such their resentment against a hostile administration, that the innocent blood then spilt has never been forgotten, nor the murderous minister and governors, who brought the troops here, forgiven by any part of the continent, and never will be. When a certain masterly statesman invented a committee of correspondence in Boston, which has provoked so much of the spleen of Massachusettensis, (of which much more hereafter) did not every colony, nay, every county, city, hundred, and town, upon the whole continent, adopt the measure, I had almost said, as if it had been a revelation from above, as the happiest means of cementing the union and acting in concert?

What proofs of union have been given since the last March? Look over the resolves of the several colonies, and you will see that one understanding governs, one heart animates the whole body. Assemblies, conventions, congresses, towns, cities, and private clubs and circles, have been actuated by one great, wise, active, and noble spirit, one masterly soul animating one vigorous body. The congress at Philadelphia have expressed the same sentiments with the people of New England; approved of the opposition to the late innovations; unanimously advised us to persevere in it; and assured us, that if force is attempted to carry these measures against us, all America ought to support us. Maryland and the lower counties on Delaware have already, to show to all the world their approbation of the measures of New England and their determination to join in them, with a generosity, a wisdom, and magnanimity which ought to make the tories consider, taken the power of the militia into the hands of the people, without the governor or minister, and established it by their own authority, for the defence of Massachusetts, as well as of themselves. Other colonies are only waiting to see if the necessity of it will become more obvious. Virginia and the Carolinas are preparing for military defence, and have been for some time. When we consider the variety of climate, soil, religion, civil government, commercial interests, &c. which were represented at the congress, and the various occupations, education, and characters of the gentlemen who composed it, the harmony and unanimity which prevailed in it can scarcely be paralleled in any assembly that ever met. When we consider that, at the revolution, such mighty questions, as whether the throne was vacant or not, and whether the Prince of Orange should be king or not, were determined in the convention of parliament by small majorities of two or three, and four or five only, the great majorities, the almost unanimity with which all great questions have been decided in your house of representatives and other assemblies, and especially in the continental congress, cannot be considered in any other light than as the happiest omens, indeed as providential dispensations, in our favor, as well as the clearest demonstrations of the cordial, firm, radical, and indissoluble union of the colonies.

The grand aphorism of the policy of the whigs has been to unite the people of America, and divide those of Great Britain. The reverse of this has been the maxim of the tories, namely,—to unite the people of Great Britain, and divide those of America. All the movements, marches, and countermarches of both parties, on both sides of the Atlantic, may be reduced to one or the other of these rules. I have shown, in opposition to Massachusettensis, that the people of America are united more perfectly than the most sanguine whig could ever have hoped, or than the most timid tory could have feared. Let us now examine whether the people of Great Britain are equally united against us. For, if the contending countries were equally united, the prospect of success in the quarrel would depend upon the comparative wisdom, firmness, strength, and other advantages of each. And if such a comparison was made, it would not appear to a demonstration that Great Britain could so easily subdue and conquer. It is not so easy a thing for the most powerful state to conquer a country a thousand leagues off. How many years time, how many millions of money, did it take, with five-and-thirty thousand men, to conquer the poor province of Canada? And, after all the battles and victories, it never would have submitted, without a capitulation which secured to them their religion and properties.

But we know that the people of Great Britain are not united against us. We distinguish between the ministry, the house of commons, the officers of the army, navy, excise, customs, &c., who are dependent on the ministry, and tempted, if not obliged, to echo their voices, and the body of the people. We are assured, by thousands of letters from persons of good intelligence, by the general strain of publications in public papers, pamphlets, and magazines, and by some larger works written for posterity, that the body of the people are friends to America, and wish us success in our struggles against the claims of parliament and administration. We know, that millions in England and Scotland will think it unrighteous, impolitic, and ruinous to make war upon us; and a minister, though he may have a marble heart, will proceed with a diffident, desponding spirit. We know that London and Bristol, the two greatest commercial cities in the empire, have declared themselves, in the most decisive manner, in favor of our cause,—so explicitly, that the former has bound her members under their hands to assist us; and the latter has chosen two known friends of America, one attached to us by principle, birth, and the most ardent affection, the other an able advocate for us on several great occasions. We know that many of the most virtuous and independent of the nobility and gentry are for us, and among them, the best bishop that adorns the bench, as great a judge as the nation can boast, and the greatest statesman it ever saw. We know that the nation is loaded with debts and taxes, by the folly and iniquity of its ministers, and that, without the trade of America, it can neither long support its fleet and army, nor pay the interest of its debt.

But we are told that the nation is now united against us; that they hold they have a right to tax us and legislate for us, as firmly as we deny it; that we are a part of the British empire; that every state must have an uncontrollable power coextensive with the empire; that there is little probability of serving ourselves by ingenious distinctions between external and internal taxes; that if we are not a part of the state, and subject to the supreme authority of parliament, Great Britain will make us so; that if this opportunity of reclaiming the colonies is lost, they will be dismembered from the empire; and, although they may continue their allegiance to the king, they will own none to the imperial crown.

To all this I answer, that the nation is not so united; that they do not so universally hold they have such a right. And my reasons I have given before; that the terms “British Empire” are not the language of the common law, but the language of newspapers and political pamphlets; that the dominions of the king of Great Britain have no power coextensive with them. I would ask, by what law the parliament has authority over America? By the law of God, in the Old and New Testament, it has none; by the law of nature and nations, it has none; by the common law of England, it has none, for the common law, and the authority of parliament founded on it, never extended beyond the four seas; by statute law it has none, for no statute was made before the settlement of the colonies for this purpose; and the declaratory act, made in 1766, was made without our consent, by a parliament which had no authority beyond the four seas. What religious, moral, or political obligations then are we under to submit to parliament as a supreme legislative? None at all. When it is said, that if we are not subject to the supreme authority of parliament, Great Britain will make us so, all other laws and obligations are given up, and recourse is had to the ratio ultima of Louis XIV. and the suprema lex of the king of Sardinia,—to the law of brickbats and cannon balls, which can be answered only by brickbats and balls.

This language, “the imperial crown of Great Britain,” is not the style of the common law, but of court sycophants. It was introduced in allusion to the Roman empire, and intended to insinuate that the prerogative of the imperial crown of England was like that of the Roman emperor, after the maxim was established, quod principi placuit legis habet vigorem; and, so far from including the two houses of parliament in the idea of this imperial crown, it was intended to insinuate that the crown was absolute, and had no need of lords or commons to make or dispense with laws. Yet even these court sycophants, when driven to an explanation, never dared to put any other sense upon the words imperial crown than this, that the crown of England was independent of France, Spain, and all other kings and states in the world.

When he says, that the king’s dominions must have an uncontrollable power coextensive with them, I ask whether they have such a power or not? and utterly deny that they have, by any law but that of Louis XIV. and the king of Sardinia. If they have not, and it is necessary that they should have, it then follows that there is a defect in what he calls the British empire; and how shall this defect be supplied? It cannot be supplied consistently with reason, justice, policy, morality, or humanity, without the consent of the colonies and some new plan of connection. But if Great Britain will set all these at defiance, and resort to the ratio ultima, all Europe will pronounce her a tyrant, and America never will submit to her, be the danger of disobedience as great as it will.

But there is no need of any other power than that of regulating trade, and this the colonies ever have been, and will be, ready and willing to concede to her. But she will never obtain from America any further concession while she exists. We are then asked, “for what she protected and defended the colonies against the maritime powers of Europe, from their first settlement to this day?” I answer, for her own interest; because all the profits of our trade centred in her lap. But it ought to be remembered, that her name, not her purse, nor her fleets and armies ever protected us, until the last war, and then the minister who conducted that war informed us that the annual millions from America enabled her to do it.

We are then asked, for what she purchased New York of the Dutch? I answer, she never did. The Dutch never owned it, were never more than trespassers and intruders there, and were finally expelled by conquest. It was ceded, it is true, by the treaty of Breda, and it is said in some authors, that some other territory in India was ceded to the Dutch in lieu of it. But this was the transaction of the king, not of parliament, and therefore makes nothing to the argument.

But admitting, for argument sake, (since the cautious Massachusettensis will urge us into the discussion of such questions,) what is not a supposable case, that the nation should be so sunk in sloth, luxury, and corruption, as to suffer their minister to persevere in his mad blunders, and send fire and sword against us, how shall we defend ourselves? The colonies south of Pennsylvania have no men to spare, we are told. But we know better; we know that all those colonies have a back country, which is inhabited by a hardy, robust people, many of whom are emigrants from New England, and habituated, like multitudes of New England men, to carry their fuzees or rifles upon one shoulder, to defend themselves against the Indians, while they carry their axes, scythes, and hoes upon the other, to till the ground. Did not those colonies furnish men the last war, excepting Maryland? Did not Virginia furnish men, one regiment particularly, equal to any regular regiment in the service? Does the soft Massachusettensis imagine, that in the unnatural, horrid war he is now supposing, their exertions would be less? If he does, he is very ill informed of their principles, their present sentiments and temper.

But, “have you arms and ammunition?” I answer, we have; but if we had not, we could make a sufficient quantity of both. What should hinder? We have many manufacturers of firearms now, whose arms are as good as any in the world. Powder has been made here, and may be again, and so may saltpetre. What should hinder? We have all the materials in great abundance, and the process is very simple. But if we neither had them nor could make them, we could import them.

But “the British navy!” ay, there’s the rub. Let us consider, since the prudent Massachusettensis will have these questions debated, how many ships are taken to blockade Boston harbor! How many ships can Britain spare to carry on this humane and political war, the object of which is a pepper-corn! Let her send all the ships she has round her island; what if her ill-natured neighbors, France and Spain, should strike a blow in their absence? In order to judge what they could all do when they arrived here, we should consider what they are all able to do round the island of Great Britain. We know that the utmost vigilance and exertions of them, added to all the terrors of sanguinary laws, are not sufficient to prevent continual smuggling into their own island. Are there not fifty bays, harbors, creeks, and inlets upon the whole coast of North America, where there is one round the island of Great Britain? Is it to be supposed, then, that the whole British navy could prevent the importation of arms and ammunition into America, if she should have occasion for them to defend herself against the hellish warfare that is here supposed?

But what will you do for discipline and subordination? I answer, We will have them in as great perfection as the regular troops. If the provincials were not brought, in the last war, to a proper discipline, what was the reason? Because regular generals would not let them fight, which they ardently wished, but employed them in cutting roads. If they had been allowed to fight, they would have brought the war to a conclusion too soon. The provincials did submit to martial law, and to the mutiny and desertion act the last war, and such an act may be made here by a legislature which they will obey with much more alacrity than an act of parliament.

“The new-fangled militia,” as the specious Massachusettensis calls it, is such a militia as he never saw. They are commanded through the province, not by men who procured their commissions from a governor as a reward for making themselves pimps to his tools, and by discovering a hatred of the people, but by gentlemen, whose estates, abilities, and benevolence have rendered them the delight of the soldiers; and there is an esteem and respect for them visible through the province, which has not been used in the militia. Nor is there that unsteadiness that is charged upon them. In some places, where companies have been split into two or three, it has only served, by exciting an emulation between the companies, to increase the martial spirit and skill. The plausible Massachusettensis may write as he will, but, in a land war, this continent might defend itself against all the world. We have men enough, and those men have as good natural understandings, and as much natural courage as any other men. If they were wholly ignorant now, they might learn the art of war.

But at sea we are defenceless. A navy might burn our seaport towns. What then? If the insinuating Massachusettensis has ever read any speculations concerning an agrarian law, and I know he has, he will be satisfied that three hundred and fifty thousand landholders will not give up their rights, and the constitution by which they hold them, to save fifty thousand inhabitants of maritime towns. Will the minister be nearer his mark, after he has burned a beautiful town and murdered thirty thousand innocent people? So far from it, that one such event would occasion the loss of all the colonies to Great Britain forever. It is not so clear that our trade, fishery, and navigation could be taken from us. Some persons, who understand this subject better than Massachusettensis, with all his sprightly imaginations, are of a different opinion. They think that our trade would be increased. But I will not enlarge upon this subject, because I wish the trade of this continent may be confined to Great Britain, at least as much of it as it can do her any good to restrain.

The Canadians and savages are brought in to thicken the horrors of a picture with which the lively fancy of this writer has terrified him. But, although we are sensible that the Quebec act has laid a foundation for a fabric, which, if not seasonably demolished, may be formidable, if not ruinous, to the colonies, in future times, yet we know that these times are yet at a distance; at present we hold the power of the Canadians as nothing. But we know their dispositions are not unfriendly to us.

The savages will be more likely to be our friends than enemies; but if they should not, we know well enough how to defend ourselves against them.

I ought to apologize for the immoderate length of this paper; but general assertions are only to be confuted by an examination of particulars, which necessarily fills up much space. I will trespass on the reader’s patience only while I make one observation more upon the art, I had almost said chicanery, of this writer.

He affirms that we are not united in this province, and that associations are forming in several parts of the province. The association he means has been laid before the public, and a very curious piece of legerdemain it is. Is there any article acknowledging the authority of parliament, the unlimited authority of parliament? Brigadier Ruggles himself, Massachusettensis himself, could not have signed it if there had been, consistent with their known declared opinions. They associate to stand by the king’s laws, and this every whig will subscribe. But, after all, what a wretched fortune has this association made in the world! The numbers who have signed it would appear so inconsiderable, that I dare say the Brigadier will never publish to the world their numbers or names. But, “has not Great Britain been a nursing-mother to us?” Yes, and we have behaved as nurse-children commonly do,—been very fond of her, and rewarded her all along tenfold for all her care and expense in our nurture.

But “is not our distraction owing to parliament’s taking off a shilling-duty on tea and imposing threepence, and is not this a more unaccountable frenzy, more disgraceful to the annals of America, than the witchcraft?”

Is the threepence upon tea our only grievance? Are we not in this province deprived of the privilege of paying our governors, judges, &c.? Are not trials by jury taken from us? Are we not sent to England for trial? Is not a military government put over us? Is not our constitution demolished to the foundation? Have not the ministry shown, by the Quebec bill, that we have no security against them for our religion, any more than our property, if we once submit to the unlimited claims of parliament? This is so gross an attempt to impose on the most ignorant of the people, that it is a shame to answer it.

Obsta principiis, nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people. When the people give way, their deceivers, betrayers, and destroyers press upon them so fast, that there is no resisting afterwards. The nature of the encroachment upon the American constitution is such, as to grow every day more and more encroaching. Like a cancer, it eats faster and faster every hour. The revenue creates pensioners, and the pensioners urge for more revenue. The people grow less steady, spirited, and virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and every day increases the circles of their dependents and expectants, until virtue, integrity, public spirit, simplicity, and frugality, become the objects of ridicule and scorn, and vanity, luxury, foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality swallow up the whole society.

The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 5: Novanglus Papers

johnadams2

The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 3: Novanglus Papers

NOVANGLUS: ADDRESSED TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE COLONY OF MASSACHUSETTS BAY.

See also:
The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 1: Novanglus Papers
The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 2: Novanglus Papers
 
PAPER NO. 2.

johnadams1I have heretofore intimated my intention of pursuing the tories through all their dark intrigues and wicked machinations, and to show the rise and progress of their schemes for enslaving this country. The honor of inventing and contriving these measures is not their due. They have been but servile copiers of the designs of Andros, Randolph, Dudley, and other champions of their cause towards the close of the last century. These latter worthies accomplished but little; and their plans had been buried with them for a long course of years, until, in the administration of the late Governor Shirley, they were revived by the persons who are now principally concerned in carrying them into execution. Shirley was a crafty, busy, ambitious, intriguing, enterprising man; and, having mounted, no matter by what means, to the chair of this province, he saw, in a young, growing country, vast prospects of ambition opening before his eyes, and conceived great designs of aggrandizing himself, his family, and his friends. Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Oliver, the two famous letter-writers, were his principal ministers of state; Russell, Paxton, Ruggles, and a few others, were subordinate instruments. Among other schemes of this junto, one was to have a revenue in America, by authority of parliament.

In order to effect their purpose, it was necessary to concert measures with the other colonies. Dr. Franklin, who was known to be an active and very able man, and to have great influence in the province of Pennsylvania, was in Boston in the year 1754, and Mr. Shirley communicated to him the profound secret,—the great design of taxing the colonies by act of parliament. This sagacious gentleman, this eminent philosopher and distinguished patriot, to his lasting honor, sent the Governor an answer in writing, with the following remarks upon his scheme, remarks which would have discouraged any honest man from the pursuit. The remarks are these:—

“That the people always bear the burden best, when they have, or think they have, some share in the direction.

“That when public measures are generally distasteful to the people, the wheels of government must move more heavily.

“That excluding the people of America from all share in the choice of a grand council for their own defence, and taxing them in parliament, where they have no representative, would probably give extreme dissatisfaction.

“That there was no reason to doubt the willingness of the colonists to contribute for their own defence. That the people themselves, whose all was at stake, could better judge of the force necessary for their defence, and of the means for raising money for the purpose, than a British parliament at so great distance.

“That natives of America would be as likely to consult wisely and faithfully for the safety of their native country, as the governors sent from Britain, whose object is generally to make fortunes, and then return home, and who might therefore be expected to carry on the war against France, rather in a way by which themselves were likely to be gainers, than for the greatest advantage of the cause.

“That compelling the colonies to pay money for their own defence, without their consent, would show a suspicion of their loyalty, or of their regard for their country, or of their common sense, and would be treating them as conquered enemies, and not as free Britons, who hold it for their undoubted right, not to be taxed but by their own consent, given through their representatives.

“That parliamentary taxes, once laid on, are often continued, after the necessity for laying them on ceases; but that if the colonists were trusted to tax themselves, they would remove the burden from the people as soon as it should become unnecessary for them to bear it any longer.

“That if parliament is to tax the colonies, their assemblies of representatives may be dismissed as useless.

“That taxing the colonies in parliament for their own defence against the French, is not more just, than it would be to oblige the cinque-ports, and other parts of Britain, to maintain a force against France, and tax them for this purpose, without allowing them representatives in parliament.

“That the colonists have always been indirectly taxed by the mother country, (besides paying the taxes necessarily laid on by their own assemblies); inasmuch as they are obliged to purchase the manufactures of Britain, charged with innumerable heavy taxes, some of which manufactures they could make, and others could purchase cheaper at markets.

“That the colonists are besides taxed by the mother country, by being obliged to carry great part of their produce to Britain, and accept a lower price than they might have at other markets. The difference is a tax paid to Britain.

“That the whole wealth of the colonists centres at last in the mother country, which enables her to pay her taxes.

“That the colonies have, at the hazard of their lives and fortunes, extended the dominions and increased the commerce and riches of the mother country; that therefore the colonists do not deserve to be deprived of the native right of Britons, the right of being taxed only by representatives chosen by themselves.

“That an adequate representation in parliament would probably be acceptable to the colonists, and would best raise the views and interests of the whole empire.”1

The last of these propositions seems not to have been well considered; because an adequate representation in parliament is totally impracticable; but the others have exhausted the subject.*

Whether the ministry at home, or the junto here, were discouraged by these masterly remarks, or by any other cause, the project of taxing the colonies was laid aside; Mr. Shirley was removed from this government, and Mr. Pownall was placed in his stead.

Mr. Pownall seems to have been a friend to liberty and to our constitution, and to have had an aversion to all plots against either; and, consequently, to have given his confidence to other persons than Hutchinson and Oliver, who, stung with envy against Mr. Pratt and others, who had the lead in affairs, set themselves, by propagating slanders against the Governor among the people, and especially among the clergy, to raise discontents, and make him uneasy in his seat. Pownall, averse to wrangling, and fond of the delights of England, solicited to be recalled, and after some time Mr. Bernard was removed from New Jersey to the chair of this province.

Bernard was the man for the purpose of the junto. Educated in the highest principles of monarchy; naturally daring and courageous; skilled enough in law and policy to do mischief, and avaricious to a most infamous degree; needy, at the same time, and having a numerous family to provide for, he was an instrument suitable in every respect, excepting one, for this junto to employ. The exception I mean was blunt frankness, very opposite to that cautious cunning, that deep dissimulation, to which they had, by long practice, disciplined themselves. However, they did not despair of teaching him this necessary artful quality by degrees, and the event showed that they were not wholly unsuccessful in their endeavors to do it.

While the war lasted, these simple provinces were of too much importance in the conduct of it, to be disgusted by any open attempt against their liberties. The junto, therefore, contented themselves with preparing their ground, by extending their connection and correspondencies in England, and by conciliating the friendship of the crown-officers occasionally here, and insinuating their designs as necessary to be undertaken in some future favorable opportunity, for the good of the empire, as well as of the colonies.

The designs of Providence are inscrutable. It affords conjunctures, favorable for their designs, to bad men, as well as to good. The conclusion of the peace was the most critical opportunity for our junto that could have presented. A peace, founded on the destruction of that system of policy, the most glorious for the nation that ever was formed, and which was never equalled in the conduct of the English government, except in the interregnum, and perhaps in the reign of Elizabeth; which system, however, by its being abruptly broken off, and its chief conductor discarded before it was completed, proved unfortunate to the nation, by leaving it sinking in a bottomless gulf of debt, oppressed and borne down with taxes.

At this lucky time, when the British financier was driven out of his wits, for ways and means to supply the demands upon him, Bernard is employed by the junto, to suggest to him the project of taxing the colonies by act of parliament.

I do not advance this without evidence. I appeal to a publication made by Sir Francis Bernard himself, the last year, of his own Select Letters on the Trade and Government of America; and the Principles of Law and Polity applied to the American Colonies. I shall make use of this pamphlet1 before I have done.

In the year 1764, Mr. Bernard transmitted home to different noblemen and gentlemen, four copies of his Principles of Law and Polity, with a preface, which proves incontestably, that the project of new-regulating the American Colonies was not first suggested to him by the ministry, but by him to them. The words of this preface are these: “The present expectation, that a new regulation of the American governments will soon take place, probably arises more from the opinion the public has of the abilities of the present ministry, than from any thing that has transpired from the cabinet. It cannot be supposed that their penetration can overlook the necessity of such a regulation, nor their public spirit fail to carry it into execution. But it may be a question, whether the present is a proper time for this work; more urgent business may stand before it; some preparatory steps may be required to precede it; but these will only serve to postpone. As we may expect that this reformation, like all others, will be opposed by powerful prejudices, it may not be amiss to reason with them at leisure, and endeavor to take off their force before they become opposed to government.”

These are the words of that arch-enemy of North America, written in 1764, and then transmitted to four persons, with a desire that they might be communicated to others.

Upon these words, it is impossible not to observe: First, that the ministry had never signified to him any intention of new-regulating the colonies, and therefore, that it was he who most officiously and impertinently put them upon the pursuit of this will-with-a-wisp, which has led him and them into so much mire; secondly, the artful flattery with which he insinuates these projects into the minds of the ministry, as matters of absolute necessity, which their great penetration could not fail to discover, nor their great regard to the public omit; thirdly, the importunity with which he urges a speedy accomplishment of his pretended reformation of the governments; and, fourthly, his consciousness that these schemes would be opposed, although he affects to expect from powerful prejudices only, that opposition, which all Americans say, has been dictated by sound reason, true policy, and eternal justice. The last thing I shall take notice of is, the artful, yet most false and wicked insinuation, that such new regulations were then generally expected. This is so absolutely false, that, excepting Bernard himself, and his junto, scarcely anybody on this side the water had any suspicion of it,—insomuch that, if Bernard had made public, at that time, his preface and principles, as he sent them to the ministry, it is much to be doubted whether he could have lived in this country; certain it is, he would have had no friends in this province out of the junto.

The intention of the junto was, to procure a revenue to be raised in America by act of parliament. Nothing was further from their designs and wishes, than the drawing or sending this revenue into the exchequer in England, to be spent there in discharging the national debt, and lessening the burdens of the poor people there. They were more selfish. They chose to have the fingering of the money themselves. Their design was, that the money should be applied, first, in a large salary to the governor. This would gratify Bernard’s avarice; and then, it would render him and all other governors, not only independent of the people, but still more absolutely a slave to the will of the minister. They intended likewise a salary for the lieutenant-governor. This would appease in some degree the gnawings of Hutchinson’s avidity, in which he was not a whit behind Bernard himself. In the next place, they intended a salary to the judges of the common law, as well as admiralty. And thus, the whole government, executive and judicial, was to be rendered wholly independent of the people, (and their representatives rendered useless, insignificant, and even burthensome,) and absolutely dependent upon, and under the direction of the will of the minister of state. They intended, further, to new-model the whole continent of North America; make an entire new division of it into distinct, though more extensive and less numerous colonies; to sweep away all the charters upon the continent with the destroying besom of an act of parliament; and reduce all the governments to the plan of the royal governments, with a nobility in each colony, not hereditary indeed at first, but for life. They did indeed flatter the ministry and people in England with distant hopes of a revenue from America, at some future period, to be appropriated to national uses there. But this was not to happen, in their minds, for some time. The governments must be new-modelled, new-regulated, reformed, first, and then the governments here would be able and willing to carry into execution any acts of parliament, or measures of the ministry, for fleecing the people here, to pay debts, or support pensioners on the American establishment, or bribe electors or members of parliament, or any other purpose that a virtuous ministry could desire.

But, as ill luck would have it, the British financier was as selfish as themselves, and, instead of raising money for them, chose to raise it for himself. He put the cart before the horse. He chose to get the revenue into the exchequer, because he had hungry cormorants enough about him in England, whose cawings were more troublesome to his ears than the croaking of the ravens in America. And he thought, if America could afford any revenue at all, and he could get it by authority of parliament, he might have it himself, to give to his friends, as well as raise it for the junto here, to spend themselves, or give to theirs. This unfortunate, preposterous improvement, of Mr. Grenville, upon the plan of the junto, had wellnigh ruined the whole.

I will proceed no further without producing my evidence. Indeed, to a man who was acquainted with this junto, and had any opportunity to watch their motions, observe their language, and remark their countenances, for these last twelve years, no other evidence is necessary; it was plain to such persons what this junto were about. But we have evidence enough now, under their own hands, of the whole of what was said of them by their opposers through the whole period.

Governor Bernard, in his letter of July 11, 1764, says, “that a general reformation of the American governments would become not only a desirable but a necessary measure.” What his idea was, of a general reformation of the American governments, is to be learned from his Principles of Law and Polity, which he sent to the ministry in 1764. I shall select a few of them in his own words; but I wish the whole of them could be printed in the newspapers, that America might know more generally the principles, and designs, and exertions of our junto.

His 29th proposition is: “The rule that a British subject shall not be bound by laws, or liable to taxes, but what he has consented to by his representatives, must be confined to the inhabitants of Great Britain only; and is not strictly true even there.

“30. The Parliament of Great Britain, as well from its rights of sovereignty, as from occasional exigencies, has a right to make laws for, and impose taxes upon, its subjects in its external dominions, although they are not represented in such Parliament. But,

“31. Taxes imposed upon the external dominions ought to be applied to the use of the people from whom they are raised.

“32. The Parliament of Great Britain has a right and a duty to take care to provide for the defence of the American colonies; especially as such colonies are unable to defend themselves.

“33. The Parliament of Great Britain has a right and a duty to take care that provision be made for a sufficient support of the American governments.” Because,

“34. The support of the government is one of the principal conditions upon which a colony is allowed the power of legislation.” Also, because,

“35. Some of the American colonies have shown themselves deficient in the support of their several governments, both as to sufficiency and independency.”

His 75th proposition is: “Every American government is capable of having its constitution altered for the better.

“76. The grants of the powers of government to the American colonies, by charters, cannot be understood to be intended for other than their infant or growing states.

“77. They cannot be intended for their mature state, that is, for perpetuity; because they are in many things unconstitutional, and contrary to the very nature of a British government. Therefore,

“78. They must be considered as designed only as temporary means, for settling and bringing forward the peopling the colonies; which being effected, the cause of the peculiarity of their constitution ceases.

“79. If the charters can be pleaded against the authority of parliament, they amount to an alienation of the dominions of Great Britain, and are, in effect, acts of dismembering the British empire, and will operate as such, if care is not taken to prevent it.

“83. The notion which has heretofore prevailed, that the dividing America into many governments, and different modes of government, will be the means to prevent their uniting to revolt, is ill-founded; since, if the governments were ever so much consolidated, it will be necessary to have so many distinct states, as to make a union to revolt impracticable.” Whereas,

“84. The splitting America into many small governments, weakens the governing power and strengthens that of the people; and thereby makes revolting more probable and more practicable.

“85. To prevent revolts in future times, (for there is no room to fear them in the present,) the most effectual means would be, to make the governments large and respectable, and balance the powers of them.

“86. There is no government in America at present, whose powers are properly balanced; there not being in any of them a real and distinct third legislative power mediating between the king and the people, which is the peculiar excellence of the British constitution.

“87. The want of such a third legislative power adds weight to the popular, and lightens the royal scale, so as to destroy the balance between the royal and popular powers.

“88. Although America is not now, (and probably will not be for many years to come) ripe enough for a hereditary nobility, yet it is now capable of a nobility for life.

“89. A nobility appointed by the king for life, and made independent, would probably give strength and stability to the American governments as effectually as a hereditary nobility does to that of Great Britain.

“90. The reformation of the American governments should not be controlled by the present boundaries of the colonies, as they were mostly settled upon partial, occasional, and accidental considerations, without any regard to the whole.

“91. To settle the American governments to the greatest possible advantage, it will be necessary to reduce the number of them; in some places to unite and consolidate; in others to separate and transfer; and in general to divide by natural boundaries instead of imaginary lines.

“92. If there should be but one form of government established for all the North American provinces, it would greatly facilitate the reformation of them; since, if the mode of government was everywhere the same, people would be more indifferent under what division they were ranged.

“93. No objections ought to arise to the alteration of the boundaries of provinces from proprietors, on account of their property only; since there is no occasion that it should in the least affect the boundaries of properties.

“94. The present distinctions of one government being more free or more popular than another, tends to embarrass and to weaken the whole, and should not be allowed to subsist among people subject to one king and one law, and all equally fit for one form of government.

“95. The American colonies, in general, are at this time arrived at that state, which qualifies them to receive the most perfect form of government which their situation and relation to Great Britain make them capable of.

“96. The people of North America, at this time, expect a revisal and reformation of the American governments, and are better disposed to submit to it than ever they were, or perhaps ever will be again.

“97. This is, therefore, the proper and critical time to reform the American governments, upon a general, constitutional, firm, and durable plan; and if it is not done now, it will probably every day grow more difficult, till at last it becomes impracticable.”

My friends, these are the words, the plans, principles, and endeavors of Governor Bernard, in the year 1764. That Hutchinson and Oliver, notwithstanding all their disguises, which you well remember, were in unison with him in the whole of his measures, can be doubted by no man. It appeared sufficiently in the part they all along acted, notwithstanding their professions. And it appears incontestably from their detected letters; of which more hereafter.

Now, let me ask you, if the Parliament of Great Britain had all the natural foundations of authority, wisdom, goodness, justice, power, in as great perfection as they ever existed in any body of men since Adam’s fall; and if the English nation was the most virtuous, pure, and free that ever was; would not such an unlimited subjection of three millions of people to that parliament, at three thousand miles distance, be real slavery? There are but two sorts of men in the world, freemen and slaves. The very definition of a freeman is one who is bound by no law to which he has not consented. Americans would have no way of giving or withholding their consent to the acts of this parliament, therefore they would not be freemen. But when luxury, effeminacy, and venality are arrived at such a shocking pitch in England; when both electors and elected are become one mass of corruption; when the nation is oppressed to death with debts and taxes, owing to their own extravagance and want of wisdom, what would be your condition under such an absolute subjection to parliament? You would not only be slaves, but the most abject sort of slaves, to the worst sort of masters! at least this is my opinion.

Judge you for yourselves between Massachusettensis and Novanglus.

The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 4: Novanglus Papers

johnadams2

The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 1: Novanglus Papers

NOVANGLUS: OR, A HISTORY OF THE [BRITISH] DISPUTE WITH AMERICA, FROM ITS ORIGIN, IN 1754, TO THE PRESENT TIME; WRITTEN IN 1774, BY JOHN ADAMS.

See also:
The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 2: Novanglus Papers
The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 3: Novanglus Papers
The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 4: Novanglus Papers
The Wisdom of Founder John Adams Part 5: Novanglus Papers

johnadams1The occasion of the production of the series of papers signed Novanglus, in the Boston Gazette of 1774, is given in the Diary of the author. A writer for the government, under the signature of Massachusettensis, supposed by Mr. Adams to be Jonathan Sewall, but who is now understood to have been Daniel Leonard, had made some impression upon public opinion in Massachusetts. His articles, first printed in the Massachusetts Gazette and Post-Boy, immediately attracted much public attention, and called out many replies. They were forthwith collected and printed in a pamphlet form in Boston; republished by James Rivington, in New York, in the same year, under the title of “The Origin of the American Contest with Great Britain, or the present Political State of the Massachusetts Bay in general, and the town of Boston in particular; exhibiting the Rise and Progress of the disordered State of that Country, in a series of weekly Essays, published at Boston, under the signature of Massachusettensis, a Native of New England;” and still another edition was issued in Boston, by J. Mathews, probably during the siege of that place, in the next year, 1776.

The papers of Novanglus, in reply to Massachusettensis, were reprinted in Almon’s Remembrancer for 1775, in an abridged form, and bearing the following title: “History of the Dispute with America, from its Origin, in 1754, to the present Time.” This was reprinted in pamphlet form, in London, by John Stockdale, in 1784, with the name of the author. Previous to this time, a Dutch translation had been made in Holland, apparently for the purpose of extending information respecting the struggle, and inspiring confidence in the author, when he was soliciting an alliance for the United States with that country; and it was published at Amsterdam, by W. Holtrop, 1782, with a portrait. Last of all, the papers of Novanglus and Massachusettensis, in their original form, were collected in one volume, in 1819, and printed by Hews and Goss, in Boston, to which was prefixed the preface which immediately follows.

PREFACE: TO THE EDITION OF 1819.

Jonathan Sewall was descended from Mitchells and Hulls and Sewalls, and I believe Higginsons, that is, from several of the ancient and venerable of New England families. But, as I am no genealogist, I must refer to my aged classmate and highly-esteemed friend, Judge Sewall, of York, whose researches will one day explain the whole.

Mr. Sewall’s father was unfortunate; died young, leaving his son destitute; but as the child had discovered a pregnant genius, he was educated by the charitable contribution of his friends, of whom Dr. Samuel Cooper was one of the most active and successful, among his opulent parishioners. Mr. Sewall graduated at college in 1748; kept a Latin school in Salem till 1756, when Chambers Russell, of Lincoln, a judge of the supreme court and a judge of admiralty, from a principle of disinterested benevolence, received him into his family, instructed him in law, furnished him with books, and introduced him to the practice at the bar. In 1757 and 1758, he attended the supreme court in Worcester, and spent his evenings with me, in the office of Colonel James Putnam, a gentleman of great acuteness of mind, and very extensive and successful practice, and an able lawyer, in whose family I boarded, and under whose auspices I studied law. Here commenced between Mr. Sewall and me a personal friendship, which continued, with none but political interruptions, till his death. He commenced practice in Charlestown, in the county of Middlesex; I, in that parish of the ancient town of Braintree, now called Quincy, then in the county of Suffolk, now of Norfolk. We attended the courts in Boston, Cambridge, Charlestown, and Concord; lived together, frequently slept in the same chamber, and not seldom in the same bed. Mr. Sewall was then a patriot; his sentiments were purely American. To James Otis, who took a kind notice of us both, we constantly applied for advice in any difficulty; and he would attend to us, advise us, and look into books for us, and point out authorities to us, as kindly as if we had been his pupils or his sons.

After the surrender of Montreal, in 1759, rumors were everywhere spread, that the English would now new-model the Colonies, demolish the charters, and reduce all to royal governments. These rumors I had heard as often as he had. One morning I met him accidentally on the floor of the old town-house. “John,” said he, “I want to speak with you.” He always called me John, and I him Jonathan; and I often said to him, I wish my name were David. He took me to a window-seat and said, “These Englishmen are going to play the devil with us. They will overturn every thing. We must resist them, and that by force. I wish you would write in the newspapers, and urge a general attention to the militia, to their exercises and discipline, for we must resist in arms.” I answered, “All this, I fear, is true; but why do you not write yourself? You are older than I am, have more experience than I have, are more intimate with the grandees than I am, and you can write ten times better than I can.” There had been a correspondence between us, by which I knew his refined style, as well as he knew my coarse one. “Why,” said Mr. Sewall, “I would write, but Goffe will find me out, and I shall grieve his righteous soul, and you know what influence he has in Middlesex.” This Goffe had been attorney-general for twenty years, and commanded the practice in Middlesex and Worcester and several other counties. He had power to crush, by his frown or his nod, any young lawyer in his county. He was afterwards Judge Trowbridge, but at that time as ardent as any of Hutchinson’s disciples, though he afterwards became alienated from his pursuits and principles.

In December, 1760, or January, 1761, Stephen Sewall, chief justice, died, deeply lamented, though insolvent. My friend Jonathan, his nephew, the son of his brother, who tenderly loved and deeply revered his uncle, could not bear the thought, that the memory of the chief justice should lie under the imputation of bankruptcy. At that time bankruptcy was infamous; now it is scarcely disgraceful. Jonathan undertook the administration of his uncle’s estate. Finding insolvency inevitable, he drew a petition to the General Court, to grant a sum of money sufficient to pay the chief justice’s debts. If my friend had known the character of his countrymen, or the nature of that assembly, he never would have conceived such a project; but he did conceive it, and applied to James Otis and his father, Colonel Otis, to patronize and support it. The Otises knew their countrymen better than he did. They received and presented the petition, but without much hope of success. The petition was rejected; and my friend Sewall conceived a suspicion that it was not promoted with so much zeal by the Otises, as he thought they might have exerted. He imputed the failure to their coldness, was much mortified, and conceived a violent resentment, which he expressed with too much freedom and feeling in all companies.

Goffe, Hutchinson, and all the courtiers soon heard of it, and instantly fastened their eyes upon Sewall, courted his society, sounded his fame, promoted his practice, and soon after made him solicitor-general, by creating a new office expressly for him. Mr. Sewall had a soft, smooth, insinuating eloquence, which, gliding imperceptibly into the minds of a jury, gave him as much power over that tribunal as any lawyer ought ever to possess. He was also capable of discussing before the court any intricate question of law, which gave him at least as much influence there as was consistent with an impartial administration of justice. He was a gentleman and a scholar, had a fund of wit, humor, and satire, which he used with great discretion at the bar, but poured out with unbounded profusion in the newspapers. Witness his voluminous productions in the newspapers, signed long J. and Philanthropos. These accomplishments richly qualified him to serve the purposes of the gentlemen who courted him into their service.

Mr. Sewall soon fell in love with Miss Esther Quincy, the fourth daughter of Edmund Quincy, an eminent merchant and magistrate, and a granddaughter of that Edmund Quincy, who was eighteen years a judge of the superior court, who died of the small-pox in the agency of the province, at the Court of St. James, and whose monument was erected, at the expense of the province, in Bun-hill-fields, London. This young lady, who was celebrated for her beauty, her vivacity, and spirit, lived with her father, in this parish, now called Quincy. Mr. Sewall’s courtship was extended for several years; and he came up very constantly on Saturdays, and remained here until Mondays; and I was sure to be invited to meet him on every Sunday evening. During all these years, there was a constant correspondence between us, and he concealed nothing from me, so that I knew him by his style whenever he appeared in print.

In 1766, he married the object of his affections, and an excellent wife he found her. He was soon appointed attorney-general. In 1768, he was employed by Governor Bernard to offer me the office of advocate-general in the court of admiralty, which I decidedly and peremptorily, though respectfully, refused.

We continued our friendship and confidential intercourse, though professedly in boxes of politics as opposite as east and west, until the year 1774, when we both attended the superior court in Falmouth, Casco Bay, now Portland. I had then been chosen a delegate to Congress. Mr. Sewall invited me to take a walk with him, very early in the morning, on the great hill. In the course of our rambles, he very soon began to remonstrate against my going to Congress. He said, that “Great Britain was determined on her system; her power was irresistible, and would certainly be destructive to me, and to all those who should persevere in opposition to her designs.” I answered, “that I knew Great Britain was determined on her system, and that very determination determined me on mine; that he knew I had been constant and uniform in opposition to all her measures; that the die was now cast; I had passed the Rubicon; swim or sink, live or die, survive or perish with my country, was my unalterable determination.” The conversation was protracted into length, but this was the substance of the whole. It terminated in my saying to him, “I see we must part, and with a bleeding heart I say, I fear forever; but you may depend upon it, this adieu is the sharpest thorn on which I ever set my foot.” I never conversed with him again till the year 1788. Mr. Sewall retired, in 1775, to England, where he remained, and resided in Bristol.

On my return from Congress, in the month of November, 1774, I found the Massachusetts Gazette teeming with political speculations, and Massachusettensis shining like the moon among the lesser stars. I instantly knew him to be my friend Sewall, and was told he excited great exultation among the tories and many gloomy apprehensions among the whigs. I instantly resolved to enter the lists with him, and this is the history of the following volume.

In 1788, Mr. Sewall came to London to embark for Halifax. I inquired for his lodgings, and instantly drove to them, laying aside all etiquette to make him a visit. I ordered my servant to announce John Adams, was instantly admitted, and both of us, forgetting that we had ever been enemies, embraced each other as cordially as ever. I had two hours conversation with him, in a most delightful freedom, upon a multitude of subjects. He told me he had lived for the sake of his two children; he had spared no pains nor expense in their education, and he was going to Halifax in hope of making some provision for them. They are now two of the most respectable gentlemen in Canada. One of them a chief justice, the other an attorney-general. Their father lived but a short time after his return to America; evidently broken down by his anxieties, and probably dying of a broken heart. He always lamented the conduct of Great Britain towards America. No man more constantly congratulated me, while we lived together in America, upon any news, true or false, favorable to a repeal of the obnoxious statutes and a redress of our grievances; but the society in which he lived had convinced him that all resistance was not only useless but ruinous.

More conscious than ever of the faults in the style and arrangement, if not in the matter, of my part of the following papers, I shall see them in print with more anxiety than when they were first published. The principles, however, are those on which I then conscientiously acted, and which I now most cordially approve.

To the candor of an indulgent nation, whom I congratulate on their present prosperity and pleasing prospects, and for whose happiness I shall offer up my dying supplications to Heaven, I commit the volume with all its imperfections.

John Adams. Quincy, Mass. January 1, 1819

Resist Tyrants Obey God

Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. It is not enough in a situation of trust in the commonwealth, that a man means well to his country; it is not enough that in his single person he never did an evil act, but always voted according to his conscience, and even harangued against every design which he apprehended to be prejudicial to the interests of his country. This innoxious and ineffectual character, that seems formed upon a plan of apology and disculpation, falls miserably short of the mark of public duty. That duty demands and requires, that what is right should not only be made known, but made prevalent; that what is evil should not only be detected, but defeated. ~ Edmund Burke

Speaking in 1750 on the anniversary of the death and execution by Cromwell’s Parliament for Constitutional treason of Charles I. Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, a Church of England minister; at Boston’s West Church, affirmed the right of people to resist a tyrannical government. He speaks here to the duty of individual citizens to preserve their rights in the face of despotic rulers. “It is universally better to obey God than Man when the laws of God and Man clash and interfere with one another,” he said in an earlier sermon.

[Excerpt: CHAPTER IV: The New England Historical Conscience – Trevor Colbourn, The Lamp of Experience 1965] Mayhew was probably the most outstanding of New England’s politically minded clerics. A “transcendent genius” according to John Adams, Jonathan Mayhew was an early advocate of “the principles and feelings” for which the Revolution was undertaken. The problems of religion and life were one and the same to Mayhew. At Harvard he wrote in his notebooks that he was determined to discover “the Affairs, Actions and Thoughts of the Living and the Dead, in the most remote Ages and the most distant Nations.” He carefully studied “the Characters and Reign etc of King Charles I” for a better understanding of the origins of the Puritan migration. To this end he studied Whitelocke’s Memorials (“an exquisite scholar”) and read the Memoirs of “honest Ludlow” the regicide. He admired Milton’s account of the English Commonwealth and noted that the rebellion came because “Charles the first had sinned flagrantly and repeatedly” against “the ancient form of Government” in England.

The use to which Mayhew put such studies is best seen in his controversial Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission, (referred to above) a sermon delivered on the occasion of the centennial anniversary of the execution of Charles I on January 30, 1649/50. Taking vigorous issue with recent Anglican efforts to portray Charles as a martyred monarch, Mayhew began his refutation with some remarks on the antiquity of English liberties. The English constitution, he asserted, “is originally and essentially free.” Roman sources, such as the reliable Tacitus, made it clear that “the ancient Britains … were extremely jealous of their liberties.” England’s monarchs originally held title to their throne “solely by grant of parliament,” which meant the ancient English kings ruled “by the voluntary consent of the people.”

If Mayhew’s history showed him a familiar pre-Norman political utopia in England, it also proved the right of all men “to vindicate their natural and legal rights.” On this principle Tarquin was expelled from ancient Rome; on this principle the conquering and tyrannical Julius Caesar was “cut off in the senate house”; and on this principle Charles I “was beheaded before his own banqueting house,” and James II had to flee from the country “which he aim’d at enslaving.” All men had rights; but Englishmen had a record for maintaining theirs despite the tyrannical efforts of misguided kings like Charles I.

The vigor of Mayhew’s presentation established his political reputation. His sermon was published not only in Boston, but in London as well—in 1752 and again in 1767.  In Boston, John Adams remembered long afterward, Mayhew’s sermon “was read by everybody. Among others who joined the newspaper controversy over Charles I were Mayhew supporters who wrote to the Boston Evening-Post citing Burnet: Charles I “had a high Notion of Regal Power, and thought that every Opposition to it was Rebellion.” The same newspaper also published a definition of a good king: such a monarch “has imprison’d none against the law, granted no Monopolies to the Injury of Trade, collected no Ship-Money, rob’d none of their Religious Liberties … all which … were flagrant in the Tyrannical Reigns of the Steward-Family,” so well known for their “violent Attachment to Popery and Arbitrary Power.”

Mayhew had indeed (as John Adams noted) revived Puritan “animosities against tyranny.” In his Election Sermon before Governor William Shirley in 1754, Mayhew returned to his theme that “loyalty and slavery are not synonymous.” “Monarchical government,” he declared, “has no better foundation in the oracles of God, than any other.” In 1765, with the provocation of the Stamp Act to consider, Mayhew delivered another moving discourse on the virtues of liberty and the iniquity of tyranny. The essence of slavery, he announced, consists in subjection to others—“whether many, few, or but one, it matters not.”

Mayhew’s case against England was essentially conservative. He wanted to preserve the constitutional rights belonging to all Englishmen. During the decade preceding his untimely death in 1766, Mayhew read widely on the legal rights of Englishmen in America. His happy correspondence with Thomas Hollis of Lincoln’s Inn brought a steady stream of handsome history books to his Boston home. Hollis also arranged for his literary friends to send Mayhew their productions. Catherine Macaulay supplied Mayhew with volumes of her History of England; Mayhew read her treatment of the Stuarts “with great pleasure.” As Mayhew exclaimed to Hollis, Mrs. Macaulay wrote “with a Spirit of Liberty, which might shame many great Men (so called) in these days of degeneracy, and tyrannysm and oppression.”

Although this sermon came more than a decade before relations between the colonies and England started to deteriorate in earnest, the principles he describes foretell the basis of the American revolution. His sermon from The Pillars of Priestcraft and Orthodoxy Shaken by Richard Baron, part of the sermon based upon Romans 13 follows…….

obedience2God

[begin excerpt quote] I will add the entire book chapter including all of the sermon when I have the time.

A DISCOURSE CONCERNING UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS: With some Reflections on the Resistance made to King CHARLES I. And On The Anniversary of his Death: In which the Mysterious Doctrine of that Prince’s Saintship and Martyrdom is Unriddled:

The Substance of which was delivered in a Sermon preached in the West Meeting-house in Boston the Lord’s Day after the 30th of January, 1749-50. Published at the Request of the Hearers. By Jonathan Mayhew D. D. Pastor of the West Church in Boston.

Fear GOD, honor the King, ~ Saint Paul

He that ruleth over Men, must be just, ruling in the Fear of GOD. ~ The Prophet Samuel,

I have said ye are Gods.—but ye shall die like Men, and fall like one of the PRINCES.” King David.

Quid memorem infandas caedes, quid facta tyranni effera? di capiti ipsius generique reseruent!  Nec non Threicius longa cum veste sacerdos
Obliquitur— Rom. Vat. Prin

First Printed in Boston, New England in 1750

T’HE ensuing discourse is the last of three upon the same subject, with some little alterations and additions. It is hoped that but few will think the subject of it an improper one to be discoursed on in the pulpit, under a notion that, that is preaching politics, instead of CHRIST. However, to remove all prejudices of this sort, I beg it may be remembered, that “all scripture is profitable for doctrine; for reproof, for CORRECTION, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Why, then should not those parts of scripture, which relate to civil government, be examined and explained from the desk, as well as others? Obedience to the civil magistrate, is a christian duty: and if so, why should not the nature, grounds and extent of it be considered in a christian assembly? Besides, if it be said, that it is out of character for a christian minister to meddle with such a subject, this censure will at last fall upon the holy apostles. They write upon it in their epistles to christian churches: and surely it cannot be deemed either criminal or impertinent, to attempt on explanation of their doctrine.

It was the near approach of the Thirtieth of January, that turned my thoughts to this subject: on which solemnity the slavish doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance, is often warmly asserted, and the dissenters from the established church, represented, net only as schismatics, (with more of triumph than of truth, and of choler than Christianity) but also as persons of seditious, traitorous and rebellious principles—GOD be thanked one. may, in any part of the British dominions, speak freely (if a decent regard be paid to those in authority) both of government and religion; and even give some broad hints, that he is engaged on the side of liberty, the BIBLE and common sense in opposition to tyranny, PRIEST-CRAFT and non-sense, without being in danger either of the Bastile or the Inquisition :—though there will always be some interested politicians, controlled bigots, and hypocritical “zealots for a party, to take offence at such freedoms. Their censure is praise: “Their praise is infamy—A spirit of domination is always to be guarded against both in church and state, even in times of the greatest security; such as the present is amongst US; at least as to the latter. Those nations who are now groaning under the iron scepter of tyranny, were once free. So they might, probably, have remained, by a seasonable precaution against despotic measures. Civil tyranny is usually small in its beginning, like “the drop of a bucket,” (Isaiah 40:15) till at length, like a mighty torrent, or the mighty raging of the sea, it bears down all before it, and deluges whole countries and empires. Thus it is as to ecclesiastical [religious] tyranny also,—the most cruel, intolerable and impious, of any. From small beginnings, “it exalts itself above all that is called GOD and that is worshipped.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4) People have no security against being unmercifully priest-ridden, but by keeping all imperious BISHOPS, and other CLERGYMEN who love to “lord it over God’s heritage” from getting their foot into the stirrup at all. Let them be once fairly mounted, and their “beasts, the laity,” (Mr. Leslie) may prance and flounce about to no purpose; and they “will, at length, be so jaded and hacked by these reverend jockeys, that they will not even have spirits enough to complain, that their backs are galled; or, like Balaam’s ass, to “rebuke the madness of the prophet.” (2 Peter 2:16)

“The mystery of iniquity began to work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7) even in the days of some of the apostles. But the kingdom of Antichrist was then, in one respect, like the kingdom of heaven, however different in all others.—It was “as a grain of mustard seed.” (Matthew 17:20) This grain was sown in Italy, that fruitful field: And tho’ it were “least of all seeds,” it soon became a mighty tree. It has long since overspread and darkened the greatest part of Christendom, so that we may apply to it what is said of the tree which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his vision—”The “heighth thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof the end of all the earth—And THE BEASTS OF THE FIELD have shadow under it.” Tyranny brings ignorance and brutality along with it. It degrades men from their just rank, into the class of brutes. It damps their spirits. It suppresses arts. It extinguishes every spark of noble ardor and generosity in the breasts of those who are enslaved by it. It makes naturally strong and great minds, feeble and little; and triumphs over the ruins of virtue and humanity. This is true of tyranny in every shape, There can be nothing great and good, where its influence reaches. For which reason it becomes every friend to truth and human kind; every lover of God and the christian religion, to bear a part in opposing this hateful monster. It was a desire to contribute a mite towards carrying on a war against this common enemy, that produced the following discourse. And if it serve, in any measure, to keep up a spirit of civil and religious liberty amongst us, my end is answered. There are virtuous and candid men in all sects; all such are to be esteemed: There are also vicious men and bigots in all sects; and all such ought to be despised.

To virtue only, and her friends, a friend;
The world beside may murmur or commend.
Know, all the distant din that world can keep
Rolls o’er my grotto, and but soothes my sleep.” (Pope)

Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

IT is evident that the affair of civil government may properly fall under a moral and religious consideration, at least so far forth as it relates to the general nature and end of magistracy, and to the grounds and extent of that submission, which persons of a private character ought to yield to those who are vested with authority. This must be allowed by all who acknowledge the divine original of Christianity. For although there be a sense, and a very plain and important sense, in which Christ’s kingdom is not of this world; (John 18:36) his inspired apostles have, nevertheless, laid down some general principles concerning the office of civil rulers, and the duty of subjects, together with the reason and obligation of that duty. And from hence it follows, that it is proper for all who acknowledge the authority of Jesus Christ, and the inspiration of his apostles, to endeavor to understand what is in fact the doctrine which they have delivered concerning this matter. It is the duty of christian magistrates to inform themselves what it is which their religion teaches concerning the nature and design of their office. And it is equally the duty of all christian people to inform themselves what it is which their religion teaches concerning that subjection which they owe to the higher powers. It is for these reasons that I have attempted to examine into the scripture account of this matter, in order to lay it before you with the same freedom which I constantly use with relation to other doctrines and precepts of Christianity; not doubting but you will judge upon every thing offered to your consideration, with the same spirit of wisdom and liberty with which it is spoken.

The passage read, is the most full and express of any in the new-testament, relating to rulers and subjects: and therefore I thought it proper to ground upon it, what I had to propose to you with reference to the authority of the civil magistrate, and the subjection which is due to him. But before I enter upon an explanation of the several parts of this passage, it will be proper to observe one thing, which may serve as a key to the whole of it.

It is to be observed, then, that there were some persons amongst the christians of the apostolic age, and particularly those at Rome, to whom St. Paul is here writing, who seditiously disclaimed all subjection to civil authority; refusing to pay taxes, and the duties laid upon their traffic and merchandize; and who scrupled not to speak of their rulers, without any due regard to their office and character.. Some of these turbulent christians were converts from Judaism, and others from pagonism. The Jews in general had, long before this time, taken up a strange conceit, that being the peculiar and elect people of God, they were therefore exempted from the jurisdiction of any heathen princes or governors. Upon this ground it was, that some of them, during the public ministry of our blessed Savior, came to him with that question—Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar or not? (Matthew 22:17) And this notion many of them retained after they were proselyted to the christian faith. As to the gentile converts,, some of them grossly mistook the nature of that liberty which the gospel promised; and thought that by virtue of their subjection to Christ, the only king and head of his church, they were wholly freed from subjection to any other prince; as though Christ’s kingdom had been of this world, in such a sense as to interfere with the civil powers of the earth, and to deliver their subjects from that allegiance and duty, which they before owed to them. Of these visionary Christians in general, who disowned subjection to the civil powers in being where they respectively lived, there is mention made in several places in the new testament: The Apostle Peter in particular, characterizes them in this manner—them that—despise government— presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. (2 Peter 2:10) Now it is with reference to these doting Christians, that the apostle speaks in the passage before us. And I shall now give you the sense of it in a  paraphrase upon each verse in its order, desiring you to keep in mind the character of the persons for whom it is designed, that so, as I go along, you may see how just and natural this address is; and how well suited to the circumstances of those against whom it is levelled.

The apostle’s doctrine, in the passage thus explained, concerning the office of civil rulers, and the duty of subjects, may be summed up. in the following observations.

That the end of magistracy is the good of civil society, as such:

That civil rulers, as such, are the ordinances and ministers of God; it being by his permission and providence that any bear rule; and agreeable to his will, that there should become persons vested with authority in society, for the well-being of it:

Rulers have no authority from God to do mischief…. It is blasphemy to call tyrants and oppressors God’s minister’s. They are more properly “the messengers of Satan to buffet us.” No rulers are properly God’s ministers but such as are “just, ruling in the fear of God.” When once magistrates act contrary to their office, and the end of their institution–when they rob and ruin the public, instead of being guardians of its peace and welfare–they immediately cease to be the ordinance and ministers of God, and no more deserve that glorious character than common pirates and highwaymen.

If magistrates are unrighteous,…the main end of civil government will be frustrated. And what reason is there for submitting to that government which does by no means answer the design of government? “Wherefore, ye must needs be subject not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.” Here the apostle[Paul] argues the duty of a cheerful and conscientious submission to civil government from the nature and end of magistracy, as he had before laid it down; i.e., as the design of it was to punish devil-doers, and to support and encourage such as do well;…if the motive and argument for submission to government be taken from the apparent usefulness of civil authority–it follows, that when no such good end can be answered by submission, there remains no argument or motive to enforce it;…And therefore, in such cases, a regard to the public welfare ought to make us withhold from our rulers that obedience and submission which it would otherwise be our duty to render to them. If it be our duty, for example, to obey our king merely for this reason, that he rules for the public welfare (which is the only argument the apostle makes use of), it follows, by a parity of reason, that when he turns tyrant, and makes his subjects his prey to devour and destroy, instead of his charge to defend and cherish, we are bound to throw off our allegiance to him, and to resist; and that according to the tenor of the apostle’s argument in this passage. Not to discontinue our allegiance in this case would be to join with the sovereign in promoting the slavery and misery of the society, the welfare of which we ourselves, as well as our sovereign, are indispensably obliged to secure and promote, as far as in us lies. It is true the apostle puts no case of such a tyrannical prince; but, by his grounding his argument for submission wholly upon the good of civil society, it is plain he implicitly authorizes, and even requires us to make resistance, whenever this shall be necessary to the public safety and happiness….

[Objection]: But, then, if unlimited submission and passive obedience to the higher powers, in all possible cases, be not a duty, it will be asked, “How far are we obliged to submit? If we may innocently disobey and resist in some cases, why not in all? Where shall we stop? What is the measure of our duty? This doctrine tends to the total dissolution of civil government, and to introduce such scenes of wild anarchy and confusion as are more fatal to society than the worst of tyranny.”

[Answer]: But…similar difficulties may be raised with respect to almost every duty of natural and revealed religion. To instance only in tow, both of which are near akin, and indeed exactly parallel to the case before us: It is unquestionably the duty of children to submit to their parents, an of servant to their master; but no one asserts that it is their duty to obey and submit to them in all supposable cases, or universally a sin to resist them. Now, does this tend to subvert the just authority of parents and masters, or to introduce confusion and anarchy into private families? No. How, then, does the same principle tend to unhinge the government of that larger family the body politic?…Now, there is at least as much difficulty in stating the measure of duty in these two cases as in the case of rulers and subjects; so that this is really no objection–at least, no reasonable one against resistance to the higher powers. Or, if it is one, it will hold equally against resistance in the other cases mentioned.

We may very safely assert these two things in general, without undermining government: One is, that no civil rulers are to be obeyed when they enjoin things that are inconsistent with the commands of God. All such disobedience is lawful and glorious;…All commands running counter to the declared will of the Supreme Legislator of heaven and earth are null and void, and therefore disobedience to duty, not a crime. Another thing that may be asserted with equal truth and safety is, that no law is to be submitted to, at the expense of; which is the sole end of all government–the good and safety of society….

[Qualifications:] Now, as all men are fallible, it cannot be supposed affairs of any state should be always in the best manner possible, even by greatest wisdom and integrity. Nor is it sufficient to legitimate disobedience to the higher powers that they are not so administered, or that they are in some instances very ill-managed; for, upon this principle, it is scarcely supposable than any government at all could be supported, or subsist. Such a principle manifestly tends to the dissolution of government, and to throw all things into confusion, and anarchy. But is equally evidenced, that those in authority may abuse their power to such a degree, that neither the law of reason, nor of religion requires that any obedience or submission should be paid to them; but, on the contrary, that they should be totally discarded, the authority which they were before vested transferred to others, who may exercise it to those good purposes for which it is given. Nor is this principle, that resistance to the higher power is in some extraordinary cases justifiable, so liable to abuse as many persons seem to apprehend it…. Mankind in general have a disposition to be as submissive and passive and tame under government as they ought to be…. ‘While those who govern do it with any tolerable degree of moderation and justice, and in any good measure act up to their office and character by being public benefactors, the people will generally be easy and peaceable, and be rather inclined to flatter and adore than to insult and resisting People know for what end they set up and maintain their governors, and they are the proper judges when the execute their trust as they ought to do it…. Till people find themselves greatly abused and oppressed by their governors, they are not apt to complain; and whenever they do, in fact, find themselves thus abused and oppressed, they must be stupid not to complain. To say that subjects in general are not the proper judges when their governors oppress them and play the tyrant, and when the defend their rights, administer justice impartially, and promote the public welfare, is as great treason as ever man uttered. It is treason, not against one single man, but the state against the whole body politic; it is treason against mankind, it is treason against common sense, it is treason against God….

[End Quote]

“There is a day coming when proud tyrants will be punished, not only for the cruelties they have been guilty of, but for employing those about them in their cruelties, and so exposing them to the judgments of God.”
Rev. Matthew Henry