No People Will Tamely Surrender Their Liberties, Where Knowledge is Shared and Virtue Preserved

Samuel Adams quote Regarding Private & Public Virtue

Samuel Adams Regarding Private & Public Virtue [Click to enlarge]

No People will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can they easily be subdued, where Knowledge is diffused and Virtue preserved.

Samuel Adams To James Warren [shared as written with no attempt to modernize spelling, language, etc.]

Philada., Nov’r. 4th, 1775

My Dear Sir, — I thank you heartily for your very acceptable Letter of the 23 of October by Fessenden. It is very afflicting to hear the universal Complaint of the Want of that most necessary Article, Gunpowder, and especially in the Camp before Boston. I hope however that this Want will soon be supplied, and God grant that a good Use may be made of it. The Congress yesterday was presented with the Colors of the seventh Regiment taken in Fort Chamblee, [Fort Chambly is a historic fort in La Vallée-du-Richelieu Regional County Municipality, Quebec.] which is surrendered to Major Brown. The Acquisition of 124 Barrils of Powder gives a happy Turn to our Affairs in that Quarter the Success of which I almost began to despair of.

The Gentlemen who have lately returned from the Camp may, perhaps all of them entertain a favorable Opinion of our Colony— I may possibly be partial in saying, not more favorable than it deserves. Be that as it may, the Congress have judged it necessary to continue the Establishment of the Men’s pay, and to enlarge that of the Captains and Lieutenants. In Addition to the Continental Army four new Batallions are to be raised, viz, three for the Defence of South Carolina and one for Georgia. These with 1000 Men before orderd for North Carolina, with the Assistance of provincial Forces, it is hoped will be sufficient to defend the three Southernmost Colonies.

It is recommended to N. Hampshire to form a Government to their own liking, during this Contest; and S. Carolina is allowd to do the same if they judge it necessary. I believe the Time is near when the most timid will see the absolute Necessity of every one of the Colonies setting up a Government within itself.

No Provisions or Produce is to be exported from any of the united Colonies to any part of the World till the first of March except for the Importation of the Unum Necessarium, and for Supplys from one Colony to another, under the Direction of Committees, and a further Exception of live Stock. Under the last Head, and Horses are allowd to be sent to the foreign West Indies. We shall by the Spring know the full Effect of our Non-exportation Agreement in the West Indies. Perhaps Alliances may then be formed with foreign Powers, and Trade opened to all the World Great Britain excepted.

You will possibly think I have set myself down to furnish a few Paragraphs for Edes and Gills paper, and what is more that I am betraying the Secrets of Congress. I confess I am giving my Friend as much Information as I dare, of things which are of such a Nature as that they cannot long be kept secret, and therefore I suppose it never was intended they should be. I mention them however in Confidence that you will not publish them. I wish I was at Liberty to tell you many of the Transactions of our body, but I am restraind by the Ties of Honor; and though it is painful to me, you know, to keep Secrets, I will not violate my Honor to relieve myself or gratify my Friend. [Nine lines are here erased, apparently after the receipt of the letter.] But why have I told you so trifling a Story, for which I cannot forgive my self till I have askd forgiveness of you. We live in a most important Age, which demands that every Moment should be improvd to some serious Purpose. It is the Age of George the Third; and to do Justice to our most gracious King, I will affirm it as my Opinion, that his Councils and Administration will necessarily produce the grandest Revolutions the World has ever yet seen. The Wheels of Providence seem to be in their swiftest Motion. Events succeed each other so rapidly that the most industrious and able Politicians can scarcely improve them to the full purposes for which they seem to be designd.

You must send your best Men here; therefore recall me from this Service. Men of moderate Abilities, especially when weakend by Age are not fit to be employed in founding Empires.

Let me talk with you a little about the Affairs of our own Colony. I persuade my self, my dear friend, that the greatest Care and Circumspection will be used to conduct its internal Police with Wisdom and Integrity. The Eyes of Mankind will be upon you, to see whether the Government, which is now more popular than it has been for many years past, will be productive of more Virtue moral and political. We may look up to Armies for our Defence, but Virtue is our best Security. It is not possible that any State should long continue free, where Virtue is not supremely honord. This is as seasonably as it is justly said by one of the most celebrated Writers of the present time. Perhaps the Form of Government now adopted may be permanent; Should it be only temporary, the golden Opportunity of recovering the Virtue and reforming the Manners of our Country should be industriously improvd.

Our Ancestors laid an excellent Foundation for the Security of Liberty, by setting up in a few years after their Arrival, a publick Seminary of Learning; and by their Laws, they obligd every Town consisting of a certain Number of Families to keep and maintain a Grammar School. I should be much grievd if it should be true as I am informd, that some of our Towns have dismissd their School masters, alledging that the extraordinary Expence of defending the Country renders them unable to support them. I hope this Inattention to the Principles of our wise forefathers does not prevail. If there should be any Danger of it, would not the leading Gentlemen do eminent Service to the Publick, by impressing upon the Minds of the People, the Necessity and Importance of encouraging that System of Education, which in my opinion, is so well calculated to diffuse among the Individuals of the Community, the Principles of Morality, so essentially necessary for the Preservation of publick Liberty. There are Virtues and Vices which are properly called political. “Corruption, Dishonesty to one’s Country, Luxury and Extravagance tend to the Ruin of States.” The opposite Virtues tend to their Establishment. But “there is a Connection between Vices as well as Virtues, and one opens the Door for the Entrance of another.” Therefore “Every able Politician will guard against other Vices” and be attentive to promote every Virtue. He who is void of Virtuous Attachment in private Life, is, or very soon will be void of all Regard to his Country. There is seldom an Instance of a Man guilty of betraying his Country, who had not before lost the feeling of moral Obligation in his private Connections. Before C[hurc]h was detected of holding a criminal Correspondence with the Enemies of his Country, his Infidelity to his Wife had been notorious. Since private and publick Vices, though not always apparently, are in Reality so nearly connected, of how much Importance, how necessary is it, that the utmost pains be taken by the Publick, to have the Principles of Virtue early inculcated on the Minds even of Children, and the moral Sense universally kept alive, and that the wise Institutions of our Ancestors for those great Purposes be encouragd by the Government. For no People will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can they easily be subdued, where Knowledge is diffusd and Virtue preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own Weight, without the Aid of foreign Invaders. There are other things which, I humbly conceive, require the most serious Consideration of the Legislative. We have heretofore complaind, and I think justly, that bad Men have too often found their Way into places of publick Trust. “Nothing is more essential to the Establishment of Manners in a State, than that all Persons employd in Places of Power and Trust be Men of exemplary Characters. The Publick cannot be too curious concerning the Characters of Publick Men.” We have also complaind, that a Plurality of Places incompatible with each other have sometimes been vested in one Person. If under the former Administration there was no Danger to be apprehended from vesting the different Powers of Government in the same Persons, why did the Patriots so loudly protest against it? If Danger is always to be apprehended from it, should we not by continuing the Practice, too much imitate the degenerate Romans, who upon the Fall of Julius set up Augustus? They changd indeed their Masters, and when they had destroyd the Tyrant sufferd the Tyranny to continue. Tell me how a Judge of Probate can consistently sit at the Council Board and joyn in a Decision there upon an appeal from his own Judgment? Perhaps, being personally interested in another Appointment, I may view it with a partial Eye. But you may well remember that the Secretary of the Colony declind taking a Seat at the Council Board, to which he had been elected prior to his Appointment, until, in the House of Representatives he had publickly requested their opinion of the Propriety of it, and there heard it explicitly declared by an eminent and truly patriotick Member as his Opinion, that as the Place was not then as it formerly had been, the Gift of the Crown but of the People, there was no Impropriety in his holding it. The rest of the Members were silent. Major H[awle]y has as much of the stern Virtue and Spirit of a Roman Censor as any Gentleman I ever conversd with. The Appointment of the Secretary and his Election to a Seat at the Board were both made in the Time of his Absence from the Colony and without the Solicitation of any of his Friends that he knew of—most assuredly without his own. As he is resolvd never wittingly to disgrace himself or his Country, he still employs his Mind on the Subject, and wishes for your candid and impartial Sentiments.

 I fear I have trespassd on your Leisure, and conclude, with assuring you that I am with sincere Regards to Mrs. Warren, your very affectionate Friend

S. A.

Copyright © 2010 – 2015 TeaPartyEdu Foundation Truths The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

The People Have Not Virtue Enough to Resist the Efforts Made to Enslave Them!

Founder Samuel Adams quotes concerning Virtue and Liberty

Samuel Adams concerning Virtue and Liberty [Click to enlarge]


Dated; Boston Dec’r 29 1772


Your cordial Approbation of our sincere Endeavors for the Common Safety, affords us great Encouragement to persevere with Alacrity in the Execution of our Trust. Our hands have been abundantly strengthend by the generous and manly Resolves of our worthy Brethren in the several Towns who have hitherto acted. Should such Sentiments, which we are convincd generally prevail through the province, be as generally expressd, it must refute the insidious misrepresentation so industriously propagated on both sides of the Atlantick, that the people have not Virtue enough to resist the Efforts made to enslave them! It affords us the greatest Satisfaction to find the Opportunity offerd to our Fellow Countrymen to wipe off so ignominious a Reproach so readily embraced. We trust in God, & in the Smiles of Heaven on the Justice of our Cause, that a Day is hastening, when the Efforts of the Colonists will be crownd with Success; and the present Generation furnish an Example of publick Virtue, worthy the Imitation of all Posterity. In this we are greatly encouraged, from the thorough Understanding of our civil & Religious Rights Liberties & Privileges, throughout this province: The Importance of which is so obvious, that we are satisfied, nothing we can offer, would strengthen your Sense of it.

It gives us Pleasure to be assured from you, that the meetings of the Town of Cambridge on the Occasion have been so respectable; as, in our Opinion, it is an Evidence of their virtuous Attachment to the Cause of Liberty.

It shall be our constant Endeavor to collect and communicate to our esteemed fellow Countrymen every Interesting Information we can procure; in pursuance thereof we take the Liberty to inclose, a material Extract of a Letter from the Right Honorable the Earl of Dartmouth to his Honor the Governor of Rhode Island, Dated White Hall, Sept. 7 1772; which we have good reason to assure you is genuine.

Editorial Note: Spelling is that of those times in which Adams lived. No attempt is made to modernize the spelling or the language.

Source: The Writings of Samuel Adams: 1770-1773; By Samuel Adams

Copyright © 2010 – 2015 TeaPartyEdu Foundation Truths The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

PTSD: The Final Battle by Helen Love


This is a freelance article by Helen Love

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Final Battle For Many Brave Troops

Many troops are surviving difficult and unspeakable traumas on the battlefield, only to return home and face another battle, this time against an enemy that has no face. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is generally brought on as a result of witnessing terrifying or life threatening events, and no situations fits this scenario more than being in a war zone. Recent statistics suggest that as many as four out of five veterans of the Vietnam War suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lifetimes after they had returned home and reintegrated into normal society after the war. From the more modern wars that are fresher in the public’s collective consciousness, it has been found that at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan was veterans have suffered from or are suffering from either PTSD, depression or both. However many senior members of the military expect that this figure will rise significantly, and that the mental effects of operating within the theater of war on our brave troops is much more dramatic than was originally expected.

Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Although the symptoms and the severity of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder differ from person to person, some of the key characteristics of the condition include experiencing severe anxiety, suffering from flash backs of the traumatic event and having nightmares or uncontrollable thoughts. It is perfectly normal to experience any or all of these symptoms after you have witnessed a traumatic event, but if the symptoms last for more than a couple of weeks, then it’s likely that you are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and may well need help and support to overcome the condition. Your doctor is likely to propose a treatment plan that combines medication to lessen and control your symptoms in conjunction with therapy to help you process and overcome the traumatic events that have caused your PTSD.

Notable Historic Cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

It’s important to remember that suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. Notable historic military leaders, such as Alexander the Great are thought to have suffered from the illness. After having spent most of his life engaged in various battles, Alexander the Great ended his life as an alcoholic who was highly suspicious of everybody around him and easily alarmed. At the end of his career he his pathological suspicion meant that he had all of the lieutenants that had served immediately under him killed. Although the term didn’t exist at the time, in modern terms it is clear that his years on the battle field had left Alexander the Great with severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

In a comparatively more recent example of warfare induced Post Traumatic stress disorder, research has also revealed that hero and founder of modern nursing Florence Nightingale (sometimes called ‘The Lady of the Lamp’) also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder on her return from the Crimean War. Conditions for the nurse were unimaginably hard: she was working for 20 hours every day, and dealt with the most troublesome and difficult patients herself, dealing with conditions such as frostbite, gangrene and dysentery on a daily basis. Once the war was over and Florence returned home, her personality was completely changed. She displayed symptoms of anorexia, chronic fatigue, insomnia, irritability and then took to her bed for thirty years, simply not being able to find a reason to get up. Again, although the condition wasn’t  discovered and categorized at the time, all of this symptoms are key indicators of post-traumatic stress disorder and several scholars have confirmed it is clear that Florence Nightingale also suffered from the condition.

The point is that no one is immune from the risks of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: the illness is not discriminatory, and it affects people from all lifestyles and backgrounds. There is no shame in struggling with PTSD, particularly if you have returned from serving your country in the theater of war. What is important is that you recognize the signs of condition, and seek help as soon as possible, so that you can get your life back on track and achieve the happiness you deserve.

Copyright © 2015 TeaPartyEdu Foundation Truths The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

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

Thomas Jefferson concerning Separation of Powers

Thomas Jefferson concerning Separation of Powers


Paris, December 20, 1787.

Dear Sir,

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Copyright © 2014 © 2015 TeaPartyEdu Foundation Truths The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis

The Declaration of Independence: Its History Chapter 1 1774

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

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

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

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

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

Preface to The Declaration of Independence: Its History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weird Weather in the United States evidence of Climate Change?



History now and then repeats itself in respect to long cold winters, as that through which we have recently passed. Several such winters are remembered in the annals of our State, and some far more rigorous than it was. In the winter of 1842-3, snow fell to the depth of two feet or more, and remained on the ground for many weeks, with the temperature ranging from 10 to 38 degrees below zero. For duration and continued cold it exceeded the famous “winter of the deep snow,” that of 1830-31. On the other hand, many strangely mild winters have been experienced in this latitude—that of 1889-90, as an instance, when, in January, snakes emerged from their hibernation, insects flitted about in the sunshine and farmers plowed up their old meadows.

But the most notable natural phenomena are the sporadic freaks very seldom, if ever, repeated. Of this class was the singular “dark day,” during the Revolutionary war. The sky was clear and the sun was not eclipsed by interposition of the moon; but the total obscuration of light— throughout the United States—commencing in the morning of May 19th, 1780—continued until the next morning. The sun shining brightly early in the day, seemed to set prematurely. The birds ceased their songs and disappeared in the woods; the barn-yard fowls flew up to their roosts; candles were lighted in the houses and all out-door work was suspended. The true cause of that mysterious darkness has never been satisfactorily explained. In this class of capricious processes of nature may be mentioned the “hurricanes” that in pioneer times swept with terrific force over the country—particularly in the southern portion of this State, leaving their course marked by streaks of prostrated trees, through the timbered regions, as if purposely cleared for railroad tracks. They are now, as “cyclones” or “tornadoes,” well understood, but none the less dreadful or dreaded. The earthquake of 1811-12 was another freakish caper of nature, fortunately not repeated, to the same extent, in this locality; but leaving us no assurance that it may not again occur. The appalling drout of 1820 that wilted and withered all vegetation and lowered the Mississippi so that at Alton, a man on horseback forded it; and the fearful overflows of 1844 which enabled a large steamboat to cross the American Bottom, starting from Main street in St. Louis, to the Illinois bluffs, are marked instances of the instability of our whimsical climate.

The most wonderful of all the sportive eccentricities of nature seen here—and not since repeated, but often described—was the “falling stars” in 1833. A short time after midnight on the morning of Nov. 13th of that year the display commenced. Myriads of meteors, igniting on coming in contact with the atmosphere, fell like a fiery snow storm, lighting the night with a weird brilliancy and continued until extinguished by the stronger light of the risen sun. A memorable meteorological freak was the “Cold Tuesday,” Dec. 20, 1836. A warm rain had fallen all day until about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, when a black cloud was seen in the northwest swiftly approaching, propelled by a piercing cold wind; within an hour the temperature fell 78 degrees—to 18 below zero—at once freezing solid the mud and water, and forming ice on the Illinois river thick enough to catch and hold the canoes of fishermen before they could reach the shore. But, perhaps, not since the glacial epoch, has the great ice sheet or sleet, of November, 1881, been paralleled in this State. The entire surface of the earth was literally encased in ice from one to three inches in thickness. Trees and shrubbery were broken and crushed by its weight; ice-coated twigs were cut weighing 20 pounds, that denuded [stripped] of the ice, weighed barely one pound.

One of the worst weather freaks of recent times—still remembered by many—was the “Big Frost” of 1863. July had been unusually warm, but as August advanced, the nights became quite cool, until on Sunday morning, the 23rd, the thermometer here registered but 27 degrees above zero, and frost covered the ground like snow. Its destruction of garden and field products was general and well nigh complete. Late corn was ruined or fit only for cow feed; sweet potatoes and melons were killed and Irish potatoes badly damaged, and, in some localities, peaches and apples almost mature were frozen on the trees.

The early settlers of southern Illinois raised sufficient tobacco and cotton for their domestic consumption and castor beans enough for export. Those crops—very sensitive to the action of frost—have been entirely abandoned in this State since the “Big Frost” of 1863. But that event, the “Cold Tuesday,” the “Great Sleet” and occasional winters of unusual severity, are only exceptional atmospheric freaks, of no value as proof that the climate has undergone any permanent change of average mean temperature since the first European settlement of this country.

Excerpt: Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Volume 5: By Illinois State Historical Society 1913


The ChristianPatriot2


I was extremely troubled writing this for it is not my intention to disparage any Christian, Religious Organization, Christianity, etc., It is simply my intention to give people a greater understanding of why this country was founded with the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, It is my intention to break through the misinformation, lies, misrepresentation of how, why and by whom [Christians] this great nation was founded.

Benjamin Franklin said to the French ministry in March, 1778, “He who shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.” He made a prediction to Condorcet and others, which to some of them became fatally true: “You perceive Liberty establish herself and flourish almost under your very eyes: I dare to predict that by and by you will be anxious to taste her blessings.”

See also: AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE by Samuel Adams Delivered to Congress Aug 1, 1776

When looking into what the founding fathers had in mind by separation of church and state, you have to take into consideration what they had known the church to be, and the history  they knew of it. The organized “Christian” religious institutions they knew, are not the organized Christianity that we know of today. Where they came from it had always been the State in control of the church, or the church in control of the state. Whether it be the Catholic church of Rome, the Protestant church of England, or the different Orthodoxy’s in other parts of Europe, including the Islamic states that existed.

In America they did not want the church to run the civil government, and they certainly did not want the civil government to run the church. While they wanted separation between the religious [i.e. moral] and the civil; the organization of the civil government was based on those ideas and principles they learned from the Bible and particularly those taught by Jesus Christ, and they wanted those principles to be taught and expected them to be a part of every child’s education. They felt the moral education of a child was, as important as, or more important than any other part of their education. They had no concept of a completely secular society, for it was something they had never known, nor could have known.

Whether it were pagan states before Christ came and Christianity [or what people knew to be Christianity] became widespread, they all incorporated their ‘religious’ beliefs into their civil and social affairs. There was no such thing as a secular civil society for them to base the new system of government on. Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s”, they followed that principle in the Constitution. They had seen far too often the abuse of the people, whether it was the church working through the state, or the state working through the church.

They had no intention however, the leaders that people elected would not be good, moral individuals, and would not rule in the fear of God. The idea of a secular society was as foreign to them as the idea of a theological government in America is to us. All of them believed in God, the majority of them believed themselves to be Christian in some form. The idea of an immoral government bureaucracy, or the people’s representatives in government being immoral were reprehensible to them, that is why they came to America to escape immorality in the Church (organized religion) and State (Government, in whatever form it was where they immigrated from).

These people came from area’s where they had been taught for centuries the “Divine Right of Kings” (1) to speak against the king was to speak against God himself, for the Monarch was the representative and under the direct protection of the Almighty, if they did anything against or even spoke against the Monarchy, Bishopric, or Popery, they were in fear of losing their souls and being sent to hell or purgatory. They were taught the fear of God in every corruptible sense, and could only gain absolution through a Priest, Cardinal, Bishop, i.e. the church. They were not taught to go straight to Jesus for repentance and the forgiveness of sin, as we know to do today, to have been taught thus would have taken power away from the ecclesiastical authorities, who taught the people the divine right of kings, even the nobility under the king were taught to believe in his (or her if it were a queen) absolute and divine right to be ruler.

A liberal education to them was not the “liberal” indoctrination that we see in government run schools today, liberal education meant an education in all things, including the Bible. Every college of higher learning they created, were started to among, the arts, sciences, etc., mainly teach the Bible and to further the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Where do you think the term “higher education” came from?

Religion provided an impetus for the creation of colonial colleges. As the First Great Awakening of the 1730’s to 1770’s initiated growth in a wider variety of Protestant churches, each denomination often desired its own seminary. Furthermore, each colony tended to favor a particular denomination and so the new colleges took on an importance for regional development as well. Presbyterians in New Jersey founded the College of New Jersey (later renamed Princeton). Harvard and Yale were originally Puritan. The College of William and Mary in Virginia maintained a strong Anglican orientation, reflecting that colony’s settlement by landed gentry from England. The Baptists, who had been expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony and settled in Rhode Island, established their own college but in an unusual move did not require religious tests for admission. Other dissenting religious groups, such as the Methodists and Quakers, became enthusiastic college builders after facing hostility in many colleges.

The overwhelming evidence behind the [First Amendment] Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses reaches far back into American colonial history. In the colonies, dissident Christians, such as the Baptists and Quakers, suffered much persecution because their religious conscience ran contrary to the beliefs sanctioned by colonial governments, some of which were tied to religious institutions. After the Revolutionary War, religious dissenters were concerned that the federal government would charter or create a national church. In fact, their concern was more like dread. Justice Joseph Story pinpoints the origin and nature of the trepidation:

 “We are not to attribute this prohibition [on the federal government] of a national religious establishment to an indifference to religion in general, and especially to Christianity, (which none could hold in more reverence, than the framers of the Constitution,) but to a dread by the people of the influence of ecclesiastical power in matter of government; a dread, which their ancestors brought with them from the parent country, and which, unhappily for human infirmity, their own conduct, after their emigration, had not, in any just degree, tended to diminish…Probably, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the amendment to it, now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State, so far as such encouragement was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation” [Joseph Story, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States 2d ed, 1859]

The points already presented in this piece are perhaps sufficient to illustrate the principle announced in the word of Christ; and, although that principle is plain, and is readily accepted by the sober, common-sense thought of every man, yet through the selfish ambition of men, the world has been long in learning and accepting the truth of the lesson. The United States is the first and only government in history that is based on the principle established by Christ. In Article VI of the national Constitution, this nation says that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” By an amendment making more certain the adoption of the principle, it declares in the first amendment to the Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This first amendment was adopted in 1789, by the first Congress that ever met under the Constitution. In 1796 a treaty was made with Tripoli, in which it was declared (Article II) that “the government of the United Slates of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” This treaty was framed by an ex-Congregationalist clergyman, and was signed by President Washington. It was not out of disrespect to religion or Christianity that these clauses were placed in the Constitution, and that this one was inserted in that treaty. On the contrary, it was entirely on account of their respect for religion, and the Christian religion in particular, as being beyond the province of civil government, pertaining solely to the conscience, and resting entirely between the individual and God. It was because of this that this nation was constitutionally established according to the principle of Christ, demanding of men only that they render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and leaving them entirely free: to render to God that which is God’s, if they choose, as they choose, and when they choose; or, as expressed by Washington himself, in reply to an address upon the subject of religious legislation:—

“Every man who conducts himself as a good citizen, is accountable alone to God for his religious faith, and should be protected in worshiping God according to the dictates of his own conscience.”

Father of American History: George Bancroft to this principle said, as embodied in the words of Christ, and in the American Constitution:—

“In the earliest States known to history, government and religion were one and indivisible. Each State had its special deity, and often these protectors, one after another, might be overthrown in battle, never to rise again. The Peloponnesian War grew out of a strife about an oracle. Rome, as it sometimes adopted into citizenship those whom it vanquished, introduced in like manner, and with good logic for that day, the worship of their gods. No one thought of vindicating religion for the conscience of the individual, till a voice in Judea, breaking day for the greatest epoch in the life of humanity, by establishing a pure spiritual and universal religion for all mankind, enjoined to render to Caesar only that which is Caesar’s. The rule was upheld during the infancy of the gospel for all men. No sooner was this religion adopted by the chief of the Roman Empire than it was shorn of its character of universality, and enthralled by an unholy connection with the unholy State; and so it continued till the new nation, —the least defiled with the barren scoffings of the eighteenth century the most general believer in Christianity of any people of that age, the chief heir of the Reformation in its purest forms,—when it came to establish a government for the United States, refused to treat faith as a matter to be regulated by a corporate body, or having a headship in a monarch or a State.

“Vindicating the right of individuality even in religion, and in religion above all, the new nation dared to set the example of accepting in its relations to God the principle first divinely ordained of God in Judea. It left the management of temporal things to the temporal power; but the American Constitution, in harmony with the people of the several States, withheld from the Federal Government the power to invade the home of reason, the citadel of conscience, the sanctuary of the soul; and not from indifference, but that the infinite Spirit of eternal truth might move in its freedom and purity and power.”— History of the Formation of the Constitution, last chapter.

Thus the Constitution of the United States as it is, stands as the sole monument of all history, representing the principle which Christ established for earthly government. And under it, in liberty, civil and religious, in enlightenment, and in progress, this nation has deservedly stood as the beacon light of the world.

History Leading Up To The Foundation of The United States: The Protestant Reformation forms an epoch in history, second in importance only to that of the introduction of Christianity itself. It is the point of time at which the darkness of the Middle Ages begins to be lost in the arising light of religion and philosophy. With the details of this great event, so far as they relate to the agency of Luther and his associates in producing it, most of you are probably familiar. But it may not be uninteresting briefly to review the character of the times immediately preceding those of the great Reformer, to note the progress of events which so largely contributed to his success, and to pause for a few moments on the devotedness of some of the illustrious martyrs to the truths which he afterwards inculcated.

Until the commencement of the fourteenth century, the authority of the popes had continued to increase. Abroad, their legates dictated in the courts of the most imperious monarchs; at home, their interdicts (2) and excommunications appalled the boldest of the warlike and restless spirits who led the councils of that cluster of republics among which Italy was divided. It is true that even during the most flourishing period of papal domination, strenuous resistance was frequently made to its usurpation of temporal power; and it was not uncommon to find men arrayed against the church, yet yielding scrupulous obedience to its spiritual mandates; and armies endangering the life of the pope, who would have been happy, at almost any sacrifice, to have received his benediction.

So long as Rome continued to be its seat of government, the authority of the church was respected and supported by the people the most enlightened of Europe. But when, in the year 1305, through the influence of France, the papal court was removed to Avignon, in that kingdom, its Italian subjects soon learned to regard with contempt, and even hatred, a government which was effective only for their ruin.

The morals of the prelates had not certainly been distinguished by their purity, but in the luxurious indulgences of their new residence, the pontiffs themselves were accused of the grossest licentiousness. Prevented, to-a great extent, by the jealousy of France, from the exercise of power, they sought in sensuality forgetfulness of their degradation; and their example was followed by their whole court, until the town which they occupied became distinguished by the epithet of the Western Babylon. Their Italian states, in the mean while, were left to be the prey of legates, whose moral code was worthy of the source whence their authority was derived. Treachery and oppression provoked resistance, and success was followed by contempt, since men soon learn to despise that which they have no longer reason to fear.

But perhaps nothing so much contributed to destroy the illusion by which the authority of indulgence for the future could be obtained on human inventions have been substituted for the sublime truths of the Bible, when men began to be sensible of the absurdity of the dogmas which they had been taught, they rejected all religious systems, and infidelity succeeded to superstition,

The direct influence of learning was, it is true, necessarily confined to a comparatively small number; yet, among a people so singularly excitable, the increased freedom with which the tenets of the church were discussed would give a new direction to public opinion, and prepare men to reject the spiritual, as they had already discarded the temporal authority of the pope. If at home opinions prevailed so unfavourable to the influence of the holy see, abroad, sentiments of the same kind, added to the extortions of its ministers, were not less injurious to its interests. It was about the beginning of the fifteenth century that the in famous traffic in indulgences was commenced by one of the rival popes, as a means of recruiting his exhausted treasury. His emissaries caused tables to be erected by the side of the altars, where remission of sins for the past and the church had been sustained, as the great western schism, which was produced, in the year 1378, by the election of Clement VII. to supplant Urban VI., who, but a few months before, had received a majority of votes in the sacred college. While the two popes thundered forth their excommunications against each other, in doubt which to obey, men soon lost the habit of obedience. The rival pontiffs, unable to sustain their pretensions by their own resources, were protected by rival princes; and they who had arrogated to themselves the impious title of vicegerents of God upon earth, were become objects of the pity or derision of their subjects.

Such was the fallen condition of the church, at the commencement of the fifteenth century. Other causes contributed to promote inquiry, and the doubts which began to be entertained of the divine authority of the holy see were strengthened by the more accurate habits of reasoning which accompanied the revival of ancient literature. Italy was then the seat of all the learning of the age. Its commerce, which extended over the civilized portions of| three continents, did not more add to its wealth than to its intellectual resources. The fourteenth century had been illustrated by three of the greatest poets of whom the languages can boast. Ardent, excitable, and imaginative, the Italians had listened with rapture to the productions of Dante, of Petrarch, and of Boccacio; and the system of religion which was associated with such names became the more deeply seated in their affections. But the recovery of the writings of many of the ancients during this century, and the greater circulation which had been given to them by the introduction of paper, the manufacturing of which had recently been brought to considerable perfection, had begun to turn the attention of literary men to other studies more laborious, less exciting, and perhaps less enervating. The philosophers of antiquity, and the doctors of the church, were found to be sadly at variance; and, as frequently happens when human inventions have been substituted for the sublime truths of the Bible, when men began to be sensible of the absurdity of the dogmas which they had been taught, they rejected all religious systems, and infidelity succeeded to superstition.

The direct influence of learning was, it is true, necessarily confined to a comparatively small number; yet, among a people so singularly excitable, the increased freedom with which the tenets of the church were discussed, would give a new direction to public opinion, and prepare men to reject the spiritual, as they had already discarded the temporal authority of the pope. If at home opinions prevailed so unfavourable to the influence of the holy see, broad, sentiments of the same kind, added to the extortions of its ministers, were not less injurious to its interests. It was about the beginning of the fifteenth century that the infamous traffic in indulgences was commenced by one of the rival popes, as a means of recruiting his exhausted treasury. His emissaries caused tables to be erected by the side of the altars, where remission of sins for the past and indulgence for the future could be obtained on easy terms. The gates of purgatory were opened for a set price, and a suspension of the moral law, as well as of the more important canons of the church, was a gift in the power of a priest. It was in vain that the German clergy exclaimed against this prostitution of spiritual favours. Those who dared to oppose the authority of the pontiff’ were subjected to anathema,[Hatred; or a formal curse by a pope or a council of the Church] until so intolerable had the evil become, that a reform of the church was demanded with one voice, by men of learning and piety in every part of Christendom. Alarmed at the increasing resistance which was opposed to their authority, and aware that concessions only could preserve them from the danger with which they were threatened, the popes,—for there were now three claimants of the chair of St. Peter,— agreed to submit to the decisions of a grand council to be held at Constance in the year 1414. The commencement of the reformation is unquestionably to be dated from this period; but it was not by the power of monarchs nor the decrees of councils that this great event was to he produced. The people who, of all others, had enjoyed the advantages of learning, but in whom infidelity had wrought a heartless and selfish indifference to the cause of truth, were not to be the instruments of that reform to which they had given the impulse. From England the voice was heard, which, echoed back from Bohemia, as yet scarcely emerging from the darkness of ignorance, was to unite the prince and the peasant in a common effort to restore the purity of that faith on which their common hopes relied.

WYCKLIFFE. To one who cursorily reviews the moral condition of Europe, during the early part of the fourteenth century, it presents a picture of gloom scarcely relieved by a single virtue. In politics, probity and good faith were unknown; in private life, vice was encouraged by the example of the priesthood, and licensed by the church. Laws were no longer a security against rapine [the violent seizure of someone’s property]; and, in a word, the social compact was, to a great extent, at least in the south of Europe, virtually dissolved, since it had ceased to be efficient for any purpose of self-preservation. Whatever hope of reform might have been entertained from the inculcation of a purer system of religion, seemed to have been blasted, when the Albigenses(3) perished beneath the swords of the army of the cross, and the Vaudois(4) were driven from their last holds among the Alps. But the darkness which covered Europe when the light of these ancient churches was extinguished, was the precursor of a more enlightened age, as the deeper gloom which succeeds to the false dawn in the eastern deserts, is hailed as the herald of returning day. We have seen that, during this century, the oppressive government of the legates, the removal of the papal court, the schism in the church, and, above all, the restoration of ancient learning, had loosened the ties by which the Italians were connected with the holy see. In England, other causes tended to produce the same results. The orders of Dominican and Franciscan monks had been founded in the twelfth century, when the progress of heresy had endangered the safety of the church; and so successful had been their labours, that it became the favourite policy of the popes to cherish these institutions. Renouncing all worldly ambition, these men, at first, refused to possess any property, and relied for their support upon the alms of devotees. Barefooted, and in the meanest attire, they were to be found in every part of Christendom; preaching in the streets and highways, performing the office of confessors, (5) encouraging the faithful, absolving the guilty, and enforcing upon all the necessity of purifying the land from the taint of heresy. Their eloquence gave them influence; their numbers rapidly increased; and they soon found it convenient to possess, and easy to acquire ample revenues. Accomplished in all the arts by which wealth is to be obtained at the expense of ignorance, they secured to their orders the most lucrative benefices, and the control of the most popular seminaries. In England, the great increase of the friars, and the loss of that wealth of which they drained the kingdom, began to be felt as a serious evil. By the settled, or secular clergy, especially, they were looked upon with great jealousy, since they felt that their own influence was likely to be lost in the success of these rapacious intruders. It was in the disputes which arose between the friars and the clergy that Wyckliffe first distinguished himself; and the discussion of these questions led to that investigation of the doctrines of the church, which secured to him the title of the father of the reformation.

John de Wyckliffe was born about the year 1324. He was educated at Oxford, and seems to have been early distinguished by his skill in scholastic exercises, and by his intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures—at that time no ordinary accomplishment, and which afterwards acquired for him the title of  “the gospel doctor.” In the year 1345, the plague, commencing its ravages in Tartary, spread over a large part of Asia and Europe, depopulated many cities, and, according to the exaggerated estimate of contemporary writers, destroyed during the two years of its continuance, one half of the human race. It was in the midst of this scene of desolation that the youthful reformer, impressed with the conviction that the corruption of the age had been the procuring cause of so dreadful a visitation, composed his first work, in which he censured, in no measured terms, the profligacy of the priesthood. In his subsequent attacks upon the mendicant friars, he was not unsupported by the clergy; and the acuteness which he displayed in this discussion, attracting the attention of the government, an opportunity was soon afforded him of promulgating his opinions under its sanction. Edward III, was, at that time, engaged in a dispute with the pope, whose claim to an annual stipend, as an acknowledgement of fealty to the holy see, was resisted by this haughty monarch. Wyckliffe was called upon to defend the measures of the king, and his labours were rewarded by appointing him to fill the chair of divinity at Oxford and by other preferments.[advancements or promotions in rank] Subsequently, he was sent by the king to confer with the commissioner of the pope, on the points in dispute between the two governments; and the more intimate acquaintance with the vices of the Roman court, which he thus acquired, confirmed him in the determination to attempt a reform of the church. He now boldly advocated the sufficiency of the Scriptures, denied the temporal authority of the pope, and proclaimed him to be antichrist. His preaching, eloquent, nervous, and full of fervour, soon procured him converts; and his disciples, imitating the humility of the friars, traversed the kingdom, clothed in the meanest attire, preaching the doctrines of the Bible, and obeying the injunctions of their master in dispensing charity to the indigent and consolation to the unfortunate. His success alarmed the pope, and orders were sent to have him arrested as a heretic. More than once, Wycklifle obeyed the summons, which cited him to answer for his doctrines before his superiors; and, at each appearance, his life would have been endangered, had he not been protected by the government and by some of the more powerful barons, influenced rather by their hostility to the pontiff than by conviction of the truths taught by the reformer. Emboldened by success, he at length ventured to attack the doctrine of transubstantiation. Here, however, he was no longer supported. The clergy, who were opposed to the friars; and the government, who resisted papal encroachments, had no interest in the discussion of questions of pure theology; and Wyckliffe, abandoned by the university and the parliament, was advised, by his most powerful protectors, to submit, on these points, to the church. When summoned to answer for his doctrines on this subject, he offered explanations, which have subjected him to the charge of recantation on the one hand, and of confirmed heresy on the other. Whatever constructions were put upon his defence, the judges seem to have deemed it most prudent to dismiss him; and he continued to teach, without molestation, the great truths of the reformation. To his success in these efforts, nothing so much contributed, and nothing has given so great an elevation to the fame of Wyckliffe, as his translation of the Old and New Testaments into English. There is little doubt that this was the first version of the entire Bible that had been made into our language, and the eagerness with which it was sought for is said to have been very great; for, “even then,” to quote the homely metaphor of the venerable Fuller, ” midnight being past, some early risers began to strike fire and enlighten themselves, by the Scriptures.” Retiring from the university, Wyckliffe continued assiduously to propagate his opinions, until he was seized with palsy, and died, while engaged in an act of devotion, and surrounded by his parishioners, in the sixtieth year of his j age. Of the private character of the reformer, I nothing is known, except from his own writings and from tradition. His enemies accused him of little more than heresy. His works show him to have possessed exemplary piety, to have been ardent and unceasing in his devotions; and tradition records that he sedulously practised that charity which he so warmly recommends. Of his doctrines, it is sufficient to say, that they were substantially those of Luther; not, indeed, unmixed with the superstitions which were so intimately connected with the religion of that age, but, in many points, surprisingly free from errors, which, even now, find numerous advocates. It is indeed a little singular, to find a confessor in the fourteenth century, and in the court of the third Edward, asserting the inconsistency of war with Christianity; yet this doctrine Wyckliffe inculcated; and, in defending his sentiments against the argument that force was necessary for self-preservation, he expressed his reliance upon the providence of the Almighty,] in language scarcely differing from that of Penn and Barclay. In relation to tithes and the efficacy of lay preaching, his opinions approximate equally to our own. He drew, indeed, his sentiments on these subjects, from the source whence our forefathers obtained theirs; and, like them, he was content to yield unqualified submission to the doctrines of the Bible. Signed P. Q.

1      The doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings was aimed at instilling obedience by explaining why all social ranks were religiously and morally obliged to obey their government. It is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God. The king is thus not subject to the will of his people, the aristocracy, or any other estate of the realm, including (in the view of some, especially in Protestant countries) the Church. According to this doctrine, since only God can judge an unjust king, the king can do no wrong. The doctrine implies that any attempt to depose the king or to restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and may constitute sacrilegious act.

The remoter origins of the theory are rooted in the medieval idea that God had bestowed earthly power on the king, just as God had given spiritual power and authority to the Church, centering on the Pope. The immediate author of the theory was Jean Bodin, who based it on the interpretation of Roman law. With the rise of nation-states and the Protestant Reformation, the theory of divine right justified the king’s absolute authority in both political and spiritual matters. The theory came to the fore in England under the reign of James I of England (1603–1625, also James VI of Scotland 1567–1625). Louis XIV of France (1643–1715), though Catholic, strongly promoted the theory as well.

The theory of divine right was abandoned in England during the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89. The American and French revolutions of the late eighteenth century further weakened the theory’s appeal, and by the early twentieth century, it had been virtually abandoned.
Such doctrines are, in the English-speaking world, largely associated with the House of Tudor and the early House of Stuart in Britain and the theology of the Caroline divines who held their tenure at the pleasure of James I of England (VI of Scotland), Charles I and Charles II.

The Scots textbooks of the divine right of kings were written in 1597-98 by James VI of Scotland before his accession to the English throne. His Basilikon Doron, a manual on the duties of a king, was written to edify his four-year-old son Henry Frederick, who died young. According to the text, a good king “acknowledgeth himself ordained for his people, having received from the god a burden of government, whereof he must be countable”. The idea of the divine right to rule has appeared in many cultures Eastern and Western spanning all the way back to the first god king Gilgamesh.

2              By the sentence of interdict, public worship and all the other rites of the church were either suspended altogether, or they were only suffered to be partially performed in the open air, “Even now,” says Southey, “it may be understood what an effect must have been produced upon the feelings of the people, when all the rites of a church, whose policy it was to blend its institutions with the whole business of private life, were suddenly suspended; no bell heard, no taper lighted, no service performed, no church open—only baptism was permitted, and confession and the sacrament for the dying. The dead were either interred in unhallowed ground, without the presence of a priest or any religious ceremony, or they were kept unburied till the infliction which affected every family in its tenderest and holiest feelings should be removed. Some little mitigation was allowed, lest human nature should have rebelled against so intolerable a tyranny. The people therefore were called to prayer and sermon on the Sunday in the church-yards, and marriages were performed at the church door.” Book of the Church, pg. 262.

3             From the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia online: (From Albi, Latin Albiga, the present capital of the Department of Tarn).

A neo-Manichæan sect that flourished in southern France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The name Albigenses, given them by the Council of Tours (1163) prevailed towards the end of the twelfth century and was for a long time applied to all the heretics of the south of France. They were also called Catharists (katharos, pure), though in reality they were only a branch of the Catharistic movement. The rise and spread of the new doctrine in southern France was favoured by various circumstances, among which may be mentioned: the fascination exercised by the readily-grasped dualistic principle; the remnant of Jewish and Mohammedan doctrinal elements; the wealth, leisure, and imaginative mind of the inhabitants of Languedoc; their contempt for the Catholic clergy, caused by the ignorance and the worldly, too frequently scandalous, lives of the latter; the protection of an overwhelming majority of the nobility, and the intimate local blending of national aspirations and religious sentiment.

Doctrinal: The Albigenses asserted the co-existence of two mutually opposed principles, one good, the other evil. The former is the creator of the spiritual, the latter of the material world. The bad principle is the source of all evil; natural phenomena, either ordinary like the growth of plants, or extraordinary as earthquakes, likewise moral disorders (war), must be attributed to him. He created the human body and is the author of sin, which springs from matter and not from the spirit. The Old Testament must be either partly or entirely ascribed to him; whereas the New Testament is the revelation of the beneficent God. The latter is the creator of human souls, which the bad principle imprisoned in material bodies after he had deceived them into leaving the kingdom of light. This earth is a place of punishment, the only hell that exists for the human soul. Punishment, however, is not everlasting; for all souls, being Divine in nature, must eventually be liberated. To accomplish this deliverance God sent upon earth Jesus Christ, who, although very perfect, like the Holy Ghost, is still a mere creature. The Redeemer could not take on a genuine human body, because he would thereby have come under the control of the evil principle. His body was, therefore, of celestial essence, and with it He penetrated the ear of Mary. It was only apparently that He was born from her and only apparently that He suffered. His redemption was not operative, but solely instructive. To enjoy its benefits, one must become a member of the Church of Christ (the Albigenses). Here below, it is not the Catholic sacraments but the peculiar ceremony of the Albigenses known as the consolamentum, or “consolation,” that purifies the soul from all sin and ensures its immediate return to heaven. The resurrection of the body will not take place, since by its nature all flesh is evil.

Moral: The dualism of the Albigenses was also the basis of their moral teaching. Man, they taught, is a living contradiction. Hence, the liberation of the soul from its captivity in the body is the true end of our being. To attain this, suicide is commendable; it was customary among them in the form of the endura (starvation). The extinction of bodily life on the largest scale consistent with human existence is also a perfect aim. As generation propagates the slavery of the soul to the body, perpetual chastity should be practiced. Matrimonial intercourse is unlawful; concubinage, being of a less permanent nature, is preferable to marriage. Abandonment of his wife by the husband, or vice versa, is desirable. Generation was abhorred by the Albigenses even in the animal kingdom. Consequently, abstention from all animal food, except fish, was enjoined. Their belief in metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls, the result of their logical rejection of purgatory, furnishes another explanation for the same abstinence. To this practice they added long and rigorous fasts. The necessity of absolute fidelity to the sect was strongly inculcated. War and capital punishment were absolutely condemned.

4             From the Encyclopedia Britannica Online: Waldenses, also spelled Valdenses, French Vaudois, Italian Valdesi,  members of a Christian movement that originated in 12th-century France, the devotees of which sought to follow Christ in poverty and simplicity. In modern times the name has been applied to members of a Protestant church (centred on the Franco-Italian border) that formed when remnants of the earlier movement became Swiss Protestant Reformers.

Early Roman Catholic and Waldensian sources are few and unreliable, and little is known with certainty about the reputed founder, Valdes (also called Peter Waldo, or Valdo). As a layman, Valdes preached in Lyon (1170–76), but ecclesiastical authorities were disturbed by his lack of theological training and by his use of a non-Latin version of the Bible. Valdes attended the third Lateran Council (1179) in Rome and was confirmed in his vow of poverty by Pope Alexander III. Probably during this council Valdes made his Profession of Faith (which still survives); it is a statement of orthodox beliefs such as accused heretics were required to sign. Valdes, however, did not receive the ecclesiastical recognition that he sought. Undeterred, he and his followers (Pauperes: “Poor”) continued to preach; the archbishop of Lyon condemned him, and Pope Lucius III placed the Waldenses under ban with his bull Ad Abolendam (1184), issued during the Synod of Verona.

Thereafter, the Waldenses departed from the teaching of the Roman Catholic church by rejecting some of the seven sacraments and the notion of purgatory. Their views were based on a simplified biblicism, moral rigour, and criticism of abuses in the contemporary church. Their movement, often joined to and influenced by other sects, spread rapidly to Spain, northern France, Flanders, Germany, and southern Italy and even reached Poland and Hungary. Rome responded vigorously, turning from excommunication to active persecution and execution. Though the Waldenses confessed regularly, celebrated communion once a year, fasted, and preached poverty, they repudiated such Roman practices as prayers for the dead and the veneration of saints, and they refused to recognize secular courts because they did not believe in taking oaths.

In the early 13th century a number of Waldenses returned to orthodoxy; by the end of the century persecution had virtually eliminated the sect in some areas, and for safety the survivors abandoned their distinctive dress. By the end of the 15th century they were confined mostly to the French and Italian valleys of the Cottian Alps.

A second period in their history began when the French reformer Guillaume Farel introduced Reformation theology to the Waldensian ministers (barbes) in 1526. The Waldenses raised questions concerning the number of sacraments, the relationship between free will and predestination, and the problem of reconciling justification by faith with the scriptural emphasis on the necessity of good works. At a conference at Cianforan in 1532 most Waldenses accepted secular law courts and celibacy for their barbes and agreed to accept only two sacraments (baptism and Holy Communion) and the doctrine of predestination as presented by the Protestants in attendance. By further adapting themselves to Genevan forms of worship and church organization, they became in effect a Swiss Protestant church. Years of persecution continued, however, before they received full civil rights in 1848.

5            A priest who hears confessions and sometimes acts as a spiritual counselor.

Recommended reading for further information on this subject and one of the sources used, surprisingly from a recent author; “The Historical Test: The Judicial Standard Emerging From Colonial Political And Religious History To Be Applied To Constitutional Challenges Based On The Religion Clauses Of The First Amendment” by Tayra de la Caridad Antolick © May 2002

Other Sources: The Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia online:
The Rights of the People: Or, Civil Government and Religion By Alonzo Trévier Jones; 1895
The Friend: A Religious and Literary Journal, Volume 2; 1828
History of the United States of America, From the Discovery of the Continent By George Bancroft; 1875

Dedication to the Character of George Washington Apostle of Liberty

Washington at Valley Forge

Washington Prayer at Valley Forge


Speculative reasoners, during that age, raised many objections to the planting of those remote Colonies; and foretold, that, after draining their mother-country of inhabitants, they would soon shake off her yoke, and erect an independent government in America. (David Hume, History of Eng., James I.; a. d. 1603-1625. Written, a. d. 1752)

This great man fought against tyranny; he established the liberty of his country His memory will always be dear to the French people, as it will be to all freemen of the two worlds. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte, Feb. 9th, 1800

If we look over the catalogue of the first magistrates of nations, whether they have been denominated Presidents or Consuls, Kings or Princes, where shall we find one, whose commanding talents and virtues, whose overruling good fortune, have so completely united all hearts and voices in his favor? Who enjoyed the esteem and admiration of foreign nations, and fellow-citizens, with equal unanimity? Qualities so uncommon are no common blessings to the country that possesses them. By these great qualities, and their benign effects, has Providence marked out the Head of this Nation, with a hand so distinctly visible, as to have been seen by all and mistaken by none. ~ John Adams, 1789.

His example is complete; and it will teach wisdom and virtue to Magistrates, Citizens, and Men, not only in the present age, but in future generations.  ~ John Adams, 1799

The only man in the United States, who possessed the confidence of all. There was no other one, who was considered as anything more than a party leader.

The whole of his character was in its mass perfect, in nothing bad, in a few points indifferent. And it may be truly said, that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great, and to place him in the same constellation with whatever worthies have merited from man an everlasting remembrance. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Lord Brougham, in speaking of the Father of our Country, calls him “the Greatest man of our own or any age; the Only One upon whom an epithet, so thoughtlessly lavished by men to foster the crimes of their worst enemies, may be innocently and justly bestowed.” He adds, “It will be the duty of the historian and the sage, in all ages, to let no occasion pass, of commemorating this illustrious man; and, until time shall be no more, will a test of the progress which our race has made in wisdom and in virtue, be derived from the veneration paid to the immortal name of Washington.”

The powerful influence of his character, his achievements, and his opinions, is acknowledged by all men. It has long been extending and increasing. And it cannot fail to produce, eventually, the most important and happy results, in the fulfillment of the final destinies of nations, and the attainment of the chief end of human existence.

By common consent, Washington is regarded as not merely the Hero of the American Revolution, but the World’s Apostle of Liberty. The war of the Revolution was a war of principle, that involved the interests of all mankind. England’s violation of our sacred rights, was the stirring of the eagle’s nest. It naturally awakened emotions of resistance. British prerogative was opposed by American freedom. Prerogative became arbitrary, and Freedom asserted her rights; Prerogative became oppressive and cruel, and Freedom took up arms and declared her independence The spirit of America’s cause was impersonated in her great chief. He was a manifestation of the nation’s heart and mind. And under his judicious guidance, by the providence of God, America not only stood erect, before the world, clothed in the panoply of justice, but moved steadily onward in her course; her shield, and breastplate, and whole armor flashing, at every step, with the light that shone on her from heaven.

Our victory being won, Washington sheathed his sword, and sat, for a brief space, under the shadow of his own vine and fig-tree. Soon, at the nation’s call, he guided her in establishing the foundation, and rearing the superstructure, of her vast and imposing political fabric. He saw its topstone laid. And he was exulting, with holy joy, at the completion of his work, when the Supreme Disposer of events, by suddenly removing him from earth, in the fullness of his glory and renown, consecrated his character, and imparted to his opinions the commanding authority which they now possess.

The first name of America, not only is, but always will be, that of Washington. We pronounce it with filial reverence, as well as gratitude; for we admire and love him, not merely in consideration of what he did, but what he was. There is a sacred charm in his actions and his sentiments, as well as a divine philosophy in his remarkable career.

But his example and his precepts are a legacy, not only to America, but to all mankind. And as they are contemplating and admiring his virtues, they are invited to read, in his own words, his golden maxims. These are adapted to the use of Statesmen, Soldiers, Citizens, heads of families, teachers of youth, and, in a word, all who should aim at what is great and good, in public and in private life, and who would avail themselves of such sagacious, profound, and ennobling sentiments.

With a view to furnish, for popular use, a small volume of the words of Washington, the labor of culling and arranging his memorable precepts in this collection, was originally undertaken. Public documents and private letters, manuscripts and printed volumes, have accordingly been examined, with a view to the completeness and interest of the collection; and none but undoubtedly authentic materials have been used in forming it.

The late Earl Of Buchan, whose uniform regard for the American States was manifested long before the epoch of their Federal Union, said of our Washington, “I recommend the constant remembrance of the moral and political Maxims conveyed to its citizens by the Father and Founder of the United States. It seems to me, that such Maxims and such advice ought to be engraved on every Forum or Place Of Common Assembly among the people, and read by parents, teachers, and guardians, to their children and pupils, so that True Religion, And Virtue, its inseparable attendant, may be imbibed by the rising generation, to remote ages.”

That generation after generation may enjoy the blessedness of the benign influence which these Maxims are so eminently calculated to exert, should surely be the prayer of patriots, philanthropists, and Christians, until all men shall be animated by the spirit of Washington, and exemplify his precepts.

J. F. Schroeder: New York September 12th 1854

Taken from the preface to the Maxims of Washington published 1894

A few examples of his wisdom:


The aggregate happiness of society, which is best promoted by the practice of a virtuous policy, is, or ought to be, the end of all Government.

Let us have a Government, by which our lives, liberties, and properties will be secured.

Born in a land of liberty; having early learned its value; having engaged in the perilous conflict to defend it; having, in a word, devoted the best years of my life to secure its permanent establishment in my own country; my anxious recollections, my sympathetic feelings, and my best wishes are irresistibly attracted, whensoever in any country I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of freedom.


There is a natural and necessary progression, from the extreme of anarchy to the extreme of tyranny; and arbitrary power is most easily established, on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.


Republicanism is not the phantom of a deluded imagination. On the contrary, laws, under no form of government, are better supported, liberty and property better secured, or happiness’ more effectually dispensed to mankind.


It is among the evils, and perhaps not the smallest, of Democratical Governments, that the people must feel, before they will see. When this happens, they are roused to action. Hence it is, that those kinds of government are so slow.

It is one of the evils of Democratical Governments, that the people, not always seeing, and frequently misled, must often feel before they can act right; but then evils of this nature seldom fail to work their own cure.


I am fully of opinion, that those who lean to a Monarchial Government have either not consulted the public mind, or that they live in a region, which, (the leveling principles in which they were bred being entirely eradicated,) is much more productive of monarchial ideas, than is the case in the Southern States, where, from the habitual distinctions which have always existed among the people, one would have expected the first generation, and the most rapid growth, of them.

I am told, that even respectable characters speak of a Monarchial Form of Government, without horror. From thinking proceeds speaking; thence to acting is often but a single step. But, how irrevocable and tremendous! What a triumph for our enemies to verify their predictions! What a triumph for the advocates of Despotism, to find, that we are incapable of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty, are merely ideal and fallacious! “86.

It is a little strange, that the men of large property in the South, should be more afraid that the Constitution will produce an Aristocracy or a Monarchy, than the genuine democratical people of the East. 1788.


It appears to be incompatible with the principles of our national Constitution, to admit the introduction of any kind of Nobility, Knighthood, or distinctions of a similar nature, amongst the citizens of our republic.


It is far from my design to intimate an opinion, that Heraldry, Coat-armor, &c., might not be rendered conducive to public and private uses with us; or that they can have any tendency unfriendly to the purest spirit of Republicanism. On the contrary, a different conclusion is deducible from the practice of Congress, and the States; all of which have established some kind of Armorial Devices, to authenticate their official instruments.


Give the leave, my dear General, to present you with a picture of the Bastille, just as it looked a few days after I had ordered its demolition,—with the main key of the fortress of despotism. It is a tribute, which I owe, as a son to my adoptive father, as an Aide-de-camp to my General, as a Missionary of liberty to its Patriarch. ~ Lafayette, March 17,1790.


Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.

The political state of affairs in France, seems to be in a delicate situation. What will be the issue, is not easy to determine; but the spirit which is diffusing itself, may produce changes in that government, which, a few years ago, could hardly have been dreamt of.

A spirit of equal liberty appears fast to be gaining ground everywhere ; which must afford satisfaction to every friend of mankind.

If we mean to support the liberty and independence, which it has cost as so much blood and treasure to establish, we must drive far away the demon of party spirit and local reproach.

Should the conduct of the Americans, whilst promoting their own happiness, influence the feelings of other nations, and thereby render a service to mankind, they will receive a double pleasure.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of our hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary, to fortify or confirm the attachment.

None of them [the colonies] will ever submit to the loss of those valuable rights and privileges, which are essential to the happiness of every free State, without which, life, liberty, and property are rendered totally insecure.

In a government as free as ours, where the people are at liberty, and will express their sentiments, (oftentimes imprudently, and, for want of information, sometimes unjustly,) allowances must be made for occasional effervescences; but, after the declaration which I have made of my political creed, you can run no hazard in asserting, that the Executive branch of this government never has suffered, nor will suffer while I preside, any improper conduct of its officers to escape with impunity, nor give its sanction to any disorderly proceedings of its citizens.

A Prayer for US this Independence Day

flag_and_eagleAs we gather this day and this weekend with our families, friends, and fellow countrymen and women. I appeal to you to consider the reasons for which this country began,

God in heaven I humbly thank you and your son for this land we call America! This land you have so richly and bounteously blessed above all others. Thank you for the blessings of freedom and liberty such as the civilized world has not known, till you shed your grace on this great land, and brought men from every point of the globe hungry for the light of liberty cast in 1776. Thank you for the wisdom and knowledge you imparted to the Founders that led to the foundation of a government by the people and for the people. Thank you also for the light and wisdom you have imparted to us down through the ages that allows us to understand the signs of our times.

Please continue to help us do those things which cause your blessings to rain down upon us in-the-age-of-tyrannyas a people and as a nation. Please help us also to continue to have the blessings of your liberty and freedom that you imparted to man and to cause the flame of freedom to burn bright within the hearts of our off-spring and fellow-citizens. Thank you Father of Mercy for all that you have done for and continue to do for us, thank you always for the blessings you have continuously shed on America. Help US in this generation to pass those same blessings of freedom to our posterity and perpetuate that freedom and independent heart that has been passed down to us through our forefathers from you. In Jesus name I thankfully and humbly ask of these things Amen!

Who Is The Final Judge or Interpreter in Constitutional Controversies by Joseph Story

Joseph Story 1Who Is The Final Judge or Interpreter in Constitutional Controversies:
JOSEPH STORY was born on September 18, 1779, in Marblehead, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard College in 1798. Story read law in the offices of two Marblehead attorneys and was admitted to the bar in 1801. He established a law practice in Salem, Massachusetts. In 1805, Story served one term in the Massachusetts Legislature, and in 1808 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. After one term, he returned to the Massachusetts Lower House, and in 1811 he was elected Speaker. On November 18, 1811, President James Madison nominated Story to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Senate confirmed the appointment on February 3, 1812. At the age of thirty-two, Story was the youngest person ever appointed to the Supreme Court. While on the Supreme Court, Story served as a delegate to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1820 and was a Professor of Law at Harvard, where he wrote a series of nine commentaries on the law, each of which was published in several editions. Story served on the Supreme Court for thirty-three years. He died on September 10, 1845, at the age of sixty-five.

§ 373. THE consideration of the question, whether the constitution has made provision for any common arbiter to construe its powers and obligations, would properly find a place in the analysis of the different clauses of that instrument. But, as it is immediately connected with the subject before us, it seems expedient in this place to give it a deliberate attention.1

§ 374. In order to clear the question of all minor points, which might embarrass us in the discussion, it is necessary to suggest a few preliminary remarks. The constitution, contemplating the grant of limited powers, and distributing them among various functionaries, and the state governments, and their functionaries, being also clothed with limited powers, subordinate to those granted to the general government, whenever any question arises, as to the exercise of any power by any of these functionaries under the state, or federal government, it is of necessity, that such functionaries must, in the first instance, decide upon the constitutionality of the exercise of such power.2 It may arise in the course of the discharge of the functions of any one, or of all, of the great departments of government, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. The officers of each of these departments are equally bound by their oaths of office to support the constitution of the United States, and are therefore conscientiously bound to abstain from all acts, which are inconsistent with it. Whenever, therefore, they are required to act in a case, not hitherto settled by any proper authority, these functionaries must, in the first instance, decide, each for himself, whether, consistently with the constitution, the act can be done. If, for instance, the president is required to do any act, he is not only authorized, but required, to decide for himself, whether, consistently with his constitutional duties, he can do the act.3 So, if a proposition be before congress, every member of the legislative body is bound to examine, and decide for himself, whether the bill or resolution is within the constitutional reach of the legislative powers confided to congress. And in many cases the decisions of the executive and legislative departments, thus made, become final and conclusive, being from their very nature and character incapable of revision. Thus, in measures exclusively of a political, legislative, or executive character, it is plain, that as the supreme authority, as to these questions, belongs to the legislative and executive departments, they cannot be re-examined elsewhere. Thus, congress having the power to declare war, to levy taxes, to appropriate money, to regulate intercourse and commerce with foreign nations, their mode of executing these powers can never become the subject of reexamination in any other tribunal. So the power to make treaties being confided to the president and senate, when a treaty is properly ratified, it becomes the law of the land, and no other tribunal can gainsay its stipulations. Yet cases may readily be imagined, in which a tax may be laid, or a treaty made, upon motives and grounds wholly beside the intention of the constitution.4 The remedy, however, in such cases is solely by an appeal to the people at the elections; or by the salutary power of amendment, provided by the constitution itself.5

§ 375. But, where the question is of a different nature, and capable of judicial inquiry and decision, there it admits of a very different consideration. The decision then made, whether in favour, or against the constitutionality of the act, by the state, or by the national authority, by the legislature, or by the executive, being capable, in its own nature, of being brought to the test of the constitution, is subject to judicial revision. It is in such cases, as we conceive, that there is a final and common arbiter provided by the constitution itself, to whose decisions all others are subordinate; and that arbiter is the supreme judicial authority of the courts of the Union.6

§ 376. Let us examine the grounds, on which this doctrine is maintained. The constitution declares, (Art. 6,) that “This constitution, and the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties, etc. shall be the supreme law of the land.” It also declares, (Art. 3,) that “The judicial power shall extend to all cases in law and equity, arising under this constitution, the laws of the United States and treaties made, and which shall be made under their authority.” It further declares, ( Art. 3,) that the judicial power of the United States “shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts, as the congress may, from time to time, ordain and establish.” Here, then, we have express, and determinate provisions upon the very subject. Nothing is imperfect, and nothing is left to implication. The constitution is the supreme law; the judicial power extends to all cases arising in law and equity under it; and the courts of the United States are, and, in the last resort, the Supreme Court of the United States is, to be vested with this judicial power. No man can doubt or deny, that the power to construe the constitution is a judicial power.7 The power to construe a treaty is clearly so, when the case arises in judgment in a controversy between individuals.8 The like principle must apply, where the meaning of the constitution arises in a judicial controversy; for it is an appropriate function of the judiciary to construe laws.9 If, then, a case under the constitution does arise, if it is capable of judicial examination and decision, we see, that the very tribunal is appointed to make the decision. The only point left open for controversy is, whether such decision, when made, is conclusive and binding upon the states, and the people of the states. The reasons, why it should be so deemed, will now be submitted.

§ 377. In the first place, the judicial power of the United States rightfully extending to all such cases, its judgment becomes ipso facto conclusive between the parties before it, in respect to the points decided, unless some mode be pointed out by the constitution, in which that judgment may be revised. No such mode is pointed out. Congress is vested with ample authority to provide for the exercise by the Supreme Court of appellate jurisdiction from the decisions of all inferior tribunals, whether state or national, in cases within the purview of the judicial power of the United States; but no mode is provided, by which any superior tribunal can re-examine, what the Supreme Court has itself decided. Ours is emphatically a government of laws, and not of men; and judicial decisions of the highest tribunal, by the known course of the common law, are considered, as establishing the true construction of the laws, which are brought into controversy before it. The case is not alone considered as decided and settled; but the principles of the decision are held, as precedents and authority, to bind future cases of the same nature. This is the constant practice under our whole system of jurisprudence. Our ancestors brought it with them, when they first emigrated to this country; and it is, and always has been considered, as the great security of our rights, our liberties, and our property. It is on this account, that our law is justly deemed certain, and founded in permanent principles, and not dependent upon the caprice, or will of particular judges. A more alarming doctrine could not be promulgated by any American court, than that it was at liberty to disregard all former rules and decisions, and to decide for itself, without reference to the settled course of antecedent principles.

§ 378. This known course of proceeding, this settled habit of thinking, this conclusive effect of judicial adjudications, was in the full view of the framers of the constitution. It was required, and enforced in every state in the Union; and a departure from it would have been justly deemed an approach to tyranny and arbitrary power, to the exercise of mete discretion, and to the abandonment of all the just checks upon judicial authority. It would seem impossible, then, to presume, if the people intended to introduce a new rule in respect to the decisions of the Supreme Court, and to limit the nature and operations of their judgments in a manner wholly unknown to the common law, and to our existing jurisprudence, that some indication of that intention should not be apparent on the face of the constitution. We find, (Art. 4,) that the constitution has declared, that full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the judicial proceedings of every other state. But no like provision has been made in respect to the judgments of the courts of the United States, because they were plainly supposed to be of paramount and absolute obligation throughout all the states. If the judgments of the Supreme Court upon constitutional questions are conclusive and binding upon the citizens at large, must they not be equally conclusive upon the states? If the states are parties to that instrument, are not the people of the states also parties?

§ 379. It has been said, “that however true it may be, that the judicial department is, in all questions submitted to it by the forms of the constitution, to decide in the last resort, this resort must necessarily be deemed the last in relation to the other departments of the government, not in relation to the rights of the parties to the constitutional compact, from which the judicial, as well as the other departments hold their delegated trusts. On any other hypothesis, the delegation of judicial power would annul the authority delegating it; and the concurrence of this department with the others in usurped powers might subvert for ever, and beyond the possible reach of any rightful remedy, the very constitution, which all were instituted to preserve.”10 Now, it is certainly possible, that all the departments of a government may conspire to subvert the constitution of that government, by which they are created. But if they should so conspire, there would still remain an adequate remedy to redress the evil. In the first place, the people, by the exercise of the elective franchise, can easily check and remedy any dangerous, palpable, and deliberate infraction of the constitution in two of the great departments of government; and, in the third department, they can remove the judges, by impeachment, for any corrupt conspiracies. Besides these ordinary remedies, there is a still more extensive one, embodied in the form of the constitution, by the power of amending it, which is always in the power of three fourths of the states. It is a supposition not to be endured for a moment, that three fourths of the states would conspire in any deliberate, dangerous, and palpable breach of the constitution. And if the judicial department alone should attempt any usurpation, congress, in its legislative capacity, has full power to abrogate the injurious effects of such a decision. Practically speaking, therefore, there can be very little danger of any such usurpation or deliberate breach.

§ 380. But it is always a doubtful mode of reasoning to argue from the possible abuse of powers, that they do not exist.11 Let us look for a moment at the consequences, which flow from the doctrine on the other side. There are now twenty-four states in the Union, and each has, in its sovereign capacity, a right to decide for itself in the last resort, what is the true construction of the constitution; what are its powers; and what are the obligations founded on it. We may, then, have, in the free exercise of that right, twentyfour honest, but different expositions of every power in that constitution, and of every obligation involved in it. What one state may deny, another may assert; what one may assert at one time, it may deny at another time. This is not mere supposition. It has, in point of fact, taken place. There never has been a single constitutional question agitated, where different states, if they have expressed any opinion, have not expressed different opinions; and there have been, and, from the fluctuating nature of legislative bodies, it may be supposed? that there will continue to be, cases, in which the same state will at different times hold different opinions on the same question. Massachusetts at one time thought the embargo of 1807 unconstitutional; at another a majority, from the change of parties, was as decidedly the other way. Virginia, in 1810, thought that the Supreme Court was the common arbiter; in 1829 she thought differently.12 What, then, is to become of the constitution, if its powers are thus perpetually to be the subject of debate and controversy? What exposition is to be allowed to be of authority? Is the exposition of one state to be of authority there, and the reverse to be of authority in a neighbouring state, entertaining an opposite exposition? Then, there would be at no time in the United States the same constitution in operation over the whole people. Is a power, which is doubted, or denied by a single state, to be suspended either wholly, or in that state? Then, the constitution is practically gone, as a uniform system, or indeed, as any system at all, at the pleasure of any state. If the power to nullify the constitution exists in a single state, it may rightfully exercise it at its pleasure. Would not this be a far more dangerous and mischievous power, than a power granted by all the states to the judiciary to construe the constitution? Would not a tribunal, appointed under the authority of all, be more safe, than twenty-four tribunals acting at their own pleasure, and upon no common principles and cooperation? Suppose congress should declare war; shall one state have power to suspend it? Suppose congress should make peace; shall one state have power to involve the whole country in war? Suppose the president and senate should make a treaty; shall one state declare it a nullity, or subject the whole country to reprisals for refusing to obey it? Yet, if every state may for itself judge of its obligations under the constitution, it may disobey a particular law or treaty, because it may deem it an unconstitutional exercise of power, although every other state shall concur in a contrary opinion. Suppose congress should lay a tax upon imports burthensome to a particular state, or for purposes, which such state deems unconstitutional, and yet all the other states are in its favour; is the law laying the tax to become a nullity? That would be to allow one state to withdraw a power from the Union, which was given by the people of all the states. That would be to make the general government the servant of twenty-four masters, of different wills and different purposes, and yet bound to obey them all.13

§ 381. The argument, therefore, arising from a possibility of an abuse of power, is, to say the least of it, quite as strong the other way. The constitution is in quite as perilous a state from the power of overthrowing it lodged in every state in the Union, as it can be by being lodged in any department of the federal government. There is this difference, however, in the cases, that if there be federal usurpation, it may be checked by the people of all the states in a constitutional way. If there be usurpation by a single state, it is, upon the theory we are considering, irremediable. Other difficulties, however, attend the reasoning we are considering. When it is said, that the decision of the Supreme Court in the last resort is obligatory, and final “in relation to the authorities of the other departments of the government,” is it meant of the federal government only, or of the states also? If of the former only, then the constitution is no longer the supreme law of the land, although all the state functionaries are bound by ah oath to support it. If of the latter also, then it is obligatory upon the state legislatures, executives, and judiciaries. It binds them; and yet it does not bind the people of the states, or the states in their sovereign capacity. The states may maintain one construction of it, and the functionaries of the state are bound by another. If, on the other hand, the state functionaries are to follow the construction of the state, in opposition to the construction of the Supreme Court, then the constitution, as actually administered by the different functionaries, is different; and the duties required of them may be opposite, and in collision with each other. If such a state of things is the just result of the reasoning, may it not justly be suspected, that the reasoning itself is unsound?

§ 382. Again; it is a part of this argument, that the judicial interpretation is not binding “in relation to the rights of the parties to the constitutional compact.” “On any other hypothesis the delegation of judicial power would annul the authority delegating it.” Who then are the parties to this contract? Who did delegate the judicial power? Let the instrument answer for itself. The people of the United States are the parties to the constitution. The people of the United States delegated the judicial rower. It was not a delegation by the people of one state, but by the people of all the states. Why then is not a judicial decision binding in each state, until all, who delegated the power, in some constitutional manner concur in annulling or overruling the decision? Where shall we find the clause, which gives the power to each state to construe the constitution for all; and thus of itself to supersede in its own favour the construction of all the rest? Would not this be justly deemed a delegation of judicial power, which would annul the authority delegating it?14 Since the whole people of the United States have concurred in establishing the constitution, it would seem most consonant with reason to presume, in the absence of all contrary stipulations, that they did not mean, that its obligatory force should depend upon the dictate or opinion of any single state. Even under the confederation, (as has been already stated,) it was unanimously resolved by congress, that “as state legislatures are not competent to the making of such compacts or treaties, [with foreign states,] so neither are they competent in that capacity authoritatively to decide on, or ascertain the construction and sense of them.” And the reasoning, by which this opinion is supported, seems absolutely unanswerable.15

If this was true under such an instrument, and that construction was avowed before the whole American people, and brought home to the knowledge of the state legislatures, how can we avoid the inference, that under the constitution, where an express judicial power in cases arising under the constitution was provided for, the people must have understood and intended, that the states should have no right to question, or control such judicial interpretation?

§ 383. In the next place, as the judicial power extends to all cases arising under the constitution, and that constitution is declared to be the supreme law, that supremacy would naturally he construed to extend, not only over the citizens, but over the states.16 This, however, is not left to implication, for it is declared to be the supreme law of the land, “any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” The people of any state cannot, then, by any alteration of their state constitution, destroy, or impair that supremacy. How, then, can they do it in any other less direct manner? Now, it is the proper function of the judicial department to interpret laws, and by the very terms of the constitution to interpret the supreme law. Its interpretation, then, becomes obligatory and conclusive upon all the departments of the federal government, and upon the whole people, so far as their rights and duties are derived from, or affected by that constitution. If then all the departments of the national government may rightfully exercise all the powers, which the judicial department has, by its interpretation, declared to be granted by the constitution; and are prohibited from exercising those, which are thus declared not to be granted by it, would it not be a solecism to hold, notwithstanding, that such rightful exercise should not be deemed the supreme law of the land, and such prohibited powers should still be deemed granted? It would seem repugnant to the first notions of justice, that in respect to the same instrument of government, different powers, and duties, and obligations should arise, and different rules should prevail, at the same time among the governed, from a right of interpreting the same words (manifestly used in one sense only) in different, nay, in opposite senses. If there ever was a case, in which uniformity of interpretation might well be deemed a necessary postulate, it would seem to be that of a fundamental law of a government. It might otherwise follow, that the same individual, as a magistrate, might be bound by one rule, and in his private capacity by another, at the very same moment.

§ 384. There would be neither wisdom nor policy in such a doctrine; and it would deliver over the constitution to interminable doubts, founded upon the fluctuating opinions and characters of those, who should, from time to time, be called to administer it. Such a constitution could, in no just sense, be deemed a law, much less a supreme or fundamental law. It would have none of the certainty or universality, which are the proper attributes of such a sovereign rule. It would entail upon us all the miserable servitude, which has been deprecated, as the result of vague and uncertain jurisprudence. Misera est servitus, ubi jus est vagum aut incertum. It would subject us to constant dissensions, and perhaps to civil broils, from the perpetually recurring conflicts upon constitutional questions. On the other hand, the worst, that could happen from a wrong decision of the judicial department, would be, that it might require the interposition of congress, or, in the last resort, of the amendatory power of the states, to redress the grievance.

§ 385. We find the power to construe the constitution expressly confided to the judicial department, without any limitation or qualification, as to its conclusiveness. Who, then, is at liberty, by general implications, not from the terms of the instrument, but from mere theory, and assumed reservations of sovereign right, to insert such a limitation or qualification? We find, that to produce uniformity of interpretation, and to preserve the constitution, as a perpetual bond of union, a supreme arbiter or authority of construing is, if not absolutely indispensable, at least, of the highest possible practical utility and importance. Who, then, is at liberty to reason down the terms of the constitution, so as to exclude their natural force and operation?

§ 386. We find, that it is the known course of the judicial department of the several states to decide in the last resort upon all constitutional questions arising in judgment; and that this has always been maintained as a rightful exercise of authority, and conclusive upon the whole state.17 As such, it has been constantly approved by the people, and never withdrawn from the courts by any amendment of their constitutions, when the people have been called to revise them. We find, that the people of the several states have constantly relied upon this last judicial appeal, as the bulwark of their state rights and liberties; and that it is in perfect consonance with the whole structure of the jurisprudence of the common law. Under such circumstances, is it not most natural to presume, that the same rule was intended to be applied to the constitution of the United States? And when we find, that the judicial department of the United States is actually entrusted with a like power, is it not an irresistible presumption, that it had the same object, and was to have the same universally conclusive effect? Even under the confederation, an instrument framed with infinitely more jealousy and deference for state rights, the judgments of the judicial department appointed to decide controversies between states was declared to be final and conclusive; and the appellate power in other cases was held to overrule all state decisions and state legislation.18

§ 387. If, then, reasoning from the terms of the constitution, and the known principles of our jurisprudence, the appropriate conclusion is, that the judicial department of the United States is, in the last resort, the final expositor of the constitution, as to all questions of a judicial nature; let us see, in the next place, how far this reasoning acquires confirmation from the past history of the constitution, and the practice under it.

§ 388. That this view of the constitution was taken by its framers and friends, and was submitted to the people before its adoption, is positively certain. The Federalist 19 says, “Under the national government, treaties and articles of treaties as well as the law of nations, will always be expounded in one sense, and executed in the same manner; whereas, adjudications on the same points and questions in thirteen states, or three or four confederacies, will not always accord, or be consistent; and that as well from the variety of independent courts and judges appointed by different and independent governments, as from the different local laws, which may affect and influence them. The wisdom of the convention in committing such questions to the jurisdiction and judgment of courts appointed by, and responsible only to, one national government, cannot be too much commended.” Again, referring to the objection taken, that the government was national, and not a confederacy of sovereign states, and after stating, that the jurisdiction of the national government extended to certain enumerated objects only, and left the residue to the several states, it proceeds to say:20 “It is true, that in controversies between the two jurisdictions (state and national) the tribunal, which is ultimately to decide, is to be established under the general government. But this does not change the principle of the case. The decision is to be impartially made according to the rules of the constitution, and all the usual and most effectual precautions are taken to secure this impartiality. Some such tribunal is clearly essential to prevent an appeal to the sword, and a dissolution of the compact. And that it ought to be established under the general, rather than under the local governments, or, to speak more properly, that it could be safely established under the first alone, is a position not likely to be combated.”21

§ 389. The subject is still more elaborately considered in another number,22 which treats of the judicial department in relation to the extent of its powers. It is there said, that there ought always to be a constitutional method of giving efficacy to constitutional provisions; that if there are such things as political axioms, the propriety of the judicial department of a government being coextensive with its legislature, may be ranked among the number;23 that the mere necessity of uniformity in the interpretation of the national law decides the question; that thirteen independent courts of final jurisdiction over the same causes is a hydra of government, from which nothing but contradiction and confusion can proceed; that controversies between the nation and its members can only, be properly referred to the national tribunal; that the peace of the whole ought not to be left at the disposal of a part; and that whatever practices may have a tendency to disturb the harmony of the states, are proper objects of federal superintendence and control.24

§ 390. The same doctrine was constantly avowed in the state conventions, called to ratify the constitution. With some persons it formed a strong objection to the constitution; with others it was deemed vital to its existence and value.25 So, that it is indisputable, that the constitution was adopted under a full knowledge of this exposition of its grant of power to the judicial department.26

§ 391. This is not all. The constitution has now been in full operation more than forty years; and during this period the Supreme Court has constantly exercised this power of final interpretation in relation, not only to the constitution, and laws of the Union, but in relation to state acts and state constitutions and laws, so far as they affected the constitution, and laws, and treaties of the United States.27 Their decisions upon these grave questions have never been repudiated, or impaired by congress.28 No state has ever deliberately or forcibly resisted the execution of the judgments founded upon them; and the highest state tribunals have, with scarcely a single exception, acquiesced in, and, in most instances, assisted in executing them.29 During the same period, eleven states have been admitted into the Union, under a full persuasion, that the same power would be exerted over them. Many of the states have, at different times within the same period, been called upon to consider, and examine the grounds, on which the doctrine has been maintained, at the solicitation of other states which felt, that it operated injuriously, or might operate injuriously upon their interests. A great majority of the states, which have been thus called upon in their legislative capacities to express opinions, have maintained the correctness of the doctrine, and the beneficial effects of the powers, as a bond of union, in terms of the most unequivocal nature.30 Whenever any amendment has been proposed to change the tribunal, and substitute another common umpire or interpreter, it has rarely received the concurrence of more than two or three states, and has been uniformly rejected by a great majority, either silently, or by an express dissent. And instances have occurred, in which the legislature of the same state has, at different times, avowed opposite opinions, approving at one time, what it had denied, or at least questioned at another. So, that it may be asserted with entire confidence, that for forty years three fourths of all the states composing the Union have expressly assented to, or silently approved, this construction of the constitution, and have resisted every effort to restrict, or alter it. A weight of public opinion among the people for such a period, uniformly thrown into one scale so strongly, and so decisively, in the midst of all the extraordinary changes of parties, the events of peace and of war, and the trying conflicts of public policy and state interests, is perhaps unexampled in the history of all other free governments.31 It affords, as satisfactory a testimony in favour of the just and safe operation of the system, as can well be imagined; and, as a commentary upon the constitution itself, it is as absolutely conclusive, as any ever can be, and affords the only escape from the occurrence of civil conflicts, and the delivery over of the subject to interminable disputes.32

§ 392. In this review of the power of the judicial department, upon a question of its supremacy in the interpretation of the constitution, it has not been thought necessary to rely on the deliberate judgments of that department in affirmance of it. But it may be proper to add that the judicial department has not only constantly exercised this right of interpretation in the last resort; but its whole course of reasonings and operation has proceeded upon the ground, that, once made, the interpretation was conclusive, as well upon the states, as the people.33

§ 393. But it may be asked, as it has been asked, what is to be the remedy, if there be any misconstruction of the constitution on the part of the government of the United States, or its functionaries, and any powers exercised by them, not warranted by its true meaning? To this question a general answer may be given in the words of its early expositors: “The same, as if the state legislatures should violate their respective constitutional authorities.” In the first instance, if this should be by congress, “the success of the usurpation will depend on the executive and judiciary departments, which are to expound, and give effect to the legislative acts; and, in the last resort, a remedy must be obtained from the people, who can, by the election of more faithful representatives, annul the acts of the usurpers. The truth is, that this ultimate redress may be more confided in against unconstitutional acts of the federal, than of the state legislatures, for this plain reason, that, as every act of the former will be an invasion of the rights of the latter, these will ever be ready to mark the innovation, to sound the alarm to the people, and to exert their local influence in effecting a change of federal representatives. There being no such intermediate body between the state legislatures and the people, interested in watching the conduct of the former, violations of the state constitution are more likely to remain unnoticed and unredressed.”34

§ 394. In the next place, if the usurpation should be by the president, an adequate check may be generally found, not only in the elective franchise, but also in the controlling power of congress, in its legislative or impeaching capacity, and in an appeal to the judicial department. In the next place, if the usurpation should be by the judiciary, and arise from corrupt motives, the power of impeachment would remove the offenders; and in most other cases the legislative and executive authorities could interpose an efficient barrier. A declaratory or prohibitory law would, in many cases, be a complete remedy. We have, also, so far at least as a conscientious sense of the obligations of duty, sanctioned by an oath of office, and an indissoluble responsibility to the people for the exercise and abuse of power, on the part of different departments of the government, can influence human minds, some additional guards against known and deliberate usurpations; for both are provided for in the constitution itself. “The wisdom and the discretion of congress, (it has been justly observed,) their identity with the people, and the influence, which their constituents possess at elections, are, in this, as in many other instances, as, for example, that of declaring, war; the sole restraints; on this they have relied, to secure them from abuse. They are the restraints, on which the people must often solely rely in all representative governments.”35

§ 395. But in the next place, (and it is that, which would furnish a case of most difficulty and danger, though it may fairly be presumed to be of rare occurrence,) if the legislature, executive, and judicial departments should all concur in a gross usurpation, there is still a peaceable remedy provided by the constitution. It is by the power of amendment, which may always be applied at the will of three fourths of the states. If, therefore, there should be a corrupt cooperation of three fourths of the states for permanent usurpation, (a case not to be supposed, or if supposed, it differs not at all in principle or redress from the case of a majority of a state or nation having the same intent,) the case is certainly irremediable under any known forms of the constitution. The states may now by a constitutional amendment, with few limitations, change the whole structure and powers of the government, and thus legalize any present excess of power. And the general right of a society in other cases to change the government at the will of a majority of the whole people, in any manner, that may suit its pleasure, is undisputed, and seems indisputable. If there be any remedy at all for the minority in such cases, it is a remedy never provided for by human institutions. It is by a resort to the ultimate right of all human beings in extreme cases to resist oppression, and to apply force against ruinous injustice.36

§ 396. As a fit conclusion to this part of these commentaries, we cannot do better than to refer to a confirmatory view, which has been recently presented to the public by one of the framers of the constitution, who is now, it is believed, the only surviving member of the federal convention, and who, by his early as well as his later labours, has entitled himself to the gratitude of his country, as one of its truest patriots, and most enlightened friends. Venerable, as he now is, from age and character, and absolved from all those political connexions, which may influence the judgment, and mislead the mind, he speaks from his retirement in a voice, which cannot be disregarded, when it instructs us by its profound reasoning, or admonishes us of our dangers by its searching appeals. However particular passages may seem open to criticism, the general structure of the argument stands on immovable foundations, and can scarcely perish, but with the constitution, which it seeks to uphold.37

1.    The point was very strongly argued, and much considered, in the case of Cohens v. Virginia, in the Supreme Court in 1821, (6 Wheat. R. 264.) The whole argument, as well as the judgment, deserves an attentive reading. The result, to which the argument against the existence of a common arbiter leads, is presented in a very forcible manner by Mr. Chief Justice Marshall, in pages 376, 377.

“The questions presented to the court by the two first points made at the bar are of great magnitude, and may be truly said vitally to affect the Union. They exclude the inquiry, whether the constitution and laws of the United States have been violated by the judgment, which the plaintiffs in error seek to review; and maintain, that, admitting such violation, it is not in the power of the government to apply a corrective. They maintain, that the nation does not possess a department capable of restraining peaceably, and by authority of law, any attempts, which maybe made by a part against the legitimate powers of the whole; and that the government is reduced to the alternative of submitting to such attempts, or of resisting them by force. They maintain, that the constitution of the United States has provided no tribunal for the final construction of itself, or of the laws or treaties of the nation; but that this power may be exercised in the last resort by the courts of every state in the Union. That the constitution, laws, and treaties, may receive as many constructions, as there are states; and that this is not a mischief, or, if a mischief, is irremediable. These abstract propositions are to be determined; for he, who demands decision without permitting inquiry, affirms, that the decision he asks does not depend on inquiry.

“If such be the constitution, it is the duty of this court to bow with respectful submission to its provisions. If such be not the constitution, it is equally the duty of this court to say so; and to perform that task, which the American people have assigned to the judicial department.”

2.    See the Federalist, No. 33.
3.    Mr. Jefferson carries his doctrine much farther, and holds, that each department of government has an exclusive right, independent of the judiciary, to decide for itself, as to the true construction of the constitution. ” My construction,” says he, ” is very different from that, you quote. It is, that each department of the government is truly independent of the others, and has an equal right to decide for itself, what is the meaning of the constitution in the laws submitted to its action, and especially, when it is to act ultimately and without appeal.” And he proceeds to give examples, in which he disregarded, when president, the decisions of the judiciary, and refers to the alien and sedition laws, and the case of Marbury v. Madison, (1 Cranch, 137.) 4 Jefferson’s Corresp. 316, 317. See also 4 Jefferson’s Corresp. 27; Id. 75; Id. 372, 374.
4.    See 4 Elliot’s Debates, 315 to 320.
5.    The Federalist, No. 44. — Mr. Madison, in the Virginia Report of Jan. 1800, has gone into a consideration of this point, and very properly suggested, that there may be infractions of the constitution not within the reach of the judicial power, or capable of remedial redress through the instrumentality of courts of law. But we cannot agree with him, that in such cases, each state may take the construction of the constitution into its own hands, and decide for itself in the last resort; much less, that in a case of judicial cognizance, the decision is not binding on the states. See Report p. 6, 7, 8, 9.
6.    Dane’s App. §44, 45, p. 52 to 59. — It affords me very sincere gratification to quote the following passage from the learned Commentaries of Mr. Chancellor Kent, than whom very few judges in our country are more profoundly versed in constitutional law. After enumerating the judicial powers in the constitution, he proceeds to observe: “The propriety and fitness of these judicial powers seem to result, as a necessary consequence, from the union of these states in one national government, and they may be considered as requisite to its existence. The judicial power in every government must be co-extensive with the power of legislation. Were there no power to interpret, pronounce, and execute the law, the government would either perish through its own imbecility, as was the case with the old confederation, or other powers must be assumed by the legislative body to the destruction of liberty.” 1 Kent’s Comm. (2d ed. p. 296,) Lect. 14, 277.
7.    4 Dane’s Abridg. ch. 187. art. 20, §15, p. 590; Dane’s App. §42, p. 49, 50; §44, p. 52, 53; 1 Wilson’s Lectures, 461, 462, 463.
8.    See Address of Congress, Feb. 1787; Journals of Congress, p. 33; Rawle on the Constitution, App. 2, p. 316.
9.    Bacon’s Abridgment, Statute. H.
10.    Madison’s Virginia Report, Jan. 1800, p. 8, 9.
11.    See Anderson v. Dunn, 6 Wheaton’s R. 204, 232.
12.    Dane’s App. §44, 45, p. 52 to 59, §54, p. 66; 4 Elliot’s Debates, 338, 339.
13.    Webster’s Speeches, 420; 4 Elliots Debates, 339.
14.    There is vast force in the reasoning Mr. Webster on this subject, in his great Speech on Mr. Foot’s Resolutions in the senate, in 1830, which well deserves the attention of every statesman and jurist. See 4 Elliot’s Debates, 338, 339, 343, 344, and Webster’s Speeches, p. 407, 408, 418, 419, 420; Id. 430, 431, 432.
15.    Journals of Congress, April 13, 1787, p. 32, etc. Rawle on the Constitution, App. 2, p. 316, etc.
16.    The Federalist, No. 33.
17.    2 Elliot’s Debates, 248, 328, 329, 395; Grimke’s Speech in 1828, p. 25, etc.; Dane’s App. § 44, 45, p. 52 to 59; Id. § 48, p. 62.
18.    Dane’s App. §52, p. 65; Penhallow v. Doane, 3 Dall. 54; Journals of Congress, 1779, Vol. 5, p. 86 to 90; 4 Cranch, 2.
19.    The Federalist, No. 3.
20.    The Federalist, No. 39.
21.    See also The Federalist, No. 33.
22.    The Federalist, No. 80.
23.    The same remarks will be found pressed with great force by Mr. Chief Justice Marshall, in delivering the opinion of the court in Cohens v. Virginia, (6 Wheat. 264, 384.)
24.    In The Federalist, No. 78 and 82, the same course of reasoning is pursued, and the final nature of the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is largely insisted on. In the Convention of Connecticut, Mr. Ellsworth (afterwards Chief Justice of the United States) used the following language: “This constitution defines the extent of the powers of the general government. If the general legislature should at any time overleap their limits, the judicial department is the constitutional check. If the United States go beyond their powers; if they make a law, which the constitution does not authorize, it is void; and the judicial power, the national judges, who, to secure their impartiality, are to be made independent, will declare it void. On the other hand, if the states go beyond their limits; if they make a law, which is a usurpation upon the general government, the law is void, and upright and independent judges will declare it. Still, however, if the United States and the individual states will quarrel; if they want to fight, they may do it, and no frame of government can possibly prevent it.” In the debates in the South Carolina legislature, when the subject of calling a convention to ratify or reject the constitution was before them,* Mr. Charles Pinckney (one of the members of the convention) avowed the doctrine in the strongest terms. “That a supreme federal jurisdiction was indispensable,” said he, “cannot be denied. It is equally true, that in order to ensure the administration of justice, it was necessary to give all the powers, original as well as appellate, the constitution has enumerated. Without it we could not expect a due observance of treaties; that the state judiciaries would confine themselves within their proper sphere; or that a general sense of justice would pervade the Union, etc. That to ensure these, extensive authorities were necessary; particularly so, were they in a tribunal, constituted as this is, whose duty it would be, not only to decide all national questions, which should arise within the Union; but to control and keep the state judiciaries within their proper limits, whenever they should attempt to interfere with the power.”
*    Debates in 1788, printed by A. E. Miller, 1831, Charleston, p. 7.
25.    It would occupy too much space to quote the passages at large. Take for an instance, in the Virginia debates, Mr. Madison’s remarks. ” It may be a misfortune, that in organizing any government, the explication of its authority should be left to any of its co-ordinate branches. There is no example in any country, where it is otherwise. There is no new policy in submitting it to the judiciary of the United States.” 2 Elliot’s Debates, 390. See also Id. 380, 383, 395, 400, 404, 418. See also North Carolina Debates, 3 Elliot’s Debates, 125, 127, 128, 130, 133, 134, 139, 141, 142, 143; Pennsylvania Debates, 3 Elliot’s Debates, 280, 313. Mr. Luther Martin, in his letter to the Maryland Convention, said: ” By the third article the judicial power is vested in one Supreme Court, etc. These courts, and these only, will have a right to decide upon the laws of the United States, and all questions arising upon their construction, etc. Whether, therefore, any laws, etc. of congress, or acts of its president, etc. are contrary to, or warranted by the constitution, rests only with the judges, who are appointed by congress to determine; by whose determinations every state is bound.” 3 Elliot’s Debates, 44, 45; Yates’s Minutes, etc. See also The Federalist, No. 78.
26.    See Mr. Pinckney’s Observations cited in Grimke’s Speech in 1828, p. 86, 87.
27.    Dane’s App. §44, p. 53, 54, 55; Grimke’s Speech, 1828, p. 34 to 42.
28.    In the debate in the first congress organized under the constitution, the same doctrine was openly avowed, as indeed it has constantly been by the majority of congress at all subsequent periods. See 1 Lloyd’s Debates, 219 to 599; 2 Lloyd’s Debates, 284 to 327.
29.    Chief Justice M’Kean, in Commonwealth v.Cobbett (3 Dall. 473,) seems to have adopted a modified doctrine, and to have held, that the Supreme Court was not the common arbiter; but if not, the only remedy was, not by a state deciding for itself, as in case of a treaty between independent governments, but by a constitutional amendment by the states. But see, on the other hand, the opinion of Chief Justice Spencer, in Andrews v. Montgomery, 19 Johns. R. 164.
30.    Massachusetts, in her Resolve of February 12, 1799, (p. 57,) in answer to the Resolutions of Virginia of 1798, declared, ” that the decision of all cases in law and equity, arising under the constitution of the United States, and the construction of all laws made in pursuance thereof, are exclusively vested by the people in the judicial courts of the United States;” and ” that the people in that solemn compact, which is declared to be the supreme law of the land, have not constituted the state legislatures the judges of the acts or measures of the federal government, but have confided to them the power of proposing such amendments” etc.; and “that by this construction of the constitution, an amicable and dispassionate remedy is pointed out for any evil, which experience may prove to exist, and the peace and prosperity of the United States may be preserved without interruption.” See also Dane’s App. §44, p. 56; Id. 80. Mr. Webster’s Speech in the Senate, in 1830, contains an admirable exposition of the same doctrines. Webster’s Speeches, 410, 419, 420, 421. In June, 1821. the House of Representatives of NewHampshire passed certain resolutions. (172 yeas to 9 nays,) drawn up (as is understood) by one of her most distinguished statesmen, asserting the same doctrines. Delaware, in January, 1831, and Connecticut and Massachusetts held the same, in May, 1831.
31.    Virginia and Kentucky denied the power in 1793 and 1800; Massachusetts, Delaware, Rhode-Island, New-York, Connecticut, NewHampshire, and Vermont disapproved of the Virginia resolutions, and passed counter resolutions. (North American Review, October, 1830, p. 500.) No other state appears to have approved the Virginia resolutions. (Ibid.) In 1810 Pennsylvania proposed the appointment of another tribunal than the Supreme Court to determine disputes between the general and state governments. Virginia, on that occasion, affirmed, that the Supreme Court was the proper tribunal; and in that opinion New-Hampshire, Vermont, North-Carolina, Maryland, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and New-Jersey concurred; and no one state approved of the amendment (North American Review, October, 1830, p. 507 to 512; Dane’s App. §55, p. 67; 6 Wheat. R. 358, note.) Recently, in March, 1831, Pennsylvania has resolved, that the 25th section of the judiciary act of 1789, ch. 20, which gives the Supreme Court appellate jurisdiction from state courts on constitutional questions, is authorized by the constitution, and sanctioned by experience, and also all other laws empowering the federal judiciary to maintain the supreme laws.
32.    Upon this subject the speech of Mr. Webster in the Senate, in 1830, presents the whole argument in a very condensed and powerful form. The following passage is selected, as peculiarly appropriate:

“The people, then, sir, erected this government. They gave it a constitution, and in that constitution they have enumerated the powers which they bestow on it. They have made it a limited government. They have defined its authority. They have restrained it to the exercise of such powers, as are granted; and all others, they declare, are reserved to the states, or the people. But, sir, they have not stopped here. If they had, they would have accomplished but half their work. No definition can be so clear, as to avoid possibility of doubt; no limitation so precise, as to exclude all uncertainty. Who, then, shall construe this grant of the people? Who shall interpret their will, where it may be supposed they have left it doubtful? With whom do they repose this ultimate right of deciding on the powers of the government? Sir, they have settled all this in the fullest manner. They have left it, with the government itself, in its appropriate branches. Sir, the very chief end, the main design, for which the whole constitution was framed and adopted, was to establish a government, that should not be obliged to act through state agency, or depend on state opinion and state discretion. The people had had quite enough of that kind of government, under the confederacy. Under that system, the legal action – the application of law to individuals, belonged exclusively to the states. Congress could only recommend – their acts were not of binding force, till the states had adopted and sanctioned them. Are we in that condition still? Are we yet at the mercy of state discretion, and state construction? Sir, if we are, then vain will be our attempt to maintain the constitution, under which we sit.

“But, sir, the people have wisely provided, in the constitution itself, a proper, suitable mode and tribunal for settling questions of constitutional law. There are, in the constitution, grants of powers to Congress; and restrictions on these powers. There are, also, prohibitions on the states. Some authority must, therefore, necessarily exist, having the ultimate jurisdiction to fix and ascertain the interpretation of these grants, restrictions, and prohibitions. The constitution has itself pointed out, ordained, and established that authority. How has it accomplished this great and essential end? By declaring, sir, that ‘ the constitution and the law of the United States, made in pursuance thereof, shall be the supreme law of the land, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.’

“This, sir, was the first great step. By this, the supremacy of the constitution and laws of the United States is declared. The people so will it. No state law is to be valid, which comes in conflict with the constitution, or any law of the United States passed in pursuance of it. But who shall decide this question of interference? To whom lies the last appeal? This, sir, the constitution itself decides, also, by declaring, ‘that the judicial power shall extend to all cases arising under the constitution and laws of the United States.’ These two provisions, sir, cover the whole ground. They are, in truth, the keystone of the arch. With these, it is a constitution; without them, it is a confederacy. In pursuance of these clear and express provisions, congress established, at its very first session, in the judicial act, a mode for carrying them into full effect, and for bringing all questions of constitutional power to the final decision of the Supreme Court. It then, sir, became a government. It then had the means of self-protection; and, but for this, it would, in all probability, have been now among things, which are past. Having constituted the government, and declared its powers, the people have further said, that since somebody must decide on the extent of these powers, the government shall itself decide; subject, always, like other popular governments, to its responsibility to the people. And now, sir, I repeat, how is it, that a state legislature acquires any power to interfere? Who, or what, gives them the right to say to the people, ‘ We, who are your agents and servants for one purpose, will undertake to decide, that your other agents and servants, appointed by you for another purpose, have transcended the authority you gave them!’ The reply would be, I think, not impertinent -‘ Who made you a judge over another’s servants? To their own masters they stand or fall.’

“Sir, I deny this power of state legislatures altogether. It cannot stand the test of examination. Gentlemen may say, that in an extreme case, a state government might protect the people from intolerable oppression. Sir, in such a case, the people might protect themselves, without the aid of the state governments. Such a case warrants revolution. It must make, when it comes, a law for itself. A nullifying act of a state legislature cannot alter the case, nor make resistance any more lawful. In maintaining these sentiments, sir, I am but asserting the rights of the people. I state what they have declared, and insist on their right to declare it. They have chosen to repose this power in the general government, and I think it my duty to support it, like other constitutional powers.”

See also 1 Wilson’s Law Lectures, 461, 462. – It is truly surprising, that Mr. Vice-President Calhoun, in his Letter of the 28th of August, 1832, to governor Hamilton, (published while the present work was passing through the press,) should have thought, that a proposition merely offered in the convention, and referred to a committee for their consideration, that ” the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court shall be extended to all controversies between the United States and an individual state, or the United States and the citizens of an individual state,”* should, in connexion with others giving a negative on state laws, establish the conclusion, that the convention, which framed the constitution, was opposed to granting the power to the general government, in any form, to exercise any control whatever over a state by force, veto, or judicial process, or in any other form. This clause for conferring jurisdiction on the Supreme Court in controversies between the United States and the states, must, like the other controversies between states, or between individuals, referred to the judicial power, have been intended to apply exclusively to suits of a civil nature, respecting property, debts contracts, or other claims by the United States against a state; and not to the decision of constitutional questions in the abstract. At a subsequent period of the convention, the judicial power was expressly extended to all cases arising under the constitution, laws, and treaties, of the United States, and to all controversies, to which the United States should be a party,** thus covering the whole ground of a right to decide constitutional questions of a judicial nature. And this, as the Federalist informs us, was the substitute for a negative upon state laws, and the only one, which was deemed safe or efficient. The Federalist No. 80.
*    Journal of Convention, 20th Aug. p. 235.
**    Journal of Convention, 27th Aug. p. 298.
33.    Martin v. Hunter, I Wheat. R. 304, 334, etc. 342 to 348; Cohens v. The State of Virginia,6 Wheat. R. 264, 376, 377 to 392; Id. 413 to 432; Bank of Hamilton v. Dudley, 2 Peters’s R. 524; Ware v. Hylton, 3 Dall. 199; I Cond. R. 99, 112. The language of Mr. Chief Justice Marshall, in delivering the opinion of the court in Cohens v. Virginia, presents the argument in favour of the jurisdiction of the judicial department in a very forcible manner.

“While weighing arguments drawn from the nature of government, and from the general spirit of an instrument, and urged for the purpose of narrowing the construction, which the words of that instrument seem to require, it is proper to place in the opposite scale those principles, drawn from the same sources, which go to sustain the words in their full operation and natural import. One of these, which has been pressed with great force by the counsel for the plaintiffs in error, is, that the judicial power of every well constituted government must be coextensive with the legislative, and must be capable of deciding every judicial question, which grows out of the constitution and laws.

“If any proposition may be considered as a political axiom, this, we think, may be so considered. In reasoning upon it, as an abstract question, there would, probably, exist no contrariety of opinion respecting it. Every argument, proving the necessity of the department, proves also the propriety of giving this extent to it. We do not mean to say, that the jurisdiction of the courts of the Union should be construed to be coextensive with the legislative, merely because it is fit, that it should be so; but we mean to say, that this fitness furnishes an argument in construing the constitution, which ought never to be overlooked, and which is most especially entitled to consideration, when we are inquiring, whether the words of the instrument, which purport to establish this principle, shall be contracted for the purpose of destroying it.

“The mischievous consequences of the construction, contended for on the part of Virginia, are also entitled to great consideration. It would prostrate, it has been said, the government and its laws at the feet of every state in the Union. And would not this be its effect? What power of the government could be executed by its own means, in any state disposed to resist its execution by a course of legislation? The laws must be executed by individuals acting within the several states. If these individuals may be exposed to penalties, and if the courts of the Union cannot correct the judgments, by which these penalties may be enforced, the course of the government may be, at any time, arrested by the will of one of its members. Each member will possess a veto on the will of the whole.

“The answer, which has been given to this argument, does not deny its truth, but insists, that confidence is reposed, and may be safely reposed, in the state institutions; and that, if they shall ever become so insane, or so wicked, as to seek the destruction of the government, they may accomplish their object by refusing to perform the functions assigned to them.

“We readily concur with the counsel for the defendant in the declaration, that the cases, which have been put, of direct legislative resistance for the purpose of oppose the acknowledged powers of the government, are extreme cases, and in the hope, that they will never occur; capacity of the government to protect itself and its laws in such cases, would contribute in no inconsiderable degree to their occurrence.

“Let it be admitted, that the cases, which have been put, are extreme and improbable, yet there are gradations of opposition to the laws, far short of those cases, which might have a baneful influence on the affairs of the nation. Different states may entertain different opinions on the true construction of the constitutional powers of congress. We know, that at one time, the assumption of the debts, contracted by the several states during the war of our revolution, was deemed unconstitutional by some of them. We know, too, that at other times, certain taxes, imposed by congress, have been pronounced unconstitutional. Other laws have been questioned partially, while they were supported by the great majority of the American people. We have no assurance, that we shall be less divided, than we have been. States may legislate in conformity to their opinions, and may enforce those opinions by penalties. It would be hazarding too much to assert, that the judicatures of the states will be exempt from the prejudices, by which the legislatures and people are influenced, and will constitute perfectly impartial tribunal. In many states the judges are dependent for office and for salary on the will of the legislature. The constitution of the United States furnishes no security against the universal adoption of this principle. When we observe the importance, which that constitution attaches to the independence of judges, we are the less inclined to suppose, that it can have intended to leave these constitutional questions to tribunals, where this independence may not exist, in all cases where a state shall prosecute an individual, who claims the protection of an act of congress. These prosecutions may take place, even without a legislative act. A person, making a seizure under an act of congress, may be indicted as a trespasser, if force has been employed, and of this a jury may judge. How extensive may be the mischief, if the first decisions in such cases should be final!

“These collisions may take place in times of no extraordinary commotion. But a constitution is framed for ages to come, and is designed to approach immortality, as nearly as human institutions can approach it. Its course cannot always be tranquil. It is exposed to storms and tempests, and its framers must be unwise statesmen indeed, if they have not provided it, as far as its nature will permit, with the means of self-preservation from the perils it may be destined to encounter. No government ought to be so defective in its organization, as not to contain within itself the means of securing the execution of its own laws against other dangers, than those which occur every day. Courts of justice are the means most usually employed; and it is reasonable to expect, that a government should repose on its own courts, rather than on others. There is certainly nothing in the circumstances, under which our constitution was formed; nothing in the history of the times, which would justify the opinion, that the confidence reposed in the states was so implicit, as to leave in them and their tribunals the power of resisting or defeating, in the form of law, the legitimate measures of the Union. The requisitions of congress, under the confederation, were as constitutionally obligatory, as the laws enacted by the present congress. That they were habitually disregarded, is a fact of universal notoriety. With the knowledge of this fact, and under its full pressure, a convention was assembled to change the system. Is it so improbable, that they should confer on the judicial department the power of construing the constitution and laws of the Union in every case, in the last resort, and of preserving them from all violation from every quarter, so far as judicial decisions can preserve them, that this improbability should essentially affect the construction of the new system? We are told, and we are truly told, that the great change, which is to give efficacy to the present system, is its ability to act on individuals directly, instead of acting through the instrumentality of state governments. But, ought not this ability, in reason and sound policy, to he applied directly to the protection of individuals employed in the execution of the laws, as well as to their coercion? Your laws reach the individual without the aid of any other power; why may they not protect him from punishment for performing his duty in executing them?

“The counsel for Virginia endeavour to obviate the force of these arguments by saying, that the dangers they suggest, if not imaginary, are inevitable; that the constitution can make no provision against them; and that, therefore, in construing that instrument, they ought to be excluded from our consideration. This state of things, they say, cannot arise, until there shall be a disposition so hostile to the present political system, as to produce a determination to destroy it; and, when that determination shall be produced, its effects will not be restrained by parchment stipulations. The fate of the constitution will not then depend on judicial decisions. But, should no appeal be made to force, the states can put an end to the government by refusing to act. They have only not to elect senators, and it expires without a struggle.

“It is very true, that, whenever hostility to the existing system shall become universal, it will be also irresistible. The people made the constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their will, and lives only by their will. But this supreme and irresistible power to make, or to unmake, resides only in the whole body of the people; not in any subdivision of them. The attempt of any of the parts to exercise. it is usurpation, and ought to be repelled by those, to whom the people have delegated their power of repelling it.

“The acknowledged inability of the government, then, to sustain itself against the public will, and, by force or otherwise, to control the whole nation, is no sound argument in support of its constitutional inability to preserve itself against a section of the nation acting in opposition to the general will.

“It is true, that if all the states, or a majority of them, refuse to elect senators, the legislative powers of the Union will be suspended. But if any one state shall refuse to elect them, the senate will not, on that account, be the less capable of performing all its functions. The argument founded on this fact would seem rather to prove the subordination of the parts to the whole, than the complete independence of any one of them. The framers of the constitution were, indeed, unable to make any provisions, which should protect that instrument against a general combination of the states, or of the people, for its destruction; and, conscious of this inability, they have not made the attempt. But they were able to provide against the operation of measures adopted in any one state, whose tendency might be to arrest the execution of the laws, and this it was the part of true wisdom to attempt. We think they have attempted it.”

See also M’Culloch v. Maryland, (4 Wheat. 316, 405, 406.) See also the reasoning of Mr. Chief Justice Jay, in Chisholm v. Georgia,(2 Dall. 419, S. C. 2 Peters’s Cond. R. 635, 670 to 675.) Osborn v. Bank of the United States,( 9 Wheat. 738, 818, 819;) and Gibbons v. Ogden,(9 Wheat. 1, 210.)
34.    The Federalist, No. 44; 1 Wilson’s Law Lectures, 461, 462; Dane’s App. §58, p. 68.
35.    Gibbons v. Ogden, 9) Wheat. R. 1, 197. — See also, on the same subject, the observations of Mr. Justice Johnson in delivering the opinion of the court, in Anderson v. Dunn, 6 Wheat. R. 204, 226.
36.    See Webster’s Speeches, p. 408, 409; 1 Black. Comm. 161, 162. See also 1 Tucker’s Black. Comm. App. 73 to 75.
37.    Reference is here made to Mr. Madison’s Letter, dated August, 1830, to Mr. Edward Everett, published in the North American Review for October, 1830. The following extract is taken from p. 537, et seq.

“In order to understand the true character of the constitution of the United States, the error, not uncommon, must be avoided, of viewing it through the medium, either of a consolidated government, or of a confederated government, whilst it is neither the one, nor the other; but a mixture of both. And having, in no model, the similitudes and analogies applicable to other systems of government, it must, more than any other, be its own interpreter according to its text and the facts of the case.

“From these it will be seen, that the characteristic peculiarities of the constitution are, 1, the mode of its formation; 2, the division of the supreme powers of government between the states in their united capacity, and the states in their individual capacities.

“1. It was formed, not by the governments of the component states, as the federal government, for which it was substituted was formed. Nor was it formed by a majority of the people of the United States, as a single community, in the manner of a consolidated government.

“It was formed by the states, that is, by the people in each of the states, acting in their highest sovereign capacity; and formed consequently, by the same authority, which formed the state constitutions.

“Being thus derived from the same source as the constitutions of the states, it has, within each state, the same authority, as the constitution of the state; and is as much a constitution, in the strict sense of the term, within its prescribed sphere, as the constitutions of the states are, within their respective spheres: but with this obvious and essential difference, that being a compact among the states in their highest sovereign capacity, and constituting the people thereof one people for certain purposes, it cannot be altered, or annulled at the will of the states individually, as the constitution of a state may. be at its individual will.

“2. And that it divides the supreme powers of government, between the government of the United States, and the governments of the individual states; is stamped on the face of the instrument; the powers of war and of taxation, of commerce and of treaties, and other enumerated powers vested in the government of the United States, being of as high and sovereign a character, as any of the powers reserved to the state governments.

“Nor is the government of the United States, created by the constitution, less a government in the strict sense of the term, within the sphere of its powers, than the governments created by the constitutions of the states are, within their several spheres. It is, like them, organized into legislative, executive, and judiciary departments. It operates, like them, directly on persons and things. And, like them, it has at command a physical force for executing the powers committed to it. The concurrent operation in certain cases is one of the features marking the peculiarity of the system.

“Between these different constitutional governments, the one operating in all the states, the others operating separately in each, with the aggregate powers of government divided between them, it could not escape attention, that controversies would arise concerning the boundaries of jurisdiction; and that some provision ought to be made for such occurrences. A political system, that does not provide for a peaceable and authoritative termination of occurring controversies, would not be more than the shadow of a government; the object and end of a real government being, the substitution of law and order for uncertainty, confusion, and violence.

“That to have left a final decision, in such cases, to each of the states, then thirteen, and already twenty-four, could not fail to make the constitution and laws of the United States different in different states, was obvious; and not less obvious, that this diversity of independent decisions must altogether distract the government of the union, and speedily put an end to the union itself. A uniform authority of the laws, is in itself a vital principle. Some of the most important laws could not be partially executed. They must be executed in all the states, or they could be duly executed in none. An impost, or an excise, for example, if not in force in some states, would be defeated in others. It is well known, that this was among the lessons of experience, which had a primary influence in bringing about the existing constitution. A loss of its general authority would moreover revive the exasperating questions between the states holding ports for foreign commerce, and the adjoining states without them; to which are now added, all the inland states, necessarily carrying on their foreign commerce through other states.

“To have made the decisions under the authority of the individual states, coordinate, in all cases, with decisions under the authority of the United States, would unavoidably produce collisions incompatible with the peace of society, and with that regular and efficient administration, which is of the essence of free governments. Scenes could not be avoided, in which a ministerial officer of the United States, and the correspondent officer of an individual state, would have rencounters in executing conflicting decrees; the result of which would depend on the comparative force of the local posses attending them; and that, a casualty depending on the political opinions and party feelings in different states.

“To have referred every clashing decision, under the two authorities, for a final decision, to the states as parties to the constitution, would be attended with delays, with inconveniences, and with expenses, amounting to a prohibition of the expedient; not to mention its tendency to impair the salutary veneration for a system requiring such frequent inter positions, nor the delicate questions, which might present themselves as to the form of stating the appeal, and as to the quorum for deciding it.

“To have trusted to negotiation for adjusting disputes between the government of the United States and the state governments, as between independent and separate sovereignties, would have lost sight altogether of a constitution and government for the Union; and opened a direct road from a failure of that resort, to the ultima ratio between nations wholly independent of, and alien to each other. If the idea had its origin in the process of adjustment between separate branches of the same government, the analogy entirely fails. In the case of disputes between independent parts of the same government, neither part being able to consummate its will, nor the government to proceed without a concurrence of the parts, necessity brings about an accommodation. In disputes between a state government, and the government of the United States, the case is practically, as well as theoretically different; each party possessing all the departments of an organized government, legislative, executive, and judiciary; and having each a physical force to support its pretensions. Although the issue of negotiation might sometimes avoid this extremity, how often would it happen among so many states, that an unaccommodating spirit in some would render that resource unavailing? A contrary supposition would not accord with a knowledge of human nature, or the evidence of our own political history.

“The constitution, not relying on any of the preceding modifications, for its safe and successful operation, has expressly declared, on the one hand, 1, ‘that the constitution, and the laws made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land; 2, that the judges of every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution and laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding; 3, that the judicial power of the United States shall extend to all cases in law and equity arising under the constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made under their authority, etc.’

“On the other hand, as a security of the rights and powers of the states, in their individual capacities, against an undue preponderance of the powers granted to the government over them in their united capacity, the constitution has relied on, (1,) the responsibility of the senators and representatives in the legislature of the United States to the legislatures and people of the states; (2,) the responsibility of the president to the people of the United States; and ( 3,) the liability of the executive and judicial functionaries of the United States to impeachment by the representatives of the people of the states, in one branch of the legislature of the United States, and trial by the representatives of the states, in the other branch: the state functionaries, legislative, executive, and judicial, being, at the same time, in their appointment and responsibility, altogether independent of the agency or authority of the United States.

“How far this structure of the government of the United States is adequate and safe for its objects, time alone can absolutely determine. Experience seems to have shewn, that whatever may grow out of future stages of our national career, there is, as yet, a sufficient control, in the popular will, over the executive and legislative departments of the government. When the alien and sedition laws were passed, in contravention to the opinions and feelings of the community, the first elections, that ensued, put an end to them. And whatever may have been the character of other acts, in the judgment of many of us it is but true, that they have generally accorded with the views of the majority of the states and of the people. At the present day it seems well understood, that the laws, which have created most dissatisfaction, have had a like sanction without doors: and that, whether continued, varied, or repealed, a like proof will be given of the sympathy and responsibility of the representative body to the constituent body. Indeed, the great complaint now is, against the results of this sympathy and responsibility in the legislative policy of the nation.

“With respect to the judicial power of the United States, and the authority of the Supreme Court in relation to the boundary of jurisdiction between the federal and the state governments, I may be permitted to refer to the thirty-ninth number of the Federalist for the light, in which the subject was regarded by its writer at the period, when the constitution was depending; and it is believed, that the same was the prevailing view then taken of it; that the same view has continued to prevail; and that it does so at this time, notwithstanding the eminent exceptions to it.

“But it is perfectly consistent with the concession of this power to the Supreme Court, in cases falling within the course of its functions, to maintain, that the power has not always been rightly exercised. To say nothing of the period, happily a short one, when judges in their seats did not abstain from intemperate and party harangues, equally at variance with their duty and their dignity; there have been occasional decisions from the bench, which have incurred serious and extensive disapprobation. Still it would seem, that, with but few exceptions, the course of the judiciary has been hitherto sustained by the prominent sense of the nation.

“Those who have denied, or doubted the supremacy of the judicial power of the United States, and denounce at the same time a nullifying power in a state, seem not to have sufficiently adverted to the utter inefficiency of a supremacy in a law of the land, without a supremacy in the exposition and execution of the law: nor to the destruction of all equipoise between the federal government and the state governments, if, whilst the functionaries of the federal government are directly or indirectly elected by, and responsible to the states, and the functionaries of the states are in their appointment and responsibility wholly independent of the United States, no constitutional control of any sort belonged to the United States over the states. Under such an organization, it is evident, that it would be in the power of the states, individually, to pass unauthorized laws, and to carry them into complete effect, any thing in the constitution and laws of the United States to the contrary notwithstanding. This would be a nullifying power in its plenary character; and whether it had its final effect, through the legislative, executive, or judiciary organ of the state, would be equally fatal to the constituted relation between the two governments.

“Should the provisions of the constitution as here reviewed, be found not to secure the government and rights of the states, against usurpations and abuses on the part of the United States, the final resort within the purview of the constitution, lies in an amendment of the constitution, according to a process applicable by the states.

“And in the event of a failure of every constitutional resort, and an accumulation of usurpations and abuses, rendering passive obedience and non-resistance a greater evil, than resistance and revolution, there can remain but one resort, the last of all; an appeal from the cancelled obligations of the constitutional compact, to original rights and the law of self-preservation. This is the ultima ratio under all governments, whether consolidated, confederated, or a compound of both; and it cannot be doubted, that a single member of the Union, in the extremity supposed, but in that only, would have a right, as an extra and ultra constitutional right, to make the appeal.

“This brings us to the expedient lately advanced, which claims for a single state a right to appeal against an exercise of power by the government of the United States, decided by the state to be unconstitutional, to the parties to the constitutional compact; the decision of the state to have the effect of nullifying the act of the government of the United States, unless the decision of the state be reversed by three fourths of the parties.

“The distinguished names and high authorities, which appear to have asserted, and given a practical scope to this doctrine, entitle it to a respect, which it might be difficult otherwise to feel for it.

“If the doctrine were to be understood as requiring the three fourths of the states to sustain, instead of that proportion to reverse the decision of the appealing state, the decision to be without effect during the appeal, it would be sufficient to remark, that this extra-constitutional course might well give way to that marked out by the constitution, which authorizes two thirds of the states to institute, and three fourths to effectuate an amendment of the constitution, establishing a permanent rule of the highest authority, in place of an irregular precedent of construction only.

“But it is understood, that the nullifying doctrine imports, that the decision of the state is to be presumed valid, and that it overrules the law of the United States, unless overruled by three fourths of the states.

“Can more be necessary to demonstrate the inadmissibility of such a doctrine, than, that it puts it in the power of the smallest fraction over one fourth of the United States, that is, of seven states out of twentyfour, to give the law, and even the constitution to seventeen states, each of the seventeen having, as parties to the constitution, an equal right with each of the seven, to expound it, and to insist on the exposition? That the seven might, in particular instances be right, and the seventeen wrong, is more than possible. But to establish a positive and permanent rule giving such a power, to such a minority, over such a majority, would overturn the first principle of free government, and in practice necessarily overturn the government itself.

“It is to be recollected, that the constitution was proposed to the people of the states as a whole, and unanimously adopted by the states as a whole, it being a part of the constitution, that not less than three fourths of the states should be competent to make any alteration in what had been unanimously agreed to. So great is the caution on this point, that in two cases where peculiar interests were at stake, a proportion even of three fourths is distrusted, and unanimity required to make an alteration.

“When the constitution was adopted as a whole, it is certain, that there were many parts, which, if separately proposed, would have been promptly rejected. It is far from impossible, that every part of a constitution might be rejected by a majority, and yet taken together as a whole, be unanimously accepted. Free constitutions will rarely, if ever, be formed, without reciprocal concessions; without articles conditioned on, and balancing each other. Is there a constitution of a single state out of the twenty-four, that would bear the experiment of having its component parts submitted to the people, and separately decided on?

“What the fate of the constitution of the United States would be, if a small proportion of the states could expunge parts of it particularly valued by a large majority, can have but one answer.

“The difficulty is not removed by limiting the doctrine to cases of construction. How many cases of that sort, involving cardinal provisions of the constitution, have occurred? How many now exist? How many may hereafter spring up? How many might be ingeniously created, if entitled to the privilege of a decision in the mode proposed?

“Is it certain, that the principle of that mode would not reach further than is contemplated? If a single state can, of right, require three fourths of its co-states to overrule its exposition of the constitution, because that proportion is authorized to amend it, would the plea be less plausible, that, as the constitution was unanimously established, it ought to be unanimously expounded?

“The reply to all such suggestions, seems to be unavoidable and irresistible; that the constitution is a compact; that its text is to be expounded, according to the provisions for expounding it – making a part of the compact; and that none of the parties can rightfully renounce the expounding provision more than any other part. When such a right accrues, as may accrue, it must grow out of abuses of the compact releasing the sufferers from their fealty to it.”

Sources: Commentaries On the Constitution of the United States by Justice Joseph Story published 1833

See also:
Rights of American Citizens Series:
The Importance of Free Speech and The Free Press in America
Rules of Interpreting the Constitution by Justice Joseph Story
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
When Vain & Aspiring Men Possess the Highest Seats in Government by Samuel AdamsPatrick Henry may well be proved a Prophet as well as a Statesman
Preface To Resolutions of Virginia and Kentucky by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson
Constitution of the United States and it’s Governmental Operations (In Plain English)

Rules of Interpreting the Constitution by Justice Joseph Story

Joseph-Story-1779-1845Rules of Interpreting the Constitution:
JOSEPH STORY was born on September 18, 1779, in Marblehead, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard College in 1798. Story read law in the offices of two Marblehead attorneys and was admitted to the bar in 1801. He established a law practice in Salem, Massachusetts. In 1805, Story served one term in the Massachusetts Legislature, and in 1808 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. After one term, he returned to the Massachusetts Lower House, and in 1811 he was elected Speaker. On November 18, 1811, President James Madison nominated Story to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Senate confirmed the appointment on February 3, 1812. At the age of thirty-two, Story was the youngest person ever appointed to the Supreme Court. While on the Supreme Court, Story served as a delegate to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1820 and was a Professor of Law at Harvard, where he wrote a series of nine commentaries on the law, each of which was published in several editions. Story served on the Supreme Court for thirty-three years. He died on September 10, 1845, at the age of sixty-five.

Rules of Interpretation: Note, sorry the footnote links aren’t working right yet I am still learning, please bear with me.

§ 397. IN our future commentaries upon the constitution we shall treat it, then, as it is denominated in the instrument itself, as a CONSTITUTION of government, ordained and established by the people of the United States for themselves and their posterity.1 They have declared it the supreme law of the land. They have made it a limited government. They have defined its authority. They have restrained it to the exercise of certain powers, and reserved all others to the states or to the people. It is a popular government. Those who administer it are responsible to the people. It is as popular, and Just as much emanating from the people, as the state governments. It is created for one purpose; the state governments for another. It may be altered, and amended, and abolished at the will of the people. In short, it was made by the people, made for the people, and is responsible to the people.2

§ 398. In this view of the matter, let us now proceed to consider the rules, by which it ought to be interpreted; for, if these rules are correctly laid down, it will save us from many embarrassments in examining and defining its powers. Much of the difficulty, which has arisen in all the public discussions on this subject, has had its origin in the want of some uniform rules of interpretation, expressly or tacitly agreed on by the disputants. Very different doctrines on this point have been adopted by different commentators; and not unfrequently very different language held by the same parties at different periods. In short, the rules of interpretation have often been shifted to suit the emergency; and the passions and prejudices of the day, or the favor and odium of a particular measure, have not unfrequently furnished a mode of argument, which would, on the one hand, leave the constitution crippled and inanimate, or, on other hand, give it an extent and elasticity, subversive of all rational boundaries.

§ 399. Let us, then, endeavor to ascertain, what are the true rules of interpretation applicable to the constitution; so that we may have some fixed standard, by which to measure its powers, and limit its prohibitions, and guard its obligations, and enforce its securities of our rights and liberties.

§ 400. I. The first and fundamental rule in the interpretation of all instruments is, to construe them according to the sense of the terms, and the intention of the parties. Mr. Justice Blackstone has remarked, that the intention of a law is to be gathered from the words, the context, the subject matter, the effects and consequence, or the reason and spirit of the law.3 He goes on to justify the remark by stating, that words are generally to be understood in their usual and most known signification, not so much regarding the propriety of grammar, as their general and popular use; that if words happen to be dubious, their meaning may be established by the context, or by comparing them with other words and sentences in the same instrument; that illustrations may be further derived from the subject matter, with reference to which the expressions are used; that the effect and consequence of a particular construction is to be examined, because, if a literal meaning would involve a manifest absurdity, it ought not to be adopted; and that the reason and spirit of the law, or the causes, which led to its enactment, are often the best exponents of the words, and limit their application.4

§ 401. Where the words are plain and clear, and the sense distinct and perfect arising on them, there is generally no necessity to have recourse to other means of interpretation. It is only, when there is some ambiguity or doubt arising from other sources, that interpretation has its proper office. There may be obscurity, as to the meaning, from the doubtful character of the words used, from other clauses in the same instrument, or from an incongruity or repugnancy between the words, and the apparent intention derived from the whole structure of the instrument, or its avowed object. In all such cases interpretation becomes indispensable.

§ 402. Rutherforth5 has divided interpretation into three kinds, literal, rational, and mixed. The first is, where we collect the intention of the party from his words only, as they lie before us. The second is, where his words do not express that intention perfectly, but exceed it, or fall short of it, and we are to collect it from probable or rational conjectures only. The third is, where the words, though they do express the intention, when they are rightly understood, are themselves of doubtful meaning, and we are bound to have recourse to the like conjectures to find out in what sense they are used. In literal interpretation the rule observed is, to follow that sense in respect both of the words, and of the construction of them, which is agreeable to common use, without attending to etymological fancies or grammatical refinements. In mixed interpretation, which supposes the words to admit of two or more senses, each of which is agreeable to common usage, we are obliged to collect the sense, partly from the words, and partly from conjecture of the intention. The rules then adopted are, to construe the words according to the subject matter, in such a sense as to produce a reasonable effect, and with reference to the circumstances of the particular transaction. Light may also be obtained in such cases from contemporary facts, or expositions, from antecedent mischiefs, from known habits, manners, and institutions, and from other sources almost innumerable, which may justly affect the judgment in drawing a fit conclusion in the particular case.

§ 403. Interpretation also may be strict or large; though we do not always mean the same thing, when we speak of a strict or large interpretation. When common usage has given two senses to the same word, one of which is more confined, or includes fewer particulars than the other, the former is called its strict sense, and the latter, which is more comprehensive or includes more particulars, is called its large sense. If we find such a word in a law, and we take it in its more confined sense, we are said to interpret it strictly. If we take it in its more comprehensive sense, we are said to interpret it largely. But whether we do the one or the other, we still keep to the letter of the law. But strict and large interpretations are frequently opposed to each other in a different sense. The words of a law may sometimes express the meaning of the legislator imperfectly. They may, in their common acceptation, include either more or less than his intention. And as, on the one hand, we call it a strict interpretation, where we contend, that the letter is to be adhered to precisely; so, on the other hand, we call it a large interpretation, where we contend, that the words ought to be taken in such a sense, as common usage will not fully justify; or that the meaning of the legislator is something different from what his words in any usage would import. In this sense a large interpretation is synonymous with what has before been called a rational interpretation. And a strict interpretation, in this sense, includes both literal and mixed interpretation; and may, as contra-distinguished from the former, be called a close, in opposition to a free or liberal interpretation.6

§ 404. These elementary explanations furnish little room for controversy; but they may nevertheless aid us in making a closer practical application, when we arrive at more definite rules.

§ 405. II. In construing the constitution of the United States, we are, in the first instance, to consider, what are its nature and objects, its scope and design, as apparent from the structure of the instrument, viewed as a whole, and also viewed in its component parts. Where its words are plain, clear, and determinate, they require no interpretation; and it should, therefore, be admitted, if at all, with great caution, and only from necessity, either to escape some absurd consequence, or to guard against some fatal evil. Where the words admit of two senses, each of which is conformable to common usage, that sense is to be adopted, which, without departing from the literal import of the words, best harmonizes with the nature and objects, the scope and design of the instrument. Where the words are unambiguous, but the provision may cover more or less ground according to the intention, which is yet subject to conjecture; or where it may include in its general terms more or less, than might seem dictated by the general design, as that may be gathered from other parts of the instrument, there is much more room for controversy; and the argument from inconvenience will probably have different influences upon different minds. Whenever such questions arise, they will probably be settled, each upon its own peculiar grounds; and whenever it is a question of power, it should be approached with infinite caution, and affirmed only upon the most persuasive reasons. In examining the constitution, the antecedent situation of the country, and its institutions, the existence and operations of the state governments, the powers and operations of the confederation, in short all the circumstances, which had a tendency to produce, or to obstruct its formation and ratification, deserve a careful attention. Much, also, may be gathered from contemporary history, and contemporary interpretation, to aid us in just conclusions.7

§ 406. It is obvious; however, that contemporary interpretation must be resorted to with much qualification and reserve. In the first place, the private interpretation of any particular man, or body of men, must manifestly be open to much observation. The constitution was adopted by the people of the United States; and it was submitted to the whole upon a just survey of its provisions, as they stood in the text itself. In different states and in different conventions, different and very opposite objections are known to have prevailed; and might well be presumed to prevail. Opposite interpretations, and different explanations of different provisions, may well be presumed to have been presented in different bodies, to remove local objections, or to win local favor. And there can be no certainty, either that the different state conventions in ratifying the constitution, gave the same uniform interpretation to its language, or that, even in a single state convention, the same reasoning prevailed with a majority, much less with the whole of the supporters of it. In the interpretation of a state statute, no man is insensible of the extreme danger of resorting to the opinions of those, who framed it, or those who passed it. Its terms may have differently impressed different minds. Some may have implied limitations and objects, which others would have rejected. Some may have taken a cursory view of its enactments, and others have studied them with profound attention. Some may have been governed by a temporary interest or excitement, and have acted upon that exposition, which most favored their present views. Others may have seen lurking beneath its text, what commended it to their judgment against even present interests. Some may have interpreted its language strictly and closely; others from a different habit of thinking may have given it a large and liberal meaning. It is not to be presumed, that, even in the convention, which framed the constitution, from the causes above mentioned, and other causes, the clauses were always understood in the same sense, or had precisely the same extent of operation. Every member necessarily judged for himself; and the judgment of no one could, or ought to be, conclusive upon that of others. The known diversity of construction of different parts of it, as well of the mass of its powers, in the different state conventions; the total silence upon many objections, which have since been started; and the strong reliance upon others, which have since been universally abandoned, add weight to these suggestions. Nothing but the text itself was adopted by the people. And it would certainly be a most extravagant doctrine to give to any commentary then made, and, a fortiori, to any commentary since made under a very different posture of feeling and opinion, an authority, which should operate an absolute limit upon the text, or should supersede its natural and just interpretation.

§ 407. Contemporary construction is properly resorted to, to illustrate, and confirm the text, to explain a doubtful phrase, or to expound an obscure clause; and in proportion to the uniformity and universality of that construction, and the known ability and talents of those, by whom it was given, is the credit, to which it is entitled. It can never abrogate the text; it can never fritter away its obvious sense; it can never narrow down its true limitations; it can never enlarge its natural boundaries.8 We shall have abundant reason hereafter to observe, when we enter upon the analysis of the particular clauses of the constitution, how many loose interpretations, and plausible conjectures were hazarded at an early period, which have since silently died away, and are now retained in no living memory, as a topic either of praise or blame, of alarm or of congratulation.

§ 408. And, after all, the most unexceptionable source of collateral interpretation is from the practical exposition of the government itself in its various departments upon particular questions discussed, and settled upon their own single merits. These approach the nearest in their own nature to judicial expositions; and have the same general recommendation, that belongs to the latter. They are decided upon solemn argument, pro re nata, upon a doubt raised, upon a lis mota, upon a deep sense of their importance and difficulty, in the face of the nation, with a view to present action, in the midst of jealous interests, and by men capable of urging, or repelling the grounds of argument, from their exquisite genius, their comprehensive learning, or their deep meditation upon the absorbing topic. How light, compared with these means of instruction, are the private lucubrations of the closet, or the retired speculations of ingenious minds, intent on theory, or general views, and unused to encounter a practical difficulty at every step!

§ 409. But to return to the rules of interpretation arising ex directo from the text of the constitution. And first the rules to be drawn from the nature of the instrument. (1.) It is to be construed, as a frame, or fundamental law of government, established by the PEOPLE of the United States, according to their own free pleasure and sovereign will. In this respect it is in no wise distinguishable from the constitutions of the state governments. Each of them is established by the people for their own purposes, and each is founded on their supreme authority. The powers, which are conferred, the restrictions, which are imposed, the authorities, which are exercised, the organization and distribution thereof, which are provided, are in each case for the same object, the common benefit of the governed, and not for the profit or dignity of the rulers.

§ 410. And yet it has been a very common mode of interpretation to insist upon a diversity of rules in construing the state constitutions, and that of the general government. Thus, in the Commentaries of Mr. Tucker upon Blackstone, we find it laid down, as if it were an incontrovertible doctrine in regard to the constitution of the United States, that “as federal, it is to be construed strictly, in all cases, where the antecedent rights of a state may be drawn in question. As a social compact, it ought likewise “to receive the same strict construction, wherever the right of personal liberty, of personal security, or of private property may become the object of dispute; because every person, whose liberty or property was thereby rendered subject to the new government, was antecedently a member of a civil society, to whose regulations he had submitted himself, and under whose authority and protection he still remains, in all cases not expressly submitted to the new government.”9

§ 411. We here see, that the whole reasoning is founded, not on the notion, that the rights of the people are concerned, but the rights of the states. And by strict construction is obviously meant the most limited sense belonging to the words. And the learned author relies, for the support of his reasoning, upon some rules laid down by Vattel in relation to the interpretation of treaties in relation to odious things. It would seem, then, that the constitution of the United States is to be deemed an odious instrument. And why, it may be asked? Was it not framed for the good of the people, and by the people? One of the sections of Vattel, which is relied on, states this proposition,10 “That whatever tends to change the present state of things, is also to be ranked in the class of odious things.” Is it not most manifest, that this proposition is, or at least may be, in many cases, fundamentally wrong? If a people free themselves from a despotism, is it to be said, that the change of government is odious, and ought to be construed strictly? What, upon such a principle, is to become of the American Revolution; and of our state governments, and state constitutions? Suppose a well-ordered government arises out of a state of disorder and anarchy, is such a government to be considered odious? Another section11 adds, “Since odious things are those, whose restriction tends more certainly to equity than their extension, and since we ought to pursue that line, which is most conformable to equity, when the will of the legislature or of the contracting parties is not exactly known, we should, where there is a question of odious things, interpret the terms in the most limited sense. We may even, to a certain degree, adopt a figurative meaning in order to avert the oppressive consequences of the proper and literal sense, or anything of an odious nature, which it would involve.” Does not this section contain most lax and unsatisfactory ingredients for interpretation? Who is to decide, whether it is most conformable to equity to extend, or to restrict these? Who is to decide, whether the provision is odious? According to this rule, the most opposite interpretations of the same words would be equally correct, according as the interpretator should deem it odious or salutary. Nay, the words are to be deserted, and a figurative sense adopted, whenever he deems it advisable, looking to the odious nature or consequence of the common sense. He, who believes the general government founded in wisdom, and sound policy, and the public safety, may extend the words. He, who deems it odious, or the state governments the truest protection of all our rights, must limit the words to the narrowest meaning.

§ 412. The twelfth amendment to the constitution is also relied on by the same author, which declares, “that the powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” He evidently supposes, that this means “in all cases not expressly submitted to the new government “; yet the word “expressly” is no where found in the amendment. But we are not considering, whether any powers can be implied; the only point now before us is, how the express powers are to be construed. Are they to be construed strictly, that is, in their most limited sense? Or are they to receive a fair and reasonable construction, according to the plain meaning of the terms and the objects, for which they are used?

§ 413. When it is said, that the constitution of the United States should be construed strictly, viewed as a social compact, whenever it touches the rights of property, or of personal security, or liberty, the rule is equally applicable to the state constitutions in the like eases. The principle, upon which this interpretation rests, if it has any foundation, must be, that the people ought not to be presumed to yield up their rights of property or liberty, beyond what is the clear sense of the language and the objects of the constitution. All governments are founded on a surrender of some natural rights, and impose some restrictions. We may not be at liberty to extend the grants of power beyond the fair meaning of the words in any such case; but that is not the question here under discussion. It is, how we are to construe the words as used, whether in the most confined, or in the more liberal sense properly belonging to them. Now, in construing a grant, or surrender of powers by the people to a monarch, for his own benefit or use, it is not only natural, but just, to presume, as in all other cases of grants, that the parties had not in view any large sense of the terms, because the objects were a derogation permanently from their rights and interests. But in construing a constitution of government, framed by the people for their own benefit and protection, for the preservation of their rights, and property, and liberty; where the delegated powers are not, and cannot be used for the benefit of their rulers, who are but their temporary servants and agents; but are intended solely for the benefit of the people, no such presumption of an intention to use the words in the most restricted sense necessariIy arises. The strict, or the more extended sense, both being within the letter, may be fairly held to be within their intention, as either shall best promote the very objects of the people in the grant; as either shall best promote or secure their rights, property, or liberty. The words are not, indeed, to be stretched beyond their fair sense; but within that range, the rule of interpretation must be taken, which best follows out the apparent intention.12 This is the mode (it is believed) universally adopted in construing the state constitutions. It has its origin in common sense. And it never can be a matter of just jealousy; because the rulers can have no permanent interest in a free government, distinct from that of the people, of whom they are a part, and to whom they are responsible. Why the same reasoning should not apply to the government of the United States, it is not very easy to conjecture.

§ 414. But it is said, that the state governments being already in existence, and the people subjected to them, their obedience to the new government may endanger their obedience to the states, or involve them in a conflict of authority, and thus produce inconvenience. In the first place, it is not true, in a just sense, (if we are right in our view of the constitution of the United States,) that such a conflict can ultimately exist. For if the powers of the general government are of paramount and supreme obligation, if they constitute the supreme law of the land, no conflict, as to obedience, can be found. Whenever the question arises, as to whom obedience is due, it is to be judicially settled; and being settled, it regulates, at once, the rights and duties of all the citizens.

§ 415. In the next place, the powers given by the people to the general government are not necessarily carved out of the powers already confided by them to the state governments. They may be such, as they originally reserved to themselves. And, if they are not, the authority of the people, in their sovereign capacity, to withdraw power from their state functionaries, and to confide it to the functionaries of the general government, cannot be doubted or denied.13 If they withdraw the power from the state functionaries, it must be presumed to be, because they deem it more useful for themselves, more for the common benefit, and common protection, than to leave it, where it has been hitherto deposited. Why should a power in the hands of one functionary be differently construed in the hands of another functionary, if, in each case, the same object is in view, the safety of the people. The state governments have no right to assume, that the power is more safe or more useful with them, than with the general government; that they have a higher capacity and a more honest desire to preserve the rights and liberties of the people, than the general government; that there is no danger in trusting them; but that all the peril and all the oppression impend on the other side. The people have not so said, or thought; and they have the exclusive right to judge for themselves on the subject. They avow, that the constitution of the United States was adopted by them, “in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity.” It would be a mockery to ask, if these are odious objects. If these require every grant of power, withdrawn from the state governments, to be deemed strictissimi juris, and construed in the most limited sense, even if it should defeat these objects. What peculiar sanctity have the state governments in the eyes of the people beyond these objects? Are they not framed for the same general ends? Was not the very inability of the state governments suitably to provide for our national wants, and national independence, and national protection, the very groundwork of the whole system?

§ 416. If this be the true view of the subject, the constitution of the United States is to receive as favorable a construction, as those of the states. Neither is to be construed alone; but each with a reference to the other. Each belongs to the same system of government; each is limited in its powers; and within the scope of its powers each is supreme. Each, by the theory of our government, is essential to the existence and due preservation of the powers and obligations of the other. The destruction of either would be equally calamitous, since it would involve the ruin of that beautiful fabric of balanced government, which has been reared with so much care and wisdom, and in which the people have reposed their confidence, as the truest safeguard of their civil, religious, and political liberties. The exact limits of the powers confided by the people to each, may not always be capable, from the inherent difficulty of the subject, of being defined, or ascertained in all cases with perfect certainty.14 But the lines are generally marked out with sufficient broadness and clearness; and in the progress of the development of the peculiar functions of each, the part of true wisdom would seem to be, to leave in every practicable direction a wide, if not an unmeasured, distance between the actual exercise of the sovereignty of each. In every complicated machine slight causes may disturb the operations; and it is often more easy to detect the defects, than to apply a safe and adequate remedy.

§ 417. The language of the Supreme Court, in the case of Martin v. Hunter,15 seems peculiarly appropriate to this part of our subject. “The constitution of the United States,” say the court, “was ordained and established, not by the states in their sovereign capacities, but emphatically, as the preamble of the constitution declares, by the people of the United States.16 There can be no doubt, that it was competent to the people to invest the general government with all the powers, which they might deem proper and necessary; to extend or restrain those powers according to their own good pleasure; and to give them a paramount and supreme authority. As little doubt can there be, that the people had a right to prohibit to the states the exercise of any powers, which were in their judgment incompatible with the objects of the general compact; to make the powers of the state governments, in given cases, subordinate to those of the nation; or to reserve to themselves those sovereign authorities, which they might not choose to delegate to either. The constitution was hot, therefore, necessarily carved out of existing state sovereignties, nor a surrender of powers already existing in state institutions. For the powers of the state governments depend upon their own constitutions; and the people of every state had a right to modify or restrain them according to their own views of policy or principle. On the other hand, it is perfectly clear, that the sovereign powers, vested in the state governments by their respective constitutions, remained unaltered and unimpaired, except so far as they were granted to the government of the United States.” These deductions do not rest upon general reason, plain and obvious as they seem to be. They have been positively recognised by one of the articles in amendment of the constitution, which declares, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”17

” The government, then, of the United States, can claim no powers, which are not granted to it by the constitution; and the powers actually granted must be such, as are expressly given, or given by necessary implication. On the other hand, this instrument, like every other grant, is to have a reasonable construction according to the import of its terms. And where a power is expressly given in general terms, it is not to be restrained to particular cases, unless that construction grows out of the context expressly, or by necessary implication. The words are to be taken in their natural and obvious sense, and not in a sense unreasonably restricted or enlarged.”

§ 418. A still more striking response to the argument for a strict construction of the constitution will be found in the language of the court, in the case of Gibbons v. Ogden, (9 Wheat. 1, &c.) Mr. Chief Justice Marshall, in delivering the opinion of the court, says, “This instrument contains an enumeration of powers expressly granted by the people to their government. It has been said, that these powers ought to be construed strictly. But why ought they to be so construed? Is there one sentence in the constitution, which gives countenance to this rule? In the last of the enumerated powers, that, which grants expressly the means for carrying all others into execution, congress is authorized `to make all laws, which shall be necessary and proper’ for the purpose. But this limitation on the means, which may be used, is not extended to the powers, which are conferred; nor is there one sentence in the constitution, which has been pointed out by the gentlemen of the bar, or which we have been able to discern, that prescribes this rule. We do not, therefore, think ourselves justified in adopting it. What do gentlemen mean by a strict construction? If they contend only against that enlarged construction, which would extend words beyond their natural and obvious import, we might question the application of the terms, but should not controvert the principle. If they contend for that narrow construction, which, in support of some theory not to be found in the constitution, would deny to the government those powers, which the words of the grant, as usually understood, import, and which are consistent with the general views and objects of the instrument; for that narrow construction, which would cripple the government, and render it unequal to the objects, for which it is declared to be instituted, and to which the powers given, as fairly understood, render it competent; then we cannot perceive the propriety of this strict construction, nor adopt it as the rule, by which the constitution is to be expounded. As men, whose intentions require no concealment, generally employ the words, which most directly and aptly express the ideas they intend to convey; the enlightened patriots, who framed our constitution, and the people, who adopted it, must be understood to have employed words in their natural sense, and to have intended, what they have said. If, from the imperfection of human language, there should be serious doubts respecting the extent of any given power, it is a well settled rule, that the objects, for which it was given, especially, when those objects are expressed in the instrument itself, should have great influence in the construction. We know of no reason for excluding this rule from the present case. The grant does not convey power, which might be beneficial to the grantor, if retained by himself, or which can ensure solely to the benefit of the grantee; but is an investment of power for the general advantage, in the hands of agents selected for that purpose; which power can never be exercised by the people themselves, but must be placed in the hands of agents, or lie dormant. We know of no rule for construing the extent of such powers, other than is given by the language of the instrument, which confers them, taken in connection with the purposes, for which they were conferred.”18

§ 419. IV. From the foregoing considerations we deduce the conclusion, that as a frame or fundamental law of government, (2.) The constitution of the United States is to receive a reasonable interpretation of its language, and its powers, keeping in view the objects and purposes, for which those powers were conferred. By a reasonable interpretation, we mean, that in case the words are susceptible of two different senses, the one strict, the other more enlarged, that should be adopted, which is most consonant with the apparent objects and intent of the constitution; that, which will give it efficacy and force, as a government, rather than that, which will impair its operations, and reduce it to a state of imbecility. Of course we do not mean, that the words for this purpose are to be strained beyond their common and natural sense; but keeping within that limit, the exposition is to have a fair and just latitude, so as on the one hand to avoid obvious mischief, and on the other hand to promote the public good.19

§ 420. This consideration is of great importance in construing a frame of government; and a fortiori a frame of government, the free and voluntary institution of the people for their common benefit, security, and happiness. It is wholly unlike the case of a municipal charter, or a private grant, in respect both to its means and its ends. When a person makes a private grant of a particular thing, or of a license to do a thing, or of an easement for the exclusive benefit of the grantee, we naturally confine the terms, however general, to the objects clearly in the view of the parties. But even in such cases, doubtful words, within the scope of those objects, are construed most favorably for the grantee; because, though in derogation of the rights of the grantor, they are promotive of the general rights secured to the grantee. But, where the grant enures, solely and exclusively, for the benefit of the grantor himself, no one would deny the propriety of giving to the words of the grant a benign and liberal interpretation. In cases, however, of private grants, the objects generally are few; they are certain; they are limited; they neither require, nor look to a variety of means or changes, which are to control, or modify either the end, or the means.

§ 421. In regard also to municipal charters, or public grants, similar considerations usually apply. They are generally deemed restrictive of the royal or public prerogative, or of the common rights secured by the actual organization of the government to other individuals, or communities. They are supposed to be procured, not so much for public good, as for private or local convenience. They are supposed to arise from personal solicitation, upon general suggestions, and not ex certâ causâ, or ex mero motu of the king, or government itself. Hence, such charters are often required by the municipal jurisprudence to be construed strictly, because they yield something, which is common, for the benefit of a few. And yet, where it is apparent, that they proceed upon greater or broader motives, a liberal exposition is not only indulged, but is encouraged, if it manifestly promotes the public good.20 So that we see, that even in these cases, common sense often dictates a departure from a narrow and strict construction of the terms, though the ordinary rules of mere municipal law may not have favored it.

§ 422. But a constitution of government, founded by the people for themselves and their posterity, and for objects of the most momentous nature, for perpetual union, for the establishment of justice, for the general welfare, and for a perpetuation of the blessings of liberty, necessarily requires, that every interpretation of its powers should have a constant reference to these objects. No interpretation of the words, in which those powers are granted, can be a sound one, which narrows down their ordinary import, so as to defeat those objects. That would be to destroy the spirit, and to cramp the letter. It has been justly observed, that “the constitution unavoidably deals in general language. It did not suit the purposes of the people, in framing this great charter of our liberties, to provide for minute specification of its powers, or to declare the means, by which those powers should be carried into execution. It was foreseen, that it would be a perilous, and difficult, if not an impracticable task. The instrument was not intended to provide merely for the exigencies of a few years; but was to endure through a long lapse of ages, the events of which were locked up in the inscrutable purposes of Providence. It could not be foreseen, what new changes and modifications of power might be indispensable to effectuate the general objects of the charter; and restrictions and specifications, which at the present might seem salutary, might in the end prove the overthrow of the system itself. Hence its powers are expressed in general terms, leaving the legislature, from time to time, to adopt its own means to effectuate legitimate objects, and to mould and model the exercise of its powers, as its own wisdom and the public interests should require.”21 Language to the same effect will be found in other judgments of the same tribunal.22

§ 423. If, then, we are to give a reasonable construction to this instrument, as a constitution of government established for the common good, we must throw aside all notions of subjecting it to a strict interpretation, as if it were subversive of the great interests of society, or derogated from the inherent sovereignty of the people. And this will naturally lead us to some other rules properly belonging to the subject.

§ 424. V. Where the power is granted in general terms, the power is to be construed, as coextensive with the terms, unless some clear restriction upon it is deducible from the context. We do not mean to assert, that it is necessary, that such restriction should be expressly found in the context. It will be sufficient, if it arise by necessary implication. But it is not sufficient to show, that there was, or might have been, a sound or probable motive to restrict it. A restriction founded on conjecture is wholly inadmissible. The reason is obvious: the text was adopted by the people in its obvious, and general sense. We have no means of knowing, that any particular gloss, short of this sense, was either contemplated, or approved by the people; and such a gloss might, though satisfactory in one state, have been the very ground of objection in another. It might have formed a motive to reject it in one, and to adopt it in another. The sense of a part of the people has no title to be deemed the sense of the whole. Motives of state policy, or state interest, may properly have influence in the question of ratifying it; but the constitution itself must be expounded, as it stands; and not as that policy, or that interest may seem now to dictate. We are to construe, and not to frame the instrument.23

§ 425. VI. A power, given in general terms, is not to be restricted to particular cases, merely because it may be susceptible of abuse, and, if abused, may lead to mischievous consequences. This argument is often used in public debate; and in its common aspect addresses itself so much to popular fears and prejudices, that it insensibly acquires a weight in the public mind, to which it is no wise entitled. The argument ab inconvenienti is sufficiently open to question, from the laxity of application, as well as of opinion, to which it leads. But the argument from a possible abuse of a power against its existence or use, is, in its nature, not only perilous, but, in respect to governments, would shake their very foundation. Every form of government unavoidably includes a grant of some discretionary powers. It would be wholly imbecile without them. It is impossible to foresee all the exigencies, which may arise in the progress of events, connected with the rights, duties, and operations of a government. If they could be foreseen, it would be impossible ab ante to provide for them. The means must be subject to perpetual modification, and change; they must be adapted to the existing manners, habits, and institutions of society, which are never stationary; to the pressure of dangers, or necessities; to the ends in view; to general and permanent operations, as well as to fugitive and extraordinary emergencies. In short, if the whole society is not to be revolutionized at every critical period, and remodeled in every generation, there must be left to those, who administer the government, a very large mass of discretionary powers, capable of greater or less actual expansion according to circumstances, and sufficiently flexible not to involve the nation in utter destruction from the rigid limitations imposed upon it by an improvident jealousy. Every power, however limited, as well as broad, is in its own nature susceptible of abuse. No constitution can provide perfect guards against it. Confidence must be reposed somewhere; and in free governments, the ordinary securities against abuse are found in the responsibility of rulers to the people, and in the just exercise of their elective franchise; and ultimately in the sovereign power of change belonging to them, in cases requiring extraordinary remedies. Few cases are to be supposed, in which a power, however general, will be exerted for the permanent oppression of the people.24 And yet, cases may easily be put, in which a limitation upon such a power might be found in practice to work mischief; to incite foreign aggression; or encourage domestic disorder. The power of taxation, for instance, may be carried to a ruinous excess; and yet, a limitation upon that power might, in a given case, involve the destruction of the independence of the country.

§ 426. VII. On the other hand, a rule of equal importance is, not to enlarge the construction of a given power beyond the fair scope of its terms, merely because the restriction is inconvenient, impolitic, or even mischievous.25 If it be mischievous, the power of redressing the evil lies with the people by an exercise of the power of amendment. If they do not choose to apply the remedy, it may fairly be presumed, that the mischief is less than what would arise from a further extension of the power; or that it is the least of two evils. Nor should it ever be lost sight of, that the government of the United States is one of limited and enumerated powers; and that a departure from the true import and sense of its powers is, pro tanto, the establishment of a new constitution. It is doing for the people, what they have not chosen to do for themselves It is usurping the functions of a legislator, and deserting those of an expounder of the law. Arguments drawn from impolicy or inconvenience ought here to be of no weight. The only sound principle is to declare, ita lex scripta est, to follow, and to obey. Nor, if a principle so just and conclusive could be overlooked, could there well be found a more unsafe guide in practice, than mere policy and convenience Men on such subjects complexionally differ from each other. The same men differ from themselves at different times. Temporary delusions, prejudices, excitements, and objects have irresistible influence in mere questions of policy. And the policy of one age may ill suit the wishes, or the policy of another. The constitution is not to be subject to such fluctuations. It is to have a fixed, uniform, permanent construction. It should be, so far at least as human infirmity will allow, not dependent upon the passions or parties of particular times, but the same yesterday, today, and forever.

§ 427. It has been observed with great correctness, that although the spirit of an instrument, especially of a constitution, is to be respected not less than its letter; yet the spirit is to be collected chiefly from the letter. It would be dangerous in the extreme, to infer from extrinsic circumstances, that a case, for which the words of an instrument expressly provide, shall be exempted from its operation. Where words conflict with each other, where the different clauses of an instrument bear upon each other, and would be inconsistent, unless the natural and common import of words be varied, construction becomes necessary, and a departure from the obvious meaning of words is justifiable. But if, in any case, the plain meaning of a provision, not contradicted by any other provision in the same instrument, is to be disregarded, because we believe the framers of that instrument could not intend what they say, it must be one, where the absurdity and injustice of applying the provision to the case would be so monstrous, that all mankind would, without hesitation, unite in rejecting the application.26 This language has reference to a case where the words of a constitutional provision are sought to be restricted. But it appears with equal force where they are sought to be enlarged.

§ 428. VIII. No construction of a given power is to be allowed, which plainly defeats, or impairs its avowed objects. If, therefore, the words are fairly susceptible of two interpretations, according to their common sense and use, the one of which would defeat one, or all of the objects, for which it was obviously given, and the other of which would preserve and promote all, the former interpretation ought to be rejected, and the latter be held the true interpretation. This rule results from the dictates of mere common sense; for every instrument ought to be so construed, ut magis valeat, quam pereat.27 For instance, the constitution confers on congress the power to declare war. Now the word declare has several senses. It may mean to proclaim, or publish. But no person would imagine, that this was the whole sense, in which the word is used in this connection. It should be interpreted in the sense, in which the phrase is used among nations, when applied to such a subject matter. A power to declare war is a power to make, and carry on war. It is not a mere power to make known an existing thing, but to give life and effect to the thing itself.28 The true doctrine has been expressed by the Supreme Court: “If from the imperfection of human language there should be any serious doubts respecting the extent of any given power, the objects, for which it was given, especially when those objects are expressed in the instrument itself, should have great influence in the construction.”29

§ 429. IX. Where a power is remedial in its nature, there is much reason to contend, that it ought to be construed liberally. That was the doctrine of Mr. Chief Justice Jay, in Chisholm v. Georgia;30 and it is generally adopted in the interpretation of laws.31 But this liberality of exposition is clearly inadmissible, if it extends beyond the just and ordinary sense of the terms.

§ 430. X. In the interpretation of a power, all the ordinary and appropriate means to execute it are to be deemed a part of the power itself. This results from the very nature and design of a constitution. In giving the power, it does not intend to limit it to any one mode of exercising it, exclusive of all others. It must be obvious, (as has been already suggested,) that the means of carrying into effect the objects of a power may, nay, must be varied, in order to adapt themselves to the exigencies of the nation at different times.32 A mode efficacious and useful in one age, or under one posture of circumstances, may be wholly vain, or even mischievous at another time. Government presupposes the existence of a perpetual mutability in its own operations on those, who are its subjects; and a perpetual flexibility in adapting itself to their wants, their interests, their habits, their occupations, and their infirmities.33

§ 431. Besides; if the power only is given, without pointing out the means, how are we to ascertain, that any one means, rather than another, is exclusively within its scope? The same course of reasoning, which would deny a choice of means to execute the power, would reduce the power itself to a nullity. For, as it never could be demonstrated, that any one mode in particular was intended, and to be exclusively employed; and, as it might be demonstrated, that other means might be employed, the question, whether the power were rightfully put into exercise, would forever be subject to doubt and controversy. If one means is adopted to give it effect, and is within its scope, because it is appropriate, how are we to escape from the argument, that another, falling within the same predicament, is equally within its scope? If each is equally appropriate, how is the choice to be made between them? If one is selected, how does that exclude all others? If one is more appropriate at one time, and another at another time, where is the restriction to be found, which allows the one, and denies the other? A power granted in a frame of government is not contemplated to be exhausted in a single exertion of it, or uno flatu. It is intended for free and permanent exercise; and if the discretion of the functionaries, who are to exercise it, is not limited, that discretion, especially, as those functionaries must necessarily change, must be coextensive with the power itself. Take, for instance, the power to make war. In one age, this would authorize the purchase and employment of the weapons then ordinarily used for this purpose. But suppose these weapons are wholly laid aside, and others substituted, more efficient and powerful; is the government prohibited from employing the new modes of offence and defence? Surely not. The invention of gunpowder superseded the old modes of warfare, and may perhaps, by future inventions, be superseded in its turn. No one can seriously doubt, that the new modes would be within the scope of the power to make war, if they were appropriate to the end. It would, indeed, be a most extraordinary mode of interpretation of the constitution, to give such a restrictive meaning to its powers, as should obstruct their fair operation. A power being given, it is the interest of the nation to facilitate its execution. It can never be their interest, and cannot be presumed to be their intention, to clog and embarrass its execution, by withholding the most appropriate means. There can be no reasonable ground for preferring that construction, which would render the operations of the government difficult, hazardous, and expensive; or for imputing to the framers of the constitution a design to impede the exercise of its powers, by withholding a choice of means.

§ 432. In the practical application of government, then, the public functionaries must be left at liberty to exercise the powers, with which the people by the constitution and laws have entrusted them. They must have a wide discretion, as to the choice of means; and the only limitation upon that discretion would seem to be, that the means are appropriate to the end. And this must naturally admit of considerable latitude; for the relation between the action and the end has has been justly remarked) is not always so direct and palpable, as to strike the eye of every observer.34 If the end be legitimate and within the scope of the constitution, all the means, which are appropriate, and which are plainly adapted to that end, and which are not prohibited, may be constitutionally employed to carry it into effect.35 When, then, it is asked, who is to judge of the necessity and propriety of the laws to be passed for executing the powers of the Union, the true answer is, that the national government, like every other, must judge in the first instance of the proper exercise of its powers; and its constituents in the last. If the means are within the reach of the power, no other department can inquire into the policy or convenience of the use of them. If there be an excess by overleaping the just boundary of the power, the judiciary may generally afford the proper relief; and in the last resort the people, by adopting such measures to redress it, as the exigency may suggest, and prudence may dictate.36

§ 433. XI. And this leads us to remark, in the next place, that in the interpretation of the constitution there is no solid objection to implied powers.37 Had the faculties of man been competent to the framing of a system of government, which would leave nothing to implication, it cannot be doubted, that the effort would have been made by the framers of our constitution. The fact, however, is otherwise. There is not in the whole of that admirable instrument a grant of powers, which does not draw after it others, not expressed, but vital to their exercise; not substantive and independent, indeed, but auxiliary and subordinate.38 There is no phrase in it, which, like the articles of confederation,39 excludes incidental and implied powers, and which requires, that everything granted shall be expressly and minutely described. Even the tenth amendment, which was framed for the purpose of quieting the excessive jealousies, which had been excited, omits the word “expressly,” (which was contained in the articles of confederation,) and declares only, that “the powers, not delegated to the United States, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people;” thus leaving the question, whether the particular power, which may become the subject of contest, has been delegated to the one government, or prohibited to the other, to depend upon a fair construction of the whole instrument. The men, who drew and adopted this amendment, had experienced the embarrassments, resulting from the insertion of this word in the articles of confederation, and probably omitted it to avoid those embarrassments. A constitution, to contain an accurate detail of all the subdivisions, of which its great powers will admit, and of all the means, by which these may be carried into execution, would partake of the prolixity of a legal code, and could scarcely be embraced by the human mind. It would probably never be understood by the public. Its nature, therefore, requires, that only its great outlines should be marked, its important objects designated, and the minor ingredient which compose those objects, be deduced from the nature of those objects themselves. That this idea was entertained by the framers of the American constitution, is not only to be inferred from the nature of the instrument, but from the language. Why, else, were some of the limitations, found in the ninth section of the first article, introduced? It is also, in some degree, warranted, by their having omitted to use any restrictive term, which might prevent its receiving a fair and just interpretation. In considering this point, we should never forget, that it is a constitution we are expounding.40

§ 434. The reasoning of the Federalist is to the same effect. Every power, which is the means of carrying into effect a given power, is implied from the very nature of the original grant. It is a necessary and unavoidable implication from the act of constituting a government, and vesting it with certain specified powers. What is a power, but the ability or faculty of doing a thing? What is the ability to do a thing, but the power of employing the means necessary to its execution? What is a legislative power, but a power of making laws? What are the means to execute a legislative power, but laws?41 No axiom, indeed, is more clearly established in law or in reason, than that, where the end is required, the means are authorized. Whenever a general power to do a thing is given, every particular power necessary for doing it is included. In every new application of a general power, the particular power, which are the means of attaining the object of the general power, must always necessarily vary with that object; and be often properly varied, whilst the object remains the same.42 Even under the confederation, where the delegation of authority was confined to express powers, the Federalist remarks, that it would be easy to show, that no important power delegated by the articles of confederation had been, or could be, executed by congress, without recurring more or less to the doctrine of construction or implication!43

§ 435. XII. Another point, in regard to the interpretation of the constitution, requires us to advert to the rules applicable to cases of concurrent and exclusive powers. In what cases are the powers given to the general government exclusive, and in what cases may the states maintain a concurrent exercise? Upon this subject we have an elaborate exposition by the authors of the Federalist;44 and as it involves some of the most delicate questions growing out of the constitution, and those, in which a conflict with the states is most likely to arise, we cannot do better than to quote the reasoning.

§ 436. “An entire consolidation of the states into one complete national sovereignty, would imply an entire subordination of the parts; and whatever powers might remain in them, would be altogether dependent on the general will. But as the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the state governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty, which they before had, and which were not, by that act, exclusively delegated to the United States. This exclusive delegation, or rather this alienation of state sovereignty, would only exist in three cases: where the constitution in express terms granted an exclusive authority to the Union; where it granted, in one instance, an authority to the Union, and in another, prohibited the states from exercising the like authority; and where it granted an authority to the Union, to which a similar authority in the states would be absolutely and totally contradictory and repugnant. I use these terms to distinguish this last case from another, which might appear to resemble it; but which would, in fact, be essentially different: I mean, where the exercise of a concurrent jurisdiction might be productive of occasional interferences in the policy of any branch of administration, but would not imply any direct contradiction or repugnancy in point of constitutional authority. These three cases of exclusive jurisdiction in the federal government, may be exemplified by the following instances. The last clause but one in the eighth section of the first article, provides expressly, that congress shall exercise ‘exclusive legislation ‘ over the district to be appropriated as the seat of government. This answers to the first case. The first clause of the same section empowers congress ‘to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises; ‘ and the second clause of the tenth section of the same article declares, that ‘no state shall, without the consent of congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except for the purpose of executing its inspection laws; Hence would result an exclusive power in the Union to lay duties on imports and exports, with the particular exception mentioned. But this power is abridged by another clause, which declares, that no tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state; in consequence of which qualification, it now only extends to the duties on imports. This answers to the second case. The third will be found in that clause, which declares, that congress shall have power ‘to establish an uniform rule of naturalization throughout the United States.‘ This must necessarily be exclusive; because, if each state had power to prescribe a distinct rule, there could be no uniform rule.” The correctness of these rules of interpretation has never been controverted; and they have been often recognised by the Supreme Court.45

§ 437. The two first rules are so completely self-evident, that every attempt to illustrate them would be vain, if it had not a tendency to perplex and confuse. The last rule, viz. that which declares, that the power is exclusive in the national government, where an authority is granted to the Union, to which a similar authority in the states would be absolutely and totally contradictory and repugnant, is that alone, which may be thought to require comment. This rule seems, in its own nature, as little susceptible of doubt, as the others in reference to the constitution. For, since the constitution has declared, that the constitution and laws, and treaties in pursuance of it shall be the supreme law of the land; it would be absurd to say, that a state law, repugnant to it, might have concurrent operation and validity; and especially, as it is expressly added, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding. The repugnancy, then, being made out, it follows, that the state law is just as much void, as though it had been expressly declared to be void; or the power in congress had been expressly declared to be exclusive. Every power given to congress is by the constitution necessarily supreme; and if, from its nature, or from the words of the grant, it is apparently intended to be exclusive, it is as much so, as if the states were expressly forbidden to exercise it.46

§ 438. The principal difficulty lies, not so much in the rule, as in its application to particular cases. Here, the field for discussion is wide, and the argument upon construction is susceptible of great modifications, and of very various force. But unless, from the nature of the power, or from the obvious results of its operations, a repugnancy must exist, so as to lead to a necessary conclusion, that the power was intended to be exclusive, the true rule of interpretation is, that the power is merely concurrent. Thus, for instance, an affirmative power in congress to lay taxes, is not necessarily incompatible with a like power in the States. Both may exist without interference; and if any interference should arise in a particular case, the question of supremacy would turn, not upon the nature of the power, but upon supremacy of right in the exercise of the power in that case.47 In our complex system, presenting the rare and difficult scheme of one general government, whose action extends over the whole, but which possesses only enumerated powers, and of numerous state governments, which retain and exercise many powers not delegated to the Union, contests respecting power must arise. Were it even otherwise, the measures taken by the respective governments to execute their acknowledged powers would be often of the same description, and might sometimes interfere. This, however, does not prove, that the one is exercising, or has a right to exercise, the powers of the other.48

§ 439. And this leads us to remark, that in the exercise of concurrent powers, if there be a conflict between the laws of the Union and the laws of the state, the former being supreme, the latter must of course yield. The possibility, nay the probability, of such a conflict was foreseen by the framers of the constitution, and was accordingly expressly provided for. If a state passes a law inconsistent with the constitution of the United States it is a mere nullity. If it passes a law clearly within its own constitutional powers, still if it conflicts with the exercise of a power given to congress, to the extent of the interference its operation is suspended; for, in a conflict of laws, that which is supreme must govern. Therefore, it has often been adjudged, that if a state law is in conflict with a treaty, or an act of congress, it becomes ipso facto inoperative to the extent of the conflict.49

§ 440. From this great rule, that the constitution and laws, made in pursuance thereof, are supreme; and that they control the constitutions and laws of the states, and cannot be controlled by them, from this, which may be deemed an axiom, other auxiliary corollaries may be deduced. In the first place, that, if a power is given to create a thing, it implies a power to preserve it. Secondly, that a power to destroy, if wielded by a different hand, is hostile to and incompatible with this power to create and preserve. Thirdly, that where this repugnancy exists, the authority, which is supreme, must control, and not yield to that, over which it is supreme.50 Consequently, the inferior power becomes a nullity.51

§ 441. But a question of a still more delicate nature may arise; and that is, how far in the exercise of a concurrent power, the actual legislation of congress supersedes the state legislation, or suspends its operation over the subject matter. Are the state laws inoperative only to the extent of the actual conflict; or does the legislation of congress suspend the legislative power of the states over the subject matter? To such an inquiry, probably, no universal answer could be given. It may depend upon the nature of the power, the effect of the actual exercise, and the extent of the subject matter.

§ 442. This may, perhaps, be best illustrated by putting a case, which has been reasoned out by a very learned judge, in his own words:52 “Congress has power,” says he, “to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia; and it is presumable, that the framers of the constitution contemplated a full exercise of all these powers. Nevertheless, if congress had declined to exercise them, it was competent to the state governments to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining their respective militia in such manner, as they might think proper. But congress has provided for these subjects in the way, which that body must have supposed the best calculated to promote the general welfare, and to provide for the national defence. After this, can the state governments enter upon the same ground, provide for the same objects, as they may think proper, and punish, in their own way, violations of the laws they have so enacted? The affirmative of this question is asserted by counsel, etc. who contend, that unless such state laws are in direct contradiction to those of the United States, they are not repugnant to the constitution of the United States. – From this doctrine I must, for one, be permitted to dissent. The two laws may not be in such absolute opposition to each other, as to render the one incapable of execution without violating the injunctions of the other; and yet the will of the one legislature may be in direct collision with that of the other. This will is to be discovered, as well by what the legislature has not declared, as by what they have expressed. Congress, for example, have declared, that the punishment for disobedience of the act of congress shall be a certain fine. If that provided by the state legislature for the same offence be a similar fine with the addition of imprisonment or death, the latter law would not prevent the former from being carried into execution, and may be said, therefore, not to be repugnant to it. But surely the will of Congress is nevertheless thwarted and opposed.”53 He adds, “I consider it a novel and unconstitutional doctrine, that in cases, where the state governments have a concurrent power of legislation with the national government, they may legislate upon any subject, on which congress has acted, provided the two laws are not in terms, or in their operation contradictory and repugnant to each other.”54

§ 443. Another illustration may be drawn from the opinion of the court in another highly important case. One question was, whether the power of congress to establish uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies was exclusive, or concurrent with the states. “It does not appear,” it was then said, “to be a violent construction of the constitution, and is certainly a convenient one, to consider the power of the states as existing over such cases, as the laws of the Union may not reach. Be this as it may, the power of congress may be exercised, or declined, as the wisdom of that body shall decide. If, in the opinion of congress, uniform laws concerning bankruptcies ought not to be established, it does not follow, that partial laws may not exist, or that state legislation on the subject must cease. It is not the mere existence of the power, but its exercise, which is incompatible with the exercise of the same power by the states. It is not the right to establish these uniform laws; but their actual establishment, which is inconsistent with the partial acts of the states. If the right of the states to pass a bankrupt law is not taken away by the mere grant of that power to congress, it cannot be extinguished. It can only be suspended by the enactment of a general bankrupt law. The repeal of that law cannot, it is true, confer the power on the states; but it removes a disability to its exercise, which was created by the act of congress.”55

It is not our intention to comment on these cases; but to offer them as examples of reasoning in favor and against the exclusive power, where a positive repugnancy cannot be predicated.

§ 444. It has been sometimes argued, that when a power is granted to congress to legislate in specific cases, for purposes growing out of the Union, the natural conclusion is, that the power is designed to be exclusive; that the power is to be exercised for the good of the whole by the will of the whole, and consistently with the interests of the whole; and that these objects can nowhere be so clearly seen, or so thoroughly weighed, as in congress, where the whole nation is represented. But the argument proves too much; and pursued to its full extent, it would establish, that all the powers granted to congress are exclusive, unless where concurrent authority is expressly reserved to the states.56 For instance, upon this reasoning the power of taxation in congress would annul the whole power of taxation of the states; and thus operate a virtual dissolution of their sovereignty. Such a pretension has been constantly disclaimed.

§ 445. On the other hand, it has been maintained with great pertinacity, that the states possess concurrent authority with congress in all cases, where the power is not expressly declared to be exclusive, or expressly prohibited to the states; and if, in the exercise of a concurrent power, a conflict arises, there is no reason, why each should not be deemed equally rightful.57 But it is plain, that this reasoning goes to the direct overthrow of the principle of supremacy; and, if admitted, it would enable the subordinate sovereignty to annul the powers of the superior. There is a plain repugnance in conferring on one government a power to control the constitutional measures of another, which other, with respect to these very measures, is declared to be supreme over that, which exerts the control.58 For instance, the states have acknowledgedly a concurrent power of taxation. But it is wholly inadmissible to allow that power to be exerted over any instrument employed by the general government to execute its own powers; for such a power to tax involves a power to destroy; and this power to destroy may defeat, and render useless the power to create.59 Thus a state may not tax the mail, the mint, patent rights, custom-house papers, or judicial process of the courts of the United States.60 And yet there is no clause in the constitution, which prohibits the states from exercising the power; nor any exclusive grant to the United States. The apparent repugnancy creates, by implication, the prohibition. So congress, by the constitution, possess power to provide for governing such part of the militia, as may be employed in the service of the United States. Yet it is not said, that such power of government is exclusive. But it results from the nature of the power. No person would contend, that a state militia, while in the actual service and employment of the United States, might yet be, at the same time, governed and controlled by the laws of the state. The very nature of military operations would, in such case, require unity of command and direction. And the argument from inconvenience would be absolutely irresistible to establish an implied prohibition.61 On the other hand, congress have power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia; but if congress should make no such provision, there seems no reason, why the states may not organize, arm, and discipline their own militia. No necessary incompatibility would exist in the nature of the power; though, when exercised by congress, the authority of the states must necessarily yield. And, here, the argument from inconvenience would be very persuasive the other way. For the power to organize, arm, and discipline the militia, in the absence of congressional legislation, would seem indispensable for the defence and security of the states.62 Again, congress have power to call forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, to suppress insurrections, and repel invasions. But there does not seem any incompatibility in the states calling out their own militia as auxiliaries for the same purpose.63

§ 446. In considering, then, this subject, it would be impracticable to lay down any universal rule, as to what powers are, by implication, exclusive in the general government, or concurrent in the states; and in relation to the latter, what restrictions either on the power itself, or on the actual exercise of the power, arise by implication. In some cases, as we have seen, there may exist a concurrent power, and yet restrictions upon it must exist in regard to objects. In other cases, the actual operations of the power only are suspended or controlled, when there arises a conflict with the actual operations of the Union. Every question of this sort must be decided by itself upon its own circumstances and reasons. Because the power to regulate commerce, from its nature and objects, is exclusive, it does not follow, that the power to pass bankrupt laws also is exclusive.64

§ 447. We may, however, lay down some few rules, deducible from what has been already said, in respect to cases of implied prohibitions upon the existence or exercise of powers by the states, as guides to aid our inquiries. (1.) Wherever the power given to the general government requires, that, to be efficacious and adequate to its end, it should be exclusive, there arises a just implication for deeming it exclusive. Whether exercised, or not, in such a case makes no difference. (2.) Wherever the power in its own nature is not incompatible with a concurrent power in the states, either in its nature or exercise, there the power belongs to the states. (3.) But in such a case, the concurrency of the power may admit of restrictions or qualifications in its nature, or exercise. In its nature, when it is capable from its general character of being applied to objects or purposes, which would control, defeat, or destroy the powers of the general government. In its exercise, when there arises a conflict in the actual laws and regulations made in pursuance of the power by the general and state governments. In the former case there is a qualification engrafted upon the generality of the power, excluding its application to such objects and purposes. In the latter, there is (at least generally) a qualification, not upon the power itself, but only upon its exercise, to the extent of the actual conflict in the operations of each. (4.) In cases of implied limitations or prohibitions of power, it is not sufficient to show a possible, or potential inconvenience. There must be a plain incompatibility, a direct repugnancy, or an extreme practical inconvenience, leading irresistibly to the same conclusion. (5.) If such incompatibility, repugnancy, or extreme inconvenience would result, it is no answer, that in the actual exercise of the power, each party may, if it chooses, avoid a positive interference with the other. The objection lies to the power itself, and not to the exercise of it. If it exists, it may be applied to the extent of controlling, defeating, or destroying the other. It can never be presumed, that the framers of the constitution, declared to be supreme, could intend to put its powers at hazard upon the good wishes, or good intentions, or discretion of the states in the exercise of their acknowledged powers. (6.) Where no such repugnancy, incompatibility, or extreme inconvenience would result, then the power in the states is restrained, not in its nature, but in its operations, and then only to the extent of the actual interference. In fact, it is obvious, that the same means may often be applied to carry into operation different powers. And a state may use the same means to effectuate an acknowledged power in itself, which congress may apply for another purpose in the acknowledged exercise of a very different power. Congress may make that a regulation of commerce, which a state may employ as a guard for its internal policy, or to preserve the public health or peace, or to promote its own peculiar interests.65 These rules seem clearly deducible from the nature of the instrument; and they are confirmed by the positive injunctions of the tenth amendment of the constitution.

§ 448. XIII. Another rule of interpretation deserves consideration in regard to the constitution. There are certain maxims, which have found their way, not only into judicial discussions, but into the business of common life, as founded in common sense, and common convenience. Thus, it is often said, that in an instrument a specification of particulars is an exclusion of generals; or the expression of one thing is the exclusion of another. Lord Bacon’s remark, “that, as exception strengthens the force of a law in cases not excepted, so enumeration weakens it in cases not enumerated,” has been perpetually referred to, as a fine illustration. These maxims, rightly understood, and rightly applied, undoubtedly furnish safe guides to assist us in the task of exposition. But they are susceptible of being applied, and indeed are often ingeniously applied, to the subversion of the text, and the objects of the instrument. Thus, it has been suggested, that an affirmative provision in a particular case excludes the existence of the like provision in every other case; and a negative provision in a particular case admits the existence of the same thing in every other case.66 Both of these deductions are, or rather may be, unfounded in solid reasoning.67 Thus, it was objected to the constitution, that, having provided for the trial by jury in criminal cases, there was an implied exclusion of it in civil cases. As if there was not an essential difference between silence and abolition, between a positive adoption of it in one class of cases, and a discretionary right (it being clearly within the reach of the judicial powers confided to the Union) to adopt, or reject it in all or any other cases.68 One might with just as much propriety hold, that, because congress has power “to declare war,” but no power is expressly given to make peace, the latter is excluded; or that, because it is declared, that “no bill of attainder, or ex post facto law shall be passed” by congress, therefore congress possess in all other cases the right to pass any laws. The truth is, that in order to ascertain, how far an affirmative or negative provision excludes, or implies others, we must look to the nature of the provision, the subject matter, the objects, and the scope of the instrument. These, and these only, can properly determine the rule of construction. There can be no doubt, that an affirmative grant of powers in many cases will imply an exclusion of all others. As, for instance, the constitution declares, that the powers of congress shall extend to certain enumerated cases. This specification of particulars evidently excludes all pretensions to a general legislative authority. Why? Because an affirmative grant of special powers would be absurd, as well as useless, if a general authority were intended.69 In relation, then, to such a subject as a constitution, the natural and obvious sense of its provisions, apart from any technical or artificial rules, is the true criterion of construction.70

§ 449. XIV. Another rule of interpretation of the constitution, suggested by the foregoing, is, that the natural import of a single clause is not to be narrowed, so as to exclude implied powers resulting from its character, simply because there is another clause, which enumerates certain powers, which might otherwise be deemed implied powers within its scope; for in such cases we are not, as a matter of course, to assume, that the affirmative specification excludes all other implications. This rule has been put in a clear and just light by one of our most distinguished statesmen; and his illustration will be more satisfactory, perhaps, than any other, which can be offered. “The constitution,” says he, “vests in congress, expressly, the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, and the power to regulate trade. That the former power, if not particularly expressed, would have been included in the latter, as one of the objects of a general power to regulate trade, is not necessarily impugned by its being so expressed. Examples of this sort cannot sometimes be easily avoided, and are to be seen elsewhere in the constitution. Thus, the power ‘to define and punish offences against the law of nations’ includes the power, afterwards particularly expressed, ‘to make rules concerning captures,’ etc. from offending neutrals. So, also, a power ‘to coin money’ would, doubtless, include that of ‘ regulating its value,’ had not the latter power been expressly inserted. The term taxes, if standing alone, would certainly have included ‘duties, imposts, and excises.’ In another clause it is said, ‘ no tax or duty shall be laid on exports.’ Here the two terms are used as synonymous. And in another clause, where it is said ‘no state shall lay any imposts or duties,’ etc. the terms imposts and duties are synonymous. Pleonasms, tautologies, and the promiscuous use of terms and phrases, differing in their shades of meaning, (always to be expounded with reference to the context, and under the control of the general character and scope of the instrument, in which they are found,) are to be ascribed, sometimes to the purposes of greater caution, sometimes to the imperfection of language, and sometimes to the imperfection of man himself. In this view of the subject it was quite natural, however certainly the power to regulate trade might include a power to impose duties on it, not to omit it in a clause enumerating the several modes of revenue authorized by the construction. In few cases could the [rule], ex majori cautela, occur with more claim to respect.”71

§ 450. We may close this view of some of the more important rules to be employed in the interpretation of the constitution, by adverting to a few belonging to mere verbal criticism, which are indeed but corollaries from what has been said, and have been already alluded to; but which, at the same time, it may be of some use again distinctly to enunciate.

§ 451. XV. In the first place, then, every word employed in the constitution is to be expounded in its plain, obvious, and common sense, unless the context furnishes some ground to control, qualify, or enlarge it. Constitutions are not designed for metaphysical or logical subtleties, for niceties of expression, for critical propriety, for elaborate shades of meaning, or for the exercise of philosophical acuteness, or judicial research. They are instruments of a practical nature, founded on the common business of human life, adapted to common wants, designed for common use, and fitted for common understandings. The people make them; the people adopt them; the people must be supposed to read them, with the help of common sense; and cannot be presumed to admit in them any recondite meaning, or any extraordinary gloss.

§ 452. XVI. But, in the next place, words, from the necessary imperfection of all human language, acquire different shades of meaning, each of which is equally appropriate, and equally legitimate; each of which recedes in a wider or narrower degree from the others, according to circumstances; and each of which receives from its general use some indefiniteness and obscurity, as to its exact boundary and extent.72 We are, indeed, often driven to multiply commentaries from the vagueness of words in themselves; and perhaps still more often from the different manner, in which different minds are accustomed to employ them. They expand or contract, not only from the conventional modifications introduced by the changes of society; but also from the more loose or more exact uses, to which men of different talents, acquirements, and tastes, from choice or necessity apply them. No person can fail to remark the gradual deflections in the meaning of words from one age to another; and so constantly is this process going on, that the daily language of life in one generation sometimes requires the aid of a glossary in another. It has been justly remarked,73 that no language is so copious, as to supply words and phrases for every complex idea; or so correct, as not to include many, equivocally denoting different ideas. Hence it must happen, that however accurately objects may be discriminated in themselves, and however accurately the discrimination may be considered, the definition of them may be rendered inaccurate by the inaccuracy of the terms, in which it is delivered. We must resort then to the context, and shape the particular meaning, so as to make it fit that of the connecting words, and agree with the subject matter.

§ 453. XVII. In the next place, where technical words are used, the technical meaning is to be applied to them, unless it is repelled by the context.74 But the same word often possesses a technical, and a common sense. In such a case the latter is to be preferred, unless some attendant circumstance points clearly to the former. No one would doubt, when the constitution has declared, that “the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless” under peculiar circumstances, that it referred, not to every sort of writ, which has acquired that name; but to that, which has been emphatically so called, on account of its remedial power to free a party from arbitrary imprisonment.75 So, again, when it declares, that in suits at common law, etc. the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, though the phrase “common law” admits of different meanings, no one can doubt, that it is used in a technical sense. When, again, it declares, that congress shall have power to provide a navy, we readily comprehend, that authority is given to construct, prepare, or in any other manner to obtain a navy. But when congress is further authorized to provide for calling forth the militia, we perceive at once, that the word “provide” is used in a somewhat different sense.

§ 454. XVIII. And this leads us to remark, in the next place, that it is by no means a correct rule of interpretation to construe the same word in the same sense, wherever it occurs in the same instrument. It does not follow, either logically or grammatically, that because a word is found in one connection in the constitution, with a definite sense, therefore the same sense is to be adopted in every other connection, in which it occurs.76 This would be to suppose, that the framers weighed only the force of single words, as philologists or critics, and not whole clauses and objects, as statesmen, and practical reasoners. And yet nothing has been more common, than to subject the constitution to this narrow and mischievous criticism. Men of ingenious and subtle minds, who seek for symmetry and harmony in language, having found in the constitution a word used in some sense, which falls in with their favorite theory of interpreting it, have made that the standard, by which to measure its use in every other part of the instrument. They have thus stretched it, as it were, on the bed of Procrustes, lopping off its meaning, when it seemed too large for their purposes, and extending it, when it seemed too short. They have thus distorted it to the most unnatural shapes, and crippled, where they have sought only to adjust its proportions according to their own opinions. It was very justly observed by Mr. Chief Justice Marshall, in The Cherokee Nation v. The State of Georgia,77 that “it has been said, that the same words have not necessarily the same meaning attached to them, when found in different parts of the same instrument. Their meaning is controlled by the context. This is undoubtedly true. In common language, the same word has various meanings; and the peculiar sense, in which it is used in any sentence, is to be determined by the context.” A very easy example of this sort will be found in the use of the word “establish,” which is found in various places in the constitution. Thus, in the preamble, one object of the constitution is avowed to be “to establish justice,” which seems here to mean to settle firmly, to fix unalterably, or rather, perhaps, as justice, abstractedly considered, must be considered as forever fixed and unalterable, to dispense or administer justice. Again, the constitution declares, that congress shall have power “to establish an uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies,” where it is manifestly used as equivalent to make, or form, and not to fix or settle unalterably and forever. Again, “congress shall have power to establish post-offices and post-roads,” where the appropriate sense would seem to be to create, to found, and to regulate, not so much with a view to permanence of form, as to convenience of action. Again, it is declared, that “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” which seems to prohibit any laws, which shall recognise, found, confirm, or patronize any particular religion, or form of religion, whether permanent or temporary, whether already existing, or to arise in future. In this clause, establishment seems equivalent in meaning to settlement, recognition, or support. And again, in the preamble, it is said, “We, the people, etc. do ordain and establish this constitution,” etc. where the most appropriate sense seems to be to create, to ratify, and to confirm. So, the word “state” will be found used in the constitution in all the various senses, to which we have before alluded. It sometimes means, the separate sections of territory occupied by the political societies within each; sometimes the particular governments established by these societies; sometimes these societies as organized into these particular governments; and lastly, sometimes the people composing these political societies in their highest sovereign capacity.78

§ 455. XIX. But the most important rule, in cases of this nature, is, that a constitution of government does not, and cannot, from its nature, depend in any great degree upon mere verbal criticism, or upon the import of single words. Such criticism may not be wholly without use; it may sometimes illustrate, or unfold the appropriate sense; but unless it stands well with the context and subject matter, it must yield to the latter. While, then, we may well resort to the meaning of single words to assist our inquiries, we should never forget, that it is an instrument of government we are to construe; and, as has been already stated, that must be the truest exposition, which best harmonizes with its design, its objects, and its general structure.79

§ 456. The remark of Mr. Burke may, with a very slight change of phrase be addressed as an admonition to all those, who are called upon to frame, or to interpret a constitution. Government is a practical thing made for the happiness of mankind, and not to furnish out a spectacle of uniformity to gratify the schemes of visionary politicians. The business of those, who are called to administer it, is to rule, and not to wrangle. It would be a poor compensation, that one had triumphed in a dispute, whilst we had lost an empire;80 that we had frittered down a power, and at the same time had destroyed the republic.

I will continue to add the commentaries as I can get to them and as they become relevant to current conditions in the United States. The Preamble is the next in this series.

Please also see my series on the Rights of American Citizens starting with RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division One
My series on the non-revisionist history of the world beginning with Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of the World With Biblical References Part 1

The Constitution in Plain English


1.    “The government of the Union,” says Mr. Chief Justice Marshall, in delivering the opinion of the court in McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, “is emphatically and truly a government of the people. It emanates from them; its powers are granted by them, and are to be exercised directly on them and for their benefit.” Id. 404, 405; see also Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat. R. 264, 413, 414. “The government of the United States was erected,” says Mr. Chancellor Kent, with equal force and accuracy, “by the free voice and the joint will of the people of America for their common defence and general welfare.” 1 Kent’s Comm. Lect. 10, p. 189.
2.    I have used the expressive words of Mr. Webster, deeming them as exact as any that could be used. See Webster’s Speeches, p, 410, 418, 419; 4 Elliot’s Debates, 338, 343.
3.    1 Black. Comm. 59, 60. See also Ayliffe’s Pandects, B. 1, tit 4, p. 25, &c.; 1 Domat. Prelim. Book, p. 9; Id. Treatise on Laws, ch. 12, p. 74.
4.    Id. See also Woodes. Elem. of Jurisp. p. 36. — Rules of a similar nature will be found laid down in Vattel, B. 2, ch. 17, from §262 to 310, with more ample illustrations and more various qualifications. But not a few of his rules appear to me to want accuracy and soundness. Bacon’s Abridg. title, Statute I. contains an excellent summary of the rules for construing statutes. Domat, also, contains many valuable rule in respect to interpretation. See his Treatise on Laws, c. 12, p. 74 &c. and Preliminary Discourse, tit. 1, §2, p. 6 to 16.
5.    Book 2, ch. 7, §3.
6.    The foregoing remarks are borrowed almost in terms from Rutherforth’s Institutes of Natural Law (B. 2, ch. 7, §4 to 11), which contain a very lucid exposition of the general rules of interpretation. The whole chapter deserves an attentive perusal.
7.    The value of contemporary interpretation is much insisted on by the Supreme Court, in Stuart v. Laird, 2 Cranch, 299, 309, in Martin v. Hunter, 1 Wheat. R. 304, and in Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat. R. 264, 418 to 421. There are several instances, however, in which the contemporary interpretations by some of the most distinguished founders of the constitution have been overruled. One of the most striking is to be found in the decision of the Supreme Court of the suability of a state by any citizen of another state;* and another in the decision by the Executive and the Senate, that the consent of the latter is not necessary to removals from office, although it is for appointments.ϯ
*   Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall. 419.
ϯ   The Federalist, No. 77.
8.    Mr. Jefferson has laid down two rules, which he deems perfect canons for the interpretation of the constitution.* The first is “The capital and lending object of the constitution was, to leave with the states all authorities, which respected their own citizens only, and to transfer to the United States those, which respected citizens of foreign or other states; to make us several as to ourselves, but one as to all others. In the latter case, then, constructions should lean to the general jurisdiction, if the words will bear it; and in favor of the states in the former, if possible, to be so construed.” Now, the very theory, on which this canon is founded, is contradicted by the provisions of the constitution itself. I many instances authorities and powers are given, which respect citizens of the respective states, without reference to foreigners, or the citizens of other states.ϯ But if this general theory were true, it would furnish no just rule of interpretation, since a particular clause might form an exception to it; and, indeed, every clause ought, at all events, to be construed according to its fair intent and objects, as disclosed in its language. What sort of a rule is that, which, without regard to the intent or objects of a particular clause, insists, that it shall, if possible, (not if reasonable) be construed in favor of the states, simply because it respects their citizens? The second canon is, “On every question of construction [we should] carry ourselves back to the time, when the constitution was adopted; recollect the spirit manifested in the debates; and instead of trying, what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one, in which it was passed.” Now, who does not see the utter looseness, and incoherence of this canon. How are we to know, what was thought of particular clauses of the constitution at the time of its adoption? In many cases, no printed debates give any account of any construction; and where any is given, different persons held different doctrines. Whose is to prevail? Besides; of all the state conventions, the debates of five only are preserved, and these very imperfectly. What is to be done, as to the other eight states? What is to be done, as to the eleven new states, which have come into the Union under constructions, which have been established, against what some persons may deem the meaning of the framers of it? How are we to arrive at what is the most probable meaning? Are Mr. Hamilton, and Mr. Madison, and Mr. Jay, the expounders in the Federalist, to be followed. Or are others of a different opinion to guide us? Are we to be governed by the opinions of a few, now dead, who have left them on record? Or by those of a few now living, simply because they were actors in those days, (constituting not one in a thousand of those, who were called to deliberate upon the constitution, and not one in ten thousand of those, who were in favor or against it, among the people)? Or are we to be governed by the opinions of those, who constituted a majority of those, who were called to act on that occasion, either as framers of, or voters upon, the constitution? If by the latter, in what manner can we know those opinions? Are we to be governed by the sense of a majority of a particular state, or of all of the United States? If so, how are we to ascertain, what that sense was? Is the sense of the constitution to be ascertained, not by its own text, but by the “probable meaning” to be gathered by conjectures from scattered documents, from private papers, from the table talk of some statesmen, or the jealous exaggerations of others? Is the constitution of the United States to be the only instrument, which is not to be interpreted by what is written, but by probable guesses, aside from the text? What would be said of interpreting a statute of a state legislature, by endeavoring to find out, from private sources, the objects and opinions of every member; how every one thought; what he wished; how he interpreted it? Suppose different persons had different opinions, what is to be done? Suppose different persons are not agreed, as to “the probable meaning” of the framers or of the people, what interpretation is to be followed? These, and many questions of the same sort, might be asked. It is obvious, that there can be no security to the people in any constitution of government, if they are not to judge of it by the fair meaning of the words of the text; but the words are to be bent and broken by the “probable meaning” of persons, whom they never knew, and whose opinions, and means of information, may be no better than their own? The people adopted the constitution according to the words of the text in their reasonable interpretation, and not according to the private interpretation of any particular men. The opinions of the latter may sometimes aid us in arriving at just results; but they can never be conclusive. The Federalist denied, that the president could remove a public officer without the consent of the senate. The first congress affirmed his right by a mere majority. Which is to be followed?
*    Jefferson’s Corresp. 373; Id. 391, 392; Id. 396.
ϯ    Jefferson’s Corresp. 391, 392, 396.

9.    1 Tucker’s Black. Comm. App. 151.
10.    B. 2, § 305.
11.    § 508.
12.    Rawle on the Constitution, ch. 1, p. 31.
13.    Martin v. Hunter, 1 Wheat. R. 304, 325.
14.    The Federalist, No. 37.
15.    Wheat. R. 304; S. C. 3 Peters’s Cond. R. 575.
16.    This is still more forcibly stated by Mr. Chief Justice Marshall in delivering the opinion of the court in McCulloch v. Maryland, in a passage already cited. 4 Wheat. R. 316, 402 to 405.
17.    See also McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. R. 316, 402 to 406.
18.    See also Id. 222, and Mr. Chief Justice Marshall’s opinion in Ogden v. Saunders, 12 Wheat. R. 332.
It has been remarked by President John Q. Adams, that “it is a circumstance, which will not escape the observation of a philosophical historian, that the constructive powers of the national government have been stretched to their extremest tension by that party when in power, which has been most tenderly scrupulous of the state sovereignty, when uninvested with the authority of the union themselves.” He adds, “Of these inconsistencies, our two great parties can have little to say in reproof of each other.” Without inquiring into the justice of the remark in general, it may be truly stated. that the Embargo of 1807, and the admission of Louisiana into the Union, are very striking illustrations of the application of constructive powers.
19.    See Ogden v. Saunders, 12 Wheat. R. 332, Opinion of Mr. Chief Justice Marshall.
20.    See Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. R. 189.
21.    Hunter v. Martin, 1 Wheat. R. 304, 326, 327; S. C. 3 Peters’s Cond. R. 575, 583.
22.    See Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. R. 1,187, &c. 222, &c.
23.    See Sturgis v. Crowninshield, 4 Wheat. R. 112, 202.
24.    Mr. Justice Johnson, in delivering the opinion of the court in Anderson v. Dunn, (6 Wheat. 204, 226) uses the following expressive language: “The idea is Utopian, that government can exist without leaving the exercise of discretion some where. Public security against the abuse of such discretion must rest on responsibility, and stated appeals to public approbation. Where all power is derived from the people, and public functionaries at short intervals deposit it at the feet of the people, to be resumed again only at their own wills, individual fears may be alarmed by the monsters of imagination, but individual liberty can be in little danger.”
25.    See United States v. Fisher, 2 Cranch, 358; S. C. Peters’s Cond. R. 421.
26.    Sturgis v. Crowninshield, 4 Wheat R 122, 202.
27.    See Bacon’s Abridg. Statute I; Vattel, B. 2, ch. 17, § 277 to 285, 299 to 302.
28.    See Bas v. Tingey 4 Dall. R. 37; S. C. 1 Peters’s Cond. R. 221.
29.    Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. R. 1,188, 189.
30.    2 Dall. R. 419; S. C. 2 Cond. R. 635, 652.
31.    Bacon’s Abridg. Statute 1. 8.
32.    The Federalist, No. 44.
33.    The reasoning of Mr. Chief Justice Marshall on this subject, in McCulloch v. Maryland, (4 Wheat. 316) is so cogent and satisfactory, that we shall venture to cite it at large. After having remarked, that words have various senses, and that what is the true construction of any used in the constitution must depend upon the subject, the context, and the intentions of the people, to he gathered from the instrument, he proceeds thus:

The subject is the execution of those great powers, on which the welfare of a nation essentially depends. It must have been the intention of those, who gave these powers, to insure, as far as human prudence could insure, their beneficial execution. This could not be done by confiding the choice of means to such narrow limits, as not to leave it in the power of congress to adopt any, which might be appropriate, and which were conducive to the end. This provision is made in a constitution intended to endure for ages to come, and, consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs. To have prescribed the means, by which government should, in all future time, execute its powers, would have been to change entirely the character of the instrument, and give it the properties of a legal code. It would have been an unwise attempt to provide, by immutable rules, for exigencies, which, if foreseen at all, must have been seen dimly, and which can be best provided for, as they occur. To have declared, that the best means shall not be used, but would deny a choice of means to execute the power, would reduce the power itself to a nullity. For, as it never could be demonstrated, that any one mode in particular was intended, and to be exclusively employed; and, as it might be demonstrated, that other means might be employed, the question, whether the power were rightfully put into exercise, would for ever be subject to doubt and controversy. 1 If one means is adopted to give it effect, and is within its scope, because it is appropriate, how are we to escape from the argument, that another, falling within the same predicament, is equally within its scope? If each is equally appropriate, how is the choice to be made between them? If one is selected, how does that exclude all others? If one is more appropriate at one time, and another at another time, where is the restriction to be found, which allows the one, and denies the other? A power granted in a frame of government is not contemplated to be exhausted in a single exertion of it, or uno flatu. It is intended for free and permanent exercise; and if the discretion of the functionaries, who are to exercise it, is not limited, that discretion, especially, as those functionaries must necessarily change, must be coextensive with the power itself. Take, for instance, the power to make war. In one age, this would authorize the purchase and employment of the weapons then ordinarily used for this purpose. But suppose these weapons are wholly laid aside, and others substituted, more efficient and powerful; is the government prohibited from employing the new modes of offence and defence? Surely not. The invention of gunpowder superseded the old modes of warfare, and may perhaps, by future inventions, be superseded in its turn. No one can seriously doubt, that the new modes would be within the scope of the power to make war, if they were appropriate to the end. It would, indeed, be a most extraordinary mode of interpretation of the constitution, to give such a restrictive meaning to its powers, as should obstruct their fair operation. A power being given, it is the interest of the nation to facilitate its execution. It can never be their interest, and cannot be presumed to be their intention, to clog and embarrass its execution, by withholding the most appropriate means. There can be no reasonable ground for preferring that construction, which would render the operations of the government difficult, hazardous, and expensive; or for imputing to the framers of the constitution a design to impede the exercise of its powers, by withholding a choice of means.*So, with respect to the whole penal code of the United States: whence arises the power to punish, in cases not prescribed by the constitution? All admit, that the government may legitimately, punish any violation of its laws; and yet, this is not among the enumerated powers of congress. The right to enforce the observance of law, by punishing its infraction, might be denied with the more plausibility, because it is expressly given in some cases. Congress is empowered ‘to provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States,’ and ‘to define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offences against the law of nations.’ The several powers of congress may exist, in a very imperfect state to be sure, but they may exist, and be carried into execution, although no punishment should be inflicted in cases, where the right to punish is not expressly given.Take, for example, the power ‘to establish post offices and post roads.’ This power is executed by the single act of making the establishment. But, from this has been inferred the power, and duty of carrying the mail along the post road, from one post office to another. And, from this implied power has again been inferred the right to punish those, who steal letters from the post office, or rob the mail. It may be said, with some plausibility, that the right to carry the mail, and to punish those, who rob it, is not indispensably necessary to the establishment of a post office, and post road. This right is indeed essential to the beneficial exercise of the power, but not indispensably necessary to its existence. So, of the punishment of the crimes of stealing or falsifying a record, or process of a court of the United States, or of perjury in such court. To punish these offences is certainly conducive to the due administration of justice. But courts may exist, and may decide the causes brought before them, though such crimes escape punishment.The baneful influence of this narrow construction, on all the operations of the government, and the absolute impracticability of maintaining it without rendering the government incompetent to its great objects, might be illustrated by numerous examples drawn from the constitution, and from our laws. The good sense of the public has pronounced without hesitation, that the power of punishment appertains to sovereignty, and may be exercised, whenever the sovereign has a right to act, as incidental to his constitutional powers. It is a means for carrying into execution all sovereign powers, and may be used, although not indispensably necessary. It is a right incidental to the power, and conducive to its beneficial exercise.ϯ

*   McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. R. 316, 408.
ϯ     See United States v. Fisher, 2 Cranch, 358; S. C. 1 Peters’s Cond. R. 421, 429.
34.    See the remarks of Mr. Justice Johnson, in delivering the opinion of the court in Anderson v. Dunn, 6 Wheat. R. 204, 226; United States v. Fisher, 2 Cranch. 358; S. C. 1 Peters’s Cond. R. 421, 429.
35.    McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. R, 316, 409, 410, 421, 423; United States v. Fisher, 2 Cranch, 358; S. C. 1 Peters’s Cond. R. 421.
36.    The Federalist, No. 33, 44; McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. R. 316, 423.
37.    In the discussions, as to the constitutionality of the Bank of the United States, in the cabinet of President Washington, upon the original establishment of the Bank, there was a large range of argument, pro el contra, in respect to implied powers. The reader will find a summary of the lending views on each side in the fifth volume of Marshall’s Life of Washington, App. p. 3, note 3, &c.; 4 Jefferson’s Corresp. 523 to 526; and in Hamilton’s Argument on Constitutionality of Bank, 1 Hamilton’s Works, 111 to 155.
38.    Anderson v. Dunn, 6 Wheat. 204, 226.
39.    Article 2.
40.    Per Mr. Chief Justice Marshall, in McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat R. 316, 406, 407, 421.
41.    The Federalist, No. 33.
42.    The Federalist, No. 44.
43.    The Federalist, No. 44.
44.    The Federalist, No. 32.
45.    See Huston v. More, 5 Wheat. R. 1, 22, 24, 48; Ogden v. Gibbons, 9 Wheat. R. 1, 198, 210, 228, 235; Sturgis v. Crowninshield, 4 Wheat. R. 122, 192, 193; Ogden v. Saunders, 12 Wheat. 1, 275, 307, 322, 334, 335.
46.    Sturgis v. Crowninshield, 4 Wheat. R. 122, 192, 193; Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. R. 1, 198, &c.
47.    The Federalist, No. 32; Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. R. 1,198, 199 to 205; McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat, R. 316, 425.
48.    Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. R. 1, 205. — Mr. Chancellor Kent has given this whole subject of exclusive and concurrent power a thorough examination; and the result will be found most ably stated in his learned Commentaries, Lecture 18. 1 Kent Comm. 364 to 379, 2d edit. p. 387 to 405.
49.    Ware v. Hylton, 3 Dall. 199, S. C. 1, Conden. R. 99, 112,127, 128, 129; Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. R. 1, 210, 211; McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. R. 316, 405, 406, 425 to 436 Houston v. Moore. 5 Wheat. R. 1, 22, 24, 49, 51, 53, 56; Sturgis v. Crowninshield, 2 Wheat. R. 1, 190,196; Golden v. Prince, 3 Wash. C. C. R. 313, 321; The Federalist, No. 32; Brown v. Maryland, 12 Wheat. R. 419, 419.
50.    McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. R. 316, 426.
51.    Sturgis v. Crowninshield, 4 Wheat. R. 1, 193.
52.    Mr. Justice Washington, Houston v. Moore, 5 Wheat. R. 1, 21, 22.
53.    5 Wheat R. p. 22.
54.    Id. 24. See also Golden v. Prince, 3 Wash. C. C. R. 313, 324, &c.;
55.    Sturgis v. Crowninshield, 4 Wheat. R. 122, 195, 196. See also Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. R. 1, 197, 227, 235, 238; Houston v. Moore, 5 wheat. R. 34, 49, 52, 54, 55. — This opinion, that the power to pass bankrupt laws is not exclusive, has not been unanimously adopted by the Supreme Court. Mr. Justice Washington maintained at all times an opposite opinion; and his opinion is known to have been adopted by at least one other of the judges of the Supreme Court. The reasons, on which Mr. J. Washington’s opinion is founded, will be found at large in the case of Golden v. Prince, 3 Wash. C. C. R. 313, 322, &c. See also Ogden v. Saunders, 12 Wheat. R. 213, 264, 265, and Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. R. 1, 209, 226, 238.
56.    Houston v. Moore, 5 Wheat. R. 1, 49, 55, 56.
57.    See Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. R. 1,197, 210; McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. R. 316, 527.
58.    McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. R. 316, 431.
59.    Ibid.
60.    Id. 432.
61.    Houston v. Moore, 5 Wheat. R. 1, 53.
62.    Houston v Moore, 5 Wheat. R. 50, 51, 52.
63.    Id. 54, 55.
64.    Sturgis v. Crowninshield, 4 Wheat. 122, 195, 197, 199; Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. R. 1,196,197, 209.
65.    See Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. R. 1, 203 to 210.
66.    See The Federalist, No. 83, 84.
67.    Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat. R. 395 to 401.
68.    The Federalist, No. 83.
69.    The Federalist, No. 83. See Vattel, B. 2, ch, 17, §282.
70.    The Federalist, No. 83.
71.    Mr. Madison’s Letter to Mr. Cabell, 18th September, 1828.
72.    See Vattel, B. 2, ch. 17, §262, §299.
73.    The Federalist, No. 37.
74.    See Vattel, B. 2, ch. 17, §276, 277.
75.    Ex parte Bollman & Swartout, 4 Cranch, 75; S. C. 2 Peters’s Cond. R. 33.
76.    Vattel, B. 2, ch. 17, §281.
77.    5 Peters’s Rep. 1, 19.
78.    Mr. Madison’s Virginia Report, 7 January, 1800, p. 5; ante, §208, p. 193.
79.    See Vattel, B. 2, ch. 17, §285, 286.
80.    Burke’s Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol in 1777.

Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry and Henry’s Virginia Resolutions of 1765

PatrickHenryPatrick Henry was an early friend and companion of Thomas Jefferson. He was a jovial young fellow noted for mimicry, practical jokes, fiddling and dancing. Jefferson’s holidays were sometimes spent with Henry, and the two together would go off on hunting excursions of which each was passionately fond. Both were swift of foot and sound of wind.

Deer, turkey, foxes and other game were eagerly pursued. Jefferson looked upon Patrick Henry as the moving spirit of all the fun of the younger circle, and had not the faintest idea of the wonderful talents that lay latent in his companion’s mind.

See also: Patrick Henry may well be proved a Prophet as well as a Statesman

And, Henry too, did not see in the slender, freckled, sandy-haired Jefferson, the coming man who was to be united with him in some of the most stirring and important events in American history.

Jefferson did not realize that this rustic youngster, careless of dress, and apparently thoughtless in manner, and sometimes, to all appearance, so unconcerned that he was taken by some to be an idiot, was to be the flaming .tongue of a coming Revolution. Henry did not dream that this fiddling boy, Jefferson, was to be the potent pen of a Declaration which was to emancipate a hemisphere.

One day in 176o, just after Jefferson had entered upon his college studies at Williamsburg, Henry came to his room to tell him,that since their parting of a few months before, after the Christmas holidays, he had studied law, and had come to Williamsburg to get a license to practice. The fact was he had studied law but six weeks, and yet felt himself able to pass the examination. The examination was conducted by four examiners. Three of them signed the license. The fourth, George Wythe, refused his signature. But Henry was now duly admitted to the bar. He went back, however, to assist his father-in-law, Mr. Shelton, in tending his tavern, and for four years, practicing occasionally, he waited his time.

In May, 1765, Henry was elected to the House of Burgesses which met at Williamsburg. While in attendance as a member Henry was the guest of young Jefferson. Henry presented a rustic appearance. His dress was coarse and worn. His fame had not become fully known at Williamsburg, “and he moved about the streets unrecognized though not unmarked. The very oddity of his appearance provoked comment.”

In the Assembly were some of the most brilliant and distinguished men in the Colony. Among them were Peyton Randolph, George Wythe, John Robinson, Richard Henry Lee, and Edmund Pendleton.

Dignified manners prevailed among the members. An elaborate and formal courtesy characterized them in their proceedings. They were polished and aristocratic men, not specially interested in the welfare of the common people. They were strongly desirous of perpetuating the class distinctions observed in Virginia society. A very marked contrast was apparent between them and the tall, gaunt, coarse-attired, unpolished member from Louisa.

Not being personally known to the majority of the House, little notice was taken of him, and no expectations of any particular influence to be exercised by him upon its deliberations were expected. When the news of the passage of the Stamp Act reached the assembly, amazement and indignation were felt by the Royalist leaders, at the folly of the English ministry. But there seemed no way before them but submission to the Imperial decree. But Henry saw that the hour had come for meeting the issue between the King and the Colonies.

Patrick Henry addressing the Virginia Assembly with 5 resolutions Stamp Act

The Greatest Speech in American History (Give me Liberty or Give me Death)

He rose in his seat and offered his famous Five Resolutions, which in substance declared that Englishmen living in America had all the rights of Englishmen living in England, and that all attempts to impose taxes upon them without the consent of their own representatives, had “a manifest tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom.

These resolutions provoked an animated and exciting debate. There is a strong probability that Jefferson knew the intentions of Henry, for he was present on that ever memorable occasion in the House.

No provision was made in the Assembly chamber for spectators. There was no gallery from which they could look down upon the contestants. In the doorway between the lobby and the chamber Jefferson took his stand, intently watching Henry’s attitude and actions.

In a hesitating way, stammering in his utterances, he began reading his Resolutions. Then followed the opening sentences of the magnificent oration of this “Demosthenes of the woods,” as Byron termed him.

No promise did they give of what was to follow. Very soon the transformation came. Jefferson saw him draw himself to his full height and sweep with a conqueror’s gaze the entire audience before and about him.

No impediment now; no inarticulate utterances now. With a voice rich and full, and musical, he poured out his impassioned plea for the liberties of the people. Then soaring to one of his boldest flights, he cried out in electric tones:

Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and George the Third ______.” The Speaker sprang to his feet, crying, “Treason! treason!” The whole assembly was in an uproar, shouting with the Speaker, “Treason! treason!” Not only the royalists, but others who were thoroughly alarmed by the orator’s audacious words, joined in the cry. But never for a moment did Henry flinch. Fixing his eye upon the Speaker, and throwing his arm forward from his dilating form, as though to hurl the words with the power of a thunderbolt, he added in a tone none but he himself could command,______ “May profit by their example.

Then, with a defiant look around the room, he said, “If this be treason, make the most of it.

Fifty-nine years afterwards Jefferson continued to speak of that great occasion with unabated enthusiasm. He narrated anew the stirring scenes when the shouts of “treason, treason,” echoed through the Hall.

In his record of the debate which followed the speech of Henry he described it as “most bloody.” The arguments against the resolutions, he said were swept away by the “torrents of sublime eloquence” from the lips of Patrick Henry. With breathless interest, Jefferson, standing in the doorway, watched the taking of the vote on the last resolution. It was upon this resolution that the battle had been waged the hottest. It was carried by a majority of a single vote. When the result was announced, Peyton Randolph, the King’s Attorney General, brushed by Jefferson, in going out of the House, exclaiming bitterly with an oath as he went, “I would have given five hundred guineas for a single vote.”

The next day, in the absence of the mighty orator, the timid Assembly expunged the fifth resolution and modified the others. The Governor, however, dissolved the House for daring to pass at all the resolutions. But he could not dissolve the spirit of Henry nor the magical effect of the resolutions which had been offered. By his intrepid action Henry took the leadership of the Assembly out of the hands which hitherto had controlled it.

The resolutions as originally passed were sent to Philadelphia. There they were printed, and from that center of energetic action were widely circulated throughout the Colonies. The heart of Samuel Adams and the Boston patriots were filled with an unspeakable joy as they read them. The drooping spirits of the people were revived and the doom of the Stamp Act was sealed.

In 1765 the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which placed a tax on newspapers, almanacs, pamphlets and broadsides, all kinds of legal documents, insurance policies, ship’s papers, licenses, dice and playing cards. This led to widespread protest in the American colonies, and to the slogan, “No taxation without representation!”

The Virginia legislature did not actually adopt the fifth and sixth resolves, which were seen as quite radical, but this document, including all six resolves, was published widely in newspapers across the colonies. Therefore, colonists were exposed to Henry’s radical ideas, and this document served as influential propaganda for the cause. Eight other colonies followed suit and had adopted similar resolves by the end of 1765.

The cry of “treason” in the Assembly of Virginia, although followed by the strong remonstrance of the burgesses, was a manifestation of the desire which then almost universally prevailed amongst the colonists to regard themselves as bound in allegiance to the British crown. It was a result, of that system of parliamentary corruption and of court influence which at that time entered so largely into the government of England

Virginia Resolves. On May 30, 1765, the House of Burgesses of Virginia came to the following resolutions:

Whereas the honorable House of Commons in England have late drawn into question how far the general assembly of this colony has power to enact laws for laying taxes and imposing duties payable to the pope of this his majesty’s most ancient colony — For settling and ascertaining the same to all future times, the House of Burgesses of this present general assembly have come to the several following resolutions:

Resolved, that the first adventurers and settlers of His Majesty’s colony and dominion of Virginia brought with them and transmitted to their posterity, and all other His Majesty’s subjects since inhabiting in this His Majesty’s said colony, all the liberties, privileges, franchises, and immunities that have at any time been held, enjoyed, and possessed by the people of Great Britain.

Resolved, that by two royal charters, granted by King James I, the colonists aforesaid are declared entitled to all liberties, privileges, and immunities of denizens and natural subjects to all intents and purposes as if they had been abiding and born within the Realm of England.

Resolved, that the taxation of the people by themselves, or by persons chosen by themselves to represent them, who can only know what taxes the people are able to bear, or the easiest method of raising them, and must themselves be affected by every tax laid on the people, is the only security against a burdensome taxation, and the distinguishing characteristic of British freedom, without which the ancient constitution cannot exist.

Resolved, that His Majesty’s liege people of this his most ancient and loyal colony have without interruption enjoyed the inestimable right of being governed by such laws, respecting their internal policy and taxation, as are derived from their own consent, with the approbation of their sovereign, or his substitute; and that the same has never been forfeited or yielded up, but has been constantly recognized by the kings and people of Great Britain.

The fifth item, following, was rescinded the next day. Henry, perhaps believing that the matter would stand, had departed. The loyalist members reformed on May 31st for the purpose of removing all five resolutions, but succeeded only in removing this one. The text of it was found with Patrick Henry’s will:

Resolved, therefor that the General Assembly of this Colony have the only and exclusive Right and Power to lay Taxes and Impositions upon the inhabitants of this Colony and that every Attempt to vest such Power in any person or persons whatsoever other than the General Assembly aforesaid has a manifest Tendency to destroy British as well as American Freedom.

The following resolves were not passed, though drawn up by the committee.They are inserted as a specimen of the first and early energies of the Old Dominion, as Virginia is often called.

Resolved, That his majesty’s liege people, the inhabitants of this colony, are not bound to yield obedience to any law or ordinance whatsoever designed to impose any taxation whatsoever upon them, other than the laws and ordinances of the general assembly aforesaid.

Resolved, That any person who shall by speaking or writing maintain that any person or persons other than the general assembly of this colony have any right or power to impose or lay any taxation whatsoever on the people here shall be deemed an enemy to this his majesty’s colony.

Version published widely in newspapers, with additional resolution. There were also some variations from publication to publication:

Resolved, That the first adventurers and settlers of this His Majesty’s Colony and Dominion of Virginia brought with them, and transmitted to their posterity, and all other of His Majesty’s subjects since inhabiting this His Majesty’s said Colony, all the liberties, privileges, franchises, and immunities, that have at any time been held, enjoyed, and possessed, by the people of Great Britain.

Resolved, That by two royal charters, granted by King James the First, the colonists aforesaid are declared entitled to all liberties, privileges, and immunities of denizens and natural subjects, to all intents and purposes, as if they had been abiding and born within the realm of England.

Resolved, That the taxation of the people by themselves, or by persons chosen by themselves to represent them, who can only know what taxes the people are able to bear, or the easiest method of raising them, and must themselves be affected by every tax laid on the people, is the only security against a burthensome taxation, and the distinguishing characteristick of British freedom, without which the ancient constitution cannot exist.

Resolved, That His Majesty’s liege people of this his most ancient and loyal Colony have without interruption enjoyed the inestimable right of being governed by such laws, respecting their internal polity and taxation, as are derived from their own consent, with the approbation of their sovereign, or his substitute; and that the same hath never been forfeited or yielded up, but hath been constantly recognized by the kings and people of Great Britain.

Resolved therefore, That the General Assembly of this Colony have the only and sole exclusive right and power to lay taxes and impositions upon the inhabitants of this Colony, and that every attempt to vest such power in any person or persons whatsoever other than the General Assembly aforesaid has a manifest tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom.

Resolved, That His Majesty’s liege people, the inhabitants of this Colony are not bound to yield obediance to any law or ordinance whatever, designed to impose any taxation whatsoever upon them other than the laws or ordinances of the General Assembly aforesaid.

Resolved, That any person who shall, by speaking or writing, assert or maintain that any person or persons other than the General Assembly of this Colony, have any right or power to impose or lay any taxation on the people here, shall be deemed an enemy to His Majesty’s Colony.

George Mason of Virginia the Father of the Declaration of Independence

GeorgeMason-paintingThe emancipation of the states of North America must ever be regarded as one of the most memorable events recorded in the annals of the human race. The revolutions, which have embroiled and desolated the great nations from which they sprang, are acknowledged to have received their first impulse from the principles and events of the American struggle. The grave has closed upon a great majority of the leaders in the American revolution; and the characters of the founders of our independence and freedom are beginning to be contemplated with the severe impartiality of a distant posterity. The passions which buoyed, annoyed, or infested their individual fame have subsided. Each is receiving a settled and mellow luster; and a just judgment is already busily engaged in assigning the decree of estimation and respect which a grateful posterity should continue to render to the memory of each of those whose efforts have obtained so many blessings and such everlasting glory for this nation.

Among the conductors of those important events, the name of George Mason, must always hold a distinguished place. An exhibition of character, in a public station, may be calculated to give an impression of the profoundest respect; but, the sincerest, and best affections of the heart can only be won by those traits, which are developed when the individual has been divested of the imposing forms and circumstances of place and office. It is for these reasons, as well as for the rays of light which they shed upon the most interesting portion of the history of our country, that I send you the following papers.

George Mason, their author, was an independent planter, resident in Fairfax county, Virginia, his native state, when the revolution commenced. He was a man endowed by nature with a vigorous understanding, which had been well cultivated by a liberal education. He was a sound constitutional lawyer, although he had not practiced or been bred to the profession. His mind had, evidently, been well stored from the best political writers of his time. In temperance he was, like the younger Cato, constitutionally stern, firm, and honest; and in all the affairs of life, in which he was engaged, as well private as public, he was habitually, minutely, and critically clear, punctual, exact, and particular. He was a member of the first conventions and assemblies elected by the people independently of the colonial authorities. He chose and valued most, the station of a representative of the people ; because he thought it most honorable, and one where he could be most useful; nor did he ever consent to accept of any other, but once, when he acted as a commissioner to adjust the navigation and boundary, between Maryland and Virginia. He was a man of the people in spirit and in truth; and every act of his life incontestibly evinces, that in their cause he never once, or for a single moment, trembled, hesitated, or wavered.

Many intelligent foreigners, and some of our own countrymen, whose judgments have been confused or perverted by aristocratic principles, entertain a belief, and propagate the opinion, that our liberties were principally established by the integrity, wisdom, and forbearance of our military leaders. To such it will be particularly instructive to attend to the first of the following letters from this venerable patriot; written at a time, and under circumstances singularly impressive and affecting. In a ripe old age, chastened by experience, when the hand of Providence had visited his household with such an affliction as to induce him to desire no more the return of hilarity to his heart, he seats himself in his closet to unbosom himself to his friend ; to tell him of his political opinions and principles and to speak of the sentiments, feelings, and probable fortunes of his country. This letter, which is so highly honorable to its author, furnishes conclusive proof, that all the chiefs, as well military as civil, were guided and qontroled by the people, and bears ample testimony to their virtue and their glory.

He was a member of the convention which formed the present constitution of the United States, and appears to have been deeply, and sincerely impressed with the magnitude of the undertaking. He was afterwards a member of the convention of Virginia by which it was ratified, which he actively and firmly opposed, without previous amendments. He was a most decided enemy to all constructive and implied powers. And it is remarkable, that he was the. author of some, and the warm advocate of every amendment since made to it. His friend and coadjutor, the illustrious Henry, poured forth the boundless wealth of his impassioned eloquence in opposition ; he charmed, enchanted, or won over many of his auditors to withhold their assent from the proposed plan of government. But, when Mason spoke, he seemed to cite his hearers severally to the bar of reason and truth, and imperatively to demand of them to produce the reason and grounds upon which they proposed to tolerate the pernicious principles he denounced. Henry delighted, astonished, and captivated. Mason stirred the house, and challenged every friend of the new constitution to stand forth; at the same time, that he made them feel, they would have to meet an antagonist whom it was difficult to vanquish, and impossible to put to flight; such was the clear, condensed, and dauntless vigor he displayed.

George Mason was a member of that convention of Virginia, which, on the fifteenth day of May, 1776, declared that state independent and formed the constitution by which it is still governed. And to him belongs the honor of having draughted the first declaration of rights ever adopted in America, of which the following is a copy. The few alterations made by the convention, which adopted it unanimously on the twelfth day of June, 1776, and made it a part of the constitution of Virginia, where it yet remains, are noted. This declaration contains principles more extensive, and much more perspicuously expressed than any then to be found in the supposed analogous instruments of any other age or country.

The English magna charta was, strictly speaking, a contract between an assemblage of feudal lords and a king, not a declaration of the rights of man, and the fundamental principles on which all government should rest. “It was not so much their intention to secure the liberties of the people at large, as to establish the privileges of a few individuals. A great tyrant On the one side, and a set of petty tyrants on the other, seem to have divided the kingdom; and the great body of the people, disregarded and oppressed on all hands, were beholden for any privileges bestowed upon them, to the jealousy of their masters; who, by limiting the authority of each other over their dependents, produced a reciprocal diminution of their power.”

The articles drawn up by the Spanish junta, in the year 1522, under the guidance of the celebrated Padilly, are much more distinct and popular in their provisions than those of the English magna charta. But, although it is admitted, that the principles of liberty were ably defended, and better understood, at that time in Spain, than they were for more than a century after, in England, the power of Charles Jth proved to be irresistible, the people failed in their attempt to bridle his prerogative, and their liberties were finally crushed.

The famous English bill of rights sanctioned by William and Mary on their ascending the throne, and which, under the name of the petition of rights, appears to have been projected many years before by that profound lawyer, sir Edward Coke, like magna charta, and the articles of the Spanish junta, is a contract with nobility and royalty, a compromise with despotism, in which the voice of the people is heard in a tone of disturbed supplication and prayer. But in this declaration of Mason’s, man seems to stand erect in all the majesty of his nature —to assert the inalienable rights and equality with which he has been endowed by his Creator, and to declare the fundamental principles by which all rulers should be controled, and on which all governments should rest. The contrast is striking, the difference prodigious. And when I read, at the foot of this curious original, the assertion of its author, that “This Declaration of Rights was the first in America;” I see a manly mind indulging its feelings under a consciousness of having done an act so permanently and extensively useful. And what feeling can be so exquisitely delightful? what pride more truly virtuous and noble?

The principles of liberty filled and warmed the bosom of this venerable patriot in that last hour, which is an awful, and an honest one to us all; in his last will, he speaks in his dying hour, and charges his sons, on a father’s blessing, to be true to freedom and their country. He was indeed and in truth one of the fathers of this nation. Therefore, let every son of free America, as he enters upon the busy scenes of life, hear and solemnly beseech Heaven to fortify him in the faithful observance of this sacred charge of one of the most worthy fathers of this country.


(Copy of the first draught by George Mason.)

A declaration of rights made by the representatives of the good people of Virginia, assembled in full and free convention ; which rights do pertain to them and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of government, unanimously adopted by the convention of Virginia, June 12th, 1776.

1. That all men are created equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural rights of which, they cannot, by any compact, deprive, or divest their posterity; (a) among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. – a. That all power is by God and nature vested in and consequently derived from the people; that magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.

3. That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people, nation or community. Of all the various modes and forms of government, that is best, which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is most effectually secured against the danger of administration; and that whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable indefeasible right, to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.

4. That no man, or set of men, are entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public services; which not being descendible, neither ought the offices of magistrate, legislator, or judge, to be hereditary.

5. That the legislative and executive powers of the state should be separate and distinct from the judicial; and that the members of the two first may be restrained from oppression, by feeling and participating the burdens of the people, they should, at fixed periods, be reduced to a private station, and return unto that body from which they were originally taken, and vacancies be supplied by frequent, certain and regular election, (a)—

6. That elections of members, to serve as representatives of the people in the legislature, ought to be free, and that all men having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to the community, have the right of suffrage; and cannot be taxed, or deprived of their property for public uses without their own consent, or that of their representatives so elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not, in like manner, assented for the common good.

7. That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority, without consent of the representatives of the people, is injurious to their rights, and ought not to be exercised.

8. That in all capital or criminal prosecutions, a man hath a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation, to be confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence in his favor, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury of his vicinage, without unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty, nor can he be compelled to give evidence against himself; and that no man be deprived of his liberty, except by the law of the land, or the judgment of his peers.

9. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

10. (This article was inserted by the convention.)

11. That in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury is preferable to any other, and ought to be held sacred.

12. That the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.

13. That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state; that standing armies in time of peace, should be avoided, as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by the civil power.

14. (This article also was inserted by the convention.)

15. That no free government, or the blessing of liberty, can be preserved to any people,  but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

16. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence, and, therefore that all men should enjoy the fullest toleration in the exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience, unpunished and unrestrained by the magistrate; unless under color of religion, any man disturb the peace, the happiness, or the safety of society. And that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.

“This declaration of rights was the first in America; it received few alterations or additions in the Virginia convention, (some of them not for the better,) and was afterwards closely imitated by the other United States.”

georgemasonstatue2The foregoing was copied verbatim from the original, the hand-writing of the author, col. George Mason, of Virginia, left in the possession of his son, gen. John Mason of Georgetown. In order to facilitate the comparison of it with that which was adopted by the convention, and is still in force, it has been thought proper to number the articles as in the adopted declaration, omitting the tenth and fourteenth which were inserted entire by the convention; and to place those words in italics, which were either expunged or altered, and to put a caret where others were added.

Letter From George Mason.

“Virginia, Gunston-hall, 1778.

“My dear sir.—It gave me great pleasure, upon receipt of your favor of the 23d of April, (by Mr. Digges) to hear that you are alive and well, in a country, where you can spend your time agreeably; not having heard a word from you, or of you, for two years before. I am much obliged, by the friendly concern you take in my domestic affairs, and your kind enquiry after my family; great alterations have happened in it. About four years ago I had the misfortune to lose my wife: to you, who knew her, and the happy manner in which we lived, I will not attempt to describe my feelings: I was scarce able to bear the first shock, a depression of spirits, a settled melancholy followed, from which I never expect, or desire to recover. I determined to spend the remainder of my days in privacy and retirement with my children, from whose society alone, I could expect comfort. Some of them are now grown up to men and women; and I have the satisfaction to see them free from vices, good-natured, obliging and dutiful: they all still live with me, and remain single, except my second daughter, who is lately married to my neighbor son. My eldest daughter (who is blessed with her mother’s amiable disposition) is mistress of my family, and manages my little domestic matters, with a degree of prudence far above her years. My eldest son engaged early in the American cause, and was chosen ensign of the first independent company formed in Virginia, or indeed on the continent; it was commanded by the present general Washington as captain, and consisted entirely of gentlemen. In the year 1775, he was appointed a captain of foot, in one of the first minute-regiments raised here; but was soon obliged to quit the service, by a violent rheumatic disorder; which has followed him ever since, and, I believe will force him to try the climate of France or Italy. My other sons have not yet finished their education: as soon as they do, if the war continues, they seem strongly inclined to take an active part.

In the summer of’ 75, I was, much against my inclination, drag’d out of my retirement, by the people of my county and sent a delegate to the general convention at Richmond; where I was appointed a member of the first committee of safety; and have since, at different times, been chosen a member of the privy-council, and of the American congress; but have constantly declined acting in any other public character than that of an independent representative of the people, in the house of delegates; where I still remain, from a consciousness of being able to do my country more service there, than in any other department, and have ever since devoted most of my time to public business; to the no small neglect and injury of my private fortune; but if I can only live to see the American union firmly fixed, and free governments well established in our western world, and can leave to my children but a crust of bread and liberty, I shall die satisfied; and say, with the psalmist, “Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.” —To show you that I have not been an idle spectator of this great contest, and to amuse you with the sentiments of an old friend upon an important subject, I enclose you a copy of the first draft of the declaration of rights, just as it was drawn and presented by me, to the Virginia convention, where it received few alterations; some of them I think not for the better: this was the first thing of the kind upon the continent, and has been closely imitated by all the states. There is a remarkable sameness in all the forms of government throughout the American union, except in the states of South Carolina and Pennsylvania; the first having three branches of legislature, and the last only one; all the other states have two: this difference has given general disgust, and it is probable an alteration will take place, to assimilate these to the constitutions of the other states. We have laid our new government upon a broad foundation, and have endeavored to provide the most effectual securities for the essential rights of human nature, both in civil and religious liberty; the people become every day more and more attached to it; and I trust that neither the power of Great Britain, nor the power of hell will be able to prevail against it.

There never was an idler or a falser notion, than that which the British ministry have imposed upon the nation, that this great revolution has been the work of a faction, of a junto of ambitious men against the sense of the people of America. On the contrary, nothing has been done without the approbation of the people, who have indeed outrun their leaders: so capital measure hath been adopted until they called loudly for it: to any one who knows mankind, there needs no greater proof than the cordial manner in which they have cooperated, and the patience and perseverance with which they have struggled under their sufferings ; which have been greater than you, at a distance can conceive, or I describe. Equally false is the assertion that independence was originally designed here: things have gone such lengths, that it is a matter of moonshine to us, whether independence was at first intended, or not, and therefore we may now be believed. The truth is, we have been forced into it, as the only means of self-preservation, to guard our country and posterity from the greatest of all evils, such another infernal government (if it deserves the name of government) as the provinces groaned under, in the latter ages of the Roman commonwealth. To talk of replacing us in the situation of 1763, as we first asked, is to the last degree absurd, and impossible: they obstinately refused it, while it was in their power, and now, that it is out of their power, they offer it. Can they raise our cities out of their ashes? Can they replace, in ease and affluence; the thousands of families whom they have ruined? Can they restore the husband to the widow, the child to the parent, or the father to the orphan? In a word, can they reanimate the dead?—Our country has been made a scene of desolation and blood—enormities and cruelties have been committed here, which not only disgrace the British name, but dishonor the human kind, we can never again trust a people who have thus used us; human nature revolts at the idea !— The die is cast—the Rubicon is passed—and a reconciliation with Great Britain, upon the terms of returning to her government is impossible.

No man was more warmly attached to the Hanover family and the Whig interest of England, than I was, and few men had stronger prejudices in favor of that form of government under which I was born and bred, or a greater aversion to changing it; it was ever my opinion that no good man would wish to try so dangerous an experiment upon any speculative notions whatsoever, without an absolute necessity.

The ancient poets, in their elegant manner of expression, have made a kind of being of necessity, and tell us that the Gods themselves are obliged to yield to her. When I was first a member of the convention, I exerted myself to prevent a confiscation of the and although I was for putting the country immediately into a state of defence, and preparing for the worst; yet as long as we had any well founded hopes of reconciliation, I opposed to the utmost of my power, all violent measures, and such as might shut the door to it; but when reconciliation became a lost hope, when unconditional submission, or effectual resistance were the only alternatives left us, when the last dutiful and humble petition from congress received no other answer than declaring us rebels, and out of the king’s protection, I, from that moment, looked forward to a revolution and independence, as the only means of salvation; and will risk the last penny of my fortune, and the last drop of my blood upon the issue: for to imagine that we could resist the efforts of Great Britain, still professing ourselves her subjects, or support a defensive war against a powerful nation, without the reins of government in the hands of America (whatever our pretended friends in Great Britain may say of it) is too childish and futile an idea to enter into the head of any man of sense. I am not singular in my opinions; these arc the sentiments of more than nine tenths of the best men in America.

God has been pleased to bless our endeavors, in a just cause, with remarkable success. To us upon the spot, who have seen step by step the progress of this great contest, who know the defenseless state of America in the beginning, and the numberless difficulties we have , had to struggle with, taking a retrospective j view of what is passed, we seem to have been treading upon enchanted ground. The case is now altered. American prospects brighten, and appearances are strongly in our favor. The British ministry must and will acknowledge us independent states.”

georgemasonstatue3George Mason To A Friend.

Extract of a letter from colonel George Mason, of Virginia (while serving in the general convention), to a friend in that state.

Philadelphia, June, 1787.

“The idea I formerly mentioned to you, before the convention met, of a great national council, consisting of two branches of the legislature, a judiciary and an executive, upon the principle of fair representation in the legislature, with powers adapted to the great objects of the union, and consequently a control in these instances, on the state legislatures, is still the prevalent one. Virginia has had the honor of presenting the outlines of the plan, upon which the convention is proceeding; but so slowly, that it is impossible to judge when the business will be finished; most probably not before August—festina lente (Make Haste Slowly) may very well be called our motto. When I first came here, judging from casual conversations with gentlemen from the different states, I was very apprehensive that, soured and disgusted with the unexpected evils we had experienced from the democratic principles of our governments, we should be apt to run into the opposite extreme, and in endeavoring to steer too far from Scylla, we might be drawn into the vortex of Charybdis, of which I still think, there is some danger; though I have the pleasure to find in the convention, many men of fine republican principles: America has certainly, upon this occasion, drawn forth her first characters; there are upon this convention many gentlemen of the most respectable abilities; and, so far as I can yet discover, of the purest intentions; the eyes of the United States are turned upon this assembly, and their expectations raised to a very anxious degree.

“May God grant, we may be able to gratify them by establishing a wise and just government. For my own part, I never before felt myself in such a situation; and declare, I would not, upon pecuniary motives, serve in this convention for a thousand pounds per day. The revolt from Great Britain, and the formations of our new governments at that time, were nothing compared with the great business now before us; there was then a certain degree of enthusiasm, which inspired and supported the mind; but to view, through the calm sedate medium of reason, the influence which the establishments now proposed may have upon the happiness or misery of millions yet unborn, is an object of such magnitude, as absorbs, and in a manner suspends the operations of the human understanding.”

“P. S. All communications of the proceedings are forbidden during the sitting of the convention; this I think was a necessary precaution to prevent misrepresentations or mistakes; there being a material difference between the appearance of a subject in its first crude and indigested shape, and after it shall have been properly matured and arranged.”

An Extract From The Last Will And Testament Of Colonel George Mason, Of Virginia.

“I recommend it to my sons, from my own experience in life, to prefer the happiness of independence and a private station to the troubles and vexation of public business: but if either their own inclinations or the necessity of the times should engage them in public affairs, I charge them on a father’s blessing, never to let the motives of private interest or ambition induce them to betray, nor the terrors of poverty and disgrace, or the fear of danger or of death, deter them from asserting the liberty of their country, and endeavoring to transmit to their posterity those sacred rights to which themselves were born.”

Source: Principles and Acts of the Revolution in America. By Hezekiah Niles published 1822

OUR COUNTRY by John G. Whittier 1895



The following poem, by Mr. John G. Whittier, was read at Hawthorne’s old home in Concord, at a reception given by Mr. and Mrs. D. Lothrop in honor of Mrs. John A. Logan. Mr. Whittier was obliged to decline an invitation to the reception, and his letter of regret was accompanied by this poem, written for the occasion.

Our thought of thee is glad with hope,
Dear country of our love and prayers;
Thy way is down no fatal slope,
But up to freer sun and airs.
Tried as by furnace fires, and yet
By God’s grace only stronger made;
In future tasks before thee set
Thou shalt not lack the old-time aid.

The fathers sleep, but men remain
As true and wise and brave as they;
Why count the loss without the gain:
The best is that we have to-day.

No lack was in the primal stock,
No weakling founders builded here;
There were the men of Plymouth Rock,
The Puritan and Cavalier;

And they whose firm endurance gained
The freedom of the souls of men,
Whose hands unstained in peace maintained
The swordless commonwealth of Penn.

And time shall be the power of all
To do the work that duty bids:
And make the people’s Council Hall
As lasting as the Pyramids.

Thy lesson all the world shall learn,
The nations at thy feet shall sit;
Earth’s furthest mountain tops shall burn
With watch-fires from thine own uplit.

Great, without seeking to be great
By fraud or conquest—rich in gold.
But riches in the large estate
Of virtue which thy children hold.

With peace that comes of purity,
And strength to simple justice due.
So owns our loyal dream of thee,.
God of our fathers! make it true.

Oh, land of lands! to thee we give
Our love, our trust, our service free;
For thee thy sons shall nobly live,
And at thy need shall die for thee.


The Patriots Remembrances On Decoration Day, May 30, 1895

“Those were days ever to be remembered, when strong men stood in their fields and wept.”—H. Butlerworth.


Sweet spring is in the air, good wife,
Bluer sky appears;
The robin sings the welcome note
He sung in other years.
Twelve times the spring has oped the rills,
Twelve times has autumn sighed
Since hung the war clouds o’er the hills
The year that Lincoln died.

The March wind early left the zone
For distant northern seas,
And wandering airs of gentle tone
Came to the door-yard trees;
And sadness in the dewy hours
Her reign extended wide
When spring retouched the hill with flowers
The year that Lincoln died.

We used to sit and talk of him,
Our long, long absent son;
We’d two to love us then, dear wife,
But now we have but one.
The springs return, the autumns burn,
His grave unknown beside;
They laid him neath the moss and fern
The year that Lincoln died.

One day I was among the flocks
That roamed the April dells,
When floating from the city
Came the sound of many bells,
The towns around caught up the sound,
I climbed the mountain side,
And saw the spires with banners crowned
The year that Lincoln died.

I knew what meant that sweet accord,
That jubilee of bells,
And sang an anthem to the Lord
Amid the pleasant dells.
But when I thought of those so young
That slept the farms beside
In undertones of joy I sung,
The year that Lincoln died.

And when the tidings came, dear wife,
Our soldier boy was dead,
I bowed my trembling knee in prayer,
You bowed your whitened head.
The house was still, the woods were calm.
And while you sobbed and cried
I sang alone the evening psalm
The year that Lincoln died.

I hung his picture ‘neath the shelf,
It still is hanging there;
I laid his ring where you yourself
Had put a curl of hair.
Then to the spot where willows wave
With hapless steps we hied,
And “Charley’s” called an empty grave,
The year that Lincoln died.

The years will come, the years will go,
But never at our door
The fair-haired boy we used to meet
Will smile upon us more.
But memory long will hear the fall
Of steps at eventide,
And every blooming year recall
The year that Lincoln died.

One day I was among the flocks
That roamed the April dells.
When at the noonday hour I heard
A tolling of the bells.
With heavy heart and footsteps slow
I climbed the mountain side
And saw the blue flag hanging low
The year that Lincoln died.

Ah! many a year, ah! many a year
The birds will cross the seas,
And blossoms fall in gentle showers
Beneath the door-yard trees;
And still will tender mothers weep
The soldiers’ grave beside,
And fresh in memory ever keep
The year that Lincoln died.

Where many sow the seed in tears
Shall many reap in joy.
And harvesters in golden years
Shall bless our darling boy.
With happy homes for other eyes
Expands the future wide;
And God will bless our sacrifice
The year that Lincoln died.
Butterworth’s Young Folk’s History of America.

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
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE of the PRINCIPAL EVENTS in America From 1776 to 1876


July 4.—Declaration of Independence signed and promulgated in Philadelphia by the representatives of thirteen States—viz., Massachusetts having 5; Connecticut, 4; New Hampshire, 3; Rhode Island, 2; New York, 4; New Jersey, 5; Pennsylvania, 9; Delaware, 3; Maryland, 4; Virginia, 7; North Carolina, 3; South Carolina, 4; and Georgia, 3 representatives. Total number of signers, 56.

The country contained 815,615 square miles.

August 22.—British troops landed on Long Island.

August 27. —Battle of Long Island.

August 28.—Washington, with his army, retreated from Long Island.

September 15.—General Washington evacuated New York.

September 15.—The British took possession of New York city.

October 28.—Battle of White Plains, N. Y.

November 16.—Fort Washington, on Manhattan Island, surrendered to the British.

November 18.—Fort Lee, on the Hudson River, evacuated by the Americans.



December 5.—An additional $5,000,000 of Continental paper money, or ”shinplasters,” as they were called, was issued, making a total of $20,000,000.

WashingtonDelawareDecember 8. —Washington crossed the Delaware River.

December 25.—Washington recrossed the Delaware.

December 26.—General Washington surprised the British army at Trenton, N. J.


January 2.—Battle of Princeton, N. J.

John Morton, of Pennsylvania, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, died, aged fifty three.

April 25.— Marquis Gilbert Mottier Lafayette arrived at Charleston, S. C, from France.

May 27.—Button Gwinnet, of Georgia, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, having been mortally wounded in a duel, died, aged forty-five.

June 14.—Adoption of the American flag by Congress.

July 5.—The British General Burgoyne invested Ticonderoga.

August 6. —Battle of Oriskany, N. Y.

August 16. —Battle of Bennington.

September 11.—Battle of Stillwater, N. Y.

September 11.— Battle of Brandywine.

September 27.—Philadelphia occupied by the British.

October 4.—Battle of Germantown, Pa.

October 7. -Battle of Saratoga, N. Y.

October 15. —Kingston, N. Y., burned by the British.

October 17. —General Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga.

December 15.—The American army retired into winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pa.


During this year the American army encountered great distress, owing to the absence of all the necessaries that contribute to comfort.

January 9. -Battle of Sunbury, Ga.

February 6.—France acknowledged American independence and a treaty was ratified.

June 18.—British army evacuated Philadelphia.

June 28.—Battle of Monmouth, N. J.

July 3. —Wyoming massacre.

July 8. —Articles of confederation adopted unanimously.

July 11.—The French Admiral d’Estaing arrived at Newport, Va.

August 29.—Battle of Rhode Island.

September 14.—Benjamin Franklin appointed first Minister to France.

November 12.—Massacre at Cherry Valley, N. Y.

December 29.—Savannah, Ga., captured by the British.


May.—The British burned Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Gosport in Virginia.

June 1.—Battle of Verplanck’s Point.

July.—The British destroyed New Haven, Fairfield, Norwalk, and Greenwich, in Connecticut.

July 15.—General Wayne captured Stony Point.

August 13.—Battle of Penobscot, Me.

August 29.—Battle of Chemung.

October 3.—The Americans attempted to retake Savannah, but were unsuccessful.

October 11.—Joseph Pulaski died, having been wounded in the attack on Savannah.

October 26.—British withdrew from Rhode Island.


John Hart, of New Jersey, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, died.

May 11.—Charleston, S. C, surrendered to the British.

June 23.—Battle of Springfield, N J.

August 16. —Battle of Camden.

August 19.—Baron de Kalb, an American brigadier-general in the war of the Revolution, died of wounds received at the battle of Camden, aged 48.

September 4.—Benedict Arnold’s treason discovered.

September 28.—Major Andre was captured by three militiamen named John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart.

October 2.—Major John Andre, an adjutant-general in the British army, was hanged as a spy at Tappan, on the Hudson River, N. Y.

October 7.—Battle of King’s Mountain, S. C.


January 1.—The militia of New Jersey and Pennsylvania revolt.

January 17.—Battle of Cowpens, S. C.

February 22.— George Taylor, of Pennsylvania, one of the signers of the Declaration, died, aged 65.

New London burned; Fort Griswold, on the opposite side of Thames River, taken, and a number of people massacred by British soldiers under command of the traitor, Benedict Arnold. New London was Arnold’s native county.

Lyman Hall, of Georgia, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, died, aged 60

June 5.—Augusta, Ga., capitulated to the Americans.

August 28. —General Cornwallis, commander of the British army, entered Yorktown, Va

September 8. -Battle at Eutaw Springs, S C.

October 6.—The American forces Invest Yorktown.

October 19.—Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, with his whole army, at Yorktown.


February 5.—American independence acknowledged by Sweden.

February 25.— American independence acknowledged by Denmark.

March 24. -American independence acknowledged by Spain.

April 5.—The United States vessel Hyder Ally, carrying only sixteen guns, captured by the British ship General Monk, with twenty-nine guns.

April 19.—American independence acknowledged by Holland.

May 3. —George Washington Indignantly refused to be made king.

May 13.—Society of Cincinnati formed by officers of the American army.

July.—American independence acknowledged by Russia.

October 8. -Treaty formed with Holland.


January 20.—Preliminary articles of peace signed by British and American Commissioners, at Versailles, France.

March 15.—The American army disbanded at Newburg, N.Y.

September 3.—John Jay, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin negotiated a final treaty of peace with England, at Paris.

November 25.—New York city evacuated by the British.

December 4. —General Washington separated from the army.

December 23. —George Washington resigned his commission as Major General of the United States into the hands of Congress, at Annapolis, Md.

During the war the English employed to aid them in the subjection of the country over 12,000 Indians, whose mode of warfare was to take scalps, not prisoners, and to massacre women and children. As an evidence of this fact Captain Gerrish, of the New England militia, captured on the frontier of Canada eight packages of scalps, properly cured and dried, which were to be sent to England as a present from the Seneca Indians to George III. The packages contained 43 scalps of soldiers, 297 of farmers, 88 of women, 190 of boys, 211 of girls, 22 of infants, and 122 assorted, making a total of 973 scalps.


June 2.—John Adams, the first Ambassador from the United States to the Court of St. James, had an audience with the King of Great Britain.


June 19.—Nathaniel Greene, a major-general in the army of the Revolution, died, aged 44.


January 1.—The first cotton mill in the United States was built at Beverly, Mass.

May 25.— The convention to form the constitution of the United States met at Philadelphia.

September 17.—The constitution of the United States was adopted unanimously, and presented to the States for ratification.

December 7.—Delaware was the first State that accepted the constitution.

December 12.—Pennsylvania accepted the constitution.

December 18.—New Jersey accepted the constitution.


January 2.—Georgia accepted the constitution.

January 9.—Connecticut accepted the constitution.

February 6.—Massachusetts accepted the constitution.

April’28.—Maryland accepted the constitution.

May 23.—South Carolina accepted the constitution.

June 21.—New Hampshire accepted the constitution.

June 26.—Virginia accepted the constitution.

July 26.—New York accepted the constitution.


April6.—Meeting of the first United States Congress, under the constitution, at New York.

April 30.—George Washington, of Virginia, was inaugurated the first President of the United States.

November 21.—North Carolina accepted the constitution.


First census of the United States—population, 3,929,827.

April 17.—Benjamin Franklin, of Pennsylvania, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, died, aged 84.

May 29.—Rhode Island was the last State to accept the constitution.

May 29.—Israel Putnam, a general in the Revolutionary army, died, aged 72.


First woollen mill built in the United States.

March 4.—Vermont admitted into the Union.

June 13.—Francis Hopkinson, of New Jersey, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, died, aged 53.


John Paul Jones, bom in Scotland, a commander in the United States Navy during the war of the Revolution, died, aged 45 years.

April 2.—United States Mint established at Philadelphia.

June 1.—Kentucky admitted into the Union.

August and September.—Whiskey insurrection in Pennsylvania.


January 31.—Lehigh, Pa., coal mines discovered.

April 22.—President Washington’s proclamation of neutrality between France and England.

September 18.—The corner-stone of the Capitol at Washington was laid.

October 8.—John Hancock, of Massachusetts, President of the Convention that adopted the Declaration, died, aged 55.


Cotton gin patented by Eli Whitney.

June.— Abraham Clark, of New York, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, died, aged 68.

August 20.—General Wayne defeated a large body of Indians near the rapids of the Miami of the lakes.


January 1.—Alexander Hamilton resigned the office of Secretary of the Treasury.

May 18.—Josiah Bartlett, of New Hampshire, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, died, aged 66.

October 27.—Treaty with Spain signed.


June 1.—Tennessee admitted into the Union.

September 17.—President Washington issued his farewell address.


March 4.—John Adams, of Massachusetts, was inaugurated the second President of the United States.

June 6.—Patrick Henry died.

December 1.—Oliver Wolcott, of Connecticut, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, died, aged 72.


War apprehended with France, and General Washington resumed command of the army.

June 12.—Philip Livingston, of New York, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, died, aged 62.

August 28.—James Wilson, of Pennsylvania, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, died, aged 56.


December.—Anthony (known as Mad Anthony) Wayne, a major-general in the army of the Revolution, died, aged 51.

December 14.—General George Washington (the Father of his Country), ex-President of the United States, died at Mount Vernon, aged 67.


Second census of the United States; population, 5,305,940. August. The government of the United States was established at Washington, D. C.

September 30.—Treaty with the French Directory.


Mirch.—Congress declared war against Tripoli. March 4. Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, was inaugurated third President of the United States.


March 16.—Military Academy founded at West Point, on the Hudson River.

April 30.—Ohio admitted into the Union.


April 30.—The Territory of Louisiana, containing 930,928 square miles, ceded by France to the United States.

October 2. —samuel Adams, of Massachusetts, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, died, aged 81.


June 3.—Philip Schuyler, a major-general in the Revolutionary army, died, aged 73.

July 11.—Alexander Hamilton, the companion of Washington, at the age of 47 years, was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr.


Peace re-established between the United States and Tripoli.


Impressment of American seamen begun by Great Britain.

April 6.— Horatio Gates, a general in the army of the Revolution, died in New York city.

May 3.—Robert Morris, of Pennsylvania, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, died, aged 73.

October 25.—Henry Knox, a major-general in the Revolutionary army, and Secretary of War under President Washington, died, aged 56.


February.—Aaron Burr arrested for treason.

February 10.—President Jeflerson, in a message to Congress, recommends the construction of gunboats.

August 3.—Aaron Burr tried for treason and acquitted.

August 18.—Robert Fulton took his first steamboat from New York to Albany.

November 2d.—It having been ascertained that four British seamen were harbored on board the American frigate Chesapeake, and their surrender refused, the British man-of-war Leopard poured a broadside into the Chesapeake which killed twenty men.


January 1.—The importation of slaves into the United States prohibited.

December 22.—Congress laid an embargo on American vessels.


March 4. —James Madison, of Virginia, was inaugurated the fourth President of the United States.

March. —The embargo upon American vessels was raised, and Congress passed a non-intercourse act.


Third census of the United States. Population, 7,239,814.

May 9.—General Benjamin Lincoln died.


June 19.—Samuel Chase, of Maryland, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, died, aged 70.

November 7.—Battle of Tippecanoe.


April.—Another embargo laid upon American vessels.

April 10.—Louisiana admitted into the Union.

April 20.—George Clinton, Vice President of the United States, died in Washington.


June 18.—War declared against Great Britain.

August 16.—General William Hull surrendered his army and the Territory of Michigan to the British.

August 19.—The United States frigate Constitution captured the British frigate Guerriere.

October 13.—Battle of Queenstown.

October 18.—The United States sloop of war Wasp captured the British sloop of war Frolic; but two hours afterward both vessels were taken by the British man-of-war Poictiers.

October 25. —The United States frigate United States captured the British frigate Macedonian.

December 22.—The British frigate Southampton captured the American brig Vixen, and both vessels were totally wrecked five days afterward.

December 29.—The United States frigate Constitution captured the British frigate Java.


January 17.—The British frigate Narcissus captured the United States schooner Viper.

February 5.—Chesapeake Bay blockaded.

February 22. — Ogdensburg, N. Y., taken by the British.

February 24.—The United States ship Homet captures the British brig Peacock.

April 27.—York, Upper Canada, taken by the Americans.

May 3.—Havre de Grace, Md., bumed by the British blockading squadron.

May 27.—Fort George and Fort Erie surrendered to the Americans.

May 29.—Sackett’s Harbor attacked by the British, who were repulsed.

June 1.—Naval battle off Boston Harbor between the United States frigate Chesapeake, under command of Captain James Lawrence, and the British frigate Shannon, in which the Chesapeake was captured. Captain Lawrence was mortally wounded. During the engagement, after being wounded, he raised himself from the deck of the vessel and shouted, “Comrades, don’t give up the ship!”

June 6.—The town of Sodus, on Lake Ontario, bumed by the British.

July 4. —Fort Schlosser taken by the British.

July 11.—The British destroyed the barracks and block-houses at Black Rock.

August 2.—The British defeated in their attack on Fort Stevenson.

August 2.—Congress levied a direct tax upon the States for $3,000,000.

August 10.—The United States schooners Julia and Growler were captured by the British on Lake Ontario.

August 10.—The British attacked St. Michael’s, Md., and were defeated.

August 14.—The British sloop of war Pelican captured the United States brig Argus.

August 14. -The British took possession of Queenstown, Md.

September 5.—The United States brig Enterprise captured the British brig Boxer

September 10.—Battle of Lake Erie. Captain Perry, who commanded the victorious American squadron, in announcing the result of the action, said, “We have met the enemy—and they are ours.

September 23. —The United States frigate President captured the British schooner Highflyer.

September 28. —Detroit evacuated by the British.

October 2. —Part of the British squadron on Lake Ontario captured.

October 5.—The Americans defeated the British at Moravian Town, Upper Canada.

October 5.—Battle of the Thames, in Canada, in which the Indian chief Tecumseh was killed.

October 11.—Battle of Williamsburg.

November 9.—General Jackson defeated the Creek Indians at Talladega.

December 2.—The public stores at Cumberland Head, on Lake Champlain, were burned by the British.

December 10. —The New York militia abandoned Fort George.

December 17.—A general embargo laid by act of Congress.

December 29. —The British and Indians surprised Fort Niagara, killed 250 Americans, composing the garrison, and massacred a number of women and children in the neighborhood.

December 29. —The British burned the villages of Lewiston, Youngstown, Manchester, and Tuscarora m New York.

December 30. —The British bumed Black Rock and Buffalo.


February 25.—Peace Commissioners Clay and Russell sail from New York for Gotteuburg, in the United States frigate John Adams.

March 28. —General William Hull, who surrendered his army to the British at Detroit, on the 16th of August, 1812, was found guilty by a court-martial and sentenced to be shot.

April 21. —The United States sloop of war Frolic was captured by the British frigate Orpheus and schooner Shelbourne.

April 25.—The President remits the sentence of death upon General Hull.

April 25.—The blockade of the whole American coast was proclaimed by the British Admiral Cochrane.

April 29.—The United States sloop-of-war Peacock captured the British sloop-of-war L’Epervier.

May 6. —Fort Oswego was captured by the British.

June 28.—The United States sloop-of-war Wasp captured the British sloop-of war Reindeer.

July 3.—Fort Erie surrendered.

July 5-—Battle of Chippewa.

Jiily 24. —Battle of Lundy Lane, Canada.

July 25.— Battle of Niagara, or Bridgewater.

July 30.—Lord Gambler, Henry Goulbourn, and William Adams were appointed by the British government Commissioners to treat upon propositions of peace with the United States.

August 24. —The Capitol building at Washington was bumed by the British.

September 1.—The British sloop-of-war Avon was sunk by the United States sloop-of war Wasp.

September 11.—Battle on Lake Champlain.

September 11.—Battle of Plattsburg, N. Y.

September 12.—Battle of Baltimore, Md.

November 7.—The British were driven from Pensacola, Fla.

December 24.—Treaty of peace between the United States and Great Britain concluded at Ghent, in East Flanden.. The treaty was signed on the part of the Americans by John Quincy Adams, Albert Gallatin, James A. Bayard, Henry Clay, and Jonathan Russell.

December 27.—The treaty of peace was ratified by Great Britain.


January 8.—Battle of New Orleans.

January 9. —Congress imposed another direct tax upon the States for $6,000,000.

January 15.—The United States frigate President was captured by the British ship Majestic, razee Endymion, and frigates Tenedos and Pomona.

January 20.—President Madison vetoed the United States Bank bill.

January 26.—The American privateer Chasseur captured the British schooner St. Lawrence.

February 11.—The British sloop-of-war Favourite, Captain Maude commanding, arrived at New York with the ratified treaty of peace.

February 17.—The treaty of Ghent was ratified by the United States government.

February 20—The British sloops-of-war Cyane and Levant were captured by the United States frigate Constitution.

M.irch 13.—War declared against Algiers for depredations committed on American commerce.

April 6.—Massacre of Dartmoor prison.


March 5.—Congress imposed a third direct tax upon the States for $3,000,000.

April.—The United States Bank chartered by Congress for twenty years, with a capital of $35,000,000.

April 19.—Indiana admitted into the Union.


January 1.—United States Bank founded.

March 4.—James Monroe, of Virginia, was maugurated the fifth President of the United States.

October 16.—Thaddeus Kosciusko died, aged 71 years.

December 10.—Mississippi admitted into the Union.


During the year the Seminole War was commenced in Florida, internal revenue duties abolished, revolutionary pensions granted.

December 3.—Illinois admitted into the Union.


February 23.—Florida ceded to the United States by Spain.

March 2.—Alabama admitted into the Union.


Fourth census of the United States. Population, 9,638,190. National debt, $89,987,427.

March 6.—Missouri admitted into the Union, with the proviso that slavery should be inhibited north of 30 deg. 30 mm. north latitude. This was termed the Missouri Compromise.

March 15.—Maine admitted into the Union.

March 22.—Stephen Decatur, an American naval officer, was killed in a duel with Commodore Barron.


August 4.—William Floyd, of New York, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, died, aged 87.


May 4,– President Monroe vetoed the Cumberland Road bill.


April 15 – General Lafayette arrived at New York from France, in response to an invitation from the people of the United States.

December, — The House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams President.


The Erie Canal in the State of New York, was completed.

March 4, — John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts, was inaugurated the sixth President of the United States.

June 17.—The anniversary of the battle, the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill Monument was laid.

September 7. —General Lafayette embarked for France in the United States frigate Brandywine.


July 4.—John Adams, aged 91, of Massachusetts, and Thomas Jefferson, aged 83, of Virginia, both died on the fiftieth anniversary of the independence of their native country.

September 13.—William Morgan, who had published a pamphlet divulging the secrets of Masonry, was abducted from Canandaigua, N. Y., and was never afterward satisfactorily heard of. It was thought that he was drowned in Lake Ontario. This circumstance created a great excitement for a number of years afterward, and not only put a check upon the progress of Masonry, but was the means of creating a pretty powerful anti-Masonic political party.


Heavy forces were sent against the Winnebago Indians, who had become troublesome They were overawed and gave up a number of murderers in their tribe.

November 14.—Thomas Addis Emmet died, aged 63.


February I1.—De Witt Clinton, who projected the Erie Canal, and was four times chosen Governor of the State of New York, died, aged 59.


January 19.—Colonel Richard Taylor, a soldier of the war of the Revolution, and father of President Zachary Taylor, died, aged 85.

March 4.—Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee, was inaugurated the seventh President of the United States.

May 27.—John Jay, of New York, Chief-Justice of the United States Supreme Court, died, aged 84.


Fifth census of the United States. Population, 12,866,020.

January 6. —Daniel Webster made his great speech in the United States Senate in answer to Mr. Hayne, of South Carolina.

May 27. —President Jackson vetoes the Maysville Road bill.

October 5.—The President issues a proclamation declaring the ports of the United States open to British vessels from the West Indies.


April 19.—Dissolution of President Jackson’s Cabinet and a new Cabinet formed.

July 4.—James Monroe, ex-President of the United States, died on the sixtieth anniversary of American Independence, aged 72.


January 1.—The national debt of the United States had become reduced to $24,332,234.

July 10.—President Jackson vetoes the bill rechartering the United States Bank.

The Indian chief Black Hawk was captured.

November. —Nullification convention held in South Carolina.

December 11.— President Jackson issued his proclamation in relation to nullification in South Carolina.


January 16.—President Jackson sent a message to Congress deprecating the action of the State of South Carolina in declaring a determination to nullify certain laws of the United States.

December 26.—The United States Senate passed a resolution declaring that the Executive had assumed authority and power not conferred by the constitution and laws, but in derogation of both.


February 18.—William Wirt, the anti-Masonic candidate for President in 1824, died in Washington.

April 15.—President Jackson sent a message to the Senate protesting against the resolutions condemning his official acts.


December 16.—Large fire in New York.

December 23. —Major Dade and his command, consisting of 117 men, were all but one cruelly massacred by the Seminole Indians in Florida.


January 15.—President Jackson transmitted to Congress his French indemnification message.

March. —Texas declared its independence and separation from Mexico.

March 3.—The United States Bank ceased to exist, President Jackson having vetoed the bill for its recharter.

April 21.— Battle of San Jacinto, in Texas.

June 15.—Arkansas admitted into the Union.

June 28.—James Madison, ex-President of the United States, died, aged 85.


January 26 —Michigan admitted into the Union. March 4.—Martin Van Buren, of New York, was inaugurated eighth President of the United States.


April 17. —Destructive fire in Charleston, S. C


Sixth census of the United States. Population, 17,068,666.


March 4. —William Henry Harrison, of Ohio, was inaugurated ninth President of the United States.

April 4.— President Harrison, having been in office just one month, died in the White House in Washington, aged 68.

April 5.—John Tyler, Vice President, of Virginia, became the tenth President of the United States, in consequence of the death of William Henry Harrison.


The Croton Aqueduct, which conveys water from Croton River, in Westchester County, to the city of New York, a distance of forty miles, was completed.

April 1 —The Ashburton treaty was signed. This settled the vexed Northwestern boundary question.


The first telegraph messages were sent between Washington and Baltimore.

March 1. —Explosion of the large gun on board the man-of-war steamer Princeton, at Alexandria, Va.


March 3.—Iowa admitted into the Union.

March 4. —James Knox Polk, of Tennessee, was inaugurated eleventh President of the United Slates

June 4. —War declared by the United States against Mexico.

June 8.—Andrew Jackson, ex-President of the United States, died at the Hermitage, Tennessee, aged 78.

July 19.—Great fire in New York.

December 29 — Texas admitted into the Union.


May 8. — Battle of Palo Alto, in Mexico

May 9. — Battle of Resaca de la Palma, m Mexico.

July 12.—Second battle of Palo Alto.

August 6. —Wisconsin admitted into the Union.

September 21. —Capture of Monterey, Mexico.


Ten thousand Mormons from Illinois, under the leadership of Brigham Young, entered Desert, now called Utah, and founded Salt Lake City.

March 9. -Landing of the United States troops at Vera Cruz.

March 29 —Surrender of Vera Cruz, Mexico.

April 18. – Battle of Cerro Gordo, Mexico

August 19. – Battle of San Antonio, Mexico.

August 20 — Battle of Cherubusco, Mexico.

September 8 —Battle of Molino del Key, Mexico.

September 13. —Battle of Chapultepec, Mexico.

September 14 —Attack on the City of Mexico, which was taken by the United States soldiers.


February.—Treaty of peace with Mexico, by which California and New Mexico, with 649,762 square miles, were added to the United Stales.

February 23.—John Quincy Adams, ex-President of the United Slates, died in Washington, aged 81.

July 4 —The corner-stone of the Washington Monument was laid in the national capital.

September 9.—Large fire in Albany, N. Y.


March 3.—Florida admitted into the Union.

March 4.—Zachary Taylor, of Louisiana, was inaugurated the twelfth President of the United States.

May 15.—Great fire in St. Louis.

June 15.—James Knox Polk, ex-President of the United States, died, aged 54.


Seventh census of the United States. Population, 23,191,074.

March 31.—John C. Calhoun died in Washington, aged 68.

July 9 —Zachary Taylor, President of the United States, died in the White House at Washington, aged 60 years.

July 10.—Millard Fillmore, of New York, Vice-President, became the thirteenth President of the United States in consequence of the death of Zachary Taylor.


May 3.—Great fire in San Francisco.

July 4.—The corner-stone of the Capitol extension at Washington was laid.

December 5.—Louis Kossuth, the Hungarian patriot, visited the United States.

December 21.—The Congressional Library in Washington was destroyed by fire.


June 29.—Henry Clay died in Washington, aged 75.


March 4. — Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire, was inaugurated the fourteenth President of the United States.


The Gadsden purchase from Mexico added 27,500 square miles to the area of the United States.

August 25. —Large fires in Damariscotta, Me , Troy, N. Y., and Milwaukee, Wis


March 4.—James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, was inaugurated the fifteenth President of the United States.

October 13.—Great commercial panic There were 5,123 failures of business houses.


May 4.—Minnesota was admitted into the Union,

August 6.—First Atlantic cable laid between Ireland and Newfoundland.


February 13. —Oregon admitted into the Union.

October 17.—John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry.

November 28.—Washington Irving died.


Eighth census of the United States. Population, 31,443,332.
National debt, $64,769,703.


January 29.—Kansas admitted into the Union.

March 4.—Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, was inaugurated the sixteenth President of the United States

April 12. —Attack on Fort Sumter.

April 19. —Massachusetts Sixth regiment mobbed in Baltimore.

April 20. —Harper’s Ferry burned. The war of the rebellion was now fully opened.

July 21.—First regular battle of the rebellion, at Bull Run, Va.

July. —General George B. McClellan commenced to organize and discipline the Grand Army of the Potomac.


January 17.—John Tyler, ex-President of the United States, died, aged 72.

February 6. —Surrender of Fort Henry, Tenn.

February 16.—Fort Donelson, Tenn., surrendered.

April 9. —Battle of Shiloh.

June 6. —Memphis surrendered.

June 26.—Commencement of the seven days’ battles around Richmond.

July 1.—The Union Pacific Railroad bill signed by President Lincoln.

August 23. – The massacre at the city of Lawrence, Kan.

September 14. —Battles of South Mountain, Md.

September 15.—Harper’s Ferry, with 11,000 men, surrendered to the rebels.

September 16 —Battle of Antietam, Md.

September 22.—President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation.

October 24. Battle above the clouds, on Lookout Mountain, Tenn.

November 7. —General George B. McClellan removed from the command of the Army of the Potomac

December 13.—Battle of Fredericksburg, Va.

December 27. Mania Van Huron, ex-President of the United States, died, aged 80.

December 31. West Virginia made a State.


May 3.—Battle of Chancellorsville.

May IT.—Assault on Port Hudson.

June 27.—John Morgan starts on his raid through Ohio.

July 1.—Battle of Gettysburg, Pa.—three days.

July 4. – Vicksburg surrendered.

July 13.—New York riots commenced.

September 19.—Battle of Chickamauga.


March 10.—The disastrous Red River expedition started under General Banks

April 12. Fort Pillow, Tenn., massacre.

May 5. —Battle of the Wilderness.

May 9. Battle of Spottsylvania.

June 3 Battle of Cold Harbor.

June 17. Commencement of the attack on Petersburg Va.

June 19. -The rebel man-of-war Alabama, commanded by Raphael Semmes, which was built in England and manned mostly by Englishmen, was sunk off Cherbourg, France, by the United States man-of-war Kearsarge, under command of Captain Winslow.

August 7.–The forts in Mobile bay attacked by the fleet under Admiral Farragut.

October 19. Battle of Cedar Creek, in the Shenandoah Valley, which General Sheridan changed from defeat to victory by his famous ride from Winchester.

November 16.—General Sherman’s army commenced its “march to the sea ” through Georgia.

December 15. —Battle of Nashville.


February 27. —General Sheridan left Winchester with 10,000 cavalry on his gallant raid around Richmond.

April 2. Richmond evacuated by the rebels.

April 9. – General Robert E. Lee surrendered the rebel army in the private dwelling of one of the inhabitants at Appomattox Court House, Va. This virtually ended the war of the rebellion.

April 14. – President Lincoln was assassinated by a man named John Wilkes Booth, who was a play-actor in Washington.

April 15.– Abraham Lincoln died of the wounds he received at the hands of the assassin of the previous night.

April 15.—Andrew Johnson, Vice-President, of Tennessee, became seventeenth President of the United States, in consequence of the death of Abraham Lincoln.

April 16 —Jefferson Davis captured.

April 26. -John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln, was shot.

July 7. —Four persons named Harold, Atzerott, Payne, and Mrs. Suratt, who were charged with aiding in the assassination of President Lincoln, were hanged in Washington.


July 1.—The national debt reached its maximum amount—$2,773,236. m


March 30. -Alaska purchased by the United States from Russia price, $7,000,000,


May 16.—Vote taken in the United States Senate on the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, President of the United States. Every Senator was in his seat. The impeachment failed.

June 1. -James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, ex-President of the United States, died, aged 77.


The Pacific Railroad completed.

March 4.- Ulysses Sydney Grant, of Illinois, was inaugurated the eighteenth President of the United States.

October 8.- Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire, ex-President of the United States, died, aged 65.

December 24. — Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War during the rebellion, died in Washington.


Ninth census of the United States. Population, 38,555,983.


The gold product of the country amounted this year to $66,000,000.

October 9, — Great fire in Chicago.


November 1.—Great fire in. Boston.


September 7. The United States received a check from the government of Great Britain for $15,500,000 in gold, being the amount awarded by the mixed Congress at Geneva, Switzerland, on account of what are termed the “Alabama claims.”


March 8. Millard Fillmore, of New York, ex-President of the United States, died, aged 74.

December 13. King Kalakaua, of the Hawaiian Islands, the first monarch that ever visited this country, arrived in New York.


July 31. Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, ex-President of the United States, died, aged 67.

For the first time in the history of the nation there was not an ex-President living.

October 12. -Three hundred and eighty-third anniversary of the landing of Christopher Columbus and his followers on San Salvador.

November 2.—Henry Wilson, of Massachusetts, Vice-President of the United States, died in Washington.

Our Republic commenced in 1776, 237 years ago, with thirteen States and 815,615 square miles of territory, which was occupied by about 3,000,000 of civilized human beings.

In 1876 it had a population of 43,000,000, who occupied thirty-seven States and nine Territories, which embraced over 3,000,000 square miles. It had 65,000 miles of railroads, more than sufficient to reach twice and a half around the globe. The value of its agricultural productions was $2,500,000,000, and its gold mines were capable of producing $70,000,000 a year. It had over 1,000 cotton factories, 580 daily newspapers, 4,300 weeklies, and 625 monthly publications.

The Life of Founder Samuel Adams

Samuel-Adams-LevelingAmong those who signed the declaration of independence, and were conspicuous in the revolution, there existed, of course, a great diversity of intellectual endowments; nor did all render to their country, in those perilous days, the same important services. Like the luminaries of heaven, each contributed his portion of influence; but, like them, they differed, as star differeth from star in glory. But in the constellation of great men, which adorned that era, few shone with more brilliancy, or exercised a more powerful influence, than Samuel Adams.

This gentleman was born at Quincy, in Massachusetts, September 22nd, 1722, in the neighborhood afterwards rendered memorable as the birth place of Hancock, and as the residence of the distinguished family which has given two presidents to the United States. His descent was from a respectable family, which emigrated to America with the first settlers of the land.

In the year 1736, he became a member of Harvard University, where he was distinguished for an uncommon attention to all his collegiate exercises, and for his classical and scientific attainments. On taking the degree of master, in 1743, he proposed the following question, “Whether it be lawful to resist the supreme magistrate, if the commonwealth cannot be otherwise preserved V He maintained the affirmative; and in this collegiate exercise furnished no dubious evidence of his attachment to the liberties of the people.

On leaving the university, he began the study of law, for which profession his father designed him; but at the solicitation of his mother, this pursuit was relinquished, and he became a clerk in the counting house of Thomas Cushing, at that time a distinguished merchant. But his genius was not adapted to mercantile pursuits; and in a short time after commencing business for himself, partly owing to the failure in business of a friend, and partly to injudicious management, he lost the entire capital which had been given him by his father.

The genius of Adams was naturally bent on politics. It was with him an all engrossing subject. From his earliest youth, he had felt its inspiration. It occupied his thoughts, enlivened his conversation, and employed his pen. In respect to his private business, this was an unfortunate trait of character; but most fortunate for his country, since he thus acquired an extensive knowledge of those principles of rational liberty, which he afterwards asserted with so much energy, in opposition to the arbitrary conduct of the British government.

In 1763 it was announced, that the British ministry had it in view to ” tax the colonies, for the purpose of raising a revenue, which was to be placed at the disposal of the crown.” This news filled the colonies with alarm. In Massachusetts, a committee was appointed by the people of Boston to express the public sentiment in relation to this contemplated measure, for the guidance of the representatives to the general court. The instructions of this committee were drawn by Mr. Adams. They formed, in truth, a powerful remonstrance against the injustice of the contemplated system of taxation ; and they merit the more particular notice, as they were the first recorded public document, which denied the right of taxation to the British parliament. They also contained the first suggestion of the propriety of that mutual understanding and correspondence among the colonies, which laid the foundation of their future confederacy. In these instructions, after alluding to the evils which had resulted from the acts of the British parliament, relating to trade, Mr. Adams observes:—” If our trade may be taxed, why not our lands? Why not the produce of our lands, and every thing we possess, or use? This we conceive annihilates our charter rights to govern and tax ourselves. It strikes at our British privileges, which, as we have never forfeited, we hold in common with our fellow subjects, who are natives of Britain. If taxes are laid upon us in any shape, without our having a legal representation, where they arc laid, we are reduced from the character of free subjects, to the state of tributary slaves. We, therefore, earnestly recommend it to you, to use your utmost endeavors to obtain from the general court, all necessary advice and instruction to our agent, at this most critical juncture.” “We also desire you to use your endeavors, that the other colonies, having the same interests and rights with us, may add their weight to that of this province; that by united application of all who are agreed, all may obtain redress I”

The deep interest which Mr. Adams felt and manifested for the rights of the colonies, soon brought him into favor with the patriotic party. He became a leader in their popular assemblies, and was bold in denouncing the unjust acts of the British ministry.

In 1765 he was elected a representative to the general court of Massachusetts, from the town of Boston. From this period, during the whole revolutionary struggle, he was the bold, persevering, and efficient supporter of the rights of his oppressed country. As a member of the court, he soon became conspicuous, and was honored with the office of clerk to that body. In the legislature, he was characterized for the same activity and boldness which he had manifested in the town. He was appointed upon almost every committee, assisted in drawing nearly every report, and exercised a large share of influence, in almost every meeting, which had for its object the counteraction of the unjust plans of the administration.

But it was not in his legislative capacity alone, that Mr. Adams exhibited his hostility to the British government, and his regard for rational freedom. Several able essays on these subjects were published by him; and he was the author of several plans for opposing, more successfully, the unjust designs of the mother country. He has the honor of having suggested the first congress at New-York, which prepared the way for a Continental Congress, ten years after ; and at length for the union and confederacy of the colonies.

The injudicious management of his private affairs, already alluded to, rendered Mr. Adams poor. When this was known in England, the partisans of the ministry proposed to bribe him, by the gift of some lucrative office. A suggestion of this kind was accordingly made to Governor Hutchinson, to which he replied in a manner highly complimentary to the integrity of Mr. Adams. “Such is the obstinacy and inflexible disposition of the man, that he never can be conciliated by any office or gift whatever.” The offer, however, it is reported, was actually made to Mr. Adams, but neither the allurements of fortune or power could for a moment tempt him to abandon the cause of truth, or to hazard the liberties of the people.

He was indeed poor; but he could be tempted neither by British gold, nor by the honors or profits of any office within the gift of the royal governor. Such patriotism has not been common in the world; but in America it was to be found in many a bosom, during the revolutionary struggle. The knowledge of facts like this, greatly diminishes the wonder, which has sometimes been expressed, that America should have successfully contended with Great Britain. Her physical strength was comparatively weak; but the moral courage of her statesmen, and her soldiers, was to her instead of numbers, of wealth, and fortifications.

Allusion has been made, both in our introduction, and in our notice of Hancock, to the Boston massacre, in 1770, an event which Will long remain memorable in the annals of the revolution, not only as it was the first instance of bloodshed between the British and the Americans, but as it conduced to increase the irritation, and to widen the breach between the two countries.

Our limits forbid a more particular account of this tragical affair ; and it is again alluded to only for the purpose of bringing more distinctly into view, the intrepid and decisive conduct of Samuel Adams on that occasion.

On the morning following this night of bloodshed, a meeting of the citizens of Boston was called. Mingled emotions of horror and indignation pervaded the assembly. Samuel Adams first arose to address the listening multitude. Few men could harangue a popular assembly with greater energy, or exercise a more absolute control over their passions and affections. On that occasion, a Demosthenes, or a Chatham, could scarcely have addressed the assembled multitude with a more impressive eloquence, or have represented in a more just and emphatic manner, the fearful crisis to which the affairs of the colonies were fast tending. A committee was unanimously chosen to wait upon Governor Hutchinson, with a request that the troops might be immediately removed from the town. To the request of this committee, the governor, with his usual prevarication, replied, that the troops were not subject to his order. Mr. Adams, who was one of this committee, strongly represented to the governor the danger of retaining the troops longer in the capital. His indignation was aroused, and in a tone of lofty independence, he declared, that the removal of the troops would alone satisfy his insulted and indignant townsmen; it was, therefore, at the governor’s peril, that they were continued in the town, and that he alone must be answerable for the fatal consequences, which it required no gift of prophecy to predict must ensue.

It was now dark. The meeting of the citizens was still undissolved. The greatest anxiety pervaded the assembly and scarcely were they restrained from going in a body to the governor, to learn his determination. Aware of the critical posture of affairs, aware of the personal hazard which he encountered by refusing a compliance, the governor at length gave his consent to the removal of the troops, and stipulated that the necessary preparations should commence on the following morning. Thus, through the decisive and spirited conduct of Samuel Adams, and a few other kindred spirits, the obstinacy of a royal governor was subdued, and further hostilities were for a still longer time suspended.

The popularity and influence of Mr. Adams were rapidly increasing, and the importance of his being detached from the popular party became every day more manifest. We have already noticed the suggestion to Governor Hutchinson to effect this, by the gift of some lucrative office. Other offers of a similar kind, it is reported, were made to him, at different times, by the royal authorities, but with the same ill success. About the year 1773, Governor Gage renewed the experiment. At that time Colonel Fenton was requested to wait upon Mr. Adams, with the assurance of Governor Gage, that any benefits would be conferred upon him which he should demand, on the condition of his ceasing to oppose the measures of the royal government. At the same time, it was not obscurely hinted, that such a measure was necessary, on personal considerations. He had incurred the royal displeasure, and already, such had been his conduct, that it was in the power of the governor to send him to England for trial, on a charge of treason. It was suggested that a change in his political conduct, might save him from this disgrace, and even from a severer fate; and might elevate him, moreover, from his circumstances of indigence, to the enjoyment of affluence.

To this proposal, Mr. Adams listened with attention; but as Col. Fenton concluded his communication, with all the spirit of a man of honor, with all the integrity of the most incorrupted and incorruptible patriotism, he replied; “Go tell Governor Gage, that my peace has long since been made with the King of kings, and that it is the advice of Samuel Adams to him, no longer to insult the feelings of an already exasperated people.”

The independence and sterling integrity of Mr. Adams, might well have secured to him the respect, and even confidence of Governor Gage; but with far different feelings did he regard the noble conduct of this high minded patriot. Under the irritation excited by the failure of a favorite plan. Governor Gage issued a proclamation, which comprehended the following language: “I do hereby,” he said, ” in his majesty’s name, offer and promise his most gracious pardon to all persons, who shall forthwith lay down their arms, and return to the duties of peaceable subjects: excepting only from the benefits of such pardon, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock, whose offenses are of too flagitious [criminal, felonious]  a nature to admit of any other consideration but that of condign [just, deserved] punishment.”

Thus these independent men were singled out as the objects of peculiar vengeance, and even their lives endangered, for honorably resisting a temptation, to which, had they yielded, they would have merited the reproach of their countrymen, and the scorn of the world.

Samuel-Adams-Virtuous-People-Cannot-Be-SubduedMr. Adams was a member of the first continental congress, which assembled in Philadelphia on the 5th of September, 1774; and continued a member of that body until the year 1781. During this period, no delegate acted a more conspicuous or manly part. No one exhibited a more indefatigable zeal, or a firmer tone of character. He early saw that the contest would probably not be decided without bloodshed. He was himself prepared for every extremity, and was willing that such measures should be adopted, as should lead to an early issue of the controversy. He was accordingly among the warmest advocates for the declaration of American independence. In his view, the die was cast, and a further friendly connection with the parent country was impossible. “I am perfectly satisfied,” said he, in a letter written from Philadelphia, to a friend in Massachusetts, in April, 1776, “of the necessity of a public and explicit declaration of independence. I cannot conceive what good reason can be assigned against it. Will it widen the breach? This would be a strange question, after we have raised armies, and fought battles with the British troops; set up an American navy; permitted the inhabitants of these colonies to fit out armed vessels, to capture the ships, &c. belonging to any of the inhabitants of Great Britain; declaring them the enemies of the United Colonies; and torn into shivers their acts of trade, by allowing commerce, subject to regulations to be made by ourselves, with the people of all countries, except such as are subject to the British king. It cannot surely, after all this, be imagined that we consider ourselves, or mean to be considered by others, in any other state, than that of independence.”

The independence of America was at length declared, and gave a new political character, and an immediate dignity to the cause of the colonies. But notwithstanding this measure might itself bear the aspect of victory, a formidable contest yet awaited the Americans. The year following the declaration of independence, the situation of the colonies was extremely gloomy. The stoutest hearts trembled within them, and even doubts were expressed, whether the measures which had been adopted, particularly the declaration of independence, were not precipitate. The neighborhood of Philadelphia became the seat of war; congress, now reduced to only twenty-eight members, had resolved to remove their session to Lancaster. At this critical period, Mr. Adam? accidentally fell in company with several other members, by whom the subject of the state of the country was freely and confidentially discussed. Gloomy forebodings seemed to pervade their minds, and the greatest anxiety was expressed as to the issue of the contest.

To this conversation, Mr. Adams listened with silent attention. At length he expressed his surprise, that such desponding feelings should have settled upon their hearts, and such desponding language should be even confidentially uttered by their lips. To this it was answered, “The chance is desperate.” “Indeed, indeed, it is desperate,” said Mr. Adams, “if this be our language. If we wear long faces, others will do so too; if we despair, let us not expect that others will hope; or that they will persevere in a contest, from which their leaders shrink. But let not such feelings, let not such language, be ours.” Thus, while the hearts of others were ready to faint, Samuel Adams maintained his usual firmness. His unshaken courage, and his calm reliance upon the aid and protection of heaven, contributed in an eminent degree to inspire his countrymen with a confidence of their final success. A higher encomium could not have been bestowed on any member of the continental congress, than is expressed in relation to Mr. Adams by Mr. Galloway, in his historical and political reflections on the rise and progress of the American rebellion, published in Great Britain, 1780. “He eats little,” says the author, ” drinks little, sleeps little, thinks much, and is most indefatigable in the pursuit of his object. It was this man, who by his superior application, managed at once the factions in congress at Philadelphia, and the factions of New-England.”

SAdams1In 1781, Mr. Adams retired from congress; but it was to receive from his native state, additional proofs of her high estimation of his services, and of the confidence which she reposed in his talents and integrity He had already been an active member of the convention that formed her constitution; and after it went into effect, he was placed in the senate of the state, and for several years presided over that body. In 1789, he was elected lieutenant governor, and held that office till 1794; when, upon the death of Hancock, he was chosen governor, and was annually re-elected till 1797, when he retired from public life. This retirement, however, he did not long enjoy, as his death occurred on October 1803, at the advanced age of 82.

From the foregoing sketches of Mr. Adams, it will not be difficult for the reader to form a tolerably correct opinion of his character and disposition. In his person, he is said to have been only of the middle size, but his countenance indicated a noble genius within, and a more than ordinary inflexibility of character and purpose. Great sincerity and simplicity marked his manners and deportment. In his conversation, he was at once interesting and instructive; and those who shared his friendship had seldom any reason to doubt his affection and constancy. His writings were voluminous, but unfortunately, as they generally related to the temporary politics of the day, most of them are lost. Those which remain furnish SAdams2abundant proof of his superiority as a writer, of the soundness of his political creed, and of the piety and sincerity of his character. As an orator, he was eminently fitted for the stormy times in which he lived. His elocution was concise and impressive, partaking more of the logical than the figurative, and rather calculated to enlighten the understanding, than to excite the feelings. Yet no man could address himself more powerfully to the passions, than he did, on certain occasions. Asa statesman, his views were broad and enlightened; what his judgment had once matured, he pursued with inflexible firmness, and patriotic ardor. While others desponded, he was full of hope; where others hesitated, he was resolute ; where others were supine, he was eager for action. His circumstances of indigence led him to habits of simplicity and frugality; but beyond this, he was naturally averse to parade and ostentation.

“Mr. Adams was a christian. His mind was early imbued with piety, as well as cultivated by science. He early approached the table of the Lord Jesus, and the purity of his life witnessed the sincerity of his profession. On the christian sabbath, he constantly went to the temple, and the morning and evening devotions in his family proved, that his religion attended him in his seasons of retirement from the world. The last production of his pen was in favor of Christian truth. He died in the faith of the SAdams3gospel.”

In his opposition to British tyranny, no man was more conscientious; he detested royalty, and despised the ostentation and contemptible servility of the royal agents ; his patriotism was of a pure and lofty character. For his country he labored both by night and by day, with a zeal which was scarcely interrupted, and with an energy that knew no fatigue. Although enthusiastic, he was still prudent. He would persuade, petition, and remonstrate, where these would accomplish his object; but when these failed, he was ready to resist even unto blood, and would sooner have sacrificed his life than yielded with dishonor. “Had he lived in any country or epoch,” says his biographer, “when abuses of power were to be resisted, he would have been one of the reformers. He would have suffered excommunication, rather than have bowed to papal infallibility, or paid tribute to St. Peter; he would have gone to the stake, rather than submit to the prelatic ordinances of Laud; he would have mounted the scaffold, sooner than pay a shilling of illegal ship money; he would have (led to a desert, rather than endure the profligate tyranny of a Stuart; he was proscribed, and would sooner have been condemned as a traitor, than assent to an illegal tax, if it had been only a sixpenny stamp or an insignificant duty on tea; and there appeared to be no species of corruption by which this inflexibility could have been destroyed.”

Samuel-Adams-Quotes-4In the delegation of political power, he may be said to have been too cautious, since our constitutions, as he would have modeled them, would not have had sufficient inherent force for their own preservation. One of his colleagues thus honorably described him: “Samuel Adams would have the state of Massachusetts govern the union; the town of Boston govern Massachusetts; and that he should govern the town of Boston, and then the whole would not be intentionally ill governed.”

With some apparent austerity, there was nothing of the spirit of gloom or arrogance about him. In his demeanor, he combined mildness with firmness, and dignity with condescension. If sometimes an advocate for measures which might be thought too strong, it was, perhaps, because his comprehension extended beyond ordinary minds, and he had more energy to effect his purposes, than attaches to common men. In addition to these qualities, he manifested an uncommon indifference to pecuniary considerations; he was poor while he lived, and had not the death of an only son relieved his latter day poverty, Samuel Adams, notwithstanding his virtues, his patriotism, his unwearied zeal, and his acknowledged usefulness, while he lived, would have had to claim a burial at the hand of charity, or at the public expense.

The Life of Founder John Hancock

John HancockThe events leading to the declaration of independence, which have been rapidly passed in review, in the preceding pages, have brought us to the more particular notice of those distinguished men, who signed their names to that instrument, and thus identified themselves with the glory of this American republic.

If the world has seldom witnessed a train of events of a more novel and interesting character, than those which led to the declaration of American independence, it has, perhaps, never seen a body of men, placed in a more difficult and responsible situation, than were the signers of that instrument. And certainly, the world has never witnessed a more brilliant exhibition of political wisdom, or a brighter example of firmness and courage.

The first instant the American colonies gave promise of future importance and respectability, the jealousy of Great Britain was excited, and the counsels of her statesmen were employed to keep them in humble subjection. This was the object, when royalty grasped at their charters; when restrictions were laid upon their commerce and manufactures; when, by taxation, their resources were attempted to be withdrawn, and the doctrine inculcated, that it was rebellion for them to think and act for themselves.

Hancock 2It was fortunate for the Americans, that they understood their own rights, and had the courage to assert them. But even at the time of the declaration of independence, just as was the cause of the colonies, it was doubtful how the contest would terminate. The chance of eventual success was against them. Less than three millions of people constituted their population, and these were scattered over a widely extended territory. They were divided into colonies, which had no political character, and no other bond of union than common sufferings, common danger, and common necessities. They had no veteran army, no navy, no arsenals filled with the munitions of war, and no fortifications on their extended coast. They had no overflowing treasuries; but in the outset, were to depend upon loans, taxation, and voluntary contributions.

Thus circumstanced, could success in such a contest be reasonably anticipated? Could they hope to compete with the parent country, whose strength was consolidated by the lapse of centuries, and to whose wealth and power so many millions contributed? That country directed, in a great measure, the destinies of Europe: her influence extended to every quarter of the world. Her armies were trained to the art of war; her navy rode in triumph on every sea; her statesmen were subtle and sagacious; her generals skilful and practiced. And more than all, her pride was aroused by the fact, that all Europe was an interested spectator of the scene, and was urging her forward to vindicate the policy she had adopted, and the principles which she had advanced.

But what will not union and firmness, valor and patriotism, accomplish? What will not faith accomplish? The colonies were, indeed, aware of the crisis at which they had arrived. They saw the precipice upon which they stood. National existence was at stake. Life, and liberty, and peace, were at hazard ; not only those of the generation which then existed, but of the unnumbered millions which were yet to be born. To heaven they could, with pious confidence, make their solemn appeal. They trusted in the arm of Him, who had planted their fathers in this distant land, and besought Him to guide Hancock3the men, who in His Providence were called to preside over their public councils.

It was fortunate for them, and equally fortunate for the cause of rational liberty, that the delegates to the congress of 1776, were adequate to the great work, which devolved upon them. They were not popular favorites, brought into notice during a season of tumult and violence; nor men chosen in times of tranquility, when nothing is to be apprehended from a mistaken selection. “But they were men to whom others might cling in times of peril, and look up to in the revolution of empires; men whose countenances in marble, as on canvass, may be dwelt upon by after ages, as the history of the times.” They were legislators and senators by birth, raised up by heaven for the accomplishment of a special and important object; to rescue a people groaning under oppression; and with the aid of their illustrious compeers, destined to establish rational liberty on a new basis, in an American republic.

They, too, well knew the responsibility of their station, and the fate which awaited themselves, if not their country, should their experiment fail. They came, therefore, to the question of a declaration of independence, like men who had counted the cost; prepared to rejoice, without any unholy triumph, should God smile upon the transaction; prepared also, if defeat should follow, to lead in the way to martyrdom.

declaration_of_independenceA signature to the declaration of independence, without reference to general views, was, to each individual, a personal consideration of the most momentous import. It would be regarded in England as treason, and expose any man to the halter or the block. The only signature, which exhibits indications of a trembling hand, is that of Stephen Hopkins, who had been afflicted with the palsy. In this work of treason, John Hancock led the way, as president of the congress, and by the force with which he wrote, he seems to have determined that his name should never be erased. * The pen, with which these signatures were made, has been preserved, and is now in the cabinet of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

This gentleman, who, from his conspicuous station in the continental congress of 1776, claims our first notice, was born in the town of Quincy, in the state of Massachusetts, in the year 1737. Both his father and grandfather were clergymen, distinguished for great devotion to the duties of their profession, and for the happy influence which they exercised over those to whom they ministered. Of his father it is recorded, that he evinced no common devotion to learning, to which cause he rendered essential service, by the patronage that he gave to the literary institutions of his native state.


Harvard College

Of so judicious a counselor, young Hancock was deprived, while yet a child, but happily he was adopted by a paternal uncle, Thomas Hancock, the most opulent merchant in Boston, and the most enterprising in New England. Mr. Thomas Hancock was a man of enlarged views; and was distinguished by his liberality to several institutions, especially to Harvard college, in which he founded a professorship, and in whose library his name is still conspicuous as a principal benefactor.

Under the patronage of the uncle, the nephew received a liberal education [liberal here means bountiful, free, generous, large] in the above university, where he was graduated in 1754. During his collegiate course, though respectable as a scholar, he was in no wise distinguished, and at that time, gave little promise of the eminence to which he afterwards arrived.

On leaving college, he was entered as a clerk in the counting house of his uncle, where he continued till 1760; at which time he visited England, both for the purposes of acquiring information, and of becoming personally acquainted with the distinguished correspondents of his patron. In 1764, he returned to America; shortly after which his uncle died, leaving to his nephew his extensive mercantile concerns, and his princely fortune, then the largest estate in the province.

To a young man, only twenty-seven, this sudden possession of wealth was full of danger; and to not a few would have proved their ruin. But Hancock became neither giddy, arrogant, nor profligate; and he continued his former course of regularity, industry, and moderation. Many depended upon him, as they had done upon his uncle, for employment. To these he was kind and liberal; while in his more extended and complicated commercial transactions, he maintained a high reputation for honor and integrity.

The possession of wealth, added to the upright and honorable character which he sustained, naturally gave him influence in the community, and rendered him even popular. In 1766, he was placed by the suffrage’s of his fellow citizens in the legislature of Massachusetts, and this event seems to have given a direction to his future career.

He thus became associated with such individuals as Otis, Cushing, and Samuel Adams, men of great political distinction, acute discrimination, and patriotic feeling. In such an atmosphere, the genius of Hancock brightened rapidly, and he soon became conspicuous among his distinguished colleagues. It has, indeed, been asserted, that in force of genius, he was inferior to many of his contemporaries; but honorable testimony was given, both to the purity of his principles, and the excellence of his abilities, by his frequent nomination to committees, whose deliberations deeply involved the welfare of the community.

The arrival of a vessel belonging to Mr. Hancock, in the year 1768, which was said to be loaded contrary to the revenue laws, has already been noticed in our introduction. This vessel was seized by the custom-house officers, and placed under the guns of the Romney, at that time in the harbor, for security. The seizure of this vessel greatly exasperated the people, and in their excitement, they assaulted the revenue officers with violence, and compelled them to seek their safety on board the armed vessel, or in a neighboring castle. The boat of the collector was destroyed, and several houses belonging to his partisans were razed to their foundation.

In these proceedings, Mr. Hancock himself was in no wise engaged; and he probably condemned them as rash and unwarrantable. But the transaction contributed greatly to bring him into notice, and to increase his popularity.

This, and several similar occurrences, served as a pretext to the governor to introduce into Boston, not long after, several regiments of British troops; a measure which was fitted more than all others to irritate the inhabitants. Frequent collisions, as might be expected, soon happened between the soldiers and the citizens, the former of whom were insolent, and the latter independent. These contentions not long after broke out into acts of violence. An unhappy instance of this violence occurred on the evening of the 5th of March, 1770, at which time, a small party of British soldiers was assailed by several of the citizens, with balls of snow, and other weapons. The citizens were fired upon by order of the commanding officer: a few were killed, and several others were wounded.

Although the provocation, in this instance, was given by the citizens, the whole town was simultaneously aroused to seek redress. At the instigation of Samuel Adams, and Mr. Hancock, an assembly of the citizens was convened the following day, and these two gentlemen, with some others, were appointed a committee to demand of the governor the removal of the troops. Of this committee, Mr. Hancock was the chairman.

bostonmassacrebychampneyA few days after the above affray, which is usually termed “the Boston massacre,” the bodies of the slain were buried with suitable demonstrations of public grief. In commemoration of the event, Mr. Hancock was appointed to deliver an address. After speaking of his attachment to a righteous government, and of his enmity to tyranny, he proceeded in the following animated strain: “The town of Boston, ever faithful to the British crown, has been invested by a British fleet; the troops of George the third have crossed the Atlantic, not to engage an enemy, but to assist a band of traitors in trampling on the rights and liberties of his most loyal subjects; those rights and liberties, which, as a father, he ought ever to regard, and as a king, he is bound in honor to defend from violation, even at the risk of his own life.

“These troops, upon their first arrival, took possession of onr senate house, pointed their cannon against the judgment hall, and even continued them there, whilst the supreme court of the province was actually sitting to decide upon the lives and fortunes of the king’s subjects. Our streets nightly resounded with the noise of their riot and debauchery; our peaceful citizens were hourly exposed to shameful insults, and often felt the effects of their violence and outrage. But this was not all; as though they thought it not enough to violate our civil rights, they endeavored to deprive us of the enjoyment of our religious privileges; to vitiate [to spoil or corrupt] our morals, and thereby render us deserving of destruction. Hence the rude din of arms, which broke in upon your solemn devotions in your temples, on that day hallowed by heaven, and set apart by God himself for his peculiar worship. Hence, impious oaths and blasphemies, so often tortured your unaccustomed ear, Hence, all the arts which idleness and luxury could invent, were used to betray our youth of one sex into extravagance and effeminacy, and of the other to infamy and ruin; and have they not succeeded but too well? Has not a reverence for religion sensibly decayed? Have not our infants almost learned to lisp curses, before they knew their horrid import? Have not our youth forgotten they were Americans, and regardless of the admonitions of the wise and aged, copied, with a servile imitation, the frivolity and vices of their tyrants? And must I be compelled to acknowledge, that even the noblest, fairest part of all creation, have not entirely escaped their cruel snares?—or why have I seen an honest father clothed with shame; why a virtuous mother drowned in tears?

“But I forbear, and come reluctantly to the transactions of that dismal night, when in such quick succession we felt the extremes of grief, astonishment, and rage; when heaven in anger, for a dreadful moment suffered hell to take the reins; when satan, with his chosen band, opened the sluices of New England’s blood, and sacrilegiously polluted our land with the dead bodies of her guiltless sons.

“Let this sad tale of death never be told, without a tear; let not the heaving bosom cease to burn with a manly indignation at the relation of it, through the long tracks of future time; let every parent tell the shameful story to his listening children, till tears of pity glisten in their eyes, or boiling passion shakes their tender frames.

“Dark and designing knaves, murderers, parricides! How dare you tread upon the earth, which has drunk the blood of slaughtered innocence shed by your 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 doth not expand 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; and you, though screened from human observation, must be arraigned, must lift your hands, red with the blood of those whose death you have procured, at the tremendous bar of God.

“But I gladly quit this theme of death—I would not dwell too long upon the horrid effects, which have already followed, from quartering regular troops in this town; let our misfortunes instruct posterity to guard against these evils. Standing armies are sometimes, (I would by no means say generally, much less universally,) composed of persons who have rendered themselves unfit to live in civil society; who are equally indifferent to the glory of a George, or a Louis; who for the addition of one penny a day to their wages, would desert from the Christian cross, and fight under the crescent of the Turkish sultan; from such men as these what has not a state to fear? With such as these, usurping Caesar passed the Rubicon; with such as these he humbled mighty Rome, and forced the mistress of the world to own a master in a traitor. These are the men whom sceptred robbers now employ to frustrate the designs of God, and render vain the bounties which his gracious hand pours indiscriminately upon his creatures.”

Previously to this address, doubts had been entertained by some, as to the perfect patriotism of Mr. Hancock. It was said that the governor of the province had, either by studied civilities, or by direct overtures, endeavored to attach him to the royal cause. For a time insinuations of this derogatory character were circulated abroad, highly detrimental to his fame. The manners and habits of Mr. Hancock had, not a little, contributed to countenance the malicious imputations his fortune was princely. His mansion displayed the magnificence of a courtier, rather than the simplicity of a republican. Gold and silver embroidery adorned his garment, and on public occasions, his carriage and horses, and servant in livery, emulated the splendor of the English nobility. The eye of envy saw not this magnificence with indifference, nor was it strange that reports unfriendly to his patriotic integrity should have been circulated abroad; especially as from his wealth and fashionable intercourse, he had more connection with the governor and his party than many others.

The sentiments, however, expressed by Hancock in the above address, were so explicit and so patriotic, as to convince the most incredulous ; and a renovation of his popularity was the consequence.

lexington-battle-pictureHancock, from this time, became as odious to the royal governor and his adherents, as he was dear to the republican party. It now became an object of some importance to the royal governor, to get possession of the persons of Mr. Hancock and Samuel Adams; and this is said to have been intended in the expedition to Concord, which led to the memorable battle of Lexington, the opening scene of the revolutionary war. Notwithstanding the secrecy with which that expedition was planned, these patriots, who were at the time members of the provincial congress at Concord, fortunately made their escape; but it was only at the moment the British troops entered the house where they lodged. Following this battle, Governor Gage issued his proclamation, offering a general pardon to all who should manifest a proper penitence for their opposition to the royal authority, excepting the above two gentlemen, whose guilt placed them beyond the reach of the royal clemency.

In October, 1774, Hancock was unanimously elected to the presidential chair of the provincial congress of Massachusetts. The following year, the still higher honor of the presidency of the continental congress was conferred upon him. In this body, were men of superior genius, and of still greater experience than Hancock. There were Franklin, and Jefferson, and Dickinson, and many others, men of pre-eminent abilities and superior political sagacity; but the recent proclamation of Governor Gage, proscribing Hancock and Adams, had given those gentlemen great popularity, and presented a sufficient reason to the continental congress, to express their respect for them, by the election of the former to the presidential chair.

In this distinguished station Hancock continued till October, 1777; at which time, in consequence of infirm health, induced by an unremitted application to business, he resigned his office, and, with a popularity seldom enjoyed by any individual, retired to his native province.

Of the convention, which, about this time, was appointed to frame a constitution for the state of Massachusetts, Hancock was a member. Under this constitution, in 1780, he was the first governor of the commonwealth, to which office he was annually elected, until the year 1785, when he resigned. After an interval of two years, he was re-elected to the same office, in which he was continued to the time of his death, which took place on the 8th of October, 1793, and in the 55th year of his age.

Of the character of Mr. Hancock, the limits which we have prescribed to ourselves, will permit us to say but little more. It was an honorable trait in that character, that while he possessed a superfluity of wealth, to the unrestrained enjoyment of which he came at an unguarded period of life, he avoided excessive indulgence and dissipation. His habits, through life, were uniformly on the side of virtue. In his disposition and manners, he was kind and courteous. He claimed no superiority from his advantages, and manifested no arrogance on account of his wealth.

His enemies accused him of an excessive fondness for popularity; to which fondness, envy and malice were not backward in ascribing his liberality on various occasions. Whatever may have been the justice of such an imputation, many examples of the generosity of his character are recorded. Hundreds of families, it is said, in times of distress, were daily fed from his munificence. In promoting the liberties of his country, no one, perhaps, actually expended more wealth, or was willing to make greater sacrifices. An instance of his public spirit, in 1775, is recorded, much to his praise.

At that time, the American army was besieging Boston, to expel the British, who held possession of the town. To accomplish this object, the entire destruction of the city was proposed by the American officers. By the execution of such a plan, the whole fortune of Mr. Hancock would have been sacrificed. Yet he immediately acceded to the measure, declaring his readiness to surrender his all, whenever the liberties of his country should require it.

It is not less honorable to the character of Mr. Hancock, that while wealth and independence powerfully tempted him to a life of indolence, he devoted himself for many years, almost without intermission, to the most laborious service of his country. Malevolence, during some periods of his public life, aspersed [maligned; slandered] his character, and imputed to him motives of conduct to which he was a stranger. Full justice was done to his memory at his death, in the expressions of grief and affection which were offered over his remains, by the multitudes who thronged his house while his body lay in state, and who followed his remains to the grave.

THE TRIUMPHS OF THE REPUBLIC! by Hon. Theodore Bacon, New York 1876

RestoreTheConstitutionDotComTHE TRIUMPHS OF THE REPUBLIC! An Oration by Honorable Theodore Bacon, (1834-1900) of Rochester, New York. Delivered At The Centennial Celebration At Palmyra, New York, July 4th, 1876.

The occasion which we commemorate to-day, familiar as it is to us by its annual recurrence—fixed as it is in our national life—is in its very conception distinctive and American. It is not the birth-day of a reigning prince, however beloved; it is not the holiday of a patron saint, however revered; it is simply the the festival of our national existence. Unimaginative as we are, we have impersonated an idea—the idea of nationality; and the festival of that idea, instead of a man or a demi-god, we celebrate to-day.

And we do right to celebrate it. The fact of this national existence is a great fact. The act which first declared the nation’s right to exist was a great act—a brave act. If it was not indeed, as we have been ready enough to assert, a pivotal epoch in the world’s history, it was beyond question a decisive event in our own history. If it was not the birth-day of the nation— for the nation was born long before—it was the day the still growing youth became conscious of its young maturity, asserted its personality, and entered on equal terms into the community of nations. And whatever errors there may have been in our methods—whatever follies of mere deafening or nerve-distracting noise—whatever mad recklessness with deadly explosives, such as will make to-morrow’s newspapers like the returns of a great battle—whatever flatulence of vain glorious boasting from ten thousand platforms such as this—it is none the less a goodly and an honorable thing, that the one universal festival of this great nation should be the festival of its nationality alone. This, and this only, is the meaning of our being together to-day; that we are glad, and joyful, and grateful, that we are a nation; and that in unison with more than two-score millions of people, throughout the vast expanse of our imperial domains, we may give utterance to the joyful and thankful thought, “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.

It is well then, to celebrate and rejoice. The many reasons we have for joy and pride are familiar enough to you. If there were any danger of your forgetting them, they are recalled annually to your remembrance. by addresses such as you have honored me by calling on me to deliver here to-day. And in considering how I could best respond to your request, in the few moments which you can spare from your better occupation of the day, I have thought it superfluous to repeat to you those glories of which your minds are already so full, deeming it a better service to you, and worthier of the day, I suggest certain imitations upon national self-laudation.

Let me recount to you summarily, the familiar and ordinary grounds of our boasting on such days as this. Then go over them with me, one by one; consider them soberly; and see whether we are in any danger of exalting ourselves unduly by reason of them.

1. We conquered our independence.

2. We govern ourselves.

3. We have enormously multiplied our numbers, and extended our boundaries.

4. We have enormously increased our material wealth, and subdued the forces of nature.

5. Education and intelligence are in an unequaled degree diffused throughout our population.

6. To crown all, we have but just now subdued a gigantic rebellion, and in doing so have incidentally suppressed the great national shame of human slavery.

Consider them:

RevolutionaryWar1. We conquered our independence.

Beyond doubt, this was a grand thing to do, even in view of all the advantages that aided our fathers, and of all the difficulties that burdened their enemies. It was not, indeed, except in a certain limited and qualified sense, what it is commonly misnamed, a revolution. It was rather a movement of conservatism—of resistance to an innovating despotism, seeking to impose the bonds of distant authority on those who were free-born, and who had always governed themselves. This resistance to ministerial novelties was in the interest of all Englishmen, and, until this very day one hundred years ago, was in the name of King George himself, whom we still recognized as our rightful monarch, after more than a year of flagrant war against his troops. It was (do not forget) war of defence, against an invader from the paralyzing distance of 3,000 miles; yet that invader was the most powerful nation in Europe. It enlisted (remember) the active alliance of France, and stirred up Spain and Holland to separate wars against our enemy; yet even with these great helps, the persistency of the struggle, the hardships and discouragements through which it was maintained to its final success, were enough to justify the honor in which we hold the assertors of our national independence.

2. We govern ourselves.

We have inherited, it is true, by a descent through many generations, certain principles of government which recognize the people as the source of authority over the people. Yet not even the founders of this federal republic—far less ourselves, their century remote descendants, could claim the glory either of inventing these eternal principles or of first applying them in practice. Before Jefferson were Plato, and Milton, and Locke, and Rousseau. Before Philadelphia were Athens, and pre-Augustan Rome; Florence and Geneva; Ghent and Leydon; the Swiss Republics and the Commonwealth of England. Before the United States of America were the Achaean League, the Hanseatic League, and—closest pattern and exemplar—the United Provinces of the Low Countries. Beyond doubt, however, it is something to be glad of that our ancestors began the century which closes to-day, upon the solid foundations of a faith in the right of self-government, when so many other nations of the earth were to be compelled to labor and study toward the acceptance of that faith, or to legislate and fight and revolutionize toward the embodiment of it in institutions. But whether that prodigious advantage with which we began the century should be now the occasion of pride or of some different emotion, might depend on other questions: Whether, for example, that advantage has enabled us to maintain to this day the pre-eminence over other nations which it gave us a hundred years ago; whether, as they have advanced, we have only held our own, or gone backward; whether our ten talents, the magnificent capital with which we were entrusted, have been hid in a napkin and buried, while the one poor talent of another has been multiplied a hundred fold by diligence and skill. It is a great thing, no doubt, for a nation to govern itself, whether well or ill; but it is a thing to be proud of only when its self-government is capable and just. Let us look for a moment at the relative positions in this respect of our own and other nations a hundred years ago, and now.

GreatExperimentA century since, the idea of parliamentary or representative government, primitive as that idea had been in the earliest Teutonic communities, and embalmed as it might still be in the reveries of philosophers, had no living form outside of these colonies, and of that fatherland from which their institutions were derived, and with which they were at war. In Great Britain itself, a sodden conservatism, refusing to adapt institutions to changing circumstances, had suffered them to become distorted with inequalities; so that the House of Commons, while it still stood for the English People, and was already beginning to feel the strength which has now made it the supreme power in the nation, was so befouled with rotten boroughs and pocket boroughs, that ministers easily managed it with places, and pensions, and money. The whole continent of Western Europe was subjected to great or little autocrats, claiming to rule by divine right, uttering by decrees their sovereign wills for laws, despising even the pretense of asking the concurrence of the governed. In France, an absolute despot, a brilliant court, a gorgeous and vicious civilization of the few, were superposed upon a wretched, naked, underfed peasantry; tithe-oppressed, tax-ridden; crushed with feudal burdens upon the soil, or dragged from it to be slaughtered in foreign wars for matters they never heard of. Germany was either parceled out, like Italy, among countless princelings, maintaining every one his disproportionate army, and court, and harem, and squeezing out taxes and blood from his people utterly without responsibility; or was crushed beneath the iron despotism of the Great Frederick in the North, or of the less capable Empire in the South. To the East, the great plains of Russia were an unknown darkness, where a shameless fury maintained an Asiatic reign of force and terror. Here and there a philosophical recluse was evolving from his books and his invention, systems of government which denied and antagonized the claims of divine right on which every dynasty in Europe was founded; yet so remote from any practical application did these speculations seem that the most absolute monarchs took pride in sharing them and fostering them. There were, indeed, things called “republics;” there were the despotic aristocracies of Venice and Genoa; there were their High Mightinesses, the estates of the United Provinces; there were the confederated cantons of Switzerland, fenced in their mountain strongholds, but without influence upon European thoughts or institutions .

Over against that Europe of 1776, set the Europe of to-day. Nation after nation—call off their names: observe their systems of government, and say, when you have completed the tale, how many sovereigns there are who rest their title to supremacy upon divine right by inheritance; how many governments there are whose daily continuance—how many whose very birth and origin, are derived avowedly from no other source than “the consent of the governed.” There are indeed crowned heads to-day; heads wearing crowns which have descended by but two or three degrees from the most confident assertors of “the right divine of kings to govern wrong;“—right royal men and women—nay more, right manly men and right womanly women: yet of all these there is hardly one who pretends to be more than the mere executive of the national will, expressed through a representative legislature. The England which our fathers denounced as tyrant, and foe of freedom—let us not commit the anachronism of confounding her with the England of to-day. Ruled by a National Assembly chosen by a suffrage little short of universal, exercising final and absolute legislative authority with the merest advisory concurrence of an hereditary Senate; its executive body little more than a standing committee of the House of Commons, removable in an instant by a mere expression of the will of the House; and all under the nominal presidency of a quiet matron, to whom even the external ceremonies of her position are irksome; with a system of local and municipal administration, which, however its defects, may well invite our admiration and study; tho sturdiest proclaimer of the doctrines of our “Declaration” could hardly have figured to himself a future America which should more fully embody those doctrines than the realm of George the Third has come to embody them under his granddaughter. If we look across the channel, we find all Western Europe, from the Polar Sea to the Mediterranean, the undisputed domain of constitutional representative, elective government. It the name and state of King or Emperor are maintained, it is in effect but as a convenient instrument for the performance of necessary functions in the great, public organism, and with a tacit, or even an express acknowledgement on the part of the crown that” tho consent of the governed ” is the true source of its own authority. Over the feudal France which I have but just now pictured to you, has swept a flood which not only destroyed institutions, but extirpated their immemorial foundations; which not only leveled the hideous inequalities of medievalism, but leveled upward the Gallic mind itself; so that hardly less than the American citizen—far more than the British subject—is the Frenchman of to-day penetrated by the consciousness of the equal rights of all men before the law. His form of supreme administration may vary from time to time, in name, or even in substance; but for fifty years it has stood upon the basis of the public consent, or, when it has failed so to stand, has fallen. The France of Richelieu—the France of that Louis XIV who dared to say of the State, “It is I,” is the France whose latest king called himself no longer King of France, but King of the French; whose latest Emperor claimed no right to rule but from a popular election by universal suffrage—boasted of being “The Elect of seven millions“—and styled himself in the most solemn instruments, “By the Grace of God and the Will of the People, Emperor of the French;” and which now, dispensing with even the fiction of a Sovereign, administers its affairs with a prudence, wisdom and economy which have drawn the admiration of neighboring nations. In United Italy—in the two great empires which share between them Germany and Hungary—in the Scandinavian Kingdoms—and at last even in Spain, so long the distracted prey of hierarchy and absolutism, the autocracy of an hereditary monarch has given way to parliamentary government and ministerial responsibility. The successor of Catharine the Second, by conferring spontaneously upon the half-civilized subjects of his vast empire not only personal freedom, but such local autonomy as they are capable of, is educating them toward a higher participation in affairs. And now, most marvelous testimony to the prevalence of those opinions upon which our own institutions are based, the world has seen within a month, a new Sultan, a new chief of Islam, announced to Europe as succeeding to the chair and the sword of Mahomet, “by the unanimous will of the Turkish people!

Christian republicLet us be quite sure, my fellow-citizens, before we boast oarselves immeasurably above other nations by reason of the excellence of our political institutions, not only that they are better than all others in the world, but that we have done something in these hundred years towards making them better; or at least that we have not suffered ours to become debased and corrupt, while those of other nations have been growing better and purer. Is our law-making and our conduct of affairs —national, state, and local—abler and honester now than then? Is the ballot-box cleaner, and a surer reflection of the public mind upon public men and measures? Or are we still in some small degree hampered by the tricks of politicians, so that we find ourselves voting into offices men whom we despise—giving support to measures which we abominate? Has public opinion grown so in that sensitive honor “which feels a stain like a wound,” that it compels public men to be not only above reproach, but above suspicion? Or has it rather come to content itself with weighing evidence, and balancing probabilities, and continuing its favor to any against whom the proofs may fall short of absolute conviction of felony? Is the vast organization of our public business contrived and controlled, as it is in every other civilized country, and as in every successful private business it must be, for the sole end of doing that business efficiently and cheaply? Or has it become a vast system for the reward of party services by public moneys—a vast mechanism for the perpetuation of party power by suppressing the popular will—with the secondary purpose of doing the public work as well as may be consistent with the main design? Have we, through dullness or feebleness, suffered methods to become customary in our public service, which if, attempted in the British post-office or custom-house, would overthrow a ministry in a fortnight—if in the French, might bring on a revolution? My fellow-citizens, I offer you no answers to these questions. I only ask them; and leave unasked many others which these might suggest. But when we have found answers to our satisfaction, we shall know better how far to exalt ourselves above the other nations of the earth.

3. We have enormously multiplied our numbers, and extended our boundaries.

A more indisputable support for national pride may be found, perhaps in our unquestioned and enormous multiplication of numbers and expansion of territory.

These have certainly been marvelous: perhaps unparalleled. It is a great thing that four millions of human beings, occupying in 1776 a certain expanse of territory, should be succeeded in 1876 by forty millions, occupying ten times that expanse. But let us be quite sure how much the increase of numbers is a necessary result of natural laws of propagation, working unrestrained in a land of amazing productiveness, unscourged by famine or pestilence, and burdened by but one great war during three generations of men; how much to the prodigious importation of involuntary immigrants from Africa during the last century, and of voluntary colonists, induced by high rewards for labor and enterprise, during this; and how much to any special virtue in our ancestors or ourselves. Let us be sure what degree and quality of glory it may be which a nation lays claim to for the extension of boundaries by mere mercantile bargain and purchase, or by strong armed conquest from its weaker neighbors. Let us remember, withal, that great as has been our growth in population and extent over this vacant continent which offered such unlimited scope for enlargement, other nations have not stood still. A century ago there was a little sub-alpine monarchy of two or three million subjects, which within these twenty years has so expanded itself by honorable warfare and the voluntary accession of neighboring provinces, that it now comprehends all the twenty-five millions of the Italian people. A century ago there was a little Prussian monarchy of three or four million subjects, which, sparing to us meanwhile millions of its increasing numbers, has grown until it has become the vast and powerful German Empire of forty millions. And, while we take a just pride in the marvelous growth of New York and Philadelphia, and the meteoric rise of Chicago and St. Louis, it is well not to forget that within the same century London has added three millions to its numbers; Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Glasgow, have sprung from insignificance into the second rank of cities; and that dull Prussian town, which, as the Great Frederick’s capital, boasted but 100,000 inhabitants, has become a vast metropolis of nearly a million people, doubling its numbers in the last quarter of that period. If our own increase of population has indeed surpassed these marvelous examples—if our territorial expansion has in fact been larger and swifter than that of the Russian Empire in Europe and Asia, or of the British Empire in India, America and Australia, then the more are we justified in that manner of pride which is natural to the youth grown to a healthy maturity of strength and stature.

4. We have enormously increased our material wealth, and subdued the forces of nature.

Thus also, if we have not greatly surpassed the rest of the world in our growth in material wealth, and in our subjugation of natural forces to human use, we may fairly claim at least to have kept in the van of progress. Yet here, too, while we have great and just cause for pride, let us not err by confounding the positive merits of our nation with the adventitious advantages which have stimulated or created its successes. It has been a different task, though perhaps not an easier one, to take from the fresh fields and virgin soil of this vast continent, fruitful in all that is most useful for human food and raiment, the wealth that has been the sure reward of steadfast industry—from the task of stimulating the productive powers of lands exhausted by thousands of years of crop bearing, up to that exquisite fertility that makes an English wheat-field an astonishment even to a Western New York farmer. It is indeed a singular fortune which ours has been that every decade of years has revealed beneath our feet some new surprise of mineral wealth; the iron everywhere; the anthracite of Pennsylvania; the copper of Lake Superior; the gold of California; the bituminous coal of the western coal fields; the petroleum which now illuminates the world; and finally, the silver which has deluged and deranged the trade of the Orient. Let us not be slow to remember that such natural advantages impose obligations, rather than justify pride in comparison with those old countries where nature has spoken long ago her last word of discovery, and where labor and science can but glean in the fields already harvested. And when we look with wonder upon the vast public works, not disproportionate to the vastness of our territory, which the last half-century especially has seen constructed, let us not forget that the industry and frugality which gathered the capital that built our railroad system—not all of which certainly, was American capital—the trained intellect of the engineers who designed and constructed its countless parts—are a greater honor to any people than 70,000 miles of track: that the patient ingenuity of Fitch and Fulton are more to be boasted of than the ownership of the steam navies of the world: the scientific culture and genius of Morse, than 200,000 miles of telegraphic wire.

ReligionRepublic5. Education and intelligence are in an unequaled degree diffused throughout our population.

If I have thought it needless to enlarge upon other subjects, familiar upon such occasions, for public congratulation, especially will it be superfluous to remind such an audience as this how broad and general is the diffusion of intelligence and education through large portions of our country. But let us not be so dazzled by the sunlight which irradiates us here in New York, as to forget the darkness of illiteracy which overwhelms vast regions of our common country; that if New York, and Massachusetts, and Ohio, offer to all their children opportunities of learning, there exists in many states a numerous peasantry, both white and black, of besotted ignorance, and struggling but feebly, almost without aid or opportunity, toward some small enlightenment. Let us not overlook the fact, in our complacency, that while we, in these favored communities, content ourselves with offering education to those whom we leave free to become sovereign citizens in abject ignorance, other nations have gone beyond us in enforcing universal education; in not only throwing open the feast of reason, but in going into the highways and hedges, and compelling them to come in.

6. To crown all, we have but just now subdued a gigantic rebellion, and in doing so have incidentally suppressed the great national shame of human slavery.

Coming to the last of the familiar sources of national pride which I have suggested, we may fairly say that the emotions with which a patriot looks back upon the conclusions of the period beginning in 1860 must be of a most varied and conflicting sort. The glory of successful war must be tempered by shame that red-handed rebellion should ever have raised its head in a constitutional nation. If it was not permitted to a Roman general, so it is not becoming to us, to triumph over conquered fellow-citizens. If we rejoice, as the whole world does rejoice, that the conflict which, for four years distracted us, ended in the restoration of four million slaves to the rights of free manhood, the remembrance that neither our national conscience nor our statesmanship had found a better way out of the bondage of Egypt than through a Red Sea of blood, may well qualify our reasonable pride; the question, how these millions and their masters are yet to be lifted up into fitness for their new sovereignty over themselves and over us, may well sober our exultation.

If I have departed from the common usage of this occasion, in assuming that you know, quite as well as I do, the infinite causes that exist for pride, and joy, and common congratulation in being American citizens, I beg leave before I close to suggest one further reason for the emotions which are natural to all our hearts to-day. It has been common to us and to other nations, —to our friends alike and our detractors,—to speak of the institutions under which we live, as new, experimental, and of questionable permanency. Fellow-citizens, if we can learn nothing else from the comparative view of other nations to which I have been hastily recommending you, this fact at least presses itself home upon us: that of all the nations of the earth which are under the light of Christian and European civilization, the institutions of America are those which the vicissitudes of a century have left most unchanged; that, tested by the history of those hundred years, and by the experience of every such nation republican democracy, means permanency, not revolution; wise conservatism, not destruction; and that all other institutions are as unstable as water in comparison.

I believe that to-day this American “experiment” is the most ancient system in Christendom. Not a constitution in Europe but exists by grace of a revolution of far later date than the framing of our constitution, which stands now, immortal monument to the wisdom of its founders, almost unchanged from its pristine shape and substance. If the stable British monarchy seems to you an exception, reflect upon the silent revolution which in that time has annulled the power of the crown, and almost subverted its influence; remember the suppression of the Irish Parliament, the removal of the Catholic disabilities which for a century and a half had been a foundation stone of the constitution; remember the Reform Bill which prostrated the power of the aristocracy; the repeal of the Corn Laws, which reversed the economic policy of a thousand years; look at the audacious legislation which within two years has destroyed even the names of that judicial system which is identified with English monarchy—-at that which within a few weeks has dared to add a flimsy glitter to the immemorial title of the sovereign herself—and you may well be proud of the solidity and permanence of our institutions compared with the swift-dissolving forms of European systems.

We know, however, that institutions, even the best of them, cannot long exist without change. As in physical life, there must be either growth or decay; when growth has ceased, decay cannot long be postponed. How shall it be with those institutions which a noble ancestry has bequeathed to us, and in which we rejoice to-day? Let us not forget that the day is the beginning of a new century, as well, as the close of an old one. Not one of us is to see the close of the coming age, as none of us saw the opening of the last. And while it is given to none to discern the future, we know well that institutions, whether civil or social, cannot long continue better than the people who enjoy them. Be it ours, therefore, so far as lies in us, to perpetuate for our remote offspring the benefits which have come own from our ancestors. Let us cultivate in ourselves—let us teach to our children—those virtues which alone make our free institutions possible or desirable. Thus, and only thus, shall we make this day not merely the commemoration of departed glories, but the portal to that Golden Age which has been the dream of poets and the promise of prophets, and toward which, as we dare to hope, the event which we now celebrate has so mightily impelled mankind. Our eyes shall not behold it; but woe to us if we cease to hope for it and to labor towards it It may be hard—it is hard—for us, surrounded by the green graves and the desolated homes which within a dozen years a ghastly civil war has made in this religious and enlightened nation,— for us here, in the very presence of the tattered yet venerated symbols of that strife,(1) to believe that the day can ever shine upon the earth

When the war-drum throbs no longer, and the battle-fags are furled
In the parliament of man, the federation of the world:
When the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall dumber, lapt in universal law.

The reign of ” Peace on Earth—Good Will towards Men”— the dominion of Reason and Justice over Force and Fraud—it may be far off, but it shall surely come.

Down the dark future, through long generations,
The sounds of strife grow fainter, and then cease;
And like a bell, in solemn, sweet vibrations,
I hear once more the voice of Christ say,” Peace!”
Peace! and no longer from its ‘brazen portals,
The blast of war’s great organ shakes the skies:
But, beautiful as songs of the immortals,
The holy melodies of Love arise.

Footnote(s): 1. The worn-out regimental colors of the 33d New York Volunteers, a regiment which went to the war from Wayne County, were carried in the procession and set up in front of the speaker’s stand.

See also: Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
OUR NOBLE HERITAGE by Hon. George W. Curtis (1824 –1892)
THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)
AMERICA OUR SUCCESS OUR FUTURE! by John P. Gulliver July 4th 1876 NYC
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation