This book, originally published in 1859, provides a comprehensive history of Independence Hall.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Incentive Associations
Chapter 2 Primitive Settlers and Public Edifices
Chapter 3 The Old State House
Chapter 4 Independence Square
Chapter 5 The Old State House Bell
Chapter 6 Washington's Statue
Chapter 7 Alexander Hamilton
Chapter 8 Convention of 1776
Chapter 9 The Declaration Of Independence
Chapter 10 Remarks on the Declaration
Chapter 11 John Hancock
Chapter 12 Thomas Jefferson
Chapter 13 Richard Stockton
Chapter 14 Dr. Josiah Bartlett
Chapter 15 Samuel Adams
Chapter 16 William Whipple
Chapter 17 John Adams
Chapter 18 William Huntington
Chapter 19 Oliver Wolcott
Chapter 20 Robert Treat Paine
Chapter 21 Philip Livingston
Chapter 22 Francis Lewis
Chapter 23 John Witherspoon
Chapter 24 Robert Morris
Chapter 25 Elbridge Gerry
Chapter 28 Francis Hopkinson
Chapter 29 Charles Carroll, Of Carrollton
Chapter 30 John Hart, Abraham Clark, John Morton, George Clymer
Chapter 32 Cæsar Rodney, George Read, Thomas M'kean, Samuel Chase, Thomas Stone, Wm. Paca.
Chapter 33 William Floyd, Lewis Morris, William Williams, Matthew Thorton, Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery, Roger Sherman
Chapter 34 George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
Chapter 35 Edward Rutledge, Thomas Hayward, Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Chapter 36 Burton Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
Chapter 37 William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
Chapter 38 Washington's Pew
Chapter 39 Franklin's Desk
Chapter 40 A Singularly Historical Chair
Chapter 41 The Triumphal Arch
Chapter 42 The Bible In 1776
Chapter 43 The Charter Oak
Chapter 44 Old Documents
Chapter 45 Portrait Of Washington Woven In Silk, And Other Interesting Mementoes
Chapter 46 Conclusion
To the Hon. Millard Fillmore, Ex-President of the United States, whose untiring zeal and efforts in promoting the national welfare, are gratefully appreciated by the descendants of those patriots who made Independence Hall the shrine of American freedom, this volume is respectfully dedicated by the author.
Independance Hall! How Impressive are the associations that cluster around this sacred Temple of our national freedom! They inspire the thoughtful patriot with veneration - they enhance devotion to the institutions of our country. As we gaze upon the portraits of those stern old heroes who declared that "these united Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States," our minds go back to, and are busy with, events that signalized the "times that tried men's souls." In the reflective mirror of retrospection we behold them in solemn council deliberating upon the momentous issues that called them together - we hear the thunders of their eloquence ringing around the walls of this consecrated chamber - we see their eyes flash with earnest desire of liberty, and their brows lower with contempt at the aggressive despotism of King George. These silent representatives of the past still speak to us in unmistakable patriotism, while we pay homage to the Cradle of American Liberty, bidding us preserve and keep sacred the costly inheritance bequethed by them. When we consider the sacrifices they made - the trials they endured - the privations they suffered - the struggles through which they passed - and remember that they were passing those fiery ordeals to secure the blessings of independence for us - how can we look upon their sublime features without properly respecting their efforts? We should feel that these patriots of the Revolution scrutinize our thoughts and actions from the canvas upon which they are made immortal.
The venerable appearance of the Hall itself has an awe-inspiring sanctity about it that makes us realize we are treading hallowed ground - while the carefully arranged relics and mementos excite our inquiry and deeply interest our thoughts. Everything about the room teems with historical reminiscences. Every relic in this sacred Gane has some historical peculiarity worthy of our profound veneration. Yet, thousands upon thousands visit Independence Hall - pass hours in looking at and examining the relics there, more from idle curiosity than otherwise, and consequently return to their homes little better versed in the histories connected with them than they were before. The principal reason for this is, that they can obtain nothing to aid them in acquiring the information they may need in this respect.
For the purpose, therefore, of obviating this disadvantage, and, in order to furnish an authoritative history of Indepependence Hall, with accurat descriptions of all its contents, we have placed before the public, in this work, the result of many years' labor among the dusty records of past incidents respecting Independence Hall. We have not sought to make it a mere Guidebook - the magnitude of interests which all feel in this, the Mecca of our country's greatness, forbade us adopting such a plan - our object has been to give it a high-toned national character; to place in the hands of our patriotic countrymen facts connected with the causes that led to the prosperous condition of our free and happy land - and to inspire a deeper love for the sacred Temple wherein our nation's infancy was cradled and defended. In the prosecution of this arduous task, we have consulted sufficient standard authorities to give our work reliable accuracy in every particular, and we return our thanks to such friends as they have aided us - likewise we are indebted to Mr. Lossing, for many facts concerning the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
The places which beneficent spirits have sanctified remain hallowed
to all time; and, while we contemplate the Hall where the actors in the
great drama of the Revolution performed their most stupendous work, we
feel the force of the language of Horace, Privatus illis cencus erat
brevis, commune magnum, and bow meekly in adoration to their exalted
D. W. Belisle
Camden, New Jersey
"The places sanctified by beneficent spirits," says Schiller, "remain hallowed to all time" - they are still sacred, though invaded by robbers. They are invested with associations calculated to inspire the thoughtful with sentiments of veneration - top awaken feelings of patriotism - to strengthen researches after historical incidents, and to revitalize heroes and statesmen whose actions gave character to the scenes of their exhaltation, and the ages in which they flourished. Thoughts obtrude on the reflective mind, and peculiar emotions swell the heart, as sensitively refined patriots and scholars contemplate fields whereupon heroes struggled, and on which victories have been achieved. To such the powers of local association address themselves with awful impressiveness. It was this that led Cicero, when he visited Athens, to exclaim:
"Shall I ascribe to it a new law of our nature, or to a delusive habit of mind, that, when we look upon the scenes which illustrious men of old frequented, our feelings are more deeply excited than even by hearing the record of their deeds, or perusing the works of their genius? such are the emotions I now experience, when I think that here Plato was accustomed to discourse; these garden around me not only recall the idea of that sage to my memory, but place, as it were, his very form before my eyes. Here, too, Speusippus taught - here Xenocrates - here his disciple Polemon: this is the very seat he used to occupy."
Similar emotions seized the feeling of Dr. Johnson when he arrived at Ocolmkill, in his "Tour to the Western Islands." A retrospective view of the incidents which had occurred around him in ages far remote, elicited the beautiful sentiment :
"We are now treading upon that illustrious Island which was once the luminary of the Caldonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge and the blessings of religion. To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be impossible if it were endeavored, and foolish if it were possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of the senses - whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me and from my friends be such frigid philosophy as may conduct us, indifferent and unmoved, over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force on the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not glow warmer among the ruins of Iona."
Associations such as these have been surrounded with irresistible attractions to the cultivated and reflective of all ages, and the best writers of antiquity have feelingly alluded to them. "They snatch the soul away in rapture, as if it had already traversed the tomb, and on the bosom of immensity imbue it with the inexhaustible glories which Jehova has diffused through the universe." Germanicus wandered amidst the ruins of Athens, and looked with veneration upon its moldering architectural piles; Atticus felt an undefined reverence when he paused among its tombs an monuments; in the swelling emotions of patriotic zeal, Julian shed tears on quitting its grove and bowers; and so awe-inspiring were the associations that came gushing to the memory of Leo Allatries, that he wept over the ruins of a house once in the possession of Homer.
And our own great statesman of the North, Daniel Webster, felt its power when he exclaimed: "We shall not stand unmoved on the shore of Plymouth, while the sea continues to wash it; nor will our brethren in another and ancient colony [Jamestown] forget the place of its first establishment, till their river should cease to flow by it. No vigor of youth, no maturity of manhood, will lead the nation to forget the spots where its infancy was cradled and defended."
Again: in the work De Finibus of Cicero, is the following remarkable passage: "Often, when I enter the Senate house, the shades of Scipio, of Cato, and of Laelius, and in particular, of my venerable grandfather, rise to my imagination." All great and refined intellects experience similar emotions, when meditating upon the same or similar important and thought-inspiring localities. Hence the remark of Southey: "He whose heart is not excited upon the spot which a martyr has sanctified by his sufferings, or at the grave of one who has largely benefited mankind, must be more inferior to the multitude by his moral, than he can possibly be raised above them in his intellectual nature."
Almost every great advantage which mankind have derived even from science and education, had an origin in some local incident. Gibbon informs us that, "it was in the church of St. Maria d'Ara Celi, on the Capitoline Hill, at Rome, on the fifteenth of October, 1764, as he sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefooted friars were singing vespers, the idea of writing the decline and fall of the city first started to his mind." The thoughtful traveler, who perambulates the subterranean streets of Pompeii, is filled with associations of the most thrilling character. He remembers that that city was well stricken in years when the Light of divine truth first dawned upon the world, and the "Sun of Righteousness arose with healing in his wings" - that it is a city which lay entombed for two thousand years, while nations passed and repassed over its monuments - and that for centuries its sculpted figures, its domes and palaces remained in well-preserved condition beneath the surface of the earth.
He remembers, too, that, within its walls, along its avenues and streets, the ever-surging tide of humanity, with all its hopes and aspirations, its joys, its sorrows, once swept with unrestrained hilarity, unconscious that a doom of fearful magnitude impended over their city! There, too, he sees the temple, with its Doric columns yet standing, its walls painted with emblems commemorative of the services of their deity, the sacred vessels, lamps, and table of Isis still remaining. And while he is contemplating these monuments of the past, and memory hurries backward in its rapid gyrations, he might exclaim as a contemporary of Augustus:
"I greet thee, oh my country! My dwelling is the only spot upon the earth which has preserved in form; an immunity extending even to the smallest objects of my affections. Here is my couch, there are my favorite authors. My paintings, also, are still fresh as when the ingenious artist spread them over my walls. Let us traverse the town; let us visit the drama. I recognize the spot where I joined for the first time in the plaudits given to the fine scenes of Terence and Euripides. Rome is but one vast museum; Pompeii is a living antiquity."
He likewise recalls the sad but truthful picture which Pliny gives in regard to the destruction of its inhabitants. "A darkness suddenly overspread the country - not like the darkness of a moonless night, but like that of a closed room, in which the light is of a sudden extinguished - women screamed, children moaned, children cried; here children were anxiously calling their parents, and there parents were seeking their children, or husbands their wives; all recognizing each other only by their cries. Many wished for death, from the fear of dying. Many called on the gods for assistance; others despaired of their existence, and thought this the last, eternal night of the world. Actual dangers were magnified by unreal terrors. The earth continued to shake, and men, half distracted, to reel about, exaggerating their own fears and those of others, by terrifying predictions." All these come up rapidly succeeding each other in living realities, and invest that city, that awe-inspiring mausoleum of antiquity, with associations too hallowed to be resisted.
Similar emotions imperceptibly steal over the soul, as we wander among the ruins of Athens; for there we read, on her sculptured columns, her original glory as the mistress of Greece, and remember the period when she stood forth a towering prodigy of perfection to the gaze of an admiring world. what Greece was in her power - what Tyre appeared in the perfection of her greatness - mighty Athens was in the days of Pericles. Then it was that she, with her three ports, the lashing of the waves of which had so often blended with the vesper-chants, connected by her celebrated walls, formed one vast closure of ponderous fortifications. The Acropolis arose in her midst, a massive rock, upon the summit of which were collected some of the noblest monuments of Grecian taste - rearing itself in lofty splendor toward the heavens, "gleaming with its crest of columns on the will of man," as though they had been placed upon "a mount of diamonds."
It was there that the Arts and Sciences were not only cradled, but were carried to as great a height of perfection as was ever known in the ancient world. In a word, it was a sanctuary of the Arts, the residence of the gods, a place of sepulchres, altars and shrines for sacred relics, "and peopled with forms that mocked the eternal dead in marble immortality." Peaceful olives crowned its outskirts. There, too, arose the princely Propylon, the splendid Erectheum, and the lofty Odeum, exhibiting in perfect unity that simplicity, grandeur and magnificence to which only Grecian arts and Grecian taste ever attained. And there arose the sublime Parthenon, affecting the admiration of the astonished beholder as a production of the Deity rather than the art of man - a mighty fabric of sculpture, in which the human form shone deified by paganism, as the virtues do by Christianity.
In her silent halls were assembled the poets, gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines, "while beauty in eternal sleep, seemed dreaming of herself." It also contained the statue of Minerva, in which the sculptor appears to have made the immortal spirit of the goddess speak through the cold and lifeless marble. And there was the Areopagus, where the seats of the judges - the arena within which the Apostle Paul entered, and in his wonted eloquence proclaimed to Greece's wisest sons the only and true God, and at the sound of whose voice, even the gods themselves trembled! Opposite this was the scene of the patriotic exertions of the Athenian orator; a rock was the bema upon which Demosthenes stood while addressing the populace in those fervid strains of eloquence:
Athens sat then amid her vine-clad hills and olive-wilds, a sceptred queen. The nodding promontories and blue hills, the cloud-like mountains and lonely valleys of Greece, smiled beneath the genial rays of her disseminating influences. But, alas! how the mighty are fallen! The birth-place of heroes, and the home of bards, is among the places that live only in history and monuments. Fire and embattled hosts have spread wide their withering desolations over this once fair city, blotting out the glowing footsteps of her ancient greatness. Time has trampled into dust her columned piles, and "like a famished beast of prey, satiated his lust to sickness upon beauty's corse." The Turk now roams lawlessly among her ruins, while the spirit of beauty broods over her fallen grandeur. Where once rose the fount of wisdom and sounded the wings of power, ignorance and weakness now prevail. As the roaring and tumbling torrent falls from its dazzling Alpine height, so ruin's current has drown her towering greatness. "She is now a defenseless urn - the abode of gods whose shrines no longer burn." Slaves are in her senate, and beggars compose her nobility, while the stars that once illuminated her halls of wisdom shine through their rents of ruin.
Gloom - the gloom of desolation - has let down her mantling pall, and broods over a nation's sepulchre. As the moon lights up her broken statues, they appear like pallid phantoms steadfastly watching the current of Time that proved their ruin. The old olive trees which shaded the borders of the Acropolis, now wave in the midnight shade - a noble wreck in ruinous perfection. The spirits of her departed great ones seem to mourn her desolation. "The stork plumes his wings upon a shattered shaft of the Acropolis, while the colonade of Lysicrates stands in the isolated relic of her former grandeur." The night winds pipe her requiem - hooting owls and the viper chant her funeral obsequies. In truth, Athens stands bereft of all her glory, the weeping Niobe and the Lost Paradise of Greece! Yet, honor decks her heroes' dust, and ruined splendor still lingers around her.
Such are the melancholy reflections suggested by the local associations of Athens. We might profitably explore those of Rome, Palmyra, Tyre, and indeed every other renowned city of antiquity; but we turn to our own country to examine its sacred relics and shrines; for here,
Deeply did the poet feel the power of such influences when he penned this eloquent comparative interrogatory:
In contemplating the progress and greatness of our own nation, the imagination is carried back to the "times that tried men's souls," and the scenes of forensic and physical struggle. Thus, while we stand upon the "Rock of Plymouth," the history and sufferings of the Pilgrims rush impetuously on the memory, and we remember, that, it was when the dark woods and dreary mountains were covered with snow - the gushing brooks and bounding streams congealed and fettered with ice - and cerements of desolation appeared spread over the earth, this Rock - this Mecca of Freedom - was consecrated to immortality by the landing, the prayers, the thankfulness, and the sufferings of that little band! Their feet made the first impressions of civilization on that bleak and sterile coast - their prayers were the first oblations offered from that dismal shore, and their tears were the first of human sorrow shed upon that frozen soil! The country around them was wild and forbidding; scenes new and strange were presented to their view, and amidst circumstances so pregnant with discouragement, many an anxious thought did they send back to the country they had left, and many a wish to return involuntarily took possession of their minds. We almost see them engaged in constructing rude huts to shelter themselves from the howling winds, and know that, in these miserable and wretched hovels, those of them who survived passed that fearful winter.
But suffering and death had not been idle among them! Before the winter closed, and spring, with her wild buds and flowers had returned, half their number had perished by continued suffering and the privation of those comforts, so necessary to health and life which they had been accustomed to enjoy! The participants in those scenes have long since passed away, but the records of their deeds remain to invest the spot of their exaltation with thrilling associations. "We cannot stand unmoved on the shore of Plymouth, while the sea continues to wash it;" the spot is consecrated to memory by endearing recollections. The work of Science and Art are now busy there - massive columns and impenetrable walls encroach upon its hallowed precincts - lofty spires and glittering turrets smile over that first burial-ground of our country - the white sails of commerce swell majestically in the breeze on the bay hard by - the shout of joy and the beaming eye of hope leap up, while the genius of Liberty waves her aegis over that sacred locality. We remember also, while standing there, that almost within sight of the very spot where the Pilgrims landed, in old "Pilgrim Hall," are yet preserved the records of their first winter on that dreary island, in their own handwriting - the plates on which they ate their simple food; and we feel the spot to be a shrine at which all may worship while drinking in those hallowed associations peculiar to our country and its institutions.
But if such localities excite our admiration and inspire our patriotism - if our feelings are moved at the remembrance of deeds performed on the soil where the battles of freedom have been fought - if a spirit of reverence irresistibly swells the heart on visiting the altars of Liberty, and the places whereon our forefathers struggled - what will be our emotions when we stand within the consecrated walls of Independence Hall? A spot sanctified by events of a holy and extraordinary character - the Forum of exalted debate - the arena of the purest thought - the birth-place of American Freedom, Independence, and Nationality? A place so sacred, blessed by so many beneficent spirits, and surrounded by such enduring associations, might well be designated the "Star Chamber" of Liberty. For here are still preserved relics of those brave spirits who dared to combat the powers of despotism, as well as the bell used on the Fourth of July, 1776, to sound the first notes of "Liberty throughout the land, and to all the people thereof [This is a scriptural motto, and may be found in the twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus, and the tenth verse.].
Here was promulgated the charter which incorporated the colonies into a nation of freemen, and declared a separation from the mother country. Invested with forms and reminiscences of the past, it is one of the most awful and soul-inspiring theatres which the contemplative mind can explore; it spreads a mystic charm over the aspirations - leads the thoughts back through the archives of the past, and repaints the master spirits who figured within its sacred precincts in the dark days of our country's history. "If other battle-fields are interesting in their associations, what shall we say of this? What history, what picture can ever tell the half of what is suggested to every intelligent and susceptible mind, on entering this venerable edifice? Who is not immediately carried back to that day, thenceforth memorable forever, when an awful stillness pervaded the assembly for a few moments previous to the voting that 'these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States? What devotion then filled this consecrated place, and rose to heaven in silent prayer for firmness, unanimity, and deathless resolve! One almost hears Hancock suggesting to Franklin - 'We must all hang together now!' 'Yes,' re-echoes the characteristic response of that plain old Nestor of patriots, 'we must indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.' " Yes, and we, too, can almost see John Hancock, when he appended his signature to that memorable document which gave freedom to the American colonies, and hope to a world in chains, rise from his seat, and in a tone of manly boldness exclaim: "There, John Bull can read my name without spectacles, and may now double his reward of L500 for my head. That is my defiance."
So inspiring were the associations and scenes connected with this Hall, that when Richard Penn first came to this country, and was shown by Samuel Coates the trees about the State House, planted by the contemporaries of his father, during the infancy of the nation, and which stood still there when our manhood and independence were asserted, the crowd of associations which pressed upon his mind made him raise his hands in ejaculatory thanks, and his eyes to fill with tears. But Independence Hall, the great battle-field whereupon our fathers met the British Parliament, in its most august display of oratorical talent, braved the great kingdom with all its consolidated strength, and won the day under the most fearful odds, yet remains.
A writer who appreciated these associations, has feelingly said, "The heroes, indeed, are departed, but here before us is still open their scene of action. Death has claimed them, but war and wasting elements have spared the theatre of their stupendous struggles. We can go and meditate there, gazing at the places where they sat, the floor on which they stood, the windows through which the bright sun looked in smilingly upon their sublime transactions, and may touch the walls, which seem yet to vibrate to the thunders of their eloquence."
The genius of Liberty, and the spirits of those noble men who braved the storms of monarchical usurpation, preside with awful imperiousness on the altars of this consecrated structure - invisible guardians watch over it, to protect its sacred relics from desecration - while Mercy and Justice, twin sisters of heaven, support the star-gemmed emblem of republican purity above its hallowed shrines! Awe-inspiring as are the historical incidents connected with it, and impressive as are the reminiscences which are called into lively existence on reading the proceedings of that Convention which promulgated the declaration of human rights, thrice grand and beautiful is the mausoleum left to remind us of their labors. Ages may come and depart - nations may rise and fall - empires may spring into existence and cease - time may deface these sacred mementos; but their associations will remain to inspire patriotic hearts, so long as the thoughts of Freedom burn, and Hope's beacon blazes out over the darkness of the earth, or the confederated institutions of the land of WASHINGTON are preserved to ameliorate the condition of humanity in bondage and chains.
Chapter 1 Incentive Associations
Localities whereon valorous deeds have been accomplished can never be blotted from pages of truthful history. They will still live, though the actors in such achievements have long since been gathered with the heroic to augment the ranks of the mighty dead. The external appearances of such localities may suffer from change and the onward progress of time, but their associations can never decrease in value to the sensitive mind. Sculptured columns may crumble from temples which have withstood the storms of ages; the skill of the artist become defaced and even erased from their surfaces; but the fragments scattered over the ground in disintegrated masses will still speak of the beauty and symmetry which were theirs. We look upon such relics with sentiments of reverence, for they recall the fact that, in ages far remote, they were prominent supports and ornaments to gigantic edifices, within those halls and council-chambers sat statesmen and patriots in solemn conclave, to deliberate on momentous national affairs. They seem yet to ring with the voice of eloquence and enthusiastic patriotism. Their age excites veneration, because, while we gaze on them, we feel ourselves in the presence of antiquity - living representatives of centuries which had their origin "far back in the dim distance of the past."
Emotions not dissimilar in character come over us when we stand on the Mount of Olives, or visit the scenes of our Savior's ministrations. His labors and sufferings force themselves upon our memories, and His voice still vibrates on the air as He wept over Jerusalem. The Garden of Gethsemane assumes the same melancholy characteristics it did the night He "sweat as it were great drops of blood," while our imaginations behold Him invoking the removal of the bitter cup! We see the cross and the crown of thorns - the sepulchre in which He was laid after the crucifixion - the road which he journeyed with two of his disciples, unknown to them, to Emmaus, subsequent to His resurrection, and our "hearts burn within us" as we picture to ourselves their consternation when they discovered that they had been walking and conversing with their risen Master. The environs of Jerusalem are invested with associations at once solemn and interesting, and their hallowed influences excite the Christian's aspirations and hopes, inspiring him with renewed energy and devotion. He there beholds the Mount of Calvary upon which the Saviour of man propitiated the sins of the world, at the sight of which sacrifice the sun refused to shine, dense darkness covered the earth, the heavens shook, and the battlemented hills were rent asunder. He remembers also the particular incidents connected with that supernatural tragedy - he feels his soul grow warmer, and is ready to exclaim with the Centurion: "Truly this was the Son of God!" In contemplating these localities a vigorous impetus is given to the reflective; and the thoughtful observer receives additional assurances of universal philanthropy.
But Independence Hall is a shrine at which millions of American hearts worship and beat with thrilling intensity; it is a Mecca where unrestricted homage is paid - on whose altars sweet-smelling incense is burned as Liberty's oblation - and to which the jealous yet admiring eyes of every nation are turned. Around its unsullied walls is thrown an enchantment which makes the heart pulsate with burning emotions, and the spirit leap up with sentiments of unconquerable patriotism. Undefined sensations steal irresistible over the senses, while standing in the presence of those mighty men, whose forms still live in "pictured immortality," uniting the present with the past, and recalling their sublime transactions.
The very atmospheres seems redolent of their greatness, and still vibrates with the voice of their eloquence, while the gray walls reflect the awful purposes of that august convocation! Their unanimity of thought, feelings, sentiments, and actions, indicated the sublime objects for which they were assembled. They had felt, in common with their fellows, the iron hand of despotism, and knew how hard it was to endure its oppressions. They had experienced outrage and wrong - had borne for years, with meekness and fortitude, without murmuring, the tyrannical impositions and exactions of the home government - had witnesses the efforts of the colonists to establish manufacturing and commercial enterprises stricken down - had felt the heavy burden of enormous taxation enervating the growth of their respective settlements and exhausting their individual resources - they knew that "taxation without representation" was inimical to republican institutions, and that, when application for redress was made, their petitions were only answered by still more stringent exactions!
They felt that upon them devolved the great responsibility of shaping the future destiny of their country, either for good or evil. They knew that upon them the eyes of their constituents were turned with anxious anticipations, and that the result of their deliberations would lead their countrymen to sanguinary conflict and all its contingent deprivations and sufferings, or subject themselves to the guillotine and gallows! To immolate their own lives upon the altar of their country, as an offering to freedom, in case of failure to accomplish the great aim of the struggling Colonies, was regarded by them as an incentive to subsequent action and for the achievement of future glory! All the great motives relating to a separation between the home government and her oppressed dependencies in America, discussed in private and small assemblages throughout the land, were duly and appropriately considered in this grand convocation of the people's representatives. They felt that a duty of more than ordinary character was to be discharged, for already the clash of resounding arms had thrilled the hearts of the colonists. Their friends in oppression had been shot down at Lexington by British soldiers, and rewards were offered by parliament for the heads of the leaders in the Colonial rebellion.
Taxation, although beyond the endurance in point of severity, was still increased - their humble and respectful prayers for justice were treated with contempt; and the last hope of an afflicted people lay in an implicit confidence in God, the exalted character of their cause, their military prowess and invincibility. No people since the establishment of governments exemplifies a more striking devotion to the authority of their rulers than the colonists, while those rulers tempered their administrations with reason and justice; but no people were more unwilling to submit when prudence and honor were outraged, or their right to govern themselves was called into question. Indignant at the arbitrary disposition of the mother country in refusing them a voice in the enactment of laws affecting their private and colonial interests, they regarded their national dignity insulted, their high and heaven-born prerogatives disallowed - and therefore refused allegiance to an unscrupulous ministry, whose acts of aggression every day became more and more despotic and intolerant.
Such grave considerations operated with convincing weight upon the minds of those reflecting delegates. Hence the important measures which they had adopted, and the direct influences which their deliberative acts had upon the country, in a national point of view. In a social light, the result of their sublime proceedings had a tendency to unite the sentiments of the inhabitants in different states, and to give direction to a system of policy appropriately calculates to enhance their growth and prosperity, as well as to bind in indissoluble bonds of fraternization hearts that were once separated by sectionalism and estrangement. Socially, this was a potent achievement, for it illustrated practically the aphorism that, "in union there is strength." In several States sectional feelings partially alienated the people from each other, but a sense of danger, their common interest and personal safety, led to a confederation of sentiment which linked them together as a "band of brothers," in the cause of self-protection. It was to strengthen this sentiment in a general convocation that the colonies assembled in primary meetings, selected their delegates, and instructed them in reference to the great duties before them, determined, at the same time, that they would abide by whatever measures - be they mild or severe - which their chosen representatives might deem prudent to adopt. Stimulated by the encouraging instructions of their constituency, these delegates repaired to the scene of their exaltation with hearts glowing with patriotism and warm emotion - they knew that a feeling of resistance actuated the masses - and that the ball of reformation when set in motion would continue unabated ab ovo usque ad mala.
They were conscious of the fact that their cause was progressing with ever advancing steps toward ultimate triumph - that it was worse than useless - it would be the veriest madness to oppose it. Its success was no longer problematical - it almost bore the semblance of a fixed fact. Contrary to predictions or ungenerous vilifications, and despite misrepresentations of partisan and kingly adherents, the principles of Freedom were permeating the rural population of the country with a rapidity which augured significantly for the success of the cause. These were some of the effects which the action of this first great Convention of the people's delegates were likely to produce upon the future social condition of the country, by creating a unanimity of sentiment, a free interchange of thought, and a union of policy in their political and religious conduct which would inure to their own safety, and be productive of the greatest good of the greatest number.
Viewed in a national light, they saw and anticipated greater consequences. They realized that the price of liberty was to be eternal vigilance, that "no more truly do rising clouds and rumbling thunders foreshadow gathering storms," than did the indications on every side speak of an approaching national tempest. The signs of the times were dark, fearful, and portentuous! The shadows of the approaching outbreak bent luridly above them, with a warning to prepare for the sanguinary strife! The enemies of liberty were more than usually active - they left no avenue unoccupied which might have made auxilary to their designs - "and stealthily and ruthlessly as the assassin's steel were they driving their death-thrusts at Freedom's heart, and planning destruction to all who gathered around her fair, wide-fluttering standard!" That, then, was no hour for slumbering indifference - no time for supine forgetfulness, of composure and security, when the invading hand of despotism, cunning and malignant, threatened to clutch from them their dearest rights, their most sacred liberties, and lay low beneath unsparing rage and trampling feet, the homes of their affections, the altars at which they worshipped, and seal from their gaze the splendor of that divine truth which has since been illumined in our nation's onward progress, and been the guiding light in its march to elevated worth, prosperity and honor. They realized these truths, and felt how great were their responsibilities! Upon their decision depended the future condition, happiness and prosperity, or servitude and oppression - of the country. War with its destructive concomitants and still greater despotism, or war with its sanguinary struggles and freedom, was to conclude the final vote of that assembly. Either alternative would be dear and difficult - either would cost years of fighting and hundreds of valuable lives. A nation of freemen, possessed of characteristics belonging to independent sovereigns, each in an individual capacity, capable of self-government, was to spring up from their judicious deliberations, or they themselves become martyrs to the cause they represented.
It was no wonder that they were sleepless at their posts - that they kept constantly in their minds the beliefs that "the price of liberty was eternal vigilance," and that he who would successfully combat the sneaking foe must bear the whole armor to the fight, and never falter nor turn his eyes from the thickening contest. Their antagonists were armed - armed for a desperate purpose! The temples they had reared and dedicated for pacific measure - places whose atmosphere should have been fragrant and glowing with the sweetness of peace-offerings and holiness - were made theatres of whispered plottings, repositories of tumult's deadly weapons! These were facts of a startling and threatening character! They addressed themselves with burning intensity to the spirit that actuated those representatives - our forefathers - in that revolutionary struggle, and led to the consummation of the object for which they were called together - the framing of a DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
Chapter 2 Primitive Settlers and Public Edifices
Every nation has some particular, some sacred enclosure, or consecrated building, which they regard as a Mecca or shrine, at which they pay national oblations' and homage. These are generally places where important have culminated advantageously to the reputation and nationality of the people, or where circumstances of vast magnitude have transpired. Sometimes, too, they are rendered sacred by inhumation of the great, or the expiring throes of heroes on ensanguined fields of valor. England has her Westminster Abbey, France her Hotel des Invalides, and the United States - the great American republic - her INDEPENDENCE HALL. The affections of the people of England and France become more elevated at the baptismal shrines of their respective nations, and swell with idolizing patriotic intensity. Pestilence and famine - war with its incidental misfortunes may sweep, like a burning sirocco, millions to the dust - yet their survivors will turn to their holy places as the surest refuge to invoke consolation in hours of calamity and danger.
The American people are no less superstitiously inclined. They regard the sacred building in which their "Declaration of Human Rights" was vitalized and rendered operative, with as much reverence as did the Scandinavians the fabled well of Mimer. They gaze upon its venerable walls and drink deep inspiration - they feel themselves standing in the focus where concentrate the united efforts and influences of a mighty people - or rather in a centre whence radiate scintillations of freedom over a wide and prosperous continent. From its hallowed dome we can look upon the illimitable blue of the world around - can see a fertile country stretching away to a point where ceases the scope of human vision, teeming with every thing calculated to increase happiness and welfare of its inhabitants - we can see the white sails of commerce dotting the noble Delaware, freighted with the products of industry for our transatlantic neighbors, while over the city and over the country hangs a spirit of sublimity and augmenting grandeur. It is not unreasonable, therefore, to suppose that the inhabitants, from the associations which surround them, with all their peculiarities and discrepancies of taste, education, sentiments, private and social habits, national prejudices and preferences, should cling ardently to the early reminiscences of their ancestors. From the mass of mental elements scattered over these fertile regions, is formed a public mind, deep, powerful, and independent, which will retain its own interests with a strength and firmness that cannot be shaken by any other elements or powers.
Over these hills and valleys, yet moist with the blood of the revolution, and consecrated by heroic bravery - no dogmatical forms and ceremonies, conventional creeds and systems, social deferences or distinctions of wealth, can check the bold inspirations of natural freedom - but thought and fancy are free to roan in all the strength and vividness of their character. Amid the florid beauty that waves over these variegated fields, refreshed by the most delicious dews and breezes - amid the associations of youth, sacred domes and puritanical restraint, the spirit seems quickening with new and more expansive powers and susceptibilities, while the sweetest melodies of nature, her multiform beauties, boundless and picturesque displays, combine to enchant the ear, and awaken in the bosom new energies, emotions and enjoyments. There, instead of the narrow streets and pent walls, the dim and smoky atmosphere of larger cities and towns, we may feel ourselves free and invigorated by a pure and fragrant atmosphere, and can gaze with brighter glow of admiration over the expanse of scenes, broad landscapes teeming with spontaneous luxuriance, which strike the view, and make us realize more deeply the harmony that prevails around us. Surely scenes so grand, natural, and free, cannot fail to awaken a more active energy, excite stronger emotions, and inspire the thoughts with bolder or more excursive powers. With such scenes and associations everywhere around this, the cradle of American Liberty, it is not strange that the American people should exhibit a natural pride for, and a strong attachment to, the land of their own and the birth of their forefathers.
Historically considered, Independence Hall presents many interesting features. To the student of archaeology, it is one of the most inspiring buildings in the country; its antiquity excites our veneration; its associations our patriotism! Standing within the room where the Convention of delegates assembled, the American citizen feels surrounded with holy influences - he almost hears the pulsatory throbbings of each member's heart while gravely considering the country's welfare in that Convention - for the occasion was one of awful moment. Every portion of the building is equally sacred - the walls, the ceiling, the carvings, recesses and corners, still ring with the voices of the unforgotten dead.
We remember, while gazing on them, the sore difficulties experienced by the early settlers of Philadelphia, and feel that it is pleasant and instructive to revive and recreate pictures of the incidents which must have engaged them. We can imagine what a bustling, spirited, emulous scene it must have been; and we can transport the mind back to the primitive site of Coaquanock, to witness the busy landing from the ships anchored in the river, of men, women, and children upon the gravelly strand at the foot of the precipitous banks of Dock Creek - the hurrying backward and forward of lighters, discharging from the ships in the stream, the furniture, implements and provisions for their future use - then the efforts of men, women, and children endeavoring to gain the higher river banks. We may also imagine the mingled emotions of such families - how they must have felt an exhilarating effect in inhaling the pure air, after a confined and irksome voyage, among the towering groves of spruce pines, which stretched their umbrageous arms abroad - glad, no doubt, to feel themselves again safe on solid land. Again, we may behold, on the other hand, those newly-arrived settlers, devoid of all the usual comforts and conveniences of civilization, in a gloomy wilderness, without a house or shelter; but with the true spirit of heroic pioneers, impressed with hopes of a glorious and happy future, they set nobly to work to build homes for their wives and children.
And we may, at the same time, feel that some leading member of that Christian community, after piously returning thanks to the Almighty for their safe landing, and asking His blessing on their future efforts, begins himself the good example of the toil before them, like Christian David, the pioneer Moravian settler at Hernhuth, by striking his axe in the first tree, and exclaiming, "Here hath the sparrow found a house, and the swallow a nest for himself - near thine altar, O Lord God of hosts!" Yes - there, in the sweet quietness of the wood, free from the hurries and perplexities of Europe, they could not but remember they were quite removed from persecution,
In imagination we still behold the men and the boys, with their implements for clearing away the forests on their shoulders, starting off to select places for temporary huts, cabins or caves in the side of the hill; and while some excavate the earth, three or four feet, near the margin of the river, others ply the axe to clear the underwood, or to fell trees, whose limbs and foliage were used to supply sides and roofs to their humble dwellings. Again we see others engaged in digging sods, which they employ in forming sides to their huts, and when these are completed, chimneys of grass or kneaded clay are set up, and the house is finished! In the meantime the women have lighted fires on the ground, and "having their kettle slung between two poles, upon a stick transversed," their humble and frugal meal is quickly prepared; all gather around and partake of it with light and happy hearts. Then, each family begins to convey to their new-made residence their goods and furniture, and they all feel settled for a season. Thus their frail hovels became occupied, and the families located close to each other for self-protection; and
And then the busy scene began! No sooner had the surveyor, with much labor, by felling trees and dragging away the brushwood, made an imperfect passage, along which to draw his "lengthening chain," than he formed the "city plot." With what alacrity and earnestness did the men start off to prepare the ground for permanent improvement? The eching wood resounded with the ringing voices of the woodman's axes and the crash of falling trees - the Indians looked on amazed and affrighted at this, the first sounds of civilization that had ever reverberated on their ears. Starting here, and flying there, beasts and birds, were killed in large quantities, and served as excellent food for the people while they were clearing away the deep embarrassments of the soil. "Even the reptiles, deadly and venomous, then first felt the assault of the primeval curse, and the serpent's head was crushed."
So soon as the permanent buildings had been generally started, and the forests disappeared, the rude original outlines of the city - not then as now - began to be apparent, and we may well imagine the cheerful greetings which passed between those pioneers, while contemplating the steady progress each had made. And often, too, we fancy how reciprocally they must have aided each other at their "raisings," and other heavy operations requiring many hands and much physical strength. A mutual dependence upon each other was felt by all. Self-interest and self-protection led to this policy. With that sublime conception of revelation which inspires the heart to live out the precepts of an overruling Providence, they permitted no dissension or evil report to mar the steady progress of their purposes. Thus it was that, not only the solitudes of the wilderness were converted into safe and pleasant retreats, but the rude denizens of the forests themselves were tamed into submission by the superior civilization of the white man. Time passed on, and their little colony spread its dimensions in various directions. Smiling fields, rich with virgin crops, appeared where the "heavy oak and chestnut trees stood."
We remember, too, that, at that time, the first houses lay chiefly south of what was called High - now Market - street, and on the northern bank of Dock Creek - then called the Swamp. At the mouth of this creek was the Ferry from the Blue Anchor Tavern - the place where William Penn first landed in a boat from Chester, when he visited his province in Pennsylvania - leading over to "Society Hill," before the Causeway at Front street was formed. The first bridge, and their then first means of a cart-road leading westwardly, was a wooden structure laid across the water "where the tide ebbed and flowed," at Hudson's alley and Chestnut street. Dock Creek then traversed Fourth and High streets, and Christ Church, and the first Baptist Meeting House. Tradition relates that, at that place an Indian feast was held; and in order to amuse William Penn and exhibit their agility, the Indians performed a foot-race around the entire pond. From Dock Creek at Girard's Bank, diverging in angular directions, ran a water-course through what was subsequently designated "Beak's Hollow," near Sixth and Walnut streets, and terminated in another duck pond. All these places were regarded with peculiar interest by the inhabitants, who, during the summertime, frequently watched the deer, as they came down to drink and eat the "spatterdashes," which grew luxuriantly around their borders.
These ancient reminiscences inspire us with deep emotions, for by them we learn how patiently the founders of the city of Philadelphia toiled amid interposing difficulties to open a way through the deep forests of Pennsylvania for the progress of civilization. Each effort of those struggling pioneers is regarded with peculiar interest, as they were directed toward the establishment of institutions from which should flow the choicest blessings to humanity - the blessings of Freedom and Independence.
Looking at these things through the medium of historical contemplation, we remember that, "as buildings and comforts progressed," the early settlers turned their attentions to Public Edifices, and one of their first measures in this respect was, the erection of a place of worship. This building was known as the Friends' Meeting House. It was built at the Centre Square, and lay far beyond the then verge of population. Frequently when the settlers were following the cart-path from town, they saw it traversed by wild game, deer and turkeys, and often that less welcome visitor, the bear, would show himself to the people. The next public building required was a place of confinement for violators of the peace; and they rented a building from Patrick Robinson for that purpose, until the young city had provided itself with one better adapted for the emergencies of the times. This was soon erected, and was situated on a spot of ground opposite William Penn's Mansion in Letitia court, before which stood "his gate" to the space of ground surrounding it, and before which he made his royal proclamation to the people. Opposite this mansion was then
which were pastured there until fit for market, when they were sold from the movable shambles. Conspicuous, too, was the residence of Edward Shippen, the first mayor of the city, which "surpassed his contemporaries in the style and grandeur of its appurtenances" - for, having crossed the water, he located himself in that venerable building subsequently known as the "Governor's house," but upon the site of which is now situated "Waln's Row," in South Second street, "on the hill near the town, where he had a great and famous orchard, and where he also had a tame deer. His house appeared to have been located on an eminence, for the hill beautifully descended in a green bank in front of his house at Dock Creek, and no intervening object prevented the prospect to the Jerseys and the river." Contemporaneously with these, the citizens erected the first Christ Church, under the supervision of Rev. Mr. Clayton - "a wooden building, of such declining eaves that a bystander could touch them."
Pre-eminent, however, at that period, and often visited as a curiosity and for its grandeur, even then, was the Swedes' Church, with its steeples. This was built upon the site of the old log church in which were "loop-holes" for firearms, as in a block-house, for which purpose it was to have been used in cases of necessity. There was also built a most magnificent structure designated the "State House." The location of this building was at the corner of Second street and Norris' alley, and in 1700 was occupied by William Penn, and is now known as William Penn's house. This building is still standing, and is desecrated by being occupied as furniture and clothing stores. About the same time, Capt. Finny became the purchaser of Samuel Carpenter's Carpenter House, on Second street, near Walnut, which was demolished in 1854, to give room for other improvements. In close proximity to the old proprietors building, were built "the first crane and the first wharves for vessels. The first and only landing places were low and sandy beach on the north side of the Drawbridge, another at the Penny Pothouse, on the north side of Vine street, and the third was a great breach through the high hill at Arch Street, over which an arched bridge extended, (from which circumstance the street took its name), letting carts and people descend to the landing under its arch," But,
we can imagine the condition those hardy pioneers were placed in - the advantages and disadvantages they experienced - how they struggled through misfortune with brave and heroic hearts - how mutually dependent they were upon each other; and how reciprocally they interchanged labor for labor, or for food. None were strangers, and all were friends. There was no distinction of caste; none felt himself superior to his neighbor - and none of those conventional formalities which now make strangers, and oftentimes enemies, of families upon the same soil, in the same city, were felt or practiced by them. What great revolutions have taken place since then!
Another structure which claims our attention, and which excites our patriotic admiration whenever we pass it, is that venerable edifice which stands back from Chestnut street in a little court, known as "Carpenter's Hall." Although ostensibly built for a hall in which the Society of Carpenters could hold their meetings, it is distinguished by the fact that, in it the first Congress of the country met, for the purpose of deliberating upon, and maturing incipient measures in reference to a separation of the colonies from the authority of the mother country. For several years subsequently, however, it was used as the first "Bank of the United States," and is now occupied as an auction-room, where its associations and hallowed inspirations are insulated by the selfish purposes of traffic. The thousands of fashionable citizens who daily throng the sidewalk on Chestnut street, behold in front of this venerable edifice articles of merchandise, and large placards announcing them for sale, and then pass on, regardless of the sacred influences which the Hall is calculated to excite. Often have we, while gazing upon it, and wandering through its apartments, recalled the language and experienced the same emotions of that noble Virginian, whom in 1829, paid the following beautiful tribute to this building:
I write this from the celebrated Carpenter's Hall, a structure that will ever be deemed sacred while national liberty is cherished on earth. It stands in a court at the end of an alley leading south from Chestnut, between Third and Fourth streets. It is of brick, three stories high, surmounted with a low steeple, and presents externally rather a sombre aspect. The lower room, in which the first Congress of the United States (perhaps I should say colonies) met, comprehends the whole area of the building - which, however, is not very spacious. Above are the committee-rooms, now occupied by a very polite school-master, who kindly gave me permission to inspect them. Yes! these sublime apartments, which first resounded with the indignant murmurs of our immortal ancestors, sitting in secret consultation upon the wrongs of their countrymen, now ring with the din of urchins conning over their tasks; and the hallowed hall below, in which the august assembly to which they belonged, daily convened, is now devoted to the use of an auctioneer! Even now, while I am penning these lines at his desk, his voice stuns my ear and distracts my brain, crying 'How much for these rush-bottom chairs? I am offered $5 - nobody more? - going! going!! gone!!'. In fact, the hall is lumbered with beds, looking-glasses, chairs, tables, pictures, ready-made clothes, and all the trash and trumpery which usually grace the premises of a knight of the hammer.
The building, it is gratifying to add, still belongs to the Society of Carpenters, who will by no means part with it, or consent to any alteration. It was here that the groundwork of our Independence was laid - for here it was, on the 4th of September, 1774, after the attempt on the part of 'the mother country' to tax the colonies without their consent, and the perpetration of numerous outrages by the regulars upon the defenseless inhabitants, the sages of America came together to consider of their grievances. Yes! these walls have echoed the inspiring eloquence of Patrick Henry, 'the greatest orator,' in the opinion of Mr. Jefferson, 'that ever lived' - the very man who 'gave the first impulse to the ball of our Revolution!' In this consecrated apartment, in which I am now seated - this unrivaled effort of human intellect was made! - I mark it as an epoch in my life. I look upon it as a distinguishing favor that I am permitted to tread the very floor which Henry trod, and to survey the scene which, bating the changes of time and circumstances, must have been surveyed by him. O, that these walls could speak! - that the echo which penetrates my soul as I pronounce the name of Patrick Henry, in the corner I occupy, might again reverberate the thunders of his eloquence! But he has long ago been gathered to his fathers, and this hall, with the ancient State House of the 'Old Dominion,' I fervently hope may exist for ages as the monuments of his glory.
Allusion has been made to the preceding fugitive scraps of history, only for the purpose of augmenting the interest attached to Independence Hall. As part of the story of this sacred edifice, they must forever remain inseparable. in Carpenters' Hall the first efforts of a struggling people to become free assumed a tangible form - in Independence Hall those efforts culminated to a glorious consummation. In the one, full and emphatic exhibitions of the people's will was vitalized into an unyielding resolve. So that, in whatever light we choose to regard the connection, it contributed largely to the associations which cluster around the sublime reminiscences of the "Cradle" where Liberty was fostered, and from which it grew into vigorous manhood.
Chapter 3 "The Old State House."
This venerable edifice, which excites so much patriotic veneration from the American people, and is regarded with profound esteem abroad, was known until the year 1776, as the "STATE HOUSE." From that memorable period - when the representatives of the nation resolved to be free - the room on the east side of the main entrance has been designated by the appellation of INDEPENDENCE HALL. For wise and patriotic reasons it has never been altered. By that designation it will remain hallowed to all time. So long as a single genuine spark of freedom remains in the human heart, so long will Independence Hall be regarded as the birth-place of liberty - the immortal spot where the manacles of oppression were sundered, and despotism received its most formidable rebuke. The "State House," originally constructed for the purpose of accommodating legal business, the dispensation of Colonial statutes for Pennsylvania, and the transaction of various other matters, was commenced in the year 1729, and completed in 1734. Its dimensions and architectural plan - the design being furnished by an amateur architect, names John Kearsley, Sr., - were regarded by many as too large and expensive; and the erection of the building was, therefore, quite strenuously opposed, Had the men who first conceived the noble enterprise of building it foreseen the exalted character which their contemplated edifice would assume in future, there would not probably have been a single dissenting voice in the liberal plan projected by its founders. It is a singular historical fact, that most of those who opposed the plan of the edifice in the commencement, and who were still living at the time, were opposed to the adoption of the "Declaration of Independence," which occurred within its very walls about a quarter of a century afterward. According to bills and papers kept by Andrew Hamilton, one of the three Commissioners who had the superintendence of the financial matters connected with its construction, it appears that the edifice cost originally $16,250. The two wings which now form important addenda to the building, however, were not erected until the years 1739-40, and increased the total amount to $28,000 - but their cost cannot be counted in the original bill. Watson, in his Annals, says:
"Edmund Woolley did the carpenter work, John Harrison the joiner work, Thomas Boude was the brick mason, William Holland did the marble work, Thomas Kerr, plaster, Benjamin Fairman and James Stoopes made the bricks; the lime was from the kilns of the Tysons. [These kilns were situated in Manship township, Montgomery county, about one mile west from Willow Grove, and fifteen miles from the Hall of Independence. This property has ever since remained in possession of that family. Joseph C. Tyson, Esq., is now owner of the kilns, and carries on the lime business very extensively.] The glass and lead cost L170, and the glazing in leaden frames was done by Thomas Godfrey, the celebrated. I may here usefully add, for the sake of comparison, the cost of sundry items, to wit: Carpenter's work at 4s. per day; boy's 1s.; master carpenter, E. Woolley, 4s. 6d.; bricklaying, by Thomas Boude, John Palmer, and Thomas Redman, at 10s 6d. per M.; stone-work in the foundation, at 4s. per perch; digging ground and carting away, 9d. per yard; bricks, 31s. 8d. per M.; lime per 100 bushels, L4; boards, 20s. per M.; scantling, 1.5 d. per foot; stone, 3s. per perch, and 5s. 5d. per load. Laborers receive 2s. 6d. per day; 2100 loads of earth are hauled away at 9d. per load." These items are only given as specimens of curiosity, and will serve to amuse, if not to instruct.
The wood-work of the steeple by which the building was first surmounted, on examination in 1774, was found to be so much delayed, that it was decided to remove it, and it was accordingly taken down, leaving only a small belfry to cover the bell for the use of the town-clock - which had but one dial-face, at the west end of the building. in that condition it remained until 1829, when the steeple which now crowns the building, was erected on the plan of the original one. Some years ago the interior wood-work to the room in which the "Declaration of Independence" was signed, was removed, for the purpose of modernizing the plans, but public sentiment soon demanded its restoration, and it now presents the same appearance it did that memorable occasion. In 1854, the city Councils of Philadelphia* very patriotically resolved to place in this sacred room - where they properly belong - all the relics associated with the brilliant history of the Hall and the times contemporaneously with the American Revolution, which they could obtain.
* The object of the City Councils in this was, to secure such relics a permanent position in the Hall of Independence, and to afford visitors a source of gratification. Many of these portraits are of inestimable value, and are the only authentic ones of the distinguished persons they represent. They should ensure the respect of every American who desires to look upon the portraits of departed heroes, while they elicit the admiration of strangers and the great from abroad.
With commendable zeal and enterprise they have obtained and arranged in their appropriate places portraits of nearly all the distinguished "Signers of the Declaration of Independence," as well as many other valuable relics, all of which are sacred mementos uniting the present and the past with ligaments of inseverable affection. Hence it is that, when we visit that holy place - that Mecca of freedom's children - that shrine where Liberty's sons and daughters bow in holy reverence - we feel that they eyes of the mighty are gazing upon us, watching our conversation and our national characteristics, to see whether we who enjoy so many rich and glorious privileges, rightly respect and appreciate what they hazarded their lives and enjoyments to effect! There are incidents connected with Independence Hall sufficiently impressive to excite our warmest patriotism. "When the regular sessions of the Assembly were held in the State House," says Watson, "the senate occupied upstairs, and the Lower House the same chamber, since called Independence Hall. In the former, Anthony Morris is remembered as Speaker, occupying an elevated chair facing north - himself a man of amiable mien, contemplative aspect, dressed in a suit of drab cloth, flaxen hair slightly powdered, and his eyes fronted with spectacles. The Representative chamber had George Latimer for Speaker, seated with his face to the west - a well-formed manly person, his fair large front and eyes sublime declared absolute rule." For many years previous to 1855, the upper apartment of Independence Hall was divided into room which were occupied by the Supreme Courts of the United States, and was rented for offices of various kinds. But in that year the municipal authorities had the partition walls which separated the rooms torn away and the apartments tastefully fitted up and appropriated to the use of the City Councils, both branches of which now hold their sessions within its sacred precincts.
When we consider the associations which cluster around this venerable room - how many incidents have occurred here to remind us of our nation's rapid progress from dependent colonies to a great and prosperous empire - how steadily and surely our institutions have given demonstration of the practical workings of a Republican form of Government; we fell constrained to believe that a municipal corporation which has the honorable task of framing codes and ordinances to govern nearly a million of human beings, might act with motives as pure and lofty as those which prompted the member of the Colonial Assembly, who met in the same building, and the same room! But exigencies and extraordinary occasions develop the intellectual abilities of great and good men, while expectation and desire of self-aggrandizement characterize time-serving politicians, whose patriotism is measured by the amount of pelf derived from official preferment. We can scarcely reconcile to our belief that here, within the holy fane where freedom of thought and principle first assumed tangibility; where vitality was given to declarations of ancestral patriots; where germs of the mightiest and most influential nation that ever flourished were sown, any corporate body of men, convened in a representative capacity, could ever act with other than the purest and most patriotic motives. There is something so peculiarly reverential about every portion of this building, so awe-exciting and sacred, that boisterous passions and declamatory partisanism should never mar or desecrate its walls. Not a word ought to ever be uttered here inconsistent with the first expressions of republicanism, promulgated by the founders of the nation. Oh! let this temple remain pure and unsullied from any act calculated to tarnish the fair escutcheon of our country's glory. Let it be kept a shrine where holy thoughts, holy aspirations, and holy deeds are registered; where freedom's children may come and worship, and feel themselves sanctified by the purity of its atmosphere.
Grave and deliberate as were the general purposes, during the early period of the Revolution, to which the "State House" was appropriated in the Colonial days of Pennsylvania, it was on several occasions used as a hall for banqueting. In the long gallery, upstairs, the feasting tables were spread, around which hilarity and mirthfulness prevailed, while the tables themselves were loaded with every desirable luxury which the appetite or inclination might fancy or desire. Soon after the edifice was completed, in 1736, William Allen, Esq., then Mayor of Philadelphia, made a feast at his own expense. This entertainment, which was of a sumptuous and costly character, was spread in the "State House," and the Mayor extended his invitations to all distinguished strangers in the city. The number of invited guests exceeded any at the feasts given in the city on previous occasions, while those who partook of his hospitality expressed their unanimous consent that, "for excellency of fare, it was a most elegant entertainment." On the arrival of their new Colonial Governor, denny, in 1756, while the Assembly was in session, that body gave him a reception dinner, and this feast was likewise spread at the "State House," at which the "civil and military officers and clergy of the city" were present. This entertainment occurred in August, and was an important event during that session of the Assembly. It had a tendency to harmonize various antagonistical personal feelings, which were looked upon as boding no peculiar good to the new administration. again, when Lord Loudon, commander-in-chief of the King's forces in the several colonies, visitied the city in the year 1757, the corporation received him at the "State House" by a grand banquet. general Forbes, who was then commander at Philadelphia and of the southern settlements, was also present on that occasion. Various guests were invited, among whom were officers of rank, gentleman strangers, clergy and private citizens, who partook of those municipal hospitalities. It was remarked by some uninvited guests at the time, that the expenditure for this entertainment was greater than had ever before been made by the authorities for public receptions, which indicated a very early hospitality to such feasts - especially when given at the expense of the public treasury. When in 1774, the first Congress met in Philadelphia, a sumptuous collattion was prepared by the gentleman of the city, for the entertainment of its representatives, the "State House" was selected as the building in which the festive ceremonies should be performed. The members and invited guests congregated first at the "City Tavern,"* and then marched in an imposing procession to the "State House," in the dining hall of which the repast was spread.
*The City Tavern stood on the site of the "Coffee House," and was a distinguished eating restaurant.
About five hundred persons partook of the dinner, and when the toasts were given they were rendered patriotic by the "firing of cannon of martial music." These festive occasions exerted salutary influences upon public sentiment, and had a tendency to develope, in no small degree, political feelings which actuated the people. No doubt the principles promulgated and advocated around the brimful goblet and board, were regarded in a patriotic or disloyal sense, according to the dominant characteristics of leading men, with their adherence to Parliamentary laws, or republican sympathy. Whatever sentiment was toasted and responded to then, was given in the spirit of honesty, and elicited purity of expression. Words were not wasted in declamatory sentences; appeals were not made for idle or pernicious purposes; and intriguing politicians had no unworthy ends to subserve. Every heart was prompted by motives of lofty and patriotic devotion - whether in the cause of the Crown, or against the exercise of its prerogatives. Then, there was no cause for severe animadversion of the manner in which the public business was conducted, which has since afforded plausibility for charges of peculation and corruption. Every act, politically and privately, was performed with an eye single to the entire interest of all concerned. None felt disposed to take advantage of his fellow, or to enhance his personal objects by extortionate exactions from others. By those festivals ties of friendship were strengthened, bonds of mutual enterprise cemented, national measure suggested and frequently adopted. Deliberate and calm discussion of various topics connected with governmental affairs, gave power and character to the purposes for which such scenes of friendly greeting were given, and assisted in forming a deep and strong attachment to their country and their homes.
Notwithstanding the fact, that Independence Hall is regarded as a most sacred shrine of Liberty, in days of yore it was used for various purposes - some of which illy comported with the true character of the building. Mr. Watson says: "For many years the public papers of the Colony, and afterward of the City and State, were kept in the east and west wings of the State House, without any fire-proof security as they now possess. From their manifest insecurity, it was deemed, about nineteen years ago (now thirty), to pull down those former two-story brick wings, and to supply their places by those which are now there. In former times such important papers as rest with the Prothonotaries were kept in their offices at their family residences." When workmen were superintending the removal of the former wings of the State House, Mr. Grove, who was the master-mason, made several interesting discoveries of relics. These were mostly found under the foundation of the walls, as the workmen excavated the ground considerably deeper for the present cellars. At the depth of some five feet, and close to the western wall, was dug up a keg of Indian flints. Nothing appears upon record to give the faintest idea as to who performed the deed, or for what purpose they were buried there. The impression of the keg was distinct, but the wood had decayed and become assimilated with the loamy soil. At about the same depth, and in close proximity to it, were uncovered the complete equipments of a sergeant, consisting of a musket, cartouch-box, sword, buckles, &c. "The wood being decayed, left the impression of what they had been." These discoveries excited considerable curiosity, and attracted a large multitude of people to see and examine them. But a greater and more general excitement was created, a day or two subsequently, at the announcement that a lot of bomb-shells, filled with powder, had been humed by the diggers. This circumstance led to various conjectures, relative to the object for which they had been buried beneath the building, but a satisfactory solution of the mystery has not, as yet, been given. Some entertained the belief that it was intended for another Guy Faux plot, to destroy the edifice on a particular occasion. Most probably, however, they had been placed there for safe keeping, or to prevent their falling into unfriendly hands. Subsequently, when the present foundation was built two of these bombs were walled in with the stones and now form aportion of the stone-work. Future antiquarians and monarchical adherents may regard this in a symbolic light, as typical of the ultimate downfall of the Republicanism, because, beneath and within the very walls of the structure in which freedom of conscience and the rights of humanity were asserted, are imbedded the elements of its own destruction. We congratulate ourselves, however, upon the fact that should Independence Hall ever crumble into ruins, there are associations connected with it sufficiently impressive to inspire the hearts and direct the sentiments of the American people in every thing pertaining to their own unsullied Nationality and Republican sentiments; for, as Milton remarks, "reconcilement never grows where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep."
We have remarked that Independence Hall was used for various purposes. In the year 1802 the Legislature of Pennsylvania granted to Charles Peale, the use of the upper rooms in which the public banquets were formerly given, for the exhibition of curiosities which he had collected and arranged under the title of the "Philadelphia Museum." This institution was commenced in the year 1784, with the simple donation of a "paddle-fish" from the Ohio River. From that time until his disease, Mr. Peale was engaged in efforts of conveying instruction and amusement to the citizens of Philadelphia, and all who wished to visit his museum. The doors of the museum were never open to the profligate and licentious - the place having been scrupulously preserved as a resort for the virtuous and refined of society. In the arrangement and classification of his natural curiosities, Mr. Peale was singularly fortunate. He adopted the system of Linnaeus in classifying his birds and mammalia that of Mr. Cleveland in his mineralogical cabinet, which contained over 1700 specimen. In conchology, which contained more than 1,000 species, he employed the system of Lamarck. The museum contained a large collection of fossil reliquiae of our own country and of Europe, at the head of which was the mammoth, the bones of whose skeletons were discovered in a morass, in Ulster County, New York, by persons digging for marl. Cabinets of fish, reptiles, comparative anatomy, and a numerous collection of miscellaneous articles of works of Art, implements, dresses, arms, antiquities, and so forth, from various parts of the globe, were appropriately located in various parts of the rooms. The museum contained many valuable paintings of officers and diplomatic characters who figured during the Revolution, which were painted by Mr. Peale during the stormy period. In that year the proprietors had succeeded in collecting 274 quadrupeds of various species, and 1284 birds. The collection of insects was very large, and arranged in geographical divisions. That portion of it embracing the Sessidosstera was well adapted to their perfect preservation and most advantageous display. This museum was incorporated in 1822, by an Act of the Legislature, and was then removed to the Arcade.
As a place of literary entertainment, Independence Hall assumes a conspicuous reputation. In 1771, the Rev. Jacob Duche, Assistant Minister of Christ Church and St. Peter's in Philadelphia, wrote as follows: "The 'State House,' as it is called, is a large, plain building, two stories high. The lower story is divided into two large rooms, in one of which the Provincial Assembly meet, and in the other the Supreme Court of Judicature is held. The upper story consists of a long gallery, which is generally used for public entertainments, and two rooms adjoining it, one of which is appropriated for the Governor and his Council; the other, I believe, is yet unoccupied. In one of the wings, which join the main building by means of a brick arcade, is deposited a valuable collection of books, belonging to a number of the citizens, who are incorporated by the name of 'The Library Company of Philadelphia.' You would be astonished, my Lord, at the general taste for books, which prevails among all orders and ranks of people in this city. The librarian assured me , that, for one person of distinction and fortune, there were twenty tradesmen that frequented this library." The Library Company of Philadelphia, to which the above reverend writer so sneeringly alludes, (and who, during the Revolutionary struggle for Independence, turned Tory to the cause of Freedom,) was first started by Benjamin Franklin, in 1731, and was called :The City Library," in consequence of a union which was made on the first of July of that year, of several Libraries. in October, 1732, their first importation of books from England arrived, amounting in cost to L45 15s sterling. The Library was located in Pewter-platter alley, but in 1740 it was transferred to the State House. Thence in 1773 it was placed in the "Carpenter's Hall," where it remained until the year 1790. It received its incorporation in 1742, under the title of the "Library Company of Philadelphia." in 1792 this Company, the Loganian, and the Union, were merged into one - making a tria juncta in una.
During the progress of the struggle for Freedom, the State House was signalized for many scenes which transpired within it, and was, at one time, used as a hospital for wounded soldiers. A "lobby" extended the whole length of the building, then eastward from the head of the stairs, and in this "lobby" the American officers who were captured at the battle of Germantown were retrained as prisoners. It was used as a hospital after the battle of the Brandywine, where many a noble patriot breathed his last. Such were some of the sad purposes for which this sacred structure has been used. This building is also rendered immortal from the fact that here Washington "bade farewell to public life, and delivered that memorable address which will ever be cherished as a sacred legacy by his grateful countrymen." In 1824, Lafayette received his friends in Independence Hall. It has been subsequently used as the audience chamber of several distinguished visitors, and a reception room for the Presidents of the United States. The body of the venerable John Quincy Adams here lay in state, on its way to his final resting-place. in connection with the historical associations which cluster around this immortal structure, we may use the remarks of Raynal, a distinguished Frenchman, who wrote a few after the Declaration of Independence had been signed. He said: "With what grandeur, with what enthusiasm, should I not speak of those generous men who erected this grand edifice, by their patience, their wisdom, and their courage! Hancock, Franklin, and the two Adamses, were the greatest actors in this affecting scene; but they were not the only ones. Posterity shall know them all. Their honored names shall be transmitted to it by a happier pen than mine. Brass and marble shall show them to remotest ages. In beholding them, shall the friend of freedom feel his eyes float in delirious tears. Under the bust of one of them has been written - 'He wrested thunder from haven and the sceptre from tyrants.' Of the last words of this eulogy shall all of them partake. Heroic country, my advanced age permits me not to visit thee. Never shall I see myself among the respectable personages of thy Areopagus; never shall I be present at the deliberations of thy Congress. I shall die without seeing the retreat of toleration, of manners, of laws, of virtue, and of freedom. My ashes shall not be covered by a free and holy earth; but I shall have desired it; and my last breath shall bear to heaven an ejaculation for thy posterity." Thus do these historical incidents rush to our memory, while standing in Independence hall. Few places there are sufficiently impressive to remind us of their associations, but
Yes, those great men have passed from the busy, busting throng of human action, but the spirit they impressed upon their descendants and those who have followed, will never become extinct. Their dust is encircled with wreaths of never-withering laurels, which freshen in eternal bloom, and grow luxuriantly on their lowly sepulchres! "May the flame kindled on the national altar in the first true Hall of freedom, to illuminate and consecrate the Declaration of Independence, in America," burn with inextinguishable splendor, quicken every tardy pulse with patriotic zeal, and blast to cinders every tyrant's accursed throne! that here our children and brethren in future years, from their homes far away on the shores of the pacific, may come and meditate among the scenes and associations of our ancestor's labors, undisturbed by the acts or intrusions of despotism's hirelings, and by musing on the past, gather strength for future action!
Chapter 4 Independence Square
INSEPARABLY associated with the history of Independence Hall are the incidents relative to the enclosure known as Independence Square. Like Mount Vernon—the resting-place of Washington—it excites our devotion—warms into a flame the smoldering embers of patriotism—recalls many pleasing events in the history of days gone by—and thrills us with emotions of gratitude. This enclosure is not unlike other ensanguined fields whose associations call up interesting reminiscences. Hence, we feel the force of the remark of Dr. Clarke:—"If there be a spot upon earth pre-eminently calculated to awaken the solemn sentiments, which such a view of nature is fitted to make upon all men, it may surely be found in the plain of Marathon; where, amidst the wreck of generations, and the graves of ancient heroes, we elevate our thoughts toward Him, 'in whose sight a thousand years are but as yesterday;' where the stillness of Nature, harmonizing with the calm solitude of that illustrious region, which once was the scene of the most agitated passions, enables us, by the past, to determine of the future. In those moments, indeed, we may be said to live for ages; a single instant, by the multitude of impressions it conveys, seems to anticipate for us a sense of that eternity when time shall be no more; when the fitful dream of human existence, with all its turbulent illusions, shall be dispelled; and the last sun having set, in the last of the world, a brighter dawn than ever gladdened the universe shall renovate the dominions of darkness and of death."
To the patriotic inhabitants of the United States, associations of local character exert powerful influences in the formation of their nationality; and nowhere is this power felt more vigorously than in the precincts of Independence Hall. Here "collisions with a mightier foe, and deeds of daring put forth for richer conquests," took place, than when heroic Greeks grappled with the mighty hosts of Persia. A greater principle was here evolved, and a more important problem elucidated, than had ever before been presented to human consideration. When the shepherds heard the glad tidings that a Redeemer had been born in Bethlehem, their hearts leaped for joy, because they realized that in his birth, old ceremonies and creeds which had long characterized the Mosaic Dispensation, would be displaced by new and more tolerant religious principles and forms. They knew the period had come—foretold by Prophets of old—to which the eyes of the world had been directed for centuries, with wonderful anxiety—a period when, it had been announced, "old things should pass away, and all things become new"—when the curse should be removed, and the serpent's head bruised; and the watchful shepherds on the hills of Judea, caught up the song of the wise men of the East, from the valleys of Palestine, and with one deep ecstatic chorus joined the exultation:
The period when those circumstances occurred in the history of religious events, marked a decided epoch in the annals of mankind. But, "when in the course of human events, it became necessary for our people to dissolve the political bands" connecting them with others, "and to assume among the powers of the earth, separate and equal, station—to which the laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitled them"—commenced the beginning of an era from which the disenthralment of mankind from arbitrary bondage was to be the legitimate consequence, the joyful shout of the shepherds,
sounded no more impressively glorious in the Orient than did the proclamation in "Independence Square," that "'These United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and Independent States!" when a final separation from the authority of Great Britain had been resolved. That moment was heralded to the world, as the bell on the Old State House rung out its thunder tones, and reverberated among the mountains and valleys of the "Thirteen Colonies" a principle deep and sufficiently comprehensive to embrace all mankind. That moment marked a new era in the progress of human affairs—arrayed freedom of conscience, liberty of thought, and the right of speech against dogmatical forms of usurpation, intolerance and despotism. No body of men had ever before exhibited boldness enough to assert a platform of nationality half so liberal and half so great.
It is asserted that long before and at the time the State House was erected, the "State House Yard," or the grounds now enclosed in this area, were exceedingly uneven, upon which whortleberry and other bushes grew quite profusely. The spot was considerably more elevated than its present appearance indicates. That side of it along the line of Walnut street is still remembered to have been depressed and low, and some of the earlier settlers had erected a number of residences on it. After the erection of the State House, these residences were torn down. Originally, this Square was only half its present size, being 396 feet on Chestnut street and the back line, 265 feet on Sixth and Fifth streets. This measurement gave the area 10,098 square feet, making 2 acres, 1 rood, 10½ perches. In this condition the Square remained until the year 1760, when that portion of it fronting on Walnut street was purchased. This added exactly one-half to its dimensions, and it now contains, by actual survey, 4 acres, 2 roods, and 21 perches, or 201,960 square feet—being 396 feet on Walnut and Chestnut streets, and 510 feet on Fifth and Sixth streets. Improvements were subsequently made to the Square, the rough surface removed, and the entire area enclosed with a high substantial brick wall. In the centre, on the Walnut street side of the Square, an antique gate was constructed with a brick structure over it,* as a sort of ornament.
*Placed there by a gentleman named Joseph Fox.
About that period, on the line of Sixth street, there stood against the wall a long row of sheds, placed there for the purpose of securing and feeding horses belonging to the country folk, who came to the city to attend to the business of the Courts, and on other occasions. These sheds, however, were appropriated for various other purposes, and formed excellent loitering places for the Indians, who frequently came to the city on trafficking expeditions, and where they often were found in a state of intoxication after too much Bacchanalian indulgence. It was among a party of Indians, on such an occasion, that Thomas Bradford, a noted man of that day, saw King Hendrick, a celebrated chieftain. This incident occurred a little while before he was killed at Lake George, in the company of Sir William Johnson. A few years afterward, however, these sheds were appropriated and used for artillery ranges, the main entrance to which was on the side of Chestnut street.
For several years after its enclosure by the brick wall, this Square remained unembellished by any thing of an artistic character—the pride and taste of the citizens refusing to beautify it, even by the removal of many objectionable natural features. But during the year 1784, a gentleman of respectability and great personal note, named Vaughan,* who had fixed upon Philadelphia as a place of residence, resolved to improve and render the grounds more attractive. The expense was solely borne by himself, but his efforts, thus directed, will be regarded as worthy of emulation for many succeeding generations. He carefully prepared the grounds by rendering its topographical appearance more suitable for the purposes to which it was intended—a resort for the people—and then selected choice trees, which he planted in profusion and great variety. As a natural consequence, many of the trees thus planted, being transferred from their primitive soils to now ones, unable to obtain the necessary pabulum, drooped and decayed, and were replaced by others. Many of the stately elm trees which Mr. Vaughan had been careful in keeping alive, had their foliage annually destroyed by swarms of Lepidopterous insects which had become so numerous and annoying to the citizens, that the trees were finally cut down to abate the nuisance. After the Square had been improved, and rendered more like the Parks of the East, it gradually became a place of much resort, and with a view to accommodate the citizens during their promenades, Windsor settees and chairs were liberally distributed in it as seats on which to rest, and enjoy the coolness of that rural retreat, in summer, when each felt like passing a few hours,
*Father of the late John Vaughan, Esq.—Watson's Annals.
Pre-eminently calculated to attract the fashionable and virtuous to its umbrageous avenues, thousands resorted hither for pleasurable recreation. But in this respect it soon began to grow less inviting; the dissolute and tavern frequenters congregated in it to such an extent that the more respectable citizens refused to walk there after the shadows of evening had fallen. So that, "in spite of public interest to the contrary, it ran into disesteem among the better part of society." Mr. Bradford says that efforts were made to restore its lost credit; the seats were removed, and loungers were spoken of as trespassers; but the remedy came too late; good company had deserted it, and the tide of fashion did not again set in its favor. We deeply regret that the reputation of the Square, in this respect, has not from that day to the present, been improved. We are unable to give the number of trees in the State House Yard at the time of which we write, there being no accessible data at hand; but at the present writing there are two hundred and ten of various kinds, whose umbrageous arms interlock, and form a canopy of verdure, through which numerous squirrels gambol, and among which the birds twitter, and build their nests. Among these stately sentinels of the Square there are several varieties, the horse-chestnut, elm, maple, buttonwood, &c., and but one small evergreen.
The name of this Square, after the Declaration of Independence was signed, was changed from that of the " State House Yard" to a more appropriate and suggestive one, "Independence Square." This was done for the purpose of harmonizing its appellation with that of the Hall, which received its new name at the same time. The Square is approachable by eight different gates, one of which is through the main entrance to Independence Hall. On entering the Square, through this Hall, the attention of the stranger cannot fail to be attracted by the dissimilarity of the architectural appearance of the door-way with every other part of the building. This dissimilarity occurred in the following way: when the wood-work to the Hall was ordered to be changed for the purpose of modernizing its style, the carpenter employed to do it constructed the door-way after a plan of his own selection, and he made it conform to the entrance of St. James's Church. When the Hall was restored to its original style of architecture, the pillars, lintels, &c., were allowed to remain unchanged, and hence the dissimilarity. Propriety and good taste ought to have induced those who had the charge of rechanging the plan to make every part of the building conform to its primitive style.
The other entrances to the Square are—one on each side of the State House, one on Fifth, one at the southwest corner of Fifth and Walnut streets, one on Walnut, one at the southeast corner of Walnut and Sixth streets, and one on Sixth Street. The Square is appropriately laid off in walks crossing each other at right angles with a serpentine footway around the outer-edge. After the improvements, alluded to above, had been made, and the trees* assumed a thrifty appearance, public taste demanded the removal of the sombre and dismal brick wall around the Square, and the erection of a new and more tasteful one. Accordingly, it was resolved that the Square should be surrounded with an iron-railing sufficiently massive and high to protect the grass-plats, trees, and shrubbery from outside intrusion; and the graceful iron palisades which enclose it at this time, were erected. They gave general satisfaction at that time, and are still objects of admiration.
*Dr. James Mease, who was active in superintending the planting of trees before the State House, and also in the Public Squares.—Vide Watson's Annals.
For many years past Independence Square has been used by politicians of various parties as a place in which to hold public meetings. Consecrated as it is to patriotic sentiment, it is considered peculiarly appropriate for enthusiastic demonstrations. But how strangely different do individuals regard the hallowed associations the history of this area is calculated to inspire! Here, within the enclosure of Independence Square, in full view of the sacred bell that thundered to the world the declaration of human liberty, disloyal partisans have uttered declamations unbecoming American citizens; and here, too, have been proclaimed patriotic sentiments which shall burn with inextinguishable ardor—spread a divine glow of patriotism over the feelings of the people—quicken the pulse of every true American, and cause tyranny and demagogues to tremble. With all these past reminiscences to create a feeling of reverence for Independence Square, there have been measures projected which, when fully carried out, will add immensely to the inspirations of the place—the erection of a monument, or monuments, in commemoration of the "Declaration of Independence," and in honor of the signers thereof. This patriotic subject was first conceived and acted upon by A. G. WATERMAN, Esq., of Philadelphia, who, on the 25th of September, 1851, submitted the following preamble and resolutions, which were accepted by the Select and Common Councils.
"The spot on which the Congress of the American Colonies declared their Independence, should be dear to the whole nation to which that act gave birth. It is hallowed not only by the heroism of the men, who, in the name of a small and scattered people, renounced the rule of a powerful king, but by the first formal promulgation of the principles of popular liberty, which are the inheritance of our great Republic, and the guide and hope of the friends of man throughout the world. Viewed with this reference, the Hall of the old State House of the colony of Pennsylvania may take precedence in interest of every other edifice, ancient or modern. In it assembled the Apostles of Political Freedom. In it, calling God to witness the truth of their cause, they pledged their lives to that Revelation of Rights, from the progress of which, in the brief period of human life, we are assured that in due time it will embrace the convictions, and secure the happiness of the whole family of mankind. It is assumed, therefore, that the Thirteen States of 1776 feel a common special pride in the alliance of their names with the Declaration of Independence—with the wisdom which conceived it, the valor which resolved it, the glory which still confirms it; and that they will unite in further consecrating the place of its adoption, by memorials worthy of the act of its authors. Entertaining these views, be it, and it is hereby
Resolved, By the Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia—
First, That it is expedient to have erected in the grove belonging to the Hall in which the National Independence was declared, one or more monuments, commemorative respectively of the States and of the men, parties to that glorious event.
Secondly, That in order to accomplish this patriotic design, the Presidents of Select and Common Councils are hereby directed to furnish a copy of these proceedings to, and memorialize the Legislatures of the States of Massachusetts, N. Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, suggesting to these Legislatures to appoint each two delegates to a Convention to assemble in Independence Hall on the 4th day of July, 1852, as guests of the City of Philadelphia, there to deliberate upon a plan of carrying into effect this proposition in a manner becoming the means of their constituents, and the memories of the illustrious dead.
Thirdly, That in the event of this proposition having a favorable response from the States addressed, the Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia, in the name of the citizens, are pledged to hold the grounds of Independence Hall free from all encroachments upon the monuments to be erected, and to guard the same equally with the Hall itself, as a sacred and national trust forever."
These resolutions were patriotically calculated to excite a wide-spread and general sentiment in favor of the enterprise; and on the 7th of October, 1852, the Councils of Philadelphia passed other resolutions, designating the necessary legal steps in order to make their action permanent and invested with suitable powers. A committee was appointed to draw up an address to the Legislatures of the "Old Thirteen States," soliciting the enactment of laws to assist in the erection of the Memorial, from which we extract.
"Our purpose in now addressing you, is to solicit your hearty co-operation in the execution of this design. That event ushered a new member into the family of nations, and electrified all Europe. It opened a new revelation of liberty, and changed the relations of people and government, by teaching the one how to resist and conquer oppression, and the other the absolute necessity to its own continuance, of recognizing and respecting the rights of humanity. From that time forth, a new, vital, and quickening spirit has pervaded the world. Thrones have been shaken, empires have been overturned, society has been convulsed, blood and carnage have desolated the earth—but still the intelligence and soul of the people of all Christendom have been revivified, elevated and expanded to a comprehension of their rights, which will never be obliterated nor forgotten, but will advance, enlarge and increase, until that moral and social preparation for the appreciation and enjoyment of liberty shall be effected, which in the Divine economy is so indispensable to the permanence of free institutions.
While such have been the results abroad of that mighty movement which the fullness of time developed after a century of preparation, how can human language describe the vast consequences which have flowed from it in this favored land? To what point shall we look without finding overwhelming evidences of its all-powerful influences? Thirty-one free, happy, and independent sovereign States, created out of thirteen struggling and depressed colonies, governed by laws to which they never assented, by tyrannical ministers who regarded them as valuable only on account of the opportunity they afforded of extending power and patronage, their trade and commerce shackled by oppressive restrictions, and their prosperity checked by petty jealousy; a population of nearly twenty-five millions of inhabitants, rejoicing in moral, social, religious, and commercial prosperity, springing from only three millions scarcely able to maintain existence; a Territory watered by the Atlantic and the Pacific, and every sea whitened by our canvas—respected, honored, and feared by the nations of the earth—overflowing with wealth, and exuberant in all the elements of prosperity and happiness—where, where on the face of this globe is there a country with which we would exchange conditions? To whom and to what are we indebted for these priceless blessings? To an overruling Providence, and to the men who framed, who declared, and who achieved our Independence.
Our hearts ache with the desire to do something to testify our gratitude, our veneration, and to prove that we are not unworthy of such a heritage. Have we no lesson to teach our children and their children's children? Shall they not be perpetually reminded of the goodness of God, and the self-sacrificing bravery and devotion of their ancestors? Shall they not have one national shrine of patriotism to which all, without distinction of creed or opinion, can repair, and unitedly, with one heart and one soul, pour out their thanksgiving and their love? We are so constituted by our Creator that visible signs and representations are necessary to awaken our sensibilities, to stimulate our affections, and to nerve our resolutions. As the third generation of that posterity for whom the men of the Revolution chiefly labored, and suffered, and died, it is peculiarly fitting that we should erect such representations of their great and controlling acts as shall speak to our own. hearts, to our children's hearts and shall testify to God and the world that we appreciate and reverence, and would cultivate and disseminate the mighty truths and principles which brought our nation into existence, which constitute its very life, and of which it seems designed by Providence to be the special defender and protector. How can liberty dwell in a country that represses the outward marks of homage and reverence for its principles? It is one of the most solemn and imperative duties, which we may not neglect with impunity, to watch the sacramental flame of liberty, to feed it constantly with the aliment necessary to its existence, to keep it bright and glorious, and to deliver it to our successors with the charge, that as they claim the benefits of its hallowed influences, so will they preserve and maintain it. To these ends the proposed monument will exercise a powerful influence. Paltry, in comparison with our ability, as will be the cost, its value will consist in its consecration of a great principle, the divine right of a people to redress their wrongs and achieve their liberty, and to establish such government as their circumstances may require, and they may be able to maintain."
The plan of the monument was intended to represent the "Thirteen States," by a shaft having thirteen sides or faces, one of which is to be appropriated to the devices which its respective State may deem proper to place upon it. This shaft or column is to be united by an entablature, upon which the Declaration of Independence shall be cut into the solid stone, and surmounted by a tower. The thirteen faces are to contain such inscriptions and emblazonings as each State shall direct, commemorative of some citizen or citizens of her own, who took part in the responsibility of that Declaration. Nearly all the States have taken some measures in regard to this National shrine, and have decided to assist in its erection. So that, in all probability, the work of its erection will commence at no distant day, and be prosecuted vigorously to completion.
Chapter 5 The Old State House Bell
Whoever has visited Independence Hall for the purpose of contemplating those relics of the past which are here preserved, and to muse on associations surrounding this holy shrine, must have felt an indescribable and irresistible reverence gently take possession of his meditations, while standing beside that greatest of all orators the world ever knew or heard — "the OLD STATE HOUSE BELL!" Its tongue is now still, and its voice is silent; its sides look dark and heavy, and a perceptible corrosion is indicated by chemical action of the atmosphere on its surface—but the peals it thundered over the land on the Fourth of July, 1776, ring with as much potency—excite as deep patriotism—awaken as strong emotions—fill the soul with as fervent love of country—inspire as holy sentiments—and thrill with as warm a glow the children of those noble patriots whose deeds gave direction to its voice, as when it proclaimed "Liberty throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof!"
Its vibrations still reverberate through the room in which it is placed—the air is yet tremulous with its echoes; although the hand that rung it on that memorable occasion is stiff in the icy embrace of death—the gray-headed patriot who anxiously awaited with trembling hope in the belfry the signing of that Declaration, whose ejaculations—"They'll never do it! They'll never do it!" whose eyes dilated, whose form expanded, and whose grasp grew firmer when the voice of the blue-eyed youth reached his ears in shouts of triumph—" Ring! RING! they have signed, and our country is free!" has been long since gathered to his fathers—the events of that day will commemorate his honor to all coming time. No patriot can look upon this bell without recalling the circumstances connected with its first proclamation to the world, that the United Colonies were "free and independent States." No patriot can fail to recall to his memory the effect which that announcement produced on the anxious multitude below.
To some, it gave the first thrill of enthusiastic resistance to despotic power—to some it was a harbinger of joy—to others it imparted strength in the hour of gloom—to others again, it was a messenger of evil, causing them to sneak away, muttering as they did so—"Well, we are in a pretty mess of trouble now!" But the same patriot, passing over the history of five years, will also remember in connection with these facts, that on the 23d of October, 1781, in the boding hour of night, a very different proclamation was heard in the same vicinity: "Past twelve o'clock, and Cornwallis is taken!" Then might be seen mothers, and daughters, and sisters, and brothers, hastening to the windows, in dreamy abstractions of delight, joyfully exclaiming, "Who is taken?" while the watchman plodded on his way, shouting continually, "Why, Cornwallis! he was taken by Washington and Lafayette, at Yorktown, Va.! Past 12 o'clock, and Cornwallis is taken!" The bells rung out the glad tidings; the city was illuminated, and jubilant shouts gave evidence of unbounded joy. The "pretty mess of trouble" which the sound of the " Old State House Bell" had plunged the people into, had been successfully overcome, the barque had safely weathered the storm, the invincibility of despotism was broken, the Colonies were free.
The remainder of that night the eyes of the people were sleepless; friend congratulated friend, and united prayers of gratefulness ascended to the throne of the God of battles. Who would not, then, have been on the side of liberty? Who did not then feel that the cause of those struggling patriots was good? There were none to say, " We are in a pretty mess of trouble now." No! the sword of the tyrant was broken, and freedom stood a towering prodigy before the eyes of an astonished world! History has, however, preserved less of the incidents connected with this bell than the citizens of the country desire—the only importance attached to it having been created in consequence of the purposes to which it was applied during the revolutionary struggles of our ancestors, and the prophetic inscription it contained.
After the completion of the State House in 1734, measures were set on foot to secure means and funds sufficient to place in the dome a bell appropriate for the building. As they had already supplied a great public necessity, by placing a clock in the west end—not in the steeple, as Harper's Magazine represents it—many influential citizens opposed the measure, on the ground of extravagance, arguing that the "great cost of the State House had imposed a heavy tax upon the citizens, and further expenditure was useless." The better judgment of the people, however, after several years, prevailed, and it was decided to have a bell. But another great and discouraging difficulty met the speedy accomplishment of their purposes. There had been but little molding and casting effected in the Colonies, in consequence of the home government monopolizing almost exclusively every department of manufacturing, thereby subjecting their subjects in the New World to depend upon the mills, looms, and furnaces of England for a supply of such articles as Parliament might think proper for them to have.
It became necessary, therefore, to submit to the inconvenience, trouble, and delay, of sending to London for a bell. This was done. The size, peculiar shape, weight,* motto, and thickness, were accurately mentioned, as directions for casting it, and the order was sent in the latter part of the year 1750. About a year would elapse before they could reasonably expect the bell to reach this country. It came at last, in l752, and before it was landed from the ship, hundreds of citizens repaired to the vessel to examine it, and congratulate the city on its safe arrival.
*The weight of the bell was 2030 pounds.
The tone was clear, distinct and forcible, well calculated to inspire feelings of pride in those enterprising citizens, who had been chiefly instrumental in procuring it. But their high anticipations were doomed to meet a sad disappointment. A day or two after its arrival, while removing it from the vessel to the place for which it was intended, it met with an accident, by which its tones were rendered discordant, the beauty of its appearance mutilated, and its uses almost destroyed. In fact, the bell had to be recast, and it was decided that an experiment should be made in the city. Accordingly the task was assigned to Messrs. Pass & Stow, who were to perform the operation, under the superintendence of Isaac Norris, Esq., Speaker of the Colonial Assembly. To that gentleman is ascribed the honor of having originally suggested the motto, "Proclaim Liberty throughout the land, and to all the inhabitants thereof," which the bell contains, and which proved so prophetic of its future use.
In regard to the new bell cast by Messrs. " Pass & Stow," Mr. Norris remarked that—"they have made a good bell, which pleases me much that we should first venture upon and succeed in the greatest bell, for aught I know, in English America—surpassing, too, the imported one, which was too high and brittle." No doubt such were the facts, especially in reference to the last part of Mr. Norris's remarks, and in that respect, also, the bell was significantly emblematical. Efforts were made to restore the bell to its original sound by boring holes into it, but the attempt proved unavailing.
Such is the brief history of the origin of the "Old State House Bell ;" and it is to be regretted that no more definite reminiscences connected with it have been preserved. During the struggle for that Independence and Freedom which was proclaimed by this bell, while the British threatened to take and occupy Philadelphia, this bell, together with that belonging to Christ Church, was taken down, and conveyed to the river, near Trenton, where they were buried in the water, in order to prevent them from falling into the hands of their enemies. In this condition they remained from 1777 to the close of the American Revolution, when they were brought back to the city, and placed in their former situations. The bell was always an object of great admiration, and attracted thousands from every part of the Union to see it. But little attention, however, was manifested by the authorities of the city, into whose hands has since been assigned the preservation of this holy place, in keeping the relics in good order, until 1854, when that body ordered the Hall of Independence to be fitted up in a style commensurate with the impressive character and associations connected with it. This bell was, therefore, placed upon a pedestal having thirteen aides, representing the number of States that confederated for the accomplishment of Freedom, with the American Flag gracefully folded above and around it. A spread Eagle sits upon the bell, holding in its beak the E Pluribus Unim of the land, and in its talons the emblem of our greatness and invincibility; while its piercing eye penetrates the surrounding era in patriotic watchfulness of our country's interests. Who can gaze upon that proud bird, and not feel that he is our country's symbolic guardian?
As a relic of the past, the '' Old State House Bell" must ever remain a hallowed memento. He whose heart thrills with emotions of patriotism must forever regard it as the first messenger that declared the emancipation of the Colonies from oppression, and that every successful blow struck in the cause of Freedom, was inspired by the sound of that Old Bell. May the time never come when American freemen shall forget to venerate it, and shield it with their life-blood, if needs be, from destruction and dishonor.
Chapter 6 Washington's Statue.
Calmly, as if gazing upon the pictures which surround the walls of Independence Hall, or watching the varied emotions of those who come to pay tributes of respect to this consecrated shrine, stands the statue of George Washington. The sweet serenity resting upon his face, interpolated here and there with lines of intense thought; the mild depths of his dreamy eyes, in their immovable sockets; the tranquil smile playing about his mouth, and the impress of reverence everywhere discoverable on his countenance, speak in irresistible language the character of the man. Bold, and yet affable; stern, yet tempered with humanity; meek, but sensitive to patriotic influences; frank and unconcealing, yet indicating a decision of purpose, there stands the "Father of his Country," pictured in sculptured immortality, every lineament of his noble nature glowing with patriotism, and throwing a halo of glory over his form. In his presence, before this piece of inanimate sculpture, lives over again the entire history of the country; our feelings become intensified, for heroes of the past century seem to be looking down upon us. More sublime in moral grandeur than the Colossus of Rhodes; more chaste and awe-inspiring than the Belvidere Apollo, the figure of Washington is encircled with the radiance illuminating the history of his own greatness. Independence Hall would never have been complete without this statue. Its associations would not have been half so inspiring, nor the interest attached to it half so great, had not the likeness or statue of its founder been placed among its holy archives. In more than one respect, Washington was a singular man; and perhaps this is the most appropriate place, in the scope of our work, to sketch a brief biography of him.
It is no easy task to measure the influences of Washington's life upon the people of this country—it was great in his own day, and is greater now. Whether as Chief Magistrate of the Nation, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army, or in the various councils, to which he was constantly called, we find him ever the same true, efficient, noble, and great man! He filled his post, whatever it was. Possessed of remarkable natural abilities, of rare insight into the characters of men, grasping the genius and philosophy of life, its events and purposes, his judgment never failed to be that of wisdom. He was wise, energetic, and thorough. As the first President of the Nation, he was the best. In fact, to whom, all things considered, shall we look for an equal in his successors, good and great men as some of them have been? He was the people's magistrate—no partisan, but an American President of the American people.
All the views of Washington were carefully weighed and considered before he gave utterance to them; and therefore, in this particular instance, he was a model for all statesmen, warriors, and patriots. Typical of all that is great and good in man, he stands forth in his own sublime majesty—the pride of an admiring nation. Few men there are of any kind, and still fewer of those whom the world calls great, who have not some of their virtues eclipsed by corresponding vices. But in the particular instance of General Washington, this was not the case. In all his public acts he made the most reverential allusions to Providence, and in his private character he exhibited religious humility in an eminent degree. His equanimity was unparalleled. One even tenor marked the greatness of his mind, in all the varied scenes through which he passed—in the most trying situations he never despaired, nor was he ever depressed. He was the same when retreating through New Jersey before a victorious enemy, with the remains of his broken army, as when marching in triumph into Yorktown over its demolished fortifications. In his character we have a man as nearly perfect as finite beings can become in this world of change and dissolution, and the whole range of history does not present an individual on whose career through life we can dwell with such unmixed admiration. So happily blended were his qualities, and so finely were they harmonized, that the result gave to the world a man, who,
In every acceptation of the term, George Washington was a patriot, a hero, and a man. And while we stand before this inarticulate representative of one who is worthy to be designated the "Father of his Country," feelings of profound reverence irresistibly come over us. In imagination we can recall every incident connected with his eventful life; because it is the privilege of great men—those men who shape the destinies of the world, and leave a name conspicuous for praise or execration—to place their impress upon all things they may touch. The places where such men have triumphed, suffered, or even for a time resided, are imbued with an interest which no lapse of time can obliterate. Who could stand in the long gallery of the old palace of Blois, where the great Duke of Guise was set upon and assassinated by the guards of Henry III., and not represent to himself that fierce tragedy which was there enacted so long ago? Who could fail to see with the mind's eye, almost as vividly as with the veritable retina, the great captive wrestling with his murderers—the contortions of his powerful frame, as he felt himself mastered and overcome—the heavy fall as the poniards pierced his breast—and the, noble face, pale and dabbled with blood, upon which the false Henry gazed even then with scarcely subdued terror? The blood is still there, we are told, as the blood of Rizzio still stains the floor of Mary's room, in Holyrood—and that blood rouses for the beholder, from their long sleep, all the fierce passions of the actors in the terrible scenes which were there played by those real-life tragedians.
But an interest as great attaches to the places where men who have ruled the world as captains, statesmen, or writers resided. We trace, or seem to trace those influences in their early surroundings, in the books they read, the men with whom they were accustomed to associate; in the very landscapes upon which they were wont to gaze; and even if only a small portion of their lives was passed in a place, if they were temporary visitors there, still the all-embracing imagination takes delight in restoring the great figure to the landscape, and in framing, in the bright, golden past, the noble lineaments of his face. Sentiments not dissimilar in character inspire us on visiting every place where Washington has been. But nowhere do they so thrill and affect the senses as in this sanctuary, dedicated as it is to the relics and inspirations of the past. Here we remember was played the first act of that grand and wonderful drama which attracted to itself the eyes of the whole world—and here we can gaze upon the heroes who represented the personale of that eventful period. We can here almost see the boy of sixteen, with his open, noble face, his curling hair, his long waistcoat, hanging cuffs, cocked hat, and ruffles, mounted on his good riding steed, and fording the Shenandoah, as he did in his youthful days, when on hunting or surveying expeditions. By a single effort of the imagination, all the incidents connected with him are called into activity; and from the time of his expedition to the West and Braddock's defeat, history begins to busy itself with WASHINGTON. But history has never told half of the incidents of his life.
Here, in this Hall, we see the image of that great man—a most venerable and eloquent relic of the past! What American standing before it, and tracing with a glance the boundaries of Washington's active labors, but feels in his heart the tumultuous surge of thought sweeping from the heroic past to the prosaic present, and washing away all images and objects, except that single lordly form! I have stood here at evening, when the red sun-set of the west cast its faint and thoughtful rays on the trees in Independence Square, and have felt as though the spirit of the past touched me with its magic wand, and caused to rise up and defile in a long, glittering- line, before me, all the stalwart figures which illustrated and made glorious those old heroic times, so filled with grandeur, self-denial, and self-sacrificing, patriotic devotion. And among that glittering throng I have seen one figure rise pre-eminent above its companions, first in war, as first in peace—equal to every emergency! What a vast genius! What a splendid, unparalleled career! The mind is lost in wonder when contemplating that man and his great life, so brimful of vicissitudes and triumphs!
It may, perhaps, be venturing too much to say that the American Colonies would have failed to achieve their independence under other leaders than those which Providence fitted and prepared for the occasion; but we firmly believe that GEORGE WASHINGTON was the only man who could have conducted the Revolution to as grand and glorious an issue in so short a period, and with so inconsiderable a loss, when the virulence of the contest is taken into consideration. On this point in the character of Washington, some one, unknown to me, has truthfully remarked: "To a thinking mind, the Providence of God here lies everywhere potent and manifest to the most careless eye. Early wanderings in the rugged wilds of the Alleghenies—the crossing deep rivers on rafts—the exposure to heat and cold, wind and rain—was not the hardness thus acquired of signal advantage to the chief when in that glorious retreat through New Jersey, the elements seemed to fight against him and his poor barefooted soldiers!
That long agony at Winchester, with the whole frontier calling to him for assistance—assistance against the dreadful foe who murdered all they met, men, women and children—was not that anguish, that awful responsibility, sent by Providence to harden the commander who was to guide the destiny of America—to assume, as the heart and brain of the Revolution, the weight of our almost desperate fortunes? It was Providence which shaped that lordly character, perfected that vast strength for a definite end; which gave to the man George Washington the indomitable soul, the sleepless energy, which were indispensable in the leader of the American Revolution. What other man in all that eminent throng, but would have 'despaired of the Republic.' He never despaired; but went straight on like destiny—a marvel to his friends and associates, a terror to his foes—and with stern, impassive calmness bore all, complained of nothing, and finally saw dawn and rise in meridian brightness that glorious triumph, which his splendid genius shaped and made so perfect."
Such was the career of that great man, before whose statue in Independence Hall—placed there by Mr. Rush—the sensitive mind loves to ponder. And was he not, in truth, a great genius? was not his a wonderful, gigantic life—a career hitherto unheard of, and never since equaled?—a pattern of self-sacrificing patriotism and personal dignity worthy of emulation by all? Young, patriotic Americans, go imitate his example, and our country can never be endangered.
Chapter 7 Alexander Hamilton
In tracing our brief biography of GEORGE WASHINGTON in the preceding chapter, we necessarily touched upon a subject requiring an historical portraiture of one who, it seems to us, was but another Washington in the struggle for freedom. And more particularly is this necessary — because Alexander Hamilton fought side by side, and suffered the privations incident to that memorable struggle, with him; and now, in old Independence Hall, placed almost side by side, hang the two portraits of these great and noble men. And while we stand near him, and gaze upon his living picture, our minds immediately revert back to the period when he, in company with the Commander-in-Chief of the American army, led the distracted and forlorn soldiers from post to post to defend the land against depredations of the enemy; and we are led involuntarily to exclaim that next to Washington, no name shines more conspicuously than that of ALEXANDER HAMILTON. The Island of Nevis, one of the most beautiful of the West Indies, had the honor of being his birth-place, which circumstance occurred on the 11th of January, 1757. He was a lineal descendant of the noble Huguenots, his father being a Scotchman, his mother a French lady. In the original source of his blood, this happy blending of contrasted elements created a sagacious character, and invested him with great decision of purpose and execution. Like most men who are destined to become truly great, young Hamilton was early left to buffet adverse storms, and in the midst of difficulties to become the architect of his own fortunes. He was taken to Santa Cruz by some friends of his mother, where the foundation of his youthful education was first laid. In a very brief period he became sufficiently acquainted with the French language to speak and write it fluently, and the Decalogue he learned to repeat in Hebrew, in a short time, at the school of a Jewess. His education at that early age was conducted chiefly under the supervision of a Dr. Knox, a clergyman of the Presbyterian persuasion.
In 1769 he was placed. in the counting-house of Mr. Nicholas Cruger, a wealthy and highly respectable citizen of Santa Cruz. Before he was thirteen years old, he wrote the following to a young friend at school: "I contemn the groveling condition as a clerk, to which my fortune condemns me, and would willingly risk my life, though not my character, to exalt my station; I mean to prepare the way for futurity." In this paragraph gleams the true fire of a noble youth, an ardent love of fame and the strongest attachment to untarnished integrity, guarantees of splendid success, which, in this instance, was never disproved by facts. While he was in Mr. Cruger's employ, every hour he could appropriate to himself was devoted to the study of mathematics, ethics, chemistry, biography, and knowledge of every kind. Even at that early moment some of his compositions were published, and they attracted such universal attention that some of his friends determined to send him to New York, where they apprehended better advantages would be afforded to the development of his intellectual ambition. He arrived in this country in October, 1772, and was placed in a grammar-school in New Jersey, under the instruction of Francis Barber of Elizabethtown, who afterward became a distinguished officer in the American service. Young Hamilton entered King's (now Columbia) College, at the close of 1773 where, his biographer says, he, "soon displayed extraordinary genius and energy of mind."
He was no ordinary genius, and his aptitude for acquiring knowledge was unprecedented. In December, 1774, and February, 1775, he wrote, anonymously, several elaborate pamphlets in favor of the pacific measures of defense recommended by Congress. At that early day he suggested the policy of giving encouragement to domestic manufactures, as a sure means of lessening external commerce. He insisted upon our inalienable right to the steady, uniform, unshaken security of constitutional freedom—to the enjoyment of trial by jury—and the right of freedom from taxation, except by our own immediate representatives, and that colonial legislation was an inherent right, never to be abandoned or impaired. In this pamphlet-controversy young Hamilton encountered Dr. Cooper, who was then principal of the College and many of the most distinguished tories of the land. When the authorship of the youthful champion was proclaimed, all classes were astonished to learn such profound principles and wise policy from so young an oracle. By his extraordinary writings and patriotic influences he early deserved and received the appellation of the "Vindicator of Congress."
At length the difficulties which had threatened the Colonies with war between them and the mother country, broke out in furious hostility, and the struggle for emancipation from British domination had commenced in good earnest. The letter which announced the battle of Lexington, concluded with these solemn words, "The crimson fountain has opened, and God only knows when it will be closed." Young Hamilton organized a military corps, mostly of students, who practiced their daily drill in the morning before the commencement of their college studies. They assumed the name of "Hearts of Oak," and wore a green uniform, surmounted by a leathern cap, on which was inscribed "Freedom or Death." Early and late our young hero was actively engaged, not only in promoting measures of resistance, but in mastering the science of political economy, the laws of commerce; the balance of trade and the circulating medium; so that when these topics became permanent matters of speculation, in the light of new organizations for the general good, no one was more prompt and lucid in his demonstrations than Hamilton.
He abandoned academic retirement and entered the army as Captain of a provincial company of artillery in March, 1776, and in this capacity he brought up the rear of the army in the retreat from Long Island. He was in the action of White Plains on the 28th of October, 1776, and with his company of artillery was firm and heroical in the retreat through New Jersey, on which occasion he repelled the progress of the British troops on the banks of the Raritan He fought at the head of his brave company at Trenton and Princeton, and continued in the same command until the first of March, 1777, when, having attracted the attention of WASHINGTON, he was appointed his aid-de-camp, with the rank of Colonel. From that time until February, 1781, he continued the inseparable companion of the Commander-in-Chief, and was always consulted by him, and by all the leading functionaries, on the most important occasions. He acted as his first aid at the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth; and at his own request, at the. siege of Yorktown, he led the detachment which carried by assault one of the strongest outposts of the foe.
In consequence of the many fine qualities which were combined in him, young Hamilton became universally esteemed. He was especially useful to George Washington, and that great man declared he was "his principal and most confidential aid." His accurate and comprehensive knowledge of military science placed him in the first rank of tacticians; his courteous manner rendered his general intercourse with the army a delight to all; his familiarity with the French language won the especial attachment of all the French division of the army, making him the constant favorite in particular of the Marquis Lafayette and the Baron Steuben. Never, perhaps, in the history of nations, was a youth of twenty called to such important honors and responsibilities as those which Hamilton at that early age was called to assume as the private secretary and confidential friend of General Washington. On none did the arm of that great man lean more habitually for support, than on this erudite and patriotic youth, and by no other earthly power was he more fortified than by him. He was equally at home in the forum or with the pen; always perspicuous and logical. Hi first political speech delivered to a popular assembly was delivered at the "great meeting in the fields," as it was called, and was occasioned by a call to choose delegates to the first Congress, in which he insisted on the duty of resistance, pointed out the means and certainty of success, and described the waves of rebellion sparkling with fire, and washing back on the shores of England the wrecks of her power, her wealth, and her glory. We can do no better than to embody here the subjoined excerpt of his history, as written by a distinguished author, the Rev. E. L. Magoon.
"In December, 1780, Hamilton married the second daughter of Major General Schuyler, and in the February following, he retired from the family of General Washington, to become more completely absorbed in forensic toil. He took his seat in Congress in November, 1782, and continued there until the autumn of 1783. The legislators of that body had many difficult and exhausting duties to perform. Army discontents were to be -appeased; complicated claims to be-settled; and if possible, the half-pay of innumerable patriots to be obtained. Hamilton renounced his own demands, accruing from long martial service, that he might freely plead the cause of his brethren in arms. On the 6th of December, 1782, he moved and carried an important resolution on national finance; the beginning of his invaluable labors in behalf of an improved revenue; the sinking fund and assumption of the State debts; a currency well defined and the establishment of a national coinage. Immediately after Hamilton entered Congress all its proceedings assumed a more vigorous tone and exalted character. Grievances were redressed and effective measures of general interest were promptly passed. His report in answer to Rhode Island, and many other documents and speeches in behalf of a more solid and effective union, gave a new and more cheering aspect to the whole face of public affairs. His influence in guiding the terms of peace was very great, and especially was he efficient in rendering the fruits of peace in the highest degree profitable to all classes of his countrymen.''
In reviewing the life of Hamilton as a statesman, it should be remarked that he was fully equal to the highest stations he occupied,. and that he honored them all. In this respect he resembled Edmund Burke. Owing nothing of his elevation to birth, opulence, or official rank, he acquired none of those adventitious supports to rise and move at ease, and with instinctive power, in the highest regions of public effort, dignity, and renown; the atmosphere of Courts and Senates was native to his majesty of wing. There was no fear that his plumage would give way in either the storm or the sunshine; those are the casualties of inferior powers. He had his share of both the tempest and that still more perilous trial which has melted down the virtue of so many aspiring spirits favor of cabinets. But he grew purer and more powerful for good; to his latest moment he continually rose more and more above the influence of party, until at last the politician was elevated into the philosopher; and fixing himself in that loftier region, from which he looked down on the cloudy and turbulent contests of the time, he soared upward calmly in the light of truth, and became more splendid at every wave of his wing.
Brougham thinks justly that Chatham's highest encomium rests on the fact that, "Far superior to the paltry objects of a groveling ambition, and regardless alike of party and personal considerations, he constantly set before his eyes the highest duty of a public man, to further the interests of his species. In pursuing his course toward that goal, he disregarded alike the frowns of power and the gales of popular applause, exposed himself undaunted to the vengeance of the Court, battled against its corruptions, and confronted, unappalled, the rudest shock of public indignation." That Hamilton actually pursued such a course as this, and was governed by such principles, is well known from contemporaneous history, and especially from his own pen, in the opening language of the "Federalist." "An enlightened zeal," he observes, "for the energy and efficiency of government, will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of power and hostile to the principles of liberty. The consciousness of good intentions disdains ambiguity. I shall not, however, multiply professions on this head. My motives must remain in the depository of my own breast; my arguments will be open to all, and may be judged by all. They shall at least be offered in a spirit which will not disgrace the cause of truth."
But by ingenuous and honest minds his integrity was never suspected. His moral worth was of an exalted character, and his varied services in. behalf of his country and the human race can never be rated too high. To him with the strictest propriety may be applied what Mr. Burrows said of Grattan: "His name silenced the skeptic upon the reality of genuine patriotism. To doubt the purity of his motives was a heresy which no tongue dared to utter; envy was lost in admiration; and even they whose crimes he scourged, blended extorted praises with the murmurs of resentment. He covered our then unfledged Constitution with the ample wings of his talents, as the eagle covers her young; like her he soared, and like her he could behold the rays, whether of royal favor or of royal anger, with undazzled, unintirnidated eye."
To speak well and to write well are intellectual accomplishments everywhere considered of the highest order, and in Hamilton the combination of these rare excellencies was strikingly exemplified. Like the renowned Surrey, he was the most accomplished knight and scholar of his day.
In the hall, the camp, and the forum, Hamilton was always employed in
teaching the loftiest sentiments of patriotism and in executing the most
generous deeds. When a Whig student in college, he secured the Tory president's
safety at the risk of his own, even while the stubborn object of undeserved
kindness cried out to the mob, "Don't listen to him, gentle men! He is
crazy! he is crazy!" And in all his subsequent career, we "find him thus
fighting the cause of reason against popular passion, of the right against
the expedient, and that too with the uniform and very natural reward of
having his acts misconstrued, his motives misunderstood, his language misinterpreted,
and himself held up, if not to public, at least to party odium, as a citizen
without patriotism; an adopted, but not a filial son of America; branded
as a royalist, because he wrested from the law its .sword of vengeance
against the tories; as an Englishman, because he would not hate the ancestral
land against which he was yet willing to shed his blood; as a monarchist,
because he loved not revolutionary France; as an enemy to the people, because
he would save them from their own mad passions; and as a Cæsar in
ambition, because he gave up his heart to his public duties, and ever labored
in them as men do in that which they love. But popular fickleness and political
rancor never moved him from his chosen and conscientious path. The motto
that in the main governed his whole life was, first, truth and honor, then
the popular will."
In 1795, at the age of thirty-eight, Hamilton resumed the practice of law in the city of New York, where he continued in active professional pursuits until the close of life. His personal appearance at that time is represented as follows: He was under the middle size, thin in person, but remarkably erect and dignified in his deportment. His hair was turned back from his forehead, powdered, and collected in a queue behind. His complexion was exceedingly fair, and varying from this only by the delicate rosiness of his cheeks. In form and tint his face was considered uncommonly handsome. When in repose, it bore a severe and thoughtful expression; but when engaged in conversation, it immediately assumed an attractive smile. His ordinary costume was a blue coat with bright buttons, the skirts being unusually long; he wore a white waistcoat, black silk small-clothes, and white silk stockings. His appearance and deportment accorded with the exalted distinction which, by his stupendous public services, he had attained. His voice was engagingly pleasant, and his whole mien commanded the respect due to a master mind. His natural frankness inspired the most affectionate attachment; and his splendid talents, as is usual, elicited the firmest and the most furious hate.
By nature Hamilton was a moralist and metaphysician. The axioms of political sagacity and the profusion of pointed and perspicuous reflections which flowed from his pen, as well as spoken from his lips, gave an enduring value to his works His great endowments of disciplined thought and energetic will imparted to his hastiest composition elaborate force and the grace of perfection. He could do that by intuition and a single blow which ordinary statesmen would require months to ponder and execute. Bold in his propositions, he was inexorable in his conclusions; grant him his premises, and the result was inevitable as fate. He did not fatigue himself with profuse skirmishes nor bewilder his mind in the labyrinth of a formal exordium; but like an arrow impelled by a vigorous bow, he shot directly to the mark. One of the most enlightened critics of modern times has pronounced a worthy eulogium on him as the most eminent framer, most eloquent defender, and soundest expositor of the American Constitution. "Hamilton," says Guizot, in his late work on the character of Washington, "must be classed among the men who have best known the vital principles and the fundamental conditions of a government; not of a government such as this (France), but of a government worthy of its mission and of its name. There is not in the Constitution of the United States an element of order, of force, or of duration, which he has not powerfully contributed to introduce into it and caused to predominate."
Hamilton was the great master of the human heart. Deeply versed in its feelings and motives, he "struck by a word, and it quivered beneath the blow; flashed the lightning glance of burning, thrilling, animated eloquence," and its hopes and its fears were moulded to his wish. He was the vivid impersonation of political sagacity. His imagination and practical judgment, like two fleet coursers, ran neck-and-neck to the very goal of triumph. Military eloquence of the highest grade had its birth with liberty in the American Revolution. But the majority of our heroes were not adepts in literature. They could conquer tyrants more skillfully than they could harangue them. To this rule, however, Hamilton was a distinguished exception. He was the most sagacious and laborious of our revolutionary orators. He anticipated time and interrogated history with equal ease and ardor. He explored the archives of his own land, and drew from foreign courts the quintessence of their ministerial wisdom. He illuminated the councils where Washington presided, and with him guarded our youthful nation with the eyes of a lynx and the talons of a vulture. But we should give especial attention to Hamilton as a writer. Through the pen he wrought more extensively on the popular mind, perhaps, than by all the impressiveness of his living eloquence. He well understood the utility of this mighty engine for weal or woe. The ancient orators and writers, slowly transcribing their words on parchment, breathed in their little pipes a melody for narrow circles; but Fame gives to modern thought the magnificent trumpet of the press, whose perpetual voice speaks simultaneously to delighted millions at the remotest points.
It is of vast advantage to a nation that men of the most elevated positions in civil affairs should take a part in its literature, and thus, with their pen as well as by their patronage, foster its development and perfection. Æschylus, the oldest of the great tragedians of Greece, was himself a soldier, and fought with heroism in many of the glorious battles of his country, one of which furnished the theme of his most celebrated-work. Herodotus was born only a few years before the great conflict with Xerxes; and Xenophon participated prominently in the remarkable military achievements he has commemorated. The profoundest scholars, acutest poets, most masculine heroes, the best writers and most sagacious statesmen, are always polished into enduring elegance, and fortified with the best strength amid the stern realities of public life.
Such was Alexander Hamilton. He was the indefatigable soldier of the press, the pen, and the army; in each field he carried a sword which, like the one borne by the angel at the gate of Paradise, flashed its guardian care on every hand. In martial affairs he was an adept, in literary excellence he was unexcelled, and in political discernment he was universally acknowledged to be superior among the great. We read his writings with ever-increasing zest, fascinated by the seductive charm of his style, and impelled by the opening splendors of his far-reaching and comprehensive thoughts. They accumulate with a beautiful symmetry, and emanate legitimately from his theme. They expand and grow, as an acorn rises into an oak, of which all the branches shoot out of the same trunk, nourished in every part by the same sap, and form a perfect unit, amid all the diversified tints of the foliage and the infinite complexity of the boughs. "That writer would deserve the fame of a public benefactor," said Fisher Ames, "who could exhibit the character of Hamilton with the truth and force that all who intimately knew him conceived it; his example would then take the same ascendant as his talents."
The portrait alone, however exquisitely finished, could not inspire genius where it is not; but if the world should again have possession of so rare a gift, it might awaken it where it sleeps, as by a spark from heaven's own altar; for surely if there is any thing like divinity in man, it is his admiration for virtue. "The country deeply laments when it turns its eyes back and sees what Hamilton was; but my soul stiffens with despair," continues Ames, "when I think what. Hamilton would have been. It is not as Apollo, enchanting the shepherds with his lyre, that we deplore him; it is as Hercules, treacherously slain in the midst of his unfinished labors, leaving the world overrun with monsters."
It is unnecessary to dwell on the unrighteous and fatal event which robbed Hamilton of life—the duel with Aaron Burr at Hoboken, when
In Independence Hall, by the side of the portrait of George Washington, therefore, is the most appropriate place for the portrait of Alexander Hamilton. Few can look upon it without realizing the fact that his history is inseparable with the history of our country—in fact, is a brilliant portion of it. Let all look upon it with reverence, and feel constrained to imitate his example.
Chapter 8 Convention of 1776
IN the annals of our country's progress from colonial dependence to its present greatness, perhaps there is no epoch that is regarded with deeper and more profound veneration than that era embraced within the narrow limits of one single month preceding the 4th of July, 1776. Public sentiment had long been maturing for decisive action against the encroachments and aggressions of despotic Europe–the people were ripe for open rebellion, and fully determined to put their resolves into practical execution. Wherever the foot of oppression had previously left its sad imprint throughout the land, a corresponding spirit of resistance became aroused. In the cities and villages, towns and hamlets; on the mountains, in the valleys, upon the hillsides, and in the vales—wherever the hut of the hardy pioneer sent its smoke curling upward through the interlacing branches of forests, on the circumambient blue of heaven, there beat hearts as warm and noble, as true and fearless, and as restive for the approaching period when their chains of bondage should be severed, as in the seaboard cities, where despotic exactions were most injuriously experienced. A feeling of outraged dignity prompted to chivalric action–a spirit of patriotic daring to deeds of fame.
Acting under that sense of resistance excited by the stern and steady impositions of the home government, every exalted motive of a jealous people became an incentive of noble action. Town meetings assembled in every part of the land; enthusiastic and eloquent addresses, fresh and gushing from the hearts sensitively alive to patriotic duty, were made; uncompromising resolutions were passed, and measures of self-protection adopted. In those primary assemblages were exhibited deep and abiding devotion to honorable administration of government–a willingness to abide all reasonable forms of law and requirements from the mother country; but a pertinacious opposition to all attempts of arbitrary coercion. They were willing to yield obedience so long as that obedience would not compromit their rights as freeman—but when the sanctuary of their freedom was invaded—when the lion sought to ravage their homes—then was a sterner spirit evoked, and more energetic measures commenced. Delegates from each State were chosen to meet in convention in this "Holy of Holies," this Temple of Freedom—Independence Hall—armed with authority to decide the matter for freedom or for bondage. The responsibility imposed upon those representatives of the people was indeed of no ordinary moment and importance. They felt that upon their shoulders rested the future prosperous and glorious condition of their country, or its ultimate enslavement and ruin. But they were equal for the occasion, and willing to abide the consequences of their action.
The appointed day for the assembling of that great body of heroes in Philadelphia arrived: prayers for God's providence and wisdom to watch over and guide their deliberations went up like sweet-smelling incense from the altar of every patriot's heart. Feelings of tremulous joy and boding apprehension alternately took possession of the people, similar to those which excite a child on contemplating the first act of resistance to parental authority. The day dawned calm and beautiful; the trees appeared hung with pearls for the occasion, as the early dew-drops glistened like diamonds among the foliage. Not a cloud flecked the sky to dim the full unintercepted rays of the King of Day—not a single streak of sombre haze curtained the horizon; all was bright, cheerful, and augured significantly for the cause of freedom and human rights. One by one those brave-hearted men assembled in Independence Hall—silently, one by one had met, and the subjects upon which it was to deliberate were the most stupendous in their issues and results, of which this earth has ever been the theatre or the witness! A nation's liberty or a nation's bondage, a nation's birth or a nation's death, were some of the mighty interests that were suspended in the scales of destiny. The life, the liberty, the prosperity, the reputation—aye, more, the safety of the household gods that clustered around the hearthstone at home, of each individual member of that heroic convocation, were all, all staked "upon the hazard of a die!"
Some one has compared this more than Amphictyonic council to that "immortal assembly, which convened in the counsels of eternity, whose presiding office was Him, 'who sitteth upon the circles of the heavens,' and whose delegates were angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, in which the great question of apostate man's redemption and salvation was discussed, and resolved upon." The representatives of thirteen weak and sparsedly-peopled colonies just struggling into existence, were, one by one, subscribing their names to a massive parchment, upon which they had set forth their declaration of principles—the Magna Charta of human rights. The eyes of the old world were intently fixed upon the star of hope, which was slowly rising above the horizon of the new.
And as that star which rose in Bethlehem eighteen centuries ago, and took its solitary flight through the heavens, until it shone over against the place where lay the infant Saviour, in his lowly manger, proclaimed the glad tidings of man's salvation; which were caught up by the angelic choir of the sky, and called forth symphonies of the most exquisite harmony from the golden harps of cherubim and seraphim—so this star beamed forth the signal-light to warn mankind of his civil and political redemption, and to announce the great truth that the sacred title-deed, which had been sealed by the hand of God upon creation's morn, and which was written in the royal and kingly birthright, that "all men are born free and equal," which had been buried in the urn of ages, and upon which the dust of cycles of years had gathered, was again found, and had become the political creed and text-book of the world. Far far away across the dark waters of the Atlantic, the longing gaze of the down-trodden serf was rivetted upon the bright rays of this great luminary of freedom, and his chains felt softer, his pulse beat higher, and his heart grew lighter, for with prophetic spirit he beheld the day not far distant, when its fervent heat would melt the manacles from his limbs, crowns from the head of despots, and thrones from under the imperious footsteps of royalty.
But it is sad to reflect that, one by one those gallant pearls have ceased to beat—one by one those strong arms have fed the worm—one by one those eagle-eyes have lost their light—one by one those matchless forms have been gathered into their narrow houses and the long sleep of death. Yet the spirits of those mighty heroes are abroad in the land prompting the sons of freedom to emulation and virtue. They are still with us, having claimed respite from that relentless monster, to enact over again their former labors in Independence Hall. Yes, we almost see their majestic forms rising from their long repose, clothed not in the habiliments of the tomb, but in the robes of immortality. The whole land is sensible of their presence—
Eighty years have glided into the eternity of the past since those great men lived and walked upon the earth! It is true, the same sun still rides in majesty and glory through the cloudless sky that shone upon their life and death councils in Independence Hall—but what a change! It is true, the same mighty ocean that bore so proudly and so safely the fleets of an angry country, still rolls on, thundering its anthems of praise to the great "I AM," without change and without a wrinkle upon its azure brown. But that sun no longer shines upon a few straggling dwellings of three millions of people hugging the seacoast, and fenced in dark heavy forests and glittering tomahawks of the savage Indians. No—the forest have melted away, and flourishing cities have sprung up in their stead. The Red man has disappeared, leaving his hunting grounds behind, and the grave of his father unprotected; and the energetic husbandman now drives his plow through this consecrated soil, unconscious of the sacred ashes he is disturbing.
That sun no longer gilds our national flag containing thirteen stars and stripes—our banner is now emblazoned all over with a brilliant constellation of thirty-one ever glorious, ever radiant gems, and its ample folds floating proudly from its staff, cast their protecting shadows over an entire hemisphere, from the rosy chambers of the East, where the day is born, to the enamelled and gorgeously tinted bowers of the West, where his dying couch is spread. Such are the reflections which come over the sensitive mind on visiting the theatre of their sublime transactions. Their voices seem still to ring on our ears and their manly forms to stand before our eyes. Their portraits grace the walls where their deliberations were held, and give additional intensity to the holy inspirations of the place. Upon the scenes where such heroes labored, suffered, or fell, the mind loves to ponder with thoughtful reflections. For here it learns to appreciate the value of those blessings which we enjoy, but which were purchased at a costly price by our heroic ancestors. Few can read or meditate on the story of our colonial struggles, and muse on the sublime transactions of the Convention of 1776, without feeling a deep reverence for their memory and exalted characters. Their names and their deeds will exist coequal in the eternity of gratitude which their descendants will ever retain as a boon and legacy.
Chapter 9 The Declaration Of Independence
There dawned on the 4th of July, 1776, an era signalised as the most remarkable of any that had occurred in the world's history. It was a period when the faint voice of Freedom first gave decided tone to the advancement of civilization, and the fetters of bondage were stricken from the oppressed--when the genius of man's redemption was made manifest in a declaration of principles comprehensive as the world--when the authority of Despotism received a stern and decisive check. The aged and inflexible spirits who had assembled in convention in "Independence Hall," whose deliberations and actions formed the theme of our preceding chapter, had instructed their committee to draft a "Declaration," absolving the United Colonies from allegiance o the Mother Government, and asserting their own rights and independence, That committee had reported the document on the 28th day of June, and its provisions had elicited the attention and discussion of the Convention from that day until the 4th of July. The aggressive measures which the British Ministry had imposed upon her subjects in America were calmly and earnestly acted upon--the commercial and business interests of the country were duly weighed--the fearful concomitants of a long and expensive military struggle were considered and properly estimated--and all the contingencies incident to a separate and distinctive nationality were calculated. The weighty importance of these vital questions had all been settled, and an expression of cool determination rested on the brows of those noble patriots. They were listening with earnest attention to the reading of the Declaration, by Secretary Charles Thompson, as amended, while scarcely a breath was audible except the voice of the Secretary. A holy calm pervaded the room, and the white-winged angel of peace came as a messenger from heaven to set God's approving signet upon their actions.
There sat John Hancock in the President's chair, stern and inflexible; Robert Morris, calm and calculating; Thomas Jefferson, inveterately opposed to despotic governments; Dr. John Witherspoon, who was President of Princeton College; Philip Livingston, a man who filled many distinguished positions before the Revolution; Richard Henry Lee, an able politician; Samuel Huntington, Governor of Connecticut; Charles Carroll, a distinguished man; Francis Hopkinson, a lawyer of distinction; Samuel Chase, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States; Thomas McKean, an eminent jurist; Dr. Benjamin Rush, the celebrated physician, writer and teacher of medicine; John Adams, a member of Congress from Massachusetts; Dr. Benjamin Franklin, the Printer Philosopher; Josiah Bartlett, a very eminent man; William Whipple, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Matthew Thornton, who was afterwards appointed surgeon of the New Hampshire troops; Samuel Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry, Stephen Hopkinson, William Ellery, Roger Sherman, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott, William Floyd, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris, Richard Stockton, John Hart, Abraham Clark, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross, Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas Stone, William Paca, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton; George Wythe, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Carter Braxton, William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn, Edward Rutledge, Thomas Hayward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton and Robert R. Livingstone.
These men were constituted and chosen by Providence for the great work He had set before them--and no one can say but that they performed their duties well. They were instruments selected to open a way for the oppressed to establish their rights and to vindicate popular justice. As we stand in Independence Hall, and calmly survey the only representatives left of those distinguished men, our minds go back in deep reflections, and memory recalls their exalted deeds. We see them in imagination, as they gather in their representative capacity, with high and holy resolves upon their brows, advance to the Secretary's table, for the purpose of recording their votes in favor of adopting the Declaration. When that eventful moment arrived; when the deed was consummated, old Independence Bell rang out the glad tidings to the inhabitants of a disenthralled land. Then went up shouts of joy from the friends of the measure--then pulsated more freely and warmly patriotic hearts--then grew stronger the arms of Liberty's defenders--and quaked more convulsively traitors to the cause of freedom. Liberty of conscience and human rights had been avowed--and life or death, freedom or bondage, were to be the result. The honor and fortunes of those patriots were plighted--and their prowess pledged to support the document and declarations they had just endorsed. The Committee then rose, grave and decided, and with an unshaken confidence, reported the following draft of the Declaration: "When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable [certain inalienable] rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that governments, long established, should not be changed for light and transient causes. And, accordingly, all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, begun at a distant period, and pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to expunge [alter] their former system of government. The history of the present king of Great Britain, is a history of unremitting [repeated] injuries and usurpations; among which appears no solitary fact to contradict the uniform tenor of the rest; but all have [having] in direct object, the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world, for the truth of which we pledge a faith yet unsullied by falsehood.
He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has neglected utterly [utterly neglected] to attend to them. He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless these people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislation; a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the repository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly and continually, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused, for a long time after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise, the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without and convulsions within. He has endeavored to prevent the population of theses States; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither; and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands. He has suffered the administration of justice totally to cease in some of these States; [he has obstructed the administration of justice, by] refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers. He has made our judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of new offices by a self-assumed power, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance. He has kept among us, in time of peace, standing armies and ships of war, without the consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitutions, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation.
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us. For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these States; For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world; For imposing taxes on us without our consent; For depriving us [in many cases] of the benefits of trial by jury; For transporting us beyond the seas to be tried for pretended offenses; For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fir instrument for the introducing the same absolute rule into these States [colonies]; For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our government; For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatever.
He has abdicated government hers, withdrawing his governors, and [by] declaring us out of his allegiance and protection, and waging war against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun, with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy [scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally] unworthy the head of a civilized nation. He has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions of existence; he has excited treasonable insurrections of our fellow-citizens with the allurements of forfeiture and confiscation of our property. He has constrained others [our fellow-citizens], taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has waged civil war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people, who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a marker where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain the execrable commerce. And that this assemblage might want no fact of distinguished dye, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms against us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them; by murdering the people upon whom he obtruded them: this paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfair to be the ruler of a people who mean to be free. [Free people.] Future ages will scarce believe that the hardiness of one man adventured within the short compass of twelve years only, to build a foundation, so broad and undisguised, for tyranny over a people fostered and fixed in principles of freedom.
Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them, from time to time, of attempts by their Legislature to extend a [an unwarrantable] jurisdiction over these our States. [Us.] We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here; no one of which could warrant so strange a pretension; that these were effected at the expense of our own blood and treasure, unassisted by the wealth or the strength of Great Britain: that in constituting indeed our several forms of government, we had adopted one common king, thereby laying a foundation for perpetual league and amity with them; but that to their parliament was no part of our Constitution; nor even an idea, if history may be credited; and we [have] appealed to their native justice and magnanimity as well as to [and we have conjured them by] the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations which were likely to [would inevitably] interrupt our connexions and correspondence. They, too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity; and when occasions have been given them by the regular course of their laws, of removing from their councils the disturbers of our harmony, they have by their free election, re-established them in power. At this very time, too, they were permitting their Chief Magistrate to send over, not only soldiers of our common blood, but [Scotch and] foreign mercenaries to invade and destroy us. These facts have given the last stab to agonizing affections; and manly spirit bids us to renounce forever these unfeeling brethren. We must endeavor to forget our former love for them; we must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war; in peace, friends.
We might have been a free and great people together; but a communication of grandeur and of freedom, it seems, is below their dignity. Be it so, since they will have it. The road to happiness and to glory is open to us too; we will climb it apart from them, and acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our eternal separation.
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America in general Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of the States, reject and renounce all allegiance and subjection to the kings of Great Britain, and others who may hereafter claim by, through, or under them; we utterly dissolve all political connexion which may heretofore have subsisted between us and the Parliament or people of Great Britain; and finally, we do assert the colonies to be free and independent States; [Colonies solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies, are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved;] and that, as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, [with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,] we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
Chapter 10 Remarks on the Declaration
The instrument known as the "Declaration of Independence," set forth principles more important in character more beneficial in tendency, and destined to work out a greater result for the happiness and prosperity of the human race, than any political document or protocol that had ever preceded it. It was in fact, as well as in name, the great Magna Charta of Freedom, inspiring men to act promptly and efficiently in all matters conspiring to advance the cause of political and religious toleration. Its plain unequivocal language, couched in terms of high and heaven-inspired decision of purpose, gave it a potency which caused monarchists to tremble, and the advocates of Liberty and Equal Rights to rejoice. Never did despotism receive, in all its progress of usurpation, a more signal rebuke, or greater check. That instrument, containing the signatures of the representatives of thirteen colonies, although boasting of only three millions of people, interposed a more formidable barrier to the career of George III, than all the chevaux-de-frise or enfaladments of military science arrayed against the approaches of an invading army.
He looked upon it as dangerous to the perpetuity of kingly regality-to monarchical usurpation. The principles of Liberty in it had been evolved, and a determined people, reared in the lap of toil and hardy adventure, were to be the efficient executives in carrying them to full and glorious fruition. A portion of the vast struggle had but just developed; other scenes in the bloody drama were now to be enacted. Wider and more trying measures were to be resorted to--the ire of an insulted kingdom against which rebellion in its broadest acceptation had been instigated, was now to be either appeased or successfully resisted--the hitherto considered invincibility of England's military prowess was to be met, and the shafts of her power broken, or three millions of God's rational creatures, endowed with all the attributes and love of freedom that imperial monarchs and nobles enjoyed, were to be reduced to a condition worse than slavery, and their representative leaders executed as felons, by the guillotine, or upon the gallows!
Those were the times indeed that tried men's souls," and nerved them to heroic action. Those were the times in which a determined people exhibited heroism, and vowed by all that was sacred in life, honorable, and manly, to be slaves no longer. And these resolves had been sanctioned by their representatives. Their signatures had been subscribed to the Declaration of Independence--and a price was set upon their heads for the act. But representatives and constituents acted in concert with each other; defied the powers of despotism, and won the triumphs by which our country has grown to be so great and prosperous.
At a period anterior to the assembling of the Convention which drew up and adopted the Declaration, a number of eminent statesmen, among whom was Samuel Adams, Richard Henry Lee, Patrick Henry, Timothy Dwight and others, had suggested, on various occasions, the necessity of such an instrument, but the subject was treated as rather chimerical. These men saw at once, and had sagacity sufficient to perceive that reconciliation with the mother country was out of the question.
And Patrick Henry, as early as 1773, speaking of England, exclaimed: "She will drive us to extremities; no reconciliation will take place; hostilities will soon commence; and a desperate and bloody struggle it will be." In reply to a question propounded to him by Col. Overton, if he thought the Colonies sufficiently strong to oppose, successfully, the fleets of Great Britain, Patrick Henry remarked: "I will be candid with you. I doubt whether we shall be able, alone, to cope with so powerful a nation; but" --rising from his chair with great animation--"where is France? where is Spain? where is Holland? the natural enemies of Great Britain. Where will they be all this while? Do you suppose they will stand by, idle and indifferent spectators to the contest? Will Louis XVI. be asleep all this time? Believe me, no! When Louis 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 them only, but he will send his fleets and armies to fight our battles for us; he will form a treaty with us, 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!"
How these prophetic exclamations were subsequently fulfilled, history itself amply demonstrates. Others there were who doubted, or were rather afraid to come out boldly in defense of freedom. This is evident from the writings if Timothy Dwight. That gentlemen says, in his "Travels in New England," vol. 1, p. 159:
"In the month of July, 1775, I urged, in conversation with several gentlemen of great respectability, firm Whigs, and my intimate friends, the importance and even the necessity of a Declaration of Independence on the part of the Colonies, and alleged for this measure, the very same arguments which afterward were generally considered as decisive; but found them disposed to give me and my arguments a hostile and contemptuous, instead of a cordial reception. Yet, at that time, all the resentment and enthusiasm awakened by the odious measures of Parliament, by the peculiarly obnoxious conduct of the British agents in this country, and by the recent battles of Lexington and Breed's Hill were at the highest pitch. These gentlemen may be considered as the representatives of the great body of the thinking men in this country. A few may, perhaps, be excepted, but none of these durst at that time openly declare their opinions to the public. For myself, I regarded the die as cast, and the hopes of reconciliation as vanished; and believed the colonists would never be able to defend themselves unless they renounced their dependence on Great Britain."
This was occasioned, no doubt, by the fact, that "the pride of political birth-right," as Mr. Lossing remarks, "as a child of Great Britain, kept actively alive a loyal spirit; and a separation from the British Empire was a proposition too startling to be readily embraced, or even favorably received, by the great mass of the people who regarded Old England' with filial reverence." Although the arguments of Mr. Dwight might have been convincing in character, yet the proper time had not come--for, when intelligence reached America that the king had declared the colonists rebels--that thousands of German troops had been engaged by Parliament to come hither and assist in the work of subjugating a people struggling for right and justice--and that the British government was collecting all its mighty energies, for the purpose of striking a blow with such intensity as to scatter into fragments every vestige of the rightful claims of the colonists to enjoy the prerogatives granted them by Magna Charta, a deep and solemn conviction seized the minds of the people that the last hope of reconciliation had faded away, and that unbending resistance or absolute slavery was the only alternative left them. The bonds of filial affection were rudely severed by the unnatural parent, and the deserted and outraged children were driven by necessity to seek protection beneath a palladium of their own construction. Hence, they saw an imperative duty in urging their representatives to declare for Freedom--and so they did declare.
Watson informs us that this Declaration was not actually signed on the 4th of July, " nor was there that intrepid and concurrent enthusiasm in all the members of Congress which has generally been imputed." The facts, he states, as he obtained them from Judge McKean, were that, "on the 1st of July, the question of Independence was taken in committee of the whole, when the entire seven delegates from Pennsylvania voted against it, and Delaware, which had but two members present, divided. These were the only States which so demurred! It was at this crisis that Judge McKean sent an express for Caesar Rodney, the other member from Delaware; and soon after his arrival, the important question was put, when Mr. Rodney arose, and in a few words, said, he spoke the voice of his constituents and his own, in casting his vote for Independence. On the 4th of July, five representatives from Pennsylvania gave their votes three to two in favor of the declaration."
No one actually signed the document on that day, it was merely ordered to be engrossed on parchment. It was subsequently read from the steps of the State House to the populace, who received it with unbounded applause; they soon afterward retired, and commenced preparing for the awful conflict shortly to follow. The alacrity with which they responded to the call of freedom's voice, subsequent history has spread before our eyes in an unquenchable blaze of glory.
Chapter 11 John Hancock
Among the inspiring associations connected with Independence Hall, are the portrait and historical recollections of that stern old hero, JOHN HANCOCK. He was one of Massachusetts' noblest children, and afforded an exalted example of devotedness to the cause of Independence. The town of Quincy, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, claims him as her son, for it was in that place he first gazed upon the busy world of humanity, in 1737. From that time to the close of his eventful life, in October, 1793, the world has been an admirer of his versatility of genius, and blessed by the boldness of his public spirit and principles of enlarged philanthropy. He was indeed a great man, and his name will forever stand part and parcel of the "Declaration of Independence."
Hancock, whose bold signature first strikes the eye in glancing over that charter of American freedom, was, perhaps, all things considered, one of the most remarkable men of the age. He put most risk in the sanguinary struggle for American freedom, so far as fortune and its appearance were concerned, for he was then the richest man in the country. He inherited the business of a millionaire uncle, and was the Abbott Lawrence of his day. When he was first elected to the Provincial Legislature, Adams said to a friend: "Boston has done a wise thing to-day--she's made that young man's fortune her own." And this was literally fulfilled, for he devoted it all to the public use. The contrast between Hancock and Adams was very great. Adams was quite poor, and held in great contempt the style and show of fortune--Hancock kept a magnificent equipage, such as was then unknown in America. His apparel was embroidered with gold and silver--he drove his six beautiful bays--he was exceedingly fond of dancing, music, routes, parties, rich wines, dinners, and all that kind of thing called elegant pleasures.
How he estimated the goods of fortune and its concomitants, is illustrated by the following anecdote:--"During the siege of Boston, Gen. Washington consulted Congress as to the propriety of bombarding the town. Hancock was President, and after the reading of Washington's letter, a motion was made to go into committee if the whole to enable Mr. Hancock to give his opinion, as he was deeply interested--all his property being in houses and real estate. He left the chair, and addressed the chairman as follows: It is true, sir, that nearly all I have in the world is in the town of Boston, but if the expulsion of the British troops and the liberty of my country demand that they be burned to ashes, issue the order, AND LET THE CANNON BLAZE AWAY!'"
In the earlier stages of John Hancock's existence--who had been supplied with a collegiate education at Harvard College--at the age of seventeen he was taken under the guardianship of a pious uncle, who made him a clerk in his counting-room, where he soon became acquainted with the various routine of commercial business. His uncle was so well pleased with the rapid advancement and honest habits of his nephew, that in the year 1760 he entrusted him with a mission to England to transact some very important business. On that occasion young Hancock was present at the funeral rites of king George II., and also witnessed the ceremonies of investing his successor, George III., with the insignia of royalty. His stay in England won for him many warm friends, both in a social and business capacity. It was necessary, however, for him to make his visit of short duration, and he returned with much regret to Boston.
Soon after his arrival home his uncle was taken ill and died, leaving him at the age of twenty-six the sole possessor of his princely fortune--the largest, perhaps, of any man in the Province of Massachusetts. Possessed of an extraordinary mind, and deeply conversant with political science, he soon after this solemn event, abandoned commercial enterprises and business pursuits of all kinds, and devoted himself to the politics of the day. In principle he was devotedly democratic, but liberal in his views. He was chosen a member of the Provincial Assembly from Boston in 1766, and was in consequence thrown into intercourse and acquaintanceship with such men as Samuel Adams, James Otis, and Thomas Cushing.
The inhabitants of this country had felt the oppressive exaction and tyranny of Great Britain several years before Mr. Hancock took an active part in political matters, and feelings of resistance were already aroused. He came upon the theatre of public life, therefore, under circumstances sufficiently extraordinary and exciting to fill his ardent youthful mind with strong sentiments of patriotism. It is said that young Hancock imbibed the principles of liberty from his infancy, and hence such feelings were as familiar to him as "household words." When the exigencies of time demanded exhibitions of such feelings and sentiments as Mr. Hancock possessed, no patriot was readier or more earnest in the manifestation. the obnoxious measures adopted by Parliament toward the Colonies, which succeeded the "Stamp Act," Mr. Hancock regarded as the ultima thule of tyranny, and resolved not to submit to them. He was at that time a member of the Provincial Legislature, and was instrumental in inducing his colleagues to unite with him against them. The proposition of non-importation measures was first made by him, and he advocated the necessity of them with such ardor that they were adopted by the other Colonies.
These measures produced a powerful effect upon the home government, and caused it to enforce more rigidly than ever her tyrannous exactions. At length open resistance became universal, and Hancock's name was conspicuously prominent in the commotions that agitated Boston for more than eight years. History informs us that one of the earliest acts of open resistance, was on the occasion of the seizure of the sloop Liberty, belonging to Mr. Hancock, by the Custom house officers, under the plea that she was loaded with goods contrary to the revenue laws. The people were greatly exasperated; they beat the officers with clubs, and obliged them to fly to Castle William, at the entrance of Boston Harbor, for safety. They also burned the Collector's boat, an committed other acts of violence. These transactions gave the royal governor an excuse he wished for to introduce British troops into the city. This measure excited the indignation of the people to the highest pitch, and almost daily quarrels took place in the streets between the citizens and the soldiers, which finally resulted in the death of three Americans, in March, 1770, by shots from soldiers' muskets-an event known as The Boston Massacre.
So popular a leader in the colonial rebellion had Hancock become, that offended royalty excluded him from the terms of the general pardon which Parliament made in 1775. Samuel Adams was also excluded as an arch-rebel. The night preceding the battle of Lexington, Hancock and Adams lodged together, in that village. An armed party was sent by Governor Gage to arrest them; and they narrowly escaped, for as the soldiers entered one door, they went through another.
During the commotion known as the "Tea Riot," Mr. Hancock was exceedingly active and bold; and on the anniversary of the "Boston Massacre," in March, 1774, he delivered a severe speech against the aggressive disposition of the British Government. The popularity of John Hancock had now become odious to the officers of the home government, for when he was, in 1767, elected a member of the Executive Council, the Governor rejected him.* In 1774 the Provincial Congress if Massachusetts unanimously elected him their President. The same year he was chosen delegate to the Continental Congress, and was re-elected to the same station in 1775. It was some time during the summer of that year, that Peyton Randolph vacated the Presidential chair of that body, and John Hancock was selected in his place.
*For some unknown reason, however, he was subsequently received into the Council. Governor Bernard had tried in vain to win him from the cause of the patriots. In 1767, before his election to the Council, he had complimented him with a Lieutenant's commission, but hancock, seeing clearly the nefarious design which it but half concealed, tore up the commission in the presence of the people.
This was a position of the most exalted character in the gift of the American people. In that office he put forth some of his most valuable labors--for he was acting in that position on the ever memorable 4th of July, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was adopted, and the old "State House Bell" pealed forth liberty throughout the land, and to all inhabitants thereof." As President of that Congress he first signed that Declaration, and with his signature alone it first went forth to the world.
In consequence of ill health, Mr. Hancock resigned the office of President of Congress in 1777, with a view of passing the remainder of his life in the retirement of his domestic circle; but his countrymen regarded his public services too highly to allow him the pleasure, and he was, therefore, son afterward elected a member of the Convention to form a Constitution for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. His labors in that Convention were marked with his usual boldness, and upon him was first conferred the honor, under the instrument of their adoption, of being Governor of the Province, or State." This office he held for five consecutive years, by annual election. he declined the office for two years, but afterward accepted, and filled that position until his death, in 1793. He was Governor during the exciting period of the adoption of the Federal Constitution, and its final ratification by the several States; and his wisdom and firmness proved greatly salutary in restraining those lawless acts which a spirit of disaffection toward the general government had engendered in New England--particularly in Massachusetts and New Hampshire." John Hancock acted in many other official capacities and always with vigor and decision of character. But as years passed, he assumed the appearance of advanced age.
One who saw him in 1782, says that he had been repeatedly and severely afflicted with gout, probably owing in part to the custom of drinking punch--a common practice in high circles in those days. As recollected at that time, Hancock was nearly six feet in height and of thin person, stooping a little, and apparently enfeebled by disease. His manners were very gracious, of the old style, a dignified complaisance. His face had been very handsome. Dress was adapted quite as much to the ornamental as useful. Gentlemen wore wigs when abroad, and commonly caps when at home. At this time, about noon, Hancock was dressed in a red velvet cap, within which was one of fine linen. The later was turned up over the lower edge of the velvet one, two or three inches. He wore a blue damask gown lined with silk, a white satin embroidered waistcoat, black satin small-clothes, white silk stockings and red morocco slippers. It was a general practice in genteel families to have a tankard of punch made in the morning and placed in a cooler when the season required it. At this visit, Hancock took from the cooler standing on the hearth a full tankard, and drank first himself and then offered it to those present.
On one occasion, at a banquet, when Hancock was present, there were not less than fifty or sixty at table, but the host did not sit at meat with them. He ate at a little side-table, and sat on a wheel-chair, in which he wheeled himself about the general table to speak with his guests. This was because of his gout, of which he made a political as well as social excuse for doing as he pleased. On the occasion in question, when the guests were in the height of an animated conversation, and just as the cloth was withdrawn, they were interrupted by a tremendous crash. A servant, in removing a cut-glass epergne, which formed the central ornament of the table, let it fall, and it was dashed in a thousand pieces. An awkward silence fell upon the company, who hardly knew how to treat the accident, when Hancock relieved their embarrassment by cheerfully exclaiming, "James, break as much as you like, but don't make such a confounded noise about it!" And under the cover of the laugh this excited, the fragments were removed, and the talk went on as if nothing had happened. This, evidently, was the presence of mind of true good breeding. His apparel was sumptuously embroidered with gold, silver, lace and other decorations fashionable among men of fortune of that period. He wore a scarlet coat with ruffles on his sleeves, which soon became the prevailing fashion; and it is related by Dr. Nathan Jacques, the famous pedestrian of West Newbury, that he passed all the way from that place to Boston in one day, to procure cloth for a coat like that of John Hancock, and returned with it under his arm, on foot.
Such were the character, habits, and customs of this distinguished man. We have the biography of no greater political hero; and to his efforts, in a great degree, we owe the prosperity and happiness of our great and rapidly advancing country. He was married in 1773 to a Miss Quincy, a relative of the Adamses, by whom he had one son. This child, however, died at an early age; and, ripe for the tomb, with honors of an exalted character on his head and full of years, in October, 1793, John Hancock paid the debt of nature, and was laid calmly to rest among the graves of his fathers, leaving an example well worthy of emulation of young men of the rising generation.
Chapter 12 Thomas Jefferson
Among the names indelibly impressed on the pages of undying history, or emblazoned on the scroll of Fame, perhaps there is no one more conspicuous than that of THOMAS JEFFERSON. If other names received honors in military points of view, and have chaplets of eternal laurels entwined about their memories, the great author of the "Declaration of Independence" stands equally prominent before the world—equally admired and renowned for his civic and political heroism. Science and Literature bear unmistakable witness of his master spirit, and the development of our Nationality received its strongest supports from his pen. As Hamilton was properly designated "the Pen of the Revolution," Thomas Jefferson may, with equal propriety, be called "the Pruning Hook of Political Economy." For it was through the instrumentality of his essays and writings that Southern chivalry received patriotic impulses, and the cause of Freedom and Independence was advanced. It was by his labors, to a great extent, that a spirit of resistance to the oppressive dictation of Great Britain was evoked in the South, and took such deep root in the sentiments of the people.
Thomas Jefferson was early imbued with the principles of Liberty, and when he first heard the eloquent speech of Patrick Henry on the "Stamp Act," new and vigorous impulses lighted up his mind, and gave additional incentives to his political character. From that moment he was another man—his future course was decided; he had chosen for his guiding principles the emancipation of his countrymen from bondage, by the establishment of institutions wherein the character and dignity of American citizens, with high national prerogatives, should be respected abroad and productive of good at home. His character was that of a pure patriot, unsullied by selfish motives for personal aggrandizement, and every act of his political career he conscientiously believed to be in consonance with the immutable decrees of justice and truth, as expounded in the great volumes of "Revelation and Human Rights." Wherever the cause of Independence could be served, or the rights of mankind advanced, there Jefferson's influences were felt and his efforts exerted. But perhaps we cannot give, in the space allotted to us for a brief memoir of this great man, anything better than the facts employed by MR. LOSSING, in his biography of Thomas Jefferson. He says that Mr. Jefferson's family were among the early British emigrants to Virginia. His ancestors came from Wales, from near the great Snowdon mountains. His grandfather settled in Chesterfield, and had three sons, Thomas, Field, and Peter. The latter married Jane, daughter of Isham Randolph, of Goochland, of Scotch descent; and on the 13th of April, 1743, she became the mother of the subject of this sketch.
They resided at that time at Shadwell, in Albemarle County, Virginia. Thomas was the oldest child. His father died when he was fourteen years old, leaving a widow and eight children—two sons and six daughters. He left a handsome estate to his family, and the lands, which he called Monticello, fell to Thomas, where the latter always resided, when not engaged in public duty, and where he lived at the time of his death. Thomas entered a grammar-school at the age of five years, and when nine years old he commenced the study of the classics with a Scotch clergyman named Douglass. On the death of his father, the Rev. Mr. Murray became his preceptor; and in the spring of 1760 he entered William and Mary College, where he remained two years. From Dr. William Small, a professor of mathematics in the college, he received his first philosophical teachings, and the bias of his mind concerning subjects of scientific investigation, seemed to have received its initial impetus from that gentleman. Through his influence, in 1762, young Jefferson was admitted as a student-at-law, in the office of George Wythe, the intimate friend of Governor Fauquier, at whose table our subject became a welcome guest. In 1765, while yet a student, Jefferson heard the cerebrated speech of Patrick Henry against the Stamp Act, and fired by its doctrines, he at once stood forth the avowed champion of American Freedom.
So manifest were his talents that in 1769 he was elected a member of the Virginia Legislature, and became at once active and popular there. He made strong but unsuccessful efforts in the Virginia Assembly for the emancipation of the slaves. He filled that station until the period of the Revolution, when he was called to the performance of more exalted duties in the national council. He was married in January, 1772, to Mrs. Martha Skelton, a wealthy, widow of twenty-three, who was the daughter of John Wales, an eminent Virginia lawyer.
When the system of committees of correspondence was established, in 1773, Mr. Jefferson was a member of the first committee in Virginia, and was very active with his pen. In 1774 his powerfully-written pamphlet was published, called "A Summary View of the Rights of British America." It was addressed to the king, and was published in England under the auspices of Edmund Burke. This pamphlet gave great offense to Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, who threatened to prosecute him for high treason. And because his associates in the Virginia Assembly sustained Jefferson, Dunmore dissolved it. They assembled in a private capacity, and drew up a remonstrance, which had a powerful effect upon the people. The Governor perceived that his acts were futile, and he allowed the matter to rest. He was elected a delegate to represent Virginia in the Continental Congress of 1775, and for several years he was one of the most efficient members of that body. He soon became distinguished among the men of talents there, although comparatively young; and when, in the succeeding year, a committee was appointed to draft a DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, he was chosen one of the members. Although the youngest member of the committee, he was appointed Chairman, and was requested by the others to draw up the instrument, which he did, and his draft was adopted, with very few verbal amendments, on the 4th of July, 1776. This instrument forms a more lasting monument to his talent and patriotism than eloquent panegyric or sculptured epitaph.
During the summer of 1776, he was elected to a seat in the Virginia Assembly, and desirous of serving his own State, he resigned his seat in Congress and returned to Virginia. He was soon afterward appointed a joint commissioner, with Dr. Franklin and Silas Deane, for negotiating treaties with France; but circumstances caused him to decline the acceptance of the proffered honor, and he continued in Virginia during the remaining period of the Revolution, actively engaged in the service of his State. He received a third election to Congress, but declined it, and was succeeded by Benjamin Harrison, the father of President Harrison. From the early part of 1777 to the middle of 1779, Mr. Jefferson was assiduously employed, conjointly with George Wythe and Edmund Pendleton, on a commission for revising the laws of Virginia. The duty was a most arduous one; and to Mr. Jefferson belongs the imperishable honor of being the first to propose, in the Legislature of Virginia, the laws forbidding the importation of slaves; converting estates tail* into fee simple; annulling the rights of primogeniture;† establishing schools for general education; and confirming the rights of freedom in religious opinions.
*A law entitled fee tail was adopted in the time of Edward I. of England, and at the period in question extended to all the English Colonies. It restrained the alienation of land and tenements by one to whom they had been given, with a limitation to a particular class of heirs. A fee simple estate is one in which the owner has absolute power to dispose of it as he pleases; and if in his possession when he dies, it descends to his heirs in general.
†This right belongs to the oldest son, who succeeds to the estates of his ancestors to the exclusion of his brothers and sisters. This is still the law in England.
Congress having resolved not to suffer the prisoners captured at Saratoga, under Burgoyne, to leave the United States until the conditions entered into by Gates and Burgoyne should be ratified by the British government, they were divided and sent to the different States, to be provided for during the interval. A division of them was sent, early in 1779, into the interior of Virginia, near the residence of Mr. Jefferson, and his benevolent feelings were strongly exhibited by his sympathy for these enemies of his country. The prisoners were in great distress, and Mr. Jefferson and his friends did all in their power to alleviate their sufferings. An apprehended scarcity of provisions determined Governor Patrick Henry to remove them to another part of the State, or out of it entirely. Mr. Jefferson interceded with the Governor in their behalf disapproving of the measure. At this the officers and men were allowed to remain. The soldiers were very grateful to Mr. Jefferson, and when they were about to depart for England they united in a vote of thanks to him. Mr. Jefferson, in reply, disclaimed the performance of any great service to them, and said: "Opposed as we happen to be in our sentiments of duty and honor, and anxious for contrary events, I shall, nevertheless, sincerely rejoice in every circumstance of happiness and safety which may attend you personally."
In June, 1779, Mr. Jefferson succeeded Mr. Henry as Governor of Virginia, and the close of his administration was a period of great difficulty and danger. His State became the theatre of predatory warfare; the infamous Arnold having entered it with British and tory troops, and commenced spreading desolation with fire and sword along the James River. Richmond, the capital, was partly destroyed, and Jefferson and his council narrowly escaped capture. He tried, but in vain, to get possession of the person of Arnold, but the wily traitor was too cautious for him. Very soon after his retirement to private life, Tarleton, who attempted to capture the members of the Legislature convened at Charlottesville, a short distance from Jefferson's residence, came very near taking him prisoner. Jefferson had sent his family away in his carriage, and remained to attend to some matters in his dwelling, when he saw the cavalry ascending a hill toward his house. He mounted a fleet horse, dashed through the woods, and reached his family in safety.
M. De Marbois, Secretary of the French Legation in the United States, having questioned Mr. Jefferson respecting the resources, etc., of his native State, he wrote, in 1781, his celebrated work entitled "Notes on Virginia." The great amount of information which it contains, and the simple perspicuity of its style, made its author exceedingly popular in Europe as a writer and a man of science, in addition to his character as a statesman. In 1782 he was appointed a Minister Plenipotentiary to assist others in negotiating a treaty of peace with Great Britain. He was soon after elected a delegate to Congress, and was chairman of the committee, in 1783, to whom the treaty with Great Britain was referred. In 1784, he wrote an essay on coining and currency for the United States, and to him we are indebted for the convenient denomination of our federal money, the dollar as a unit, and the system of decimals. In May of that year, he was appointed, with Adams and Franklin, a minister to negotiate treaties of commerce with foreign nations. Dr. Franklin having obtained leave to return home, Mr. Jefferson was appointed to succeed him as Minister at the French Court, and he remained in France until October, 1789.
While there, he became popular among the literati, and his society was courted by the leading writers of the day. During his absence the Constitution had been formed, and under it Washington had been elected and inaugurated President of the United States. His visit home was under leave of absence, but Washington offered him a seat in his Cabinet as Secretary of State, and gave him his choice to remain in that capacity, or return to France. He chose to remain, and he was one of the most efficient aids to the President during the stormy period of his first administration. He differed in opinion with Washington respecting the kindling revolution in France, but he agreed with him on the question of the neutrality of the United States. His bold avowal of democratic sentiment, and his expressed sympathies with the struggling populace of France in their aspirations for republicanism, made him the leader of the democratic party, then opposed to the federal administration of Washington, and in 1793 he resigned his seat in the Cabinet.
In 1796 he was the republican candidate for President, in opposition to John Adams. Mr. Adams succeeded, and Mr. Jefferson was elected Vice-President. In 1800 he was again nominated for President, and received a majority of votes over Mr. Adams. Two of Aaron Burr's friends withdrew, and Mr. Jefferson was elected. Mr. Jefferson's administration continued eight years, he having been elected for a second term. The most prominent measures of his administration, were the purchase of Louisiana from France; the embargo on the commerce and ocean-navigation of the United States; the non-intercourse and non-importation system; the gunboat experiment; the suppression of Burr's expedition down the Mississippi River; and the sending of an exploring company to the regions of the Rocky Mountains, westward to the Pacific Ocean. Mr. Jefferson also introduced the practice of communicating with Congress by message, instead of by a personal address; a practice followed by all the Presidents since his time. At the close of his second Presidential term, Mr. Jefferson retired to private life, and amid the quiet scenes of Monticello, he spent the remaining seventeen years of his being, in philosophical and agricultural pursuits. Through his instrumentality, a University was founded in 1818, at Charlottesville, near Monticello, of which he was Rector until his death, and a liberal patron as far as his means would allow. Toward the close of his life his pecuniary affairs became embarrassed and he was obliged to sell his library, which Congress purchased for thirty thousand dollars. A short time previous to his death he received permission from the Legislature of Virginia to dispose of his estate by lottery, to prevent it being sacrificed to pay his debts. He did not live to see it consummated.
In the spring of 1826 his bodily infirmities greatly increased, and in June he was confined wholly to his bed. About the first of July he seemed free from disease, and his friends had hopes of his recovery; but it was his own conviction that he should die, and he gave directions accordingly. On the 3d he expressed an ardent desire to live until the next day, to breathe the air of the 50th anniversary of his country's independence. His wish was granted, and on the morning of the 4th, after having expressed his gratitude to his friends and servants for their care, he said, with a distinct voice, "I resign myself to my God, and my child* to my country." These were his last words, and about noon on that glorious day he expired. It was a most remarkable coincidence, that two of the committee (Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson) who drew up the Declaration of Independence—who signed it—who successively held the office of Chief Magistrate—should have died at nearly the same hour, on the 50th anniversary of that solemn act.
He was a little over eighty-three years of age at the time of his death. Mr. Jefferson's manner was simple but dignified, and his conversational powers were of the rarest value. He was exceedingly kind and benevolent, an indulgent master to his servants, liberal and friendly to his neighbors. He possessed remarkable equanimity of temper, and it is said he was never seen in a passion. His friendship was lasting and ardent and he was confiding and never distrustful. Such is a brief outline of the history and character of this remarkable man. Politicians looked upon him as a most thoroughly qualified teacher of political science, and every way worthy to be regarded as authority on all points of governmental policy. Even at the present day the principles promulgated by him are regarded as the basis of correct political economy, by many distinguished patriots, and would be productive of great service to the progress of our institutions, were they not distorted and abused by interested individuals for sinister motives and personal aggrandizement.
*Mrs. Randolph, whom he tenderly loved. Just before he died he handed her a morocco case, with a request that she would not open it until after his decease. It contained a poetical tribute to her virtues, and an epitaph for his tomb, if any should be placed upon it. He wished his monument to be a small granite obelisk, with this inscription:
Chapter 13 Richard Stockton
ALTHOUGH one of the most prominent and influential characters who figured in the Colonial struggles of our country, the portrait of RICHARD STOCKTON is not among those representing his distinguished colleagues, which grace the Hall of and add to the hallowed associations connected with the "Old State House." There are many endearing recollections clustering around the history of this interesting building which have no pictorial representation to please the inspection of strangers, or impress the lover of freedom and national honor with thoughts of patriotism. And among these is the memory of brave, bold patriots, who signed the Declaration, whose portraits have not been placed in this holy edifice—but whose biographies teem with valorous and undying fame. Such is the case with reference to Richard Stockton. As a signer of that great instrument which led to the emancipation of the United Colonies from the oppressive control of Great Britain; as a jurist, a statesman, and a man of talent; as a soldier and sufferer in the cause of his country, he should have the same deference extended to his memory, by placing his portrait among the glorious galaxy of heroes, whose likenesses illustrate the walls of Independence Hall.
Reminiscences of such men come up before us while contemplating the scenes of our country's exaltation, and we feel that the shrines where such relics ought to be preserved are incomplete without them. It is true, history will keep their memories bright, but their forms should be preserved on living canvas, or made immortal in sculptured marble. We feel a holy reverence come over us while meditating on the places where deeds of valor have been performed by chivalrous and noble men. and although their achievements glow brilliantly on the scroll of Fame, and forbid their names to die, yet there is something needed to intensify our thoughts and keep them more vividly concentrated on the history of the past. In no way can this be done more effectually than by painting in hues of glory, or representing in sculptured figures life-like portraitures of such patriots. Every signer of the "Declaration of Independence" belongs to Independence Hall. Their faces should glow within its sacred precincts with as much brightness as their fame graces and glorifies the pages of history. The City Councils could confer no greater blessing to posterity and to the archives of the country than by placing such representations there, together with all interesting relics which may be associated with their names.
Upon such, future generations, as they visit this Mecca of our nation, can look with rapt admiration, and realize that they behold the actual representations of those who periled their "lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor" for the cause of Freedom, and nobly discharged their duties with a price set upon their heads. Such men knew no fear—were unacquainted with hesitation in the cause of political and social liberty, and they set themselves about the work they had to do with that unyielding determination which could not fail of success. And they did succeed.
The subject of this chapter was a man of sterling integrity, intensely devoted to the cause of his country, the interests of its institutions, and was a shining ornament to the legal profession of his day. His fore-parents were natives of England, and emigrated to the New World some time between the years 1660 and 1670. Soon after they arrived here they purchased a large tract of land at Princeton, in New Jersey, and erected on it a fine mansion, and in it Richard Stockton was first ushered into the world. Richard was the grandfather of Com. ROBERT FIELD STOCKTON, whose versatility of talent and patriotic impulses have made him so popular and highly esteemed. But in the scope of an article like this, we are unable to dwell minutely on incidents in the life of Richard Stockton—enough that we know he was a signer of the "Declaration of Independence," and aided with his talents, his physical exertions, and his fortune, the cause of American Freedom. We will, therefore, permit a short biography to suffice, as we wish to advert hereafter to all the noble heroes who participated in declaring the Colonies free.
Richard Stockton was born upon the Morven Estate, on the first of October, 1730. He pursued his studies preparatory to a collegiate course, at an academy in Maryland, and after two years thus spent, he entered New Jersey College, then located at Newark. He graduated in 1748, and was placed as a student-of-law under the Hon. David Ogden, of Newark. Stockton was admitted to the bar in 1754, and rose so rapidly in his profession, that in 1763 he received the degree of sergeant-at-law, a high distinction in the English Courts, and then recognized in the Colony of New Jersey. In June, 1766, Mr. Stockton embarked for London, and during the fifteen months he remained in England, he was treated with flattering distinction by the most eminent men in the realm. While there he was not unmindful of his alma mater, and he obtained considerable patronage for New Jersey College. His services were afterward gratefully acknowledged by that institution.
At the time Mr. Stockton was in England, American affairs had assumed so much importance that partisan feelings had sprung up there, and as a consequence, the opinions of so distinguished an American were sought for. By invitation, Mr. Stockton spent a week at the country seat of the Marquis of Rockingham, and on his making a tour to Edinburg, he was entertained by the Earl of Leven, and other noblemen. At Edinburg he was received by the Lord Provost, in the name of the citizens, and by a unanimous vote, the freedom of the city was conferred upon him. During his stay there he visited Doctor Witherspoon, at Paisley, who afterward became a resident in the Colonies, and a signer of the instrument declaring their emancipation from British rule. Improvement in his profession being his chief object in visiting Great Britain, Mr. Stockton was a constant attendant upon the higher courts, when in London, and often visited the theatre, to witness the eloquence of Garrick. He returned home in September, 1767, and was greeted with universal esteem by his countrymen.
In 1768 Mr. Stockton was chosen a member of the Royal Executive Council of New Jersey, and in 1774 he was placed upon the bench of the Supreme Court of that Province. Having been honored by the personal regard of the king, and possessing an ample fortune, it would have seemed natural for him to have remained loyal; but like Lewis Morris, his principles could not be governed by self-interest, and he espoused the cause of the patriots. The Provincial Congress of New Jersey elected him a delegate to the General Congress in 1776, and he took his seat in time to participate in the debate upon the proposition for Independence. At first he seemed doubtful of the expediency of an immediate Declaration of Independence, but after hearing the sentiments of nearly all, and the conclusive arguments of John Adams, he voted in favor of the measure, and cheerfully signed the Declaration.
In September of that year, Mr. Stockton received an equal number of votes with Mr. Livingston, for Governor of New Jersey, but for urgent reasons his friends gave the election to his competitor. He was at once elected Chief Justice of the State, but he declined the honor. He was afterward sent to the aid of General Schuyler. Soon after his return, he was obliged to hasten to his family to prevent their capture by the British army, then pursuing Washington and his little band across New Jersey. He removed them to the house of a friend about thirty miles distant, but there he was captured by a party of refugees, who were guided to his retreat by a treacherous neighbor of his friend. He remained a prisoner for some time, and on account of his position as one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, he was treated with great severity. The hardships he endured shattered his constitution. He suffered greatly from cold, and at one time he was kept twenty-four hours without a particle of food. Congress took up his cause, and threatened Lord Howe with retaliation upon British prisoners. This had its effect, and he was soon afterward exchanged, when he found himself almost a beggar, through the vandalism of the British in destroying his estate, and by the depreciation of the continental paper currency. He was seized with a despondency at this, from which he never recovered. A cancer in the neck also hurried him toward the grave, and he died on the twenty-eighth of February, 1781, in the fifty-first year of his age. It is gratifying, however, to realize the fact, that the patriotism of the Stockton's did not die with him. It was transferred to his children, as his son Com. R. F. STOCKTON, amply illustrates. He has been tried in many positions of public trust, and in all has vindicated the American character with the honor of a patriot. His history is a portion of our nation's glory, and in him is perpetuated the patriotic blood that coursed so warmly in the veins of his noble ancestor.
Chapter 14 DR. JOSIAH BARTLETT
As a signer of the Declaration of Independence Mr. Bartlett should be
remembered to remotest posterity. Attached as is his signature to that
immortal document, it will live when marble columns have crumbled, or life-like
portraitures of the painter have faded from the canvas—yet undying as will
be his memory while a thought of Freedom or Liberty burns
in the breasts of our nation, Independence Hall seems incomplete without
his likeness. A man who figured so conspicuously in the political
scenes of the troublous times in which he resided, and who took so active
a part in the formation of our republican government and institutions,
ought not to sleep in his grave uncommemorated on canvas: his noble form
should occupy some niche in Independence Hall, where his features could
be admired by all who desired to visit this sacred Temple, and gaze on
the holy relics of the past. Mr. Bartlett should be there among the portraits
of his colleagues, to give historical éclat to the room, as well
as to add to the sacredness of the place, and the Councils should exercise
patriotism enough to have it placed there in an appropriate style. In this
connection it is our purpose to give a brief biography of Mr. Bartlett,
and we are indebted to Mr. Lossing for the facts we shall use.
Josiah was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in November, 1729. His mother's maiden name was Webster: she was a relative of the family of the great statesman of that name, of our times, but who has recently deceased. Young Bartlett lacked the advantage of a collegiate education, but he improved an opportunity for acquiring some knowledge of the Greek and Latin, which was offered him in the family of a relative, the Rev. Dr. Webster. He chose for a livelihood the practice of the medical profession, and commenced the study of that science when he was sixteen years old. His opportunities for acquiring knowledge from books were limited, but the active energies of his mind supplied the deficiency, in a measure, and he passed an examination with honor at the close of his studies. He commenced practice at Kingston, in New Hampshire, and proving skillful and successful, his business soon became lucrative, and he amassed a competency. Mr. Bartlett was a stern, unbending Republican in principle; yet, notwithstanding this, he was highly esteemed by Wentworth, the Royal Governor, and received from him a magistrate's commission, and also the command of a regiment of militia. In 1765 he was elected a member of the Provincial Legislature of New Hampshire. It was at the time when the Stamp Act was before the British Parliament, and Mr. Bartlett soon became a prominent leader of the party that opposed the various oppressive measures of the home government. Through Wentworth, magnificent bribes were offered him, but his patriotism was inflexible.
In 1776 he was appointed a member of the Committee of Safety of his State. The Governor was alarmed when this Committee was appointed, and to prevent the transaction of other business of a like nature, he dissolved the Assembly. They reassembled in spite of the Governor, and Dr. Bartlett was at the head of this rebellious movement. He was soon after elected a member of the Continental Congress, and in 1776 Governor Wentworth struck his name from the magistracy list and deprived him of his military commission. Still he was active in the Provincial Assembly; and the Governor, despairing of reconciliation, and becoming somewhat alarmed for his own safety, left the Province. The Provincial Congress assumed the reins of government, and immediately reappointed Dr. Bartlett Colonel of the Militia.
In August, 1775, he was chosen a delegate to the Continental Congress and was again re-elected in 1776. He was one of the committee appointed to devise a plan for the confederation of the States, as proposed by Dr. Franklin. He warmly supported the proposition for Independence, and when, on the second of August, 1776, the members of Congress signed the Declaration, Dr. Bartlett was the first who affixed his signature, New Hampshire being the first State called.
In 1778, he obtained leave from Congress to visit his family and look after his private affairs, which had become much deranged. He did not resume his seat again in that body. In 1779 he was appointed Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas of New Hampshire, and the muster-master of its troops. He was afterward raised to the bench of the Supreme Court. He took an active part in the Convention of his State, in favor of the Constitution of 1787, and when it was adopted, he was elected a member of the Senate that convened under it in the city of New York. But he declined the honor, and did not take his seat there. He had been previously chosen President of New Hampshire, and held that responsible office until 1793, when he was elected the first Governor of that State, under the Federal Constitution. He held the office one year, and then resigning it, he retired to private life, and sought that needful repose which the declining years of an active existence required. He had served his country faithfully in its hour of deepest peril, and the benedictions of a free people followed him to his domestic retreat.
But he was not permitted long to bless his family with his presence, nor was he allowed to witness his country entirely free from perils of great magnitude that threatened its destruction, while the elements of the new experiment in government were yet unstable, for in 1795 death called him away. He died on the 19th of May, of that year, in the 66th year of his age, regretted by a large circle of warm friends, and lamented as a national loss. Thus passed away from the scenes of active life, not only in the private walks of duty, but in the discharge of onerous political labors, one whose whole life was devoted to the good of his country. And would it not be but a very small mark of respect, and yet befitting in every sense of the word, for some patriotic body, or individual, to procure a life-like portrait of JOSIAH BARTLETT, to hang in "Independence Hall," where the relics connected with those brave old heroes should all be placed? Let us see who will first move in the matter. His native State should possess sufficient liberality to perform such an act of justice.
Chapter 15 Samuel Adams
Chapter 16 William Whipple
This eminent man and distinguished patriot of the Revolution, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on the 22d of September, 1722. He was of pilgrim ancestors, and had been taught the principles of Freedom from his infancy. His father was a man of considerable wealth, and was for a series of years a member of the Massachusetts Assembly, under the Colonial government. It was his aim and pride to give Samuel a liberal education, and after a preparatory course of study, he entered him at Harvard College, Cambridge, where, in 1740, at the age of eighteen years, be took his degree of A. B. He was uncommonly sedate, and very assiduous in the pursuit of knowledge while a pupil. Mr. Lossing, and other biographers say that his father destined him for the profession of the law, but this design was relinquished, and he was placed as an apprentice with Thomas Cushing, a distinguished merchant of Boston, and afterward an active patriot. His mind, however, seemed fixed on political subjects,* and the mercantile profession presented few charms for him. His father furnished him with ample capital to commence business as a merchant, but his distaste for the profession, and the diversion of his mind from its demands, by politics, soon caused him serious embarrassments, and he became almost a bankrupt. When Samuel was twenty-five years old, his father died, and the cares of the family and estate devolved on him, as the oldest son. Yet his mind was constantly active in watching the movements of the British government, and he spent a great deal of his time in talking and writing in favor of the resistance of the Colonies to the oppressions of the crown and its ministers. He took a firm and decided stand against the Stamp Act, and its antecedent kindred schemes to tax the Colonies. As early as 1763 he boldly expressed his sentiments relative to the rights and privileges of the Colonies; and in some instructions which he drew up for the guidance of the Boston members of the General Assembly in that year, he denied the right of Parliament to tax the Colonies without their consent—denied the supremacy of Parliament, and suggested a union of all the Colonies, as necessary for their protection against British aggressions. It is asserted that this was the first public expression of such sentiments in America, and that they were the spark that kindled the flame upon the altar of Freedom here.
In connection with a genial companion, he wrote a series of political essays for a newspaper called the "Independent Advertiser." They incurred the nickname, by way of derision, of the "Whipping Club."
In 1765 Mr. Adams was chosen a representative for Boston, in the General Assembly, and became early distinguished in that body for his intelligence and activity. He became a leader of the opposition to the royal Governor, and treated with disdain the efforts made to silence him, although the offers proffered would have placed him in affluent circumstances. When the Governor was asked why Mr. Adams had not been silenced by office, he replied that "such is the obstinacy and inflexible disposition of the man that he can never be conciliated by any office or gift whatever." And when, in 1774, Governor Gage, by authority of ministers, sent Colonel Fenton to offer Adams a magnificent consideration if he would cease his hostility to government, or menace him with all the evils of attainder, that inflexible patriot gave this remarkable answer to Fenton: "I trust I have long since made my peace with the King of kings. No personal consideration shall induce me to abandon the righteous cause of my country. Tell Governor Gage it is the advice of Samuel Adams to him, no longer to insult the feelings of an exasperated people." He was chosen Clerk of the House of Representatives; and he originated the "Massachusetts Circular," which proposed a Colonial Congress to be held in New York, and which was held there in 1766. During the excitement of the Boston Massacre, he was among the most active; and chiefly through his influence, and the boldness with which he demanded the removal of the troops from Boston, was that object effected.
Mr. Adams, and Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, almost simultaneously proposed the system of Committees of Correspondence, which proved such a mighty engine in bringing about a union of sentiment among the several Colonies previous to the bursting out of the Revolution. This, and other bold movements on his part, caused him to be selected as an object of ministerial vengeance, and when Governor Gage issued his proclamation, offering pardon to all who would return to their allegiance, Samuel Adams and John Hancock were alone excepted. This greatly increased their popularity, and fired the people with indignation. Adams was among those who secretly matured the plan of proposing a general Congress, and appointing delegates thereto, in spite of the opposition of Governor Gage. The governor hearing of the movement in the General Assembly, then sitting at Salem, sent his secretary to dissolve them, but he found the door locked, and the key was safely lodged in Samuel Adams's pocket. Mr. Adams was one of the five delegates appointed, and he took his seat in that body on the fifth of September, 1774.
He continued an active member of Congress until 1781, and was among those who joyfully affixed their signatures to the Declaration of Independence. The journals of Congress during that time show his name upon almost every important committee of that body. And probably no man did more toward bringing about the American Revolution, and in effecting the Independence of the Colonies, than did Samuel Adams. He was the first to assert boldly those political truths upon which rested the whole superstructure of our confederacy—he was the first to act in support of those truths—and when, in the General Council of States, Independence was proposed, and the timid faltered, and the over-prudent hesitated, the voice of Samuel Adams was ever loudest in denunciations of a temporizing policy, and also in the utterance of strong encouragement to the faint-hearted. "I should advise," said he, on one occasion, "persisting in our struggle for liberty, though it were revealed from heaven that nine hundred and ninety-nine were to perish, and only one of a thousand were to survive and retain his liberty! One such freeman must possess more virtue and enjoy more happiness, than a thousand slaves; and let him propagate his like, and transmit to them what he hath so nobly preserved."
Mr. Adams retired from Congress in 1781, but not from public life. He was a member of the Convention to form a Constitution for Massachusetts, and was on the committee who drafted it. He was successively a member of the Senate of that Commonwealth, its President, Lieutenant-Governor, and finally Governor. To the latter office he was annually elected, until the infirmities of age obliged him to retire from active life. He expired on the third day of October, 1803, in the eighty-second year of his age.
This distinguished signer of the Declaration of Independence, although, like many of his heroic compatriots, his portrait is not to be found in Independence Hall, was born in Kittery, in New Hampshire—that portion which now comprises the State of Maine—in the year 1730. His early education, says what little biography we have of him, was received at a common school in his native town. When, however, he was quite a lad, he embarked in the occupation of a sailor, and followed the sea for several years. But when he was about thirty years of age, be left the sea, and engaged in the mercantile business, with his brother, Joseph Whipple, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. When the difficulties arose between this and the mother country, William early espoused the cause of the Colonies, and soon became a leader among the opposition to British authority. In 1775 he was elected a member of the Provincial Congress of New Hampshire, and was chosen by that body one of the Committee of Safety. These committees were organized in several of the States. Their business was to act as an executive body to regulate the general concerns of the government during the continuance of the war. These committees were of vast importance, and acted efficiently in conjunction with the committees of correspondence. In some instances they consisted each of the same men. When, in 1775, the people of that State organized a temporary government, Mr. Whipple was chosen a member of the council. In January, 1776, he was chosen a delegate to the Continental Congress, and was among those who, on the fourth of July of that year, voted for the Declaration of Independence. He remained in Congress until 1777, when he retired from that body, having been appointed a Brigadier-General of the New Hampshire Militia.
He was very active in calling out and equipping troops for the campaign against Burgoyne. He commanded one brigade and General Stark the other. He was under Gates at the capture of Burgoyne, and was one of the commissioners to arrange the terms of capitulation. He was afterward selected one of the officers to march the British prisoners to Cambridge, near Boston. He joined Sullivan in his expedition against the British on Rhode Island in 1778, with a pretty large force of New Hampshire Militia; but the perverse conduct of the French Admiral D'Estaing in not sustaining the siege of Newport, caused a failure of the expedition, and General Whipple, with his brigade, returned to New Hampshire. The Count D'Estaing agreed to assist Sullivan in reducing the town of Newport, but just as he was entering the harbor, the fleet of Lord Howe, from New York, appeared, and he proceeded to attack him. A storm prevented an engagement, and both fleets were greatly damaged by the gale. D'Estaing, instead of remaining to assist Sullivan, sailed for Boston, under the pretense of repairing his shattered vessels.
In 1780 he was offered the situation of Commissioner of the Board of Admiralty, but declined it. In 1782 he was appointed by Robert Morris, financial agent in New Hampshire,* but he resigned the trust in the course of a year. During that year, he was appointed one of the Commissioners to settle the dispute between Pennsylvania and Connecticut, concerning the Wyoming domain, and was appointed President of the Court. He was also appointed, during that year, a side Judge of the Superior Court of New Hampshire. The early western boundary of Connecticut, before the organization of New York, was, like most of the other States on the Atlantic, quite indefinite. A Colony from this Province had settled in the Wyoming Valley, and that region was not included in New York. It was within the bounds of Pennsylvania, hence the dispute. At that time the Courts in New Hampshire were constituted of four Judges, of whom the first, or Chief Justice, only, was a lawyer, the others being chosen from among civilians, distinguished for sound judgment, and a good education. Soon after his appointment, in attempting to sum up the arguments of counsel, and submit the case to the jury, he was attacked with a violent palpitation of the heart, which ever after troubled him. In 1785 he was seriously affected while holding court, and retiring to his chamber, he never left it again while living. He expired on the twenty-eighth day of November, 1785, in the fifty-fifth year of his age. He requested a post-mortem examination, which being done, it was found that a portion of his heart had become ossified or bony.
*Robert Morris was then the manager of the finances of the Confederation, and these agents in the various States were a kind of sub-treasurers. Hence it was an office that required honest and faithful incumbents.
Thus terminated the valuable life of one who rose from the post of a cabin-boy to a rank among the first men of his country. His life and character present one of those bright examples of self-reliance which cannot be too often pressed upon the attention of the young; and although surrounding circumstances had much to do in the development of his talents, yet, after all, the great secret of his success was doubtless a hopeful reliance upon a conscious ability to perform any duty required of him. In the revolutionary struggle for American Independence, many a young man, who commenced the active scenes of life under the most disadvantageous circumstances, arose by self-exertion and activity, to prominence and respect. The names of many of those men are now emblazoned on the scroll of Fame, and will remain as bright stars in the galaxy of our country's heroes. Such a name is that of Mr. Whipple, and
Chapter 17 John Adams
During the struggle for Independence there was no loftier genius, no purer patriot who took part in that memorable contest, than the subject of this memoir. The town in which he was born was then called Braintree, but was subsequently changed to that of Quincy, a name which it still retains, and is situated in the old Commonwealth of Massachusetts. John Adams was born October 30, 1735. He was a direct lineal descendant, in the fourth generation, from Henry Adams, who fled from the persecution in England during the reign of the first Charles. It will be remembered that Archbishop Laud, the spiritual adviser of Charles I., influenced no doubt by the Roman Catholic Queen Henrietta Maria, took especial pains to enforce the strictest observance of the Liturgy of the established Church of England, in the Church of Scotland, and also in the Puritan churches. Those individuals and congregations who would not conform to these requirements were severely dealt with, and these persecutions drove a great many to the western world, where they might worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences.
The maternal ancestor of John Adams was John Alden, a passenger in the Mayflower, and thus he inherited from his parentage the title of a "Son of Liberty," which was in due course of time given to him and others. Col. Barre was the first to designate those American patriots thus, on the floor of the British House of Commons. His primary education was derived in a school at Braintree and there he passed through a preparatory course of instruction for Harvard University, where he graduated when he was only twenty years of age. Having chosen the law as a profession, says his biographer, he entered upon the study of it with an eminent barrister in Worcester, by the name of Putnam. There he had the advantage of sound legal instruction, and through Mr. Putnam he became acquainted with many distinguished public men, among whom was Mr. Gridley, the Attorney-General. The first interview awakened sentiments of mutual regard, and young Adams was allowed the free use of Mr. Gridley's extensive library, a privilege of great value in those days. It was a rich treasure thrown open to him, and its value was soon apparent in the expansion of his general knowledge. He was admitted to the bar in 1758, and commenced practice in Braintree.
At an early period young Adams's mind was turned to the contemplation of the general politics of his country, and the atmosphere of liberal principles in which he had been born and nurtured, gave a patriotic bias to his judgment and feelings. He watched narrowly the movements of the British Government toward the American Colonies, and was ever outspoken in his condemnation of its oppressive acts. In 1761 he was admitted as a barrister. The business of his profession increased, and his acquaintance among distinguished politicians extended so rapidly that he became an active public man, and in 1765, when the Stamp Act had raised a perfect hurricane in America, he wrote and published his "Essay on the Canon and Feudal Laws." This great work soon won for, and placed him in high public esteem. The same year he became associated with James Otis and others, in demanding, in the presence of the Royal Governor, that "the Courts should dispense with stamped paper in the administration of justice."
Some time during the year 1766 Mr. Adams married Abigail Smith, daughter of a pious clergyman of Braintree, and soon afterward he removed to Boston. There he was actively associated with Hancock, Otis, and other prominent men, in the various measures which had been proposed in favor of liberty, and the general welfare of the people, and was very efficient in the endeavor to have the militia removed from the town. Governor Bernard tried to bribe him to silence, at least, by offers of lucrative offices, but he disdainfully rejected all his overtures—thus showing himself a patriot in principle as well as in name. How would some of our present political patriots compare with him? Mr. Adams was applied to for the purpose of defending Captain Preston and his men, when they were arraigned for murder, after the "Boston Massacre;" and although popular favor on one side, and the demands of justice and humanity on the other, were the horns of the dilemma between which Mr. Adams was placed by the application, he accepted it, and defended the prisoners successfully. Captain Preston was acquitted, and notwithstanding the intense excitement that existed against the soldiers, the patriotism of Mr. Adams was too pure to make this, his defense of the enemy, a cause for withdrawing from him the confidence which the people had placed in him. He was esteemed the higher by his friends for the noble act, and the people were satisfied, as was evident by their choosing him, that same year, a representative in the Provincial Assembly.
Mr. Adams became very obnoxious to both Governors Bernard and Hutchinson. He was elected to a seat in the Executive Council, but the latter erased his name. He was again elected when Governor Gage assumed authority, and he too erased his name. These things increased his popularity. Soon after the accession of Gage, the Assembly at Salem* adopted a proposition for a general Congress, and elected five delegates thereto in spite of the efforts of the Governor to prevent it. John Adams was one of those delegates, and took his seat in the first Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia on the fifth of September, 1774. He was again elected a delegate in 1775, and through his influence, George Washington, of Virginia, was elected Commander-in-Chief of all the forces of the United Colonies. Mr. Adams did not nominate Washington, as has been frequently stated. He gave notice that he should "propose a member of Congress from Virginia," which was understood to be Washington, but for reasons that do not appear upon the journals, he was nominated by Thomas Johnson, of Maryland.
*The "Boston Port Bill," so-called, which was adopted by Parliament, closed the port of Boston, removed the Custom House therefrom, its laws, courts, etc., and the meeting of the Provincial Assembly was called at Salem. This oppressive act was intended to have a twofold effect—to punish the Bostonians for the tea riot and awe them into submission to the Royal will. But it effected neither.
On the 6th of May, 1776, Mr. Adams introduced a motion in Congress "that the Colonies should form governments independent of the Crown." This motion was equivalent to a declaration of independence, and when, a month afterward, Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion more explicitly to declare the Colonies free and independent, Mr. Adams was one of its warmest advocates. He was appointed one of the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence,* and he placed his signature to that document on the 2d of August, 1776. After the battle of Long Island he was appointed by Congress, with Dr. Franklin and Edward Rutledge, to meet Lord Howe in conference upon Staten Island, concerning the pacification of the Colonies. According to his prediction, the mission failed. Notwithstanding his great labors in Congress, he was appointed a member of the Council of Massachusetts, while on a visit home, in 1776, the duties of which he faithfully fulfilled. During the remainder of the year 1776, and until December, 1777 (when he was sent on a foreign mission), he was member of ninety-nine different committees, and chairman of twenty-five.
*The committee consisted of Dr. Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston.
In 1777 Mr. Adams was appointed a special commissioner to the Court of France, whither Dr. Franklin had previously gone. Finding the subject of his mission fully attended to by Franklin, Adams returned home in 1779. He was immediately called to the duty of forming a Constitution for his native State. While in the discharge of his duty in Convention, Congress appointed him a Minister to Great Britain, to negotiate a treaty of peace and commerce with that government. He left Boston in the French frigate La Sensible, in October, 1777, and after a long passage, landed at Ferrol, in Spain, whence he journeyed by land to Paris. He found England indisposed for peace if American Independence was to be the sine qua non, and was about to return home, when he received from Congress the appointment of Commissioner to Holland, to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce with the States-General. The confidence of Congress in him was unlimited, and he was intrusted at one time with the execution of no less that six missions, each of a different character. These commissions empowered him, 1st, to negotiate a peace with Great Britain; 2d, to make a treaty of commerce with Great Britain; 3d, the same with the States-General; 4th, the same with the Prince of Orange; 5th, to pledge the faith of the United States to the Armed Neutrality; 6th, to negotiate a loan of ten millions of dollars. In 1781 he was associated with Franklin, Jay, and Laurens, as a commissioner to conclude treaties of peace with the European powers. In 1782 he assisted in negotiating a commercial treaty with Great Britain, and was the first of the American Commissioners who signed the definite treaty of peace with that power. In 1784 Mr. Adams returned to Paris, and in January, 1785, he was appointed Minister for the United States at the Court of Great Britain, That post he honorably occupied until 1788, when he resigned the office and returned home.
While Mr. Adams was absent, the Federal Constitution was adopted, and it received his hearty approval. He was placed upon the ticket with Washington for Vice-President, at the first election under the new Constitution, and was elected to that office. He was re-elected to the same office in 1792, and in 1796 he was chosen to succeed Washington in the Presidential chair. In 1801 he retired from public life. In 1816 he was placed on the Democratic ticket as Presidential elector. In 1818 he lost his wife, with whom he had lived fifty-two years in uninterrupted conjugal felicity. In 1824 he was chosen, a member of the Convention of Massachusetts to revise the Constitution, and was chosen President of that body, which honor he declined on account of his great age. In 1825 he had the felicity of seeing his son elevated to the Presidency of the United States. In the spring of 1826 his physical powers rapidly declined, and on the fourth of July of that year he expired, in the ninety-second year of his age. On the morning of the fourth it was evident he could not last many hours. On being asked for a toast for the day, the last words he ever uttered—words of glorious import—fell from his lips, "INDEPENDENCE FOREVER!" On the very same day, and at nearly the same hour, his fellow-committee-man in drawing up the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, also died. It was the fiftieth anniversary of that glorious act, and the coincidence made a deep impression upon the public mind. His portrait graces "Independence Hall," and is numbered sixteen.
Chapter 18 William Huntington
The subject of this memoir, who was one of the noble patriots whose name gave vitality and efficiency to the Declaration of Independence, was born in Windham, Connecticut, on the second day of July, 1732. His ancestors and relatives were among the first settlers of that State, and located themselves at Saybrook. The father of William Huntington was a farmer, and at those times when educational advantages were of an inconsiderate character among the hardy pioneers, the only opportunities he was able to allow his son, were those derived from the common schools in his vicinity, and these were few and not very important. But, nevertheless, William manifested a great desire for learning, and studiously applied himself to his books. In this way the active energies of his mind surmounted the many impediments to his advancement interposed by a want of proper educational advantages for developing his intellectual powers. By dint of persevering industry and hard study, in the course of a few years he obtained considerable knowledge of the Latin language. When he arrived at the age of twenty-two, he selected for his vocation in life the legal profession, and commenced studying law. Like Sherman he was obliged to pursue it from borrowed books, and even without an instructor. But notwithstanding all these difficulties and disadvantages, he succeeded in mastering its intricacies, and before he arrived at the age of thirty years, he had good practice in his native village. After perfecting himself in the law, and securing great popularity in the town where he had pursued his legal studies with so much ardor and attention, he removed to Norwich, where he had a wider field in which to exhibit his talents, and where he soon acquired a practice commensurate with his skill and attainments.
In the year 1764 Mr. Huntington was chosen by the people to represent them in the Assembly of Connecticut, and the year following he was made a member of the Council. Whatever position in which he was placed, he discharged its duties with fidelity and ability; while in the various callings of political station his labors were such as to elicit the confidence and esteem of his constituents. In 1774 he was made an Associate Judge of the Superior Court, and the next year he was appointed one of the Connecticut Delegates to the General Congress. In this capacity he remained until the subsequent year, when he attached his signature to the instrument declaring the Colonies "free and independent States." He continued a member of that Congress nearly five consecutive years, and won the reputation of being one of the most active and efficient men in that body; for it was soon discovered by his opposers that his integrity was stern and unbending—that offers of high position, and glittering bribes from British emissaries could not lure him from the path of rectitude—and so conspicuous became his sound judgment and untiring industry, that in 1779 he was appointed President of Congress, at that time the highest office in the country. This appointment was to fill the vacancy occasioned by the sending of John Jay as Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain, for the purpose of negotiating a treaty of amity and commerce with that nation. He held that office until his health became so enfeebled that he could not discharge its arduous duties without endangering his life, and he was finally compelled to send in his resignation, which Congress very reluctantly consented to accept.
After his resignation he returned to Connecticut, where he resumed the responsibilities incident to the offices he held in the Council and on the bench, both of which had been continued while he was in Congress. In 1783 he again took his seat in Congress, but left it again in November of the same year, and retired to his family. We find it recorded in his biography, "that soon after his return, he was appointed Chief Justice of the Superior Court of his State. In 1775 he was elected Lieutenant-Governor, and was promoted to the Chief Magistracy in 1786, which office he held until his death, which occurred at Norwich, on the fifth day of January, 1796, in the sixty-fourth year of his age. Governor Huntington lived the life of the irreproachable and sincere Christian, and those who knew him most intimately, loved him the most affectionately. He was a thoughtful man, and talked but little—the expression of his mind and heart was put forth in his actions. He seemed to have a natural timidity, or modesty, which some mistook for the reserve of haughtiness, yet with those with whom he was familiar, he was free and winning in his manners. Investigation was a prominent characteristic of his mind, and when this faculty led him to a conclusion, it was difficult to turn him from the path of his determination. Hence as a devoted Christian and a true patriot, he never swerved from duty, or looked back after he had placed his hand to the work."
The cultivation of such a decisive faculty is worthy of emulation by our rising young men, for it is the strong arm that will lead them safely through many difficulties, and win for them that sentiment of reliance in the minds of others, which is so essential in securing their esteem and confidence. It was this very necessary and predominant faculty which constituted the chief aid to William Huntington in his progress from the humble calling of a plow-boy to the acme of official station, where true greatness was essential, and to which none but the truly good may aspire. In all his dealings with his fellow-men, whether in a social or political capacity, he never allowed partisan feelings to overbalance his judgment, or lead him into the support of measures at variance with true republican principles, or the demands of moral duty. In this respect he was a model of greatness, and will, therefore, maintain an honorable place in history and in the warm affections of the people, while the stars and stripes of our happy country float majestically over a nation of freemen. By the side of Richard Henry Lee and Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, in Old Independence Hall, his portrait hangs, as fresh and vigorous as when it left the hands of the artist, and in every lineament of its features may still be read that stern decision of purpose which characterized his whole career through life. Although the artist's skill has transferred to canvas an inanimate semblance of that once living patriot, his noble efforts in the cause of Independence would have transmitted his fame to immortality, and Independence Hall would forever echo his name.
Chapter 19 Oliver Wolcott
The name of Wolcott, says Mr. Lossing, appeared among the early settlers of Connecticut, and from that day to this, it has been distinguished for living scions, honored for their talents in legislation or literature. It appears, however, that his English ancestor, Henry Wolcott, first settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts, after his arrival in 1630. Six years afterward, he, with a few associates, moved to Windsor, in Connecticut, and formed a settlement there. He was among the first who organized the government of that State, and obtained a charter from Charles II. But the subject of this brief memoir was born in the town of Windsor, on the 26th of November, 1726. His father was a distinguished man, having been Major-General, Judge, Lieutenant-Governor, and finally Governor of the State of Connecticut. Oliver Wolcott entered Yale College at the age of seventeen years, and graduated with the usual honors in 1747. He received a captain's commission in the army, and raising a company immediately, he marched to the northern frontier to confront the French and Indians; The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle terminated the hostilities, and he returned home. He arose regularly from Captain to Major-General. Young Wolcott now turned his attention to the study of medicine, under his distinguished uncle, Dr. Alexander Wolcott; but when he had just completed his studies, he was appointed Sheriff of the newly organized county of Litchfield. In 1774 he was elected a member of the Council of his native State, and he was annually reelected until 1786, notwithstanding he was during that time a Delegate to the Continental Congress, Chief Justice of Litchfield County, and also a Judge of Probate of that District. Mr. Wolcott was appointed by the first General Congress one of the Commissioners of Indian affairs for the Northern Department; and he performed excellent service to the American cause by his influence in bringing about an amicable adjustment of the controversy between Connecticut and Pennsylvania concerning the Wyoming settlement, a controversy at one time threatening serious effects upon the confederacy.
Toward the close of 1775, Mr. Wolcott was elected a delegate to the second General Congress, and took his seat in January, 1776. He took a prominent part in the debates respecting the Independence of the Colonies, and voted for, and signed that glorious Declaration of American disenthralment. Soon after this act was consummated, he returned home, and was immediately appointed by Governor Trumbull and the Council of Safety to the command of a detachment of Connecticut militia, consisting of fourteen regiments, destined for the defense of New York. After the battle of Long Island, he returned to Connecticut, and in November of that year he resumed his seat in Congress, and was in that body when they fled to Baltimore on the approach of the British toward Philadelphia, at the close of the year 1776. During the latter part of the summer of that year, he was actively engaged in the recruiting service; and after sending General Putnam, who was then on the Hudson River, several thousand volunteers, he took command of a body of recruits, and joined General Gates at Saratoga. He aided in the capture of General Burgoyne and his army in October, 1777, and soon afterward he again took a seat in Congress, then assembled at York, in Pennsylvania, where he continued until July, 1778.
It will be remembered that, during the Revolution, Congress held its sessions in Philadelphia, but on several occasions was obliged to retreat to a more secure position. At the close of 1776 it adjourned to Baltimore, when it was expected Cornwallis would attack Philadelphia, after his successful pursuit of Washington across New Jersey. Again, when Howe marched upon Philadelphia in September, 1777, Congress adjourned to Lancaster, and three days afterward to York, where its sessions were held during the winter the American army were encamped at Valley Forge. In the summer of 1779, Oliver Wolcott took command of a division of Connecticut militia, and undertook, with success, the defense of the southwestern sea-coast of that State, then invaded by a British army. The British force was led by General Tryon, of New York, and was characterized as a plundering and desolating expedition. Fairfield and Norwalk were laid in ashes, and the most cruel atrocities were inflicted upon the inhabitants, without regard to sex or condition. Houses were rifled, the persons of the females abased, and many of them fled half naked to the woods and swamps in the vicinity of their desolated homes.
From that time until 1783, Oliver Wolcott was alternately engaged in civil and military duties in his native State, and occasionally, held a seat in Congress. In 1784 and 1785 he was an active Indian agent, and was one of the six commissioners who prescribed terms of peace to the "Six Nations of Indians," who inhabited Western New York. History informs us that the five Indian Tribes, the Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas, and the Senecas, had formed a confederation long before they were discovered by the whites. It is not known when this confederation was first formed, but when the New England settlers penetrated westward, they found this powerful confederacy strongly united, and at war with nearly all of the surrounding tribes. The Onondagas seemed to be the chief nation of the confederacy, for with them the great council fire was specially deposited, and it was kept always burning. Their undisputed domain included nearly the whole of the present area of the State of New York. They subdued the Hurons and Algonquins in 1657, and in 1665, they almost annihilated the Eries. In 1672 they destroyed the Andastes, and in 1701 they penetrated as far south as the Cape Fear River, spreading terror and desolation in their path. They warred with the Cherokees, and almost exterminated the Catawbas, and when in 1674, they ceded some of their lands to Virginia, they reserved the privilege of a war path through the ceded domain. In 1714 they were joined by the Tuscaroras of North Carolina, and since that time the confederacy has been known as the Six Nations. They uniformly took sides with the British, and entered into a compact with them against the French in 1754. In the war of the Revolution, "the whole confederacy," says De Witt Clinton, "except a little more than half the Oneidas, took up arms against us. They hung like the scythe of death upon the rear of our settlements, and their deeds are inscribed with the scalping-knife and the tomahawk, in characters of blood, on the fields of Wyoming, and Cherry Valley, and on the banks of the Mohawk."
In 1786 General Wolcott was elected Lieutenant-Governor of Connecticut and was re-elected every year until 1796, when he was chosen Governor of the State. He was elected again to that office in 1797, and held the station at the time of his death, which event occurred on the first day of December of that year, in the seventy-second year of his age. As a patriot and a statesman, a Christian and a man, Governor Wolcott presented a bright example; for inflexibility, virtue, piety, and integrity, were his prominent characteristics. In every respect, he was a man of exemplary conduct, worthy of our esteem and emulation.
Chapter 20 Robert Treat Paine
Boston is distinguished as being the city in which many valorous acts of patriotism and loyalty to the cause of Independence were performed, and where stern resistance to encroachments of European aggressions was made. But, perhaps, for no one incident is it more celebrated than for being the birth-place of so warm and uncompromising a Patriot as the one whose name stands at the head of this memoir. In this circumstance alone it has acquired a reputation favorable throughout the country as it is over the Commonwealth in which it is situated, and which will remain a bright spot in its history so long as she respects the name of Liberty and the Constitution which binds the Union together. Robert Treat Paine was born in 1731. His father was a minister of the Gospel, and an active officiating clergyman, and his mother was daughter of the Rev. Mr. Treat, of Barnstable County. Governor Treat, of Connecticut, was his maternal grandfather. It will, therefore, be readily seen, that his connections on both sides, were of the most pious and religious character, and in those days of puritanical discipline, must have exerted a salutary effect upon him. And such were the results. In addition to this, the moral education of Mr. Paine, at a very, early day, received the advantages of instruction in letters from Mr. Lovell, who was the tutor of John Hancock and John Adams. Such were the moral and religious influences which made so marked and admired a character of Mr. Paine, and which shone so conspicuously in his after conduct.
At the age of fourteen years Mr. Paine was admitted into Harvard College, where he went commendably through the programme of studies, and graduated with the usual honors. After he left college he employed himself in the capacity of a school teacher, and was remarkably successful in that vocation. Subsequently he made a voyage to Europe, where he was courteously received among the prominent of the religious circles, and where his society was courted by the literati. On his return to Massachusetts he prepared himself for the ministry, in which calling he was chosen to accompany, as their chaplain, in 1755, a military expedition to the north. He was a man much esteemed by the soldiers for his meekness and devotion, and won friends as well in the camp as at his own domestic fireside. After the expedition had returned, Mr. Paine abandoned his theological pursuits as a profession, commenced the study of law with Mr. Pratt afterward Chief Justice of New York—and was admitted to practice at the bar. He commenced his legal profession in Boston, the city of his nativity, where he attained an honorable celebrity; but he soon afterward selected the town of Taunton as a place of residence. At this place he became a powerful rival and an inveterate opponent of the distinguished Timothy Ruggles, who was President of the Colonial or "Stamp Act Congress," in 1765, and opposed to some of its measures; but when the Revolution broke out he took sides with the king and Parliament. Mr. Paine early espoused the cause of the Colonists, yet he conducted himself so cautiously and prudently that he retained the Governor's confidence. After Governor Bernard bad dissolved the Assembly, in 1768, a Provincial Convention was called, which Mr. Paine attended as a delegate from Taunton. The reason of the Governor dissolving the Assembly was because, with closed doors, they adopted a circular to be sent to all the other Colonies, inviting them to send delegates to a General Colonial Congress to be held in New York.
When the trial of Captain Preston and his men occurred in 1770, the indisposition of the District Attorney prevented his attendance, and Mr. Paine was chosen us his substitute. He conducted that important trial with great ability, achieving new laurels to deck his already distinguished reputation. The Vigilance Committee of Taunton unanimously selected him as its chairman in 1778, which position he filled to the satisfaction of the people. During the years 1773 and 1774 he was a member of the Provincial Assembly, and was appointed a commissioner to conduct the proceedings in the case of the impeachment of Chief Justice Oliver. The ground of his impeachment was based on the fact, that he received his salary directly from the crown, and not from the people of the province, and thus was made independent of them. He was a firm and uncompromising advocate of a Continental Congress, and while he was a member of the Assembly, in spite of Governor Gage, it elected delegates to the General Congress, of whom Mr. Paine was one. During the autumn of 1774 he was elected a member of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, where he exhibited unusual activity in the discharge of his arduous duties. He was deputed by the General Congress, with two others, to visit the army of General Schuyler, at the north, for the purpose of observation. The commission was a peculiarly delicate one, but Mr. Paine and his colleagues performed the task with signal ability and entire satisfaction. Some time during the same year he was chosen a side judge to sit on the bench with John Adams who had been appointed Chief Justice of the Province of Massachusetts.
The honor thus conferred upon Mr. Paine, however, was declined, but his valuable services could not be dispensed with in a public capacity, and in December, he was again elected to the General Congress, and on the 4th of July, 1776, he was proud to acknowledge the privilege of voting for and signing the Declaration of Independence. In 1777 he was made Attorney-General of Massachusetts by a unanimous vote of the Council and Representatives, and he held that office until 1790, when he was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court. Subsequently he was chosen a member of the Convention that framed the Constitution of his native State. For fourteen years he discharged his duties as judge, but in 1804 he left the bench, on account of the approaching infirmities of age. He died in 1814 at the age of 84 years. Thus passed through the most troublous times in our country's history one of the purest patriots that ever lived. His long and active life was devoted almost exclusively to the public service, and a grateful people duly appreciated his labors. Few men ever attain an eminence of character so devoid of offense, and few pass from the public arena more honored and respected. Although his portrait is not found with his compatriots who signed the Declaration of Independence, in Independence Hall, his name and memory are associated with theirs and the history of that hallowed room, with imperishable lustre and undying honor.
Chapter 21 PHILIP LIVINGSTON.
The Revolutionary era was one marked with names of stern patriots—an epoch of momentous events. Patriotism in its unadulterated character, uncontaminated even by the slightest taint of corruption, was then exhibited by thousands of hardy yeomanry; and associated with the brilliant names of that retinue of distinguished men, none shone with a purer lustre, or stand more conspicuously before the world than that of LIVINGSTON. Like the name of WOLCOTT, from the early settlement of our country to the present time, that name has been honored and regarded with a sense of emulation. The subject of this biography, was born in Albany on the fifteenth day of January, 1716. He was descended from a Minister of the Gospel who, in 1663, emigrated from Scotland and settled in Rotterdam, where he died. His son Robert, father of Philip, subsequently came to this country, and under the privileges guaranteed to the patroons, obtained a grant of a large tract of land, upon the Hudson River, now in Columbia County, ever since known as Livingston's Manor. He had three sons, of whom Philip was the eldest, and who became on the death of his father, heir to the manor. His two brothers, Robert and Gilbert, were influential men at that time. The former was the father of Chancellor Livingston, who administered the "Inaugural Oath" to George Washington, in 1789, on taking the Presidential Chair; and the latter was the father of the late Rev. John Livingston, D.D., President of Rutger's College, at New Brunswick, New Jersey.
After completing a preparative course of study, he entered Yale College, at New Haven, where he graduated with distinguished honors in 1737. He at once turned his attention to commercial pursuits, and engaged in an extensive and lucrative business in the city of New York, where his integrity and upright dealings won for him the profound respect of the whole community. Mr. Livingston first entered upon public life in 1754, when he was elected an Alderman of the East Ward of the city of New York.* For nine consecutive years he was re-elected to that office, and always gave entire satisfaction to his constituents. When Sir Charles Hardy, the Governor of the Colony of New York, was appointed a Rear-Admiral in the British Navy, the government devolved upon the Lieutenant, Delancy, who at once, on the resignation of the Governor, dissolved the General Assembly and ordered new elections. These contests at that time were very warm, but the superior education and influence of the Livingston family secured for Philip and his brother Robert, seats in that body. It was a period of much alarm and agitation, and required sterling men in legislative councils. Mr. Livingston soon became a leader among his colleagues, and by his superior wisdom and sagacity, measures were set on foot which resulted in the capture from the French of several important frontier fortresses, and finally the subjugation of Canada. At that time the "French and Indian war," was at its height, and the brilliant successes of Montcalm upon the northern frontier of New York, gave the people great uneasiness.
*At that time the city of. New York contained only about eleven thousand inhabitants, and what is now called Wall street was quite at the north end of the town. Since then a "change has come over" the city of New York, greatly to its advantage.
For a long time before the Revolution, nearly all the Colonies had resident agents in England. The celebrated Edmund Burke was the agent in New York when the war broke out, and it is believed that his enlightened views of American affairs, as manifested in his brilliant speeches in Parliament in defense of the Colonies, were derived from his long-continued and constant correspondence with Philip Livingston, who was appointed one of a Committee of the New York Assembly, for that purpose. He was very influential in that body, and early took a decided stand against the unrighteous acts of Great Britain. He was the associate and leader of such men as General Schuyler, Pierre Van Cortlandt, Charles De Witt, and others, and so long as Whig principles had the ascendancy in the Provincial Assembly, he was the Speaker of the House. When Toryism took possession of the Province, he left the Assembly. In 1774 Mr. Livingston was elected a delegate to the first Continental Congress, and was one of the committee who prepared the address to the people at Great Britain—an address replete with bold and original thoughts, perspicuous propositions, and convincing arguments. In reference to that Congress, and the address put forth by it, William Pitt, the great Earl of Chatham, said: "I must declare and aver, that, in all my reading and study—and it has been my favorite study—I have read Thucydides, and have studied and admired the master-spirits of the world—that for the solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, under such a complication of circumstances, no national body of men can stand in preference to the General Congress at Philadelphia."
The next year the Assembly presented such an array of Tories, that it was impossible to elect delegates to the second Congress. Accordingly, several counties, composed of New York, Albany, Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, Westchester, King's, and Suffolk, sent delegates to a Provincial Convention, which body elected delegates to a General Congress, among whom was Philip Livingston, and his nephew Robert R. Livingston. These delegates were vested with power to act as circumstances should require. Mr. Livingston warmly supported the proposition for Independence, and he voted for and signed the declaration thereof. This was sanctioned by the Provincial Assembly of New York. When the State governments were formed, after the Declaration of Independence, Mr. Livingston was elected a member of the first Senate of New York, which met on the 10th of September, 1777. In 1778, although his health was in a precarious state, occasioned by dropsy in the chest, he obeyed the call of duty, and took his seat in Congress, to which he had been elected. He had a presentiment that he should not return to his family, and accordingly, on his departure, he bade his family and friends a final adieu. On the 12th of June following, his presentiment became a reality, and his disease then suddenly terminated his life at the age of sixty-two years. No relative was near to smooth his dying pillow, except his son Henry, a lad of eighteen years, then residing in the family of General Washington. Mr. Livingston was zealous in the promotion of every enterprise conducive to the public welfare, and has left behind him a name and fame that kings might covet. He was one of the founders of the New York Society Library; also of the Chamber of Commerce; and was an active promoter of the establishment of King's (now Columbia) College.
Among the portraits which grace Independence Hall, and lend additional lustre to the room in which the Declaration of our Country's freedom was promulgated, is that of Philip Livingston. In the present arrangement of those brave heroes' names and likenesses, it is numbered Seven, and no patriot can gaze upon that countenance, which seems to speak through the living canvas, without emotions of unfeigned gratitude for the men who braved the storms of adversity, and guided the helm of experiment to the accomplishment of a national reality. The last moments of Mr. Livingston was spent at York, Pennsylvania, and the end of a good man is peace.
Chapter 22 Francis Lewis
The subject of this biographical sketch was one of that noble fraternity of patriots who had the boldness and lofty decision of purpose to strike a blow for the cause of Freedom; and, as a natural consequence, he signed the "Declaration of Independence," by which the Thirteen Colonies became "free and sovereign" States. Born in the town of Llandaff, Wales, in 1713, among the inspiring scenes and associations of that freedom-loving people, it was not strange that he should have inherited from infancy a deep-rooted hatred of all forms of despotic power and intolerance. And being the son of an Episcopal clergy-man, and reared by a pious mother, under all the hallowed influences of Christian duty, he had early learned to look with contempt upon priestly usurpation. But he was, however, at a tender age, bereft of both father and mother by an afflictive dispensation, and he was then taken in charge by a maiden aunt, who it is affirmed, watched over him with all the care and solicitude of a fond and devoted parent. By this sad bereavement he was, to a great extent, thrown upon the world—not, however, without warm and influential friends and relatives. Still young as he was, he keenly felt their loss, which, no doubt, operated largely in the formation of that character so marked and distinguished in his after life, and which won for him so much esteem and fame. He received, however, a portion of his education in Scotland, under the care and superintendence of another relative, and soon became proficient not only in his native tongue—the Ancient Briton—but also in the Gælic language, at that time mostly used in Scotland. He was afterward sent to Westminster by his uncle, who was Dean of St. Paul's, London, where his education was mostly completed.
When he had received a competent education, he went through an apprenticeship with a merchant in the city of London. Most of his relatives were in pretty good circumstances; and when Francis arrived at the age of twenty-one years, he became the possessor of a considerable sum of money, which he invested in merchandise and sailed for New York, in which city he formed a business partnership. After having accomplished that arrangement, he left a portion of his goods with his partner in New York, and conveyed the remainder to Philadelphia, and established a branch of his business in that city, where he remained some two or three years, and was remarkably successful in business. He then returned to New York for the purpose of making that city his permanent place of residence. He soon after became acquainted with, and married the sister of Mr. Ansley, his partner, by whom he had seven children. In his business relations, which constantly increased, and had grown to an extensive degree, he, was ever prompt and upright, and won for himself a reputation abroad which few of the New York merchants had, with much longer experience and assiduity, attained. In fact his commercial pursuits kept him, much of his time, in Europe. But when the "French and Indian war," as it is designated, broke out, he became deeply interested in the welfare of the English Colonies, and therefore was an active partisan in the war. At Oswego he was the aid of Colonel Mercer, when Montcalm conquered and took possession of that fort, in August, 1757. Mercer was slain in that engagement, and in company with other prisoners, Mr. Lewis was carried to Canada. Thence he was sent to France, but was subsequently exchanged. That battle was very disastrous to the English—fourteen hundred men were made prisoners. and thirty-four pieces of artillery, a large quantity of ammunition and stores, and several vessels in the harbor, fell into the hands of the French. The fort was demolished and never rebuilt.
At the close of the war, in consideration for the valuable services he had rendered, he received five thousand acres of land from the British Government. During the administration of Mr. Pitt, Francis Lewis was distinguished for his republican views and notions, for which he was elected one of the delegates, for New York in the Colonial Congress of 1765. When the "Stamp Act" became a law, and non-importation agreements nearly ruined commerce, he retired from business to his country residence on Long Island, where
But, as the true-hearted patriot, when his country needs wise counsel and men of bold and uncompromising integrity, he was not permitted to remain inactive in the political progress of affairs for any length of time. Consequently, the Convention of Deputies, in 1775, elected him a delegate to the General Congress. He was also elected a delegate for 1776, by the Provincial Assembly, and thus became one of the noble heroes whose signatures honor the Declaration of Independence. He was a member of Congress until 1778, and was always an active and efficient committee-man of that body.
The activity which Mr. Lewis manifested in the cause of Freedom, as a matter of course, made him a shining light for the resentment of the British and Tories, and while the former possessed Long Island, they not only destroyed his property, but had the brutality to confine his wife in a close prison for several months, without a bed or a change of raiment, whereby her constitution was ruined, and she died two years afterward. He was not much better dealt with by the Tories. And here it may not be improper to remark, that the patriot names of Whig and Tory were first used in New York, in 1774, and rapidly spread throughout the Colonies. The name of Tory was applied to the American Royalists, and the name of Whig was assumed by the patriots. The origin of these names is somewhat obscure. According to Bishop Burnett, the term Whig is derived from the Scotch word whiggam, an instrument used for driving horses. Those who drove the horses were termed Whiggamores, which was afterward abbreviated to Whig. The origin of the word Tory is not clear. It was first used in Ireland in the time of Charles II. Sir Richard Philips defines the two parties thus: "Those are Whigs who would curb the powers of the Crown—those are Tories who would curb the powers of the people."
Having attained to the age of nearly ninety years, and honored by the reverence and universal esteem of his countrymen, Mr. Lewis departed this life on the 30th of December, 1803, leaving behind him a name which can never be effaced from the scroll of history or honor. In regard to that noble patriot, there is a vacant niche in "Independence Hall," where his portrait ought long since to have been placed in company with others of that glorious retinue, who won for our country her Independence, and for us an inheritance of Freedom.
Chapter 23 John Witherspoon
JOHN WITHERSPOON was, at the time of the Revolution, a citizen of New Jersey, and stood the highest among the noble advocates of the Colonies. He was a lineal descendant of the great reformer, John Knox, and was born in the parish of Yester, near Scotland, on the fifth of February, 1722. His father was a minister in the Scottish church at Yester, and was esteemed by all who knew him. It is said of him that he took great pains to have the early education of his son based upon sound, moral, and religious principles, and resolved at an early day to fit him for the ministry. Accordingly, his primary education was received in a school at Haddington, and at the age of fourteen years he was placed in the University of Edinburg. He was a very diligent student, and, to the delight of his father, his mind was specially directed toward sacred literature. He went through a regular theological course of study, and at the age of twenty-two he graduated a licensed preacher. He was requested to remain in Yester, as an assistant of his father, but he accepted a call at Leith, in the west of Scotland, where he labored faithfully for several years.
While he was stationed at Leith, the battle of Falkirk took place, between the forces of George the Second and Prince Charles Stuart, during the commotion known as the Scotch rebellion, in 1745-6. Mr. Witherspoon and others went to witness the battle, which proved victorious to the rebels; and he, with several others, were taken prisoners, and for some time confined in the castle of Doune. From Leith he removed to Paisley, where he became widely known for his piety and learning. He was severally invited to take charge of a parish and flock, at Dublin, in Ireland; Dundee, in Scotland; and Rotterdam in Holland; but he declined them all. In 1766 he was invited, by a unanimous vote of the Trustees of New Jersey College, to become its President; but this, too, he declined, partly on account of the unwillingness of his wife to leave the land of her nativity. But being strongly urged by Richard Stockton, (afterward his colleague in Congress, and fellow-signer of the Declaration of Independence) then on a visit to that country, he accepted the appointment, and sailed for America.
He arrived at Princeton, with his family, in August, 1768, and on the 17th of that month he was inaugurated President of the College. His name and his exertions wrought a great change in the affairs of that institution, and from a low condition in its finances and other essential elements of prosperity, it soon rose to a proud eminence among the institutions of learning in America. For a long time party feuds had retarded the growth of the College, and its finances were in such a wretched condition that resuscitation seemed almost hopeless. But the presence of Dr. Witherspoon silenced party dissensions, and awakened new confidence in the institution; and the province of New Jersey, which had hitherto withheld its fostering aid, now came forward and endowed professorships in it. And now
When the British army invaded New Jersey, the College at Princeton was broken up, and the extensive knowledge of Dr. Witherspoon was called to play in a vastly different arena. He was called upon early in 1776 to assist in the formation of a new Constitution for New Jersey; and his patriotic sentiments and sound judgment were then so conspicuous that, in June of that year, he was elected a delegate to the General Congress. After the abdication of the Colonial Governors, in 1774 and 1775, provisional governments were formed in the various States, and popular Constitutions were framed, by which they were severally governed under the old Confederacy. Mr. Witherspoon had already formed a decided opinion in favor of Independence, and he gave his support to the resolution declaring the States free forever. He took his seat in Congress on the 29th of June, 1776. On the first of July, when the subject of a Declaration of Independence was discussed, a distinguished member remarked, that "the people are not ripe for a Declaration of Independence." Dr. Witherspoon observed: "In my judgment, sir, we are not only ripe but rotting." On the 2d of August, he affixed his signature to the Declaration.
Dr. Witherspoon was a member of Congress from the period of his first election until 1782, except a part of the year 1780; and so strict was he in his attendance, that it was a very rare thing to find him absent. He was placed upon the most important committees, and intrusted with delicate commissions. He took a conspicuous part in both military and financial matters, and his colleagues were astonished at his versatility of knowledge. After the restoration of peace in 1783, Dr. Witherspoon withdrew from public life, except so far as his duties as a minister of the Gospel brought him before his congregation. He endeavored to resuscitate the prostrate institution over which he had presided. Although to his son-in-law, Vice-President Smith, was intrusted the active duties in the effort, yet it cannot be doubted that the name and influence of Dr. Witherspoon were chiefly instrumental in effecting the result which followed. After urgent solicitation, he consented to go to Great Britain and ask for pecuniary aid for the College. In this movement his own judgment could not concur; for he knew enough of human nature to believe that while political resentment was still so warm there against a people who had just cut asunder the bond of union with them, no enterprise could offer charms sufficient to overcome it. In this he was correct, for he collected barely enough to pay the expenses of his voyage.
About two years before his death he lost his eyesight, yet his ministerial duties were not relinquished. Aided by the guiding hand of another, he would ascend the pulpit, and, with all the fervor of his prime and vigor, break the Bread of Life to the eager listeners to his message. As a theological writer, Dr. Witherspoon had few superiors, and as a statesman he held the first rank. In him were centered the social elements of an upright citizen, a fond parent,* a just tutor, and humble Christian; and when, on the 10th of November, 1794, at the age of nearly seventy-three years, his useful life closed, it was widely felt that a "great man had fallen in Israel." Among the portraits hanging in the Hall of Independence, that of Dr. John Witherspoon is No. 6. It is a pity that the likenesses of all those distinguished individuals who signed that charter of our liberties do not occupy conspicuous places in that hallowed and consecrated room,
* Dr. Witherspoon was twice married. By his first wife, a Scottish lady, he had three sons and two daughters. One of the latter (Frances) married Dr. David Ramsay, of South Carolina, one of the earliest historians of the American Revolution. She was a woman of extraordinary piety, and the memoirs of but few females have been more widely circulated and profitably read than were hers, written by her husband.
Chapter 24 Robert Morris
In the progress of our historical reminiscences we have arrived at one of those patriots whose name stands conspicuously brilliant on the scroll of our country's fame—that of ROBERT MORRIS. As a financier of the Revolution, his qualifications were unexcelled. He was born in Lancashire, England, in January, 1733. His father was an able and highly esteemed merchant in Liverpool, and extensively engaged in the trade with the American Colonies. When Robert was a small child, he was left in the care of his grandmother, and his father came to this country, settled at Oxford, on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. Providing himself with the necessary conveniences and comforts of life, he sent for his family, and when they arrived Robert was about thirteen years of age. He was placed in one of the schools at Philadelphia, but the deficiencies of his teacher afforded him but slight advantage in the attainment of knowledge. On being chided by his father for his tardiness in learning, he remarked—"Why, sir, I have learned all that he could teach me." Young Morris was placed in the counting-room of Mr. Charles Willing, one of the leading merchants of Philadelphia, when he was fifteen years old, and about the same time he became an orphan by the sudden decease of his father. A ship having arrived from Liverpool, consigned to Mr. Morris, the elder, he invited several friends to an entertainment on board. When they retired a salute was fired, and a wad from one of the guns hit Mr. Morris upon the arm. The wound was severe, mortified, and in a few days put an end to his existence. Young Morris was much esteemed by Mr. Willing, who gave him every advantage his business afforded; and at the death of his master and friend, he had all the requisite qualifications for a finished and thorough business man. As an evidence of his general good conduct, it is related that Mr. Willing, on his deathbed, said to him: "Robert, always continue to act as you have done."
In 1754 Mr. Morris formed a mercantile business partnership with Mr. Thomas Willing. The firm soon became the most extensive importing house in Philadelphia, and rapidly increased in wealth and standing. After the passage of the Stamp Act and the Tea Act, non-importation agreements became general in the commercial cities of the Colonies. One of the measures adopted by the Colonists to force Great Britain to do them justice, was that of American merchants every where agreeing not to import any thing from the mother country. This had a powerful effect upon Parliament, (for in the Lower House the mercantile interest was strongly represented,) and led to the modification of several stringent measures. The agreements, of course, seriously affected merchants here, and therein their patriotism was made peculiarly manifest. Willing and Morris, notwithstanding the great loss of business it would occasion, not only cheerfully entered into the plan, but did all in their power to induce others to do likewise. But it was not until the tragedy at Lexington aroused the fiercest indignation of the Colonists, and extinguished all hope of reconciliation, that Mr. Morris took an active part in public affairs.
It is said by Lossing, that Mr. Morris and a number of others, members of the St. George's Society, were at dinner, celebrating the anniversary of St. George's day, when the news of the battle of Lexington reached them. Astonishment and indignation filled the company, and they soon dispersed. A few remained and discussed the great question of American freedom: and there, within the festive hall, did Robert Morris and a few others, by a solemn vow, dedicate their lives, their fortunes, and their honor, to the sacred cause of the Revolution. That event called him forth, and in November of the same year, he was elected by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, a delegate to the General Congress. His business talents were at once appreciated in that body, and he was placed upon the "secret committee,"* and also a committee to devise ways and means for providing a naval armament. In the spring of 1776, Congress chose him a special commissioner to nego tiate bills of exchange, and to take other measures to procure money for the Government. Mr. Morris was again elected to Congress on the 18th of July, 1776, fourteen days after the Declaration of Independence was adopted; and being in favor of the measure, he affixed his signature thereto on the 2d of August following. His labors in Congress were incessant, and he always looked with perfect confidence to the period when peace and independence should crown the efforts of the patriots. Even when the American army, under Washington, had dwindled down to a handful of half-naked, half-famished militia, during the disastrous retreat across New Jersey, at the close of 1776, he evinced his confidence that final success would ensue, by loaning at that time, upon his individual responsibility, $10,000. This materially assisted in collecting together and paying that gallant band with which Washington recrossed the Delaware, and won the glorious victory at Trenton.
*The duties of the secret committee consisted in managing the financial affairs of the government. It was a position of great trust, for they frequently had funds placed in their hands to be disposed of according to their discretion, like the "secret service money" of the present day, placed in the hands of the President, with discretionary powers, it being inimical to the general good to take public action upon such disbursements.
When Congress fled to Baltimore, on the approach of the British across New Jersey, Mr. Morris, after removing his family into the country, returned to, and remained in Philadelphia. Almost in despair, Washington wrote to him, and informed him that to make any successful movement whatever, a considerable sum of money must be had. It was a requirement that seemed almost impossible to meet. Mr. Morris left his counting-room for his lodging in utter despondency. On his way he met a wealthy Quaker, and made known his wants. "What security canst thou give?" asked he. "My note, and my honor," promptly replied Mr. Morris. The Quaker replied: "Robert, thou shalt have it." It was sent to Washington, the Delaware was crossed, and victory won! Many instances of a similar nature are related, where the high character of Mr. Morris enabled him to procure money when the government could not, and his patriotism never faltered in inducing him to apply it to the public benefit.
In 1781, the darkest period of the war, Mr. Morris, in connection with other citizens, organized a banking institution in Philadelphia, for the purpose of issuing paper-money that should receive the public confidence, for the government bills were becoming almost worthless. This scheme had the desired effect, and the aid it rendered to the cause was incalculable. During that year, upon the urgent solicitation of Congress, Mr. Morris accepted the appointment of general financial agent of the United States, in other words, Secretary of the Treasury. It was a service which no other man in the country seemed competent to perform, and that Congress well knew. His business talent, and his extensive credit at home and abroad, were brought to bear in this vocation; and upon him alone, for a long time, rested the labor of supplying a famished and naked army and furnishing other necessary supplies for the public service. Congress, at that time, could not have obtained a loan of one thousand dollars, yet Robert Morris effected loans upon his own credit of tens of thousands. The Bank of North America was put in successful operation, and these patriotic services of Robert Morris present the chief reason why the Continental army was not at that time disbanded by its own act.
And it has been justly remarked, that: "If it were not demonstrable by official records, posterity would hardly be made to believe that the campaign of 1781, which resulted in the capture of Cornwallis, and virtually closed the Revolutionary War, was sustained wholly on the credit of an individual merchant." At the time Washington was preparing, in his camp upon the Hudson, in Westchester County, to attack Sir Henry Clinton, in New York, in 1781, Mr. Morris and Judge Peters of Pennsylvania, were then at headquarters. Washington received a letter from Count De Grasse, announcing his determination not to sail for New York. He was bitterly disappointed, but almost before the cloud had passed from his brow, he conceived the expedition against Cornwallis, at Yorktown. "What can you do for me?" said Washington to Mr. Peters. "With money, every thing, without it, nothing, " he replied, at the same time turning with anxious look toward Mr. Morris. "Let me know the sum you desire," said Mr. Morris; and before noon Washington's plan and estimates were complete. Mr. Morris promised him the amount, and raised it upon his own responsibility.
After the conclusion of peace, Mr. Morris served twice in the Legislature of Pennsylvania; and he was a delegate to the Convention that framed the Constitution of the United States. He was elected a Senator under that instrument, and took his seat at the first meeting of Congress in New York to organize the government in accordance with its provisions. In the selection of his cabinet, President Washington was very anxious to have Mr. Morris Secretary of the Treasury, but he declined. Washington asked him to name a candidate, and he at once mentioned General Alexander Hamilton. Mr. Morris served a regular term in the United States Senate, and then retired forever from public life. By his liberal expenditures and free proffers of his private obligations for the public benefit, he found his ample fortune very much diminished at the close of hostilities; and by embarking the remainder in the purchase of wild lands, in the State of New York,* under the impression that emigrants from the Old World would flow in a vast and ceaseless current to this "land of the free," he became greatly embarrassed in his pecuniary affairs, and it preyed seriously upon his mind. This misfortune, and the inroads which asthma had made upon his constitution, proved a canker at the root of his bodily vigor, and he sunk to rest in the grave, on the eighth day of May, 1806, in the seventy-third year of his age, leaving a widow with whom he had lived in uninterrupted domestic happiness for thirty-seven years.**
*In consequence of some old claims of Massachusetts to a large portion of the territory of the State of New York, the latter State, in 1786, in order to settle the matter, ceded to the former more than six millions of acres, reserving, however, the right of sovereignty. Massachusetts sold the larger portion of this tract to Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham, for one million of dollars; and in 1790, they in turn sold to Mr. Morris 1,204,000 acres, for sixteen cents per acre. He afterward resold this tract to Sir William Pultney. The original purchasers from Massachusetts, unable to fulfill their contract, surrendered to the State a large tract, to which the Indian titles had been extinguished. This tract Mr. Morris bought in 1796, and after selling considerable portions lying upon the Genesee River, he mortgaged the residue to Wilhelm Willink, of Amsterdam, and eleven associates, who styled themselves the "Holland Land Company." Mr. Morris was unable to meet his engagements, and the company foreclosed, and acquired full title to the land. They opened a sales office in Batavia, Genesee County, which now exists, and they still own large tracts of land in Western New York.
**In 1769 Mr. Morris married Miss Mary White, sister of the late venerable Bishop White, of Pennsylvania.
Chapter 25 Elbridge Gerry
In gazing upon the many interesting relics in Independence Hall, the thoughtful lover of his country's history is pained to see that, while numerous elegant pictures and portraits of distinguished men grace the ample walls, there are many absent which should be there - very many who took active parts in the great struggle for Freedom and Independence - whose likenesses in some impressive form should have been placed there for the admiration of all who visit this consecrated spot. Among the absent is that of Elbridge Gerry - a man whose sterness and devotion to the cause of Freedom contributed in no small degree toward shaping the destinies of the rising Colonies, and inspiring the people with increased love for Independence.
The birth-place of Mr. Gerry was the town of Marblehead, Massachusetts, on the 17th of July, 1744. His parents were in easy circumstances, his father being largely and successfully engaged in the mercantile business, and, therefore, was well-prepared to give his son a thorough and useful education. Accordingly, when Elbridge had gone through his preliminary studies, he was placed in Harvard College. In that institution his time was spent in close and vigorous studies, and so well did he apply himself, that in 1762 he graduated with the honorable title of "Bachelor of Arts." This fitted him for entering the world in such pursuits of business as he deem best calculated to advance his pecuniary interests. But he was not long in choosing what course to pursue. As his father was an extensive merchant, his mind naturally inclined to mercantile matters, and soon after he left college he entered into commercial pursuits, amassed a handsome competency, and was soon, by his own exertions, placed beyond want, while his intelligence and good character won for himself the esteem of all who knew or had business dealings with him. Nearly all his fellow citizens looked to him as an example for emulation, and few measures of public importance were adopted without first having his sanction.
When Great Britain commenced oppressing the people of this country, the solicitude of Mr. Gerry was warmly enlisted on the side of the Colonists, and he expressed himself very decidedly and strongly against the usurpations of the mother country. For these tokens of patriotism the citizens of Marblehead honored him with an election to a membership in the General Court of the province, in 1773. Being of an ardent and versatile temperament, ingenious in devising plans of operation, and exceedingly cautious in their execution, he became a bold and energetic leader. From that time he was one of the most active and effective politicians in Massachusetts. In conjunction with John Adams and others, he was successful n carrying through certain resolutions which had been presented in the General Court, having reference to the removal of Governor Hutchinson from office. It appears that the Governor had become very obnoxious to the people because of the discovery of some letters of his to the English Minister, recommending the enforcement of rigid measures against the Americans, and the curtailment of the privileges of the Colonies. These letters were put into the hands of Dr. Franklin, the Colonial Agent in England, and by him they were immediately transmitted to the general Court of Massachusetts. They produced great excitement, and a petition was adopted and forwarded to the Minister, asking for the removal of Hutchinson.
[It was on the occasion of Dr. Franklin's presenting this petition to the English Privy Council, that he was so violently assailed by Wedderburn, the Solicitor-general. Franklin made no reply, but in going to his lodgings, he took off his suit of clothes, and declared that he would never put it on again until he had signed "America's Independence and England's degradation." Ten years subsequently, after he had attached his signature to the treaty of peace between the two governments, he again put on that suit of clothes, and expressed himself satisfied that his wish had been accomplished. The old Nester of patriots gloried in the elevation of America, and the downfall of England's pride.]
Until the war commenced, Mr. Gerry was a leading spirit in all political movements. he was a member of the first Provincial Congress of that Province, and opposed the arbitrary measures of Governor gage in a most vigorous and persistent manner. The night preceding the battle of Bunker Hill - or more properly, Breed's Hill - he slept in the same bed with General Warren, and in the morning they bade each other an affectionate farewell, Mr. Gerry to go to the Congress, then sitting at Watertown, and General Warren to fall in his country's defense upon the field of battle.
Mr. Gerry was elected to the Continental Congress, in January, 1776. in this new convocation, the most important convention that had ever met in the New World, his commercial attainments were highly useful, and he was put upon many committees where such knowledge was necessary. Previously he had been elected a Judge of the Court of Admiralty, but he declined the appointment because of his desire for a more active life. When Mr. Lee presented his resolution declaring the United States free and independent , Mr. Gerry supported it with many strong and urgent reasons. He signed the Declaration on the 2d day of August after it had been adopted. In 1777 he was appointed one of a committee to visit Washington at Valley Forge. He was instrumental in drawing up a report concerning the condition of the Commander-in-Chief, that had a great effect upon the deliberations of Congress, and caused more efficient aid to be given to the support of the army. He retired from the position of Congressman in 1780, for the purpose of looking after his own private affairs; but his usefulness in that body was indispensable, and he was again elected in three years afterward. Mr. Gerry was indefatigably and earnestly engaged in all the financial operations of that body, until he finally retired to private life from its bustling scenes, which he did in 1785, and located his residence at Cambridge.
At the time of the adoption of the present Constitution of the United States, Mr. Gerry was a member of the Convention of his native State. Many of its leading features he opposed, and because of these objections he refused to sign his name to it - nevertheless, after it became the fundamental basis of the Government, he did all within his power and influence to carry out his provisions. Under it he was twice elected to the House of Representatives of the United States, and having served out his time in an acceptable manner to his constituents, he again repaired to his private home to enjoy the blessings of quietude and rest. But his public services and business qualifications would not permit him to remain in private life long. Mr. Adams, while President, was aware of his abilities, and appreciated him for his worth. He therefore called him from his domestic retirement, and designated him as one of three envoys to France, in the year 1798. For some reason or other, this joint commission was not received by the French Government, but Mr. Gerry was honored by an acceptation; and this created considerable ill-feeling against him, by very many citizens of the United States. Mr. Gerry felt it his duty to remain, and did so. This joint commission was composed of Elbridge Gerry, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, and John Marshall, the late Chief Justice. At that time the relations between the two governments presented an unfriendly antagonism, and Messrs. Pinckney and Marshall were ordered to leave the country, but Mr. Gerry was urged to remain. The Federalists of the United States being strongly opposed to the French, condemned Mr. Gerry for remaining, while the Republicans, sympathizing with the French Revolutionists, applauded him. After his return from France, Republicans of Massachusetts nominated him for Governor. He was defeated, but the next year, 1810, he was successful.
At that time the party spirit ran very high between the Federalists and Republicans, the two great political parties of the Union. the more progressive policy of the Republicans was so consonant with the spirit of the people, that it increased rapidly from its birth, and finally became so powerful, that Federalism as a watchword of party, and in truth the federal party, became extinct in 1819. In 1811 Mr. Gerry was nominated for, and elected, Vice-President of the United States. In this capacity he served his country until November, 1814, when he was seized with a sudden illness, and died on the 23d of that month. Congress did him the honor to erect a tomb over the spot where his body was buried in the Congressional cemetery.
Chapter 28 Francis Hopkinson
The Declaration of Independence is rendered immortal by many strong and endearing associations, not only from the intensity of patriotism that brought it into existence, but from the signatures of the great men attached to it at a time when it was jeopardizing the lives of those who performed so bold an act of political duty. Among the names of those heroes is that of Francis Hopkinson. His parents were English residents of Philadelphia, his mother being a daughter of the Bishop of Worcester. Both she and her husband were highly educated and accomplished, and moved in the politest circles. Francis was born in Philadelphia in the year 1737, and, as a matter of consequence, was blessed with every advantage which social position could give him in his early life. At the age of fourteen, however, he met with a very sad bereavement in the loss of his father by which the entire care of a large family of children was thrown upon his mother, whose income was quite small, and incapable of supplying her with means sufficient to give to her children those advantages of education which she, in her paternal anxiety, desired. She managed, notwithstanding, with great prudence and patience, to impart a primary education to Francis, and prepared him to enter the College of Philadelphia.
While in that institution he exhibited a strong inclination to become a lawyer, which profession he adopted, and commenced the study of, soon afterward, and was admitted to practice in 1765. he became proficient in the general principles and application of law; but in the same year he paid a visit to his friends in England, under the impression that, by coming in contact with the eminent professors of law there, his mind would become materially improved. On his return in 1768 he married Miss Ann Borden, of Bordentown, New Jersey.* His superior knowledge of law, his versatility, his literary and humorous turn of mind,† soon became the subjects of favorable comment, and the ministers of the Crown bestowed upon him a lucrative office in New Jersey. He held this appointment until the minions of British power became exasperated at the boldness with which he advocated the cause of the Colonies and republican sentiments, when he was superseded by the appointment of another incumbent.
*Many descendants of the same family reside at that place still, and the name is highly esteemed in the State. Some of the family occupy prominent public positions.
†Mr. Hopkins was gifted with vigrous political powers, which, although not classic and precise, were possessed of admirable humor, and made him very popular. Most of his effusions delineated local scenes and events at the time of their occurrence. Among the most admired of these humorous epics was his "BATTLE OF THE KEGS." Various other poems of his were received with much enthusiasm, because they hit forcibly at well-known men and cirsumstances.
But his popularity was constantly increasing among the people, and they elected him to General Congress from New Jersey in 1776. In that body, the most important convocation that ever met, he supported with his voice, and by his vote, the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, and boldly attached his signature to it. This he did under a full sense of the duty he owed to himself, his constituency, and his country. For a number of years he held the office of Loan Commissioner. He was Judge of Admiralty for Pennsylvania, having succeeded George Ross, and held that office until 1790, when President Washington appointed him District Judge of the same State. He was a quiet, unobtrusive, and modest man, and yet a genius of no ordinary character. He was an ardent patriot, and keenly alive to the stirring events of the times, but apparently shunned participation in debate. He was father of the late Judge Joseph Hopkinson, an eminent lawyer, politician, and writer. Francis Hopkinson died on the 9th of May, 1791, in the fifty-third year of his age, leaving a wife with five children, and a community of friends to mourn his loss.
Chapter 29 Charles Carroll, Of Carrollton.
The ancestors of Charles Carroll, of Carrolton,* were of Irish descent. At an early period in the settlement of Maryland, and during the governorship of Lord Baltimore, his grandfather, Daniel Carroll, emigrated from Littemourna, in Ireland, to this country, and became possessor of a very large estate. In 1702 he had a son born to him, whom he named Charles, and who was the father of the subject of this biography. Daniel Carroll died when his child was twenty-five years of age, leaving him sole inheritor of his fortune. The subject of this sketch, and the patriot of the Revolution, was born on the twentieth of September, 1737. his father, being Roman Catholic in his faith, entered him as a student in the Jesuit College of St. Omer, when he was only eight years of age, where he remained until he was fourteen. Thence he was removed to Rheims, and having spent one year there, he was received into the College of Louis le Grand, from which he graduated two years afterward, when commenced at Bourges the study of law. From Bourges he went to Paris, where he resided until 1757, when he visited London with the intention of pursuing his studies. He remained in that city eight years, and then returned to Maryland. With all these advantages he could not fail to become a ripe scholar and gentleman.
After his return to Maryland he became deeply interested in the politics of the day, and the passage of the "Stamp Act" gave a more active impetus to his vigorous mind in espousing the cause of the colonists. He saw and felt that the exigencies called for action on the part of stern patriots, and he at once associated himself with Paca, Stone, and Chase, in devising the best plans to advance the interests of the American patriots. This led to a sharp and bitter newspaper war with the governmental officers of the Province, who, finding themselves overcome by the mighty talent against which they had to content, sought respite behind the royal prerogatives of the Governor. In the controversy, Mr. Carroll won for himself an enviable reputation as a political essayist and writer. he took strong ground against the assumption of the British Government to tax the Colonies without their consent; and in 1772 he met in discussion the Secretary of the Colony, who was soon compelled to leave the field ingloriously defeated. The essays which he wrote were signed "The First Citizen," and for a long while the author's name was unknown. The people, however, were so much pleased with their bold and noble defense of their rights, that they instructed the members of the Assembly to extend, through the public prints, a vote of thanks to the unknown author.
The moment it was ascertained that Mr. Carroll was the writer, he was cordially thanked by large numbers of influential people, who visited him for that purpose, and he soon arose to universal esteem and popularity. he was looked to as a directing spirit; and so clear and logical were his judgments, that, in every important question, hew as appealed to as umpire. As an instance of the confidence reposed in him, a little anecdote will illustrate: "When in 1773—4 the tea excitement was at its height, a Mr. Stewart, of Annapolis, imported a large quantity of tea into that town. The people became exasperated, and threatened to destroy it if landed. The Provincial Legislature was in session at the time, and appointed a committee to superintend the unlading of the obnoxious article. This movement increased the indignation of the people, and Mr. Stewart appealed to Charles Carroll to interpose his influence. He informed him that the public mind could not be appeased under the circumstances, and advised him to burn both the tea and the vessel, which advice was followed, and thus an apparent violent exhibition of indignation was averted."
That a resort to arms in defense of colonial rights was unavoidable, Mr. Carroll distinctly foresaw, and expressed himself accordingly. The activity he exhibited in the cause of freedom, secured his appointment as a member of the first Committee of Safety of Maryland; and in 1775 he was elected a member of the Provincial Assembly. Maryland was opposed to extreme measures, and the warm part Mr. Carroll took for independence was the reason he was not sooner sent to that body. While the Continental Congress was in session in 1776 he visited that body, in order to see and become acquainted with its members; and while there he was placed upon an important committee to visit Canada, in order to enlist the sympathies of that Colony with the other thirteen, and to act conjointly with them in striking for independence.
In this the committee* were unsuccessful; and, on their return, Carroll found that Mr. Lee had introduced a resolution in Congress declaring for freedom, when he hastened to Maryland to obtain a removal of the restrictions placed upon her delegates. He succeeded in getting the prohibition annulled, and was immediately elected a member of the Continental Congress. Mr. Carroll did not arrive in Philadelphia until the eighth of July, and therefore had no chance to vote on the final passage of the resolution; but he unhesitatingly affixed his signature to the document declaring the "Colonies free and independent States." All through those troublous times Mr. Carroll occupied various public positions, and having passed through them all with honor to himself, at the age of sixty-four years he sought the repose of domestic retirement. For many years afterward he was regarded by the people of the country with the greatest veneration; for, when Adams and Jefferson died, he was the last vestige that remained on earth of that holy brotherhood who stood sponsors at the baptism in blood of our infant Republic. He lived honored and revered by the country with whose existence he was identified until the year 1832, and was the last survivor of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence. He departed this life on the fourteenth of November, 1832, aged ninety-six. During the whole of his bright existence he had few equals in all the social relations of life.
Chapter 30 John Hart, Abraham Clark, John Morton, George Clymer
JOHN HART was a farmer in New Jersey, and was one of the most uncompromising patriots of the Revolution. He was the son of Edward Hart, who was also an industrious farmer. His father was a loyal subject to his king, and in 1759 he raised a company of volunteers which he named the "Jersey Blues," and marched with them to the aid of Wolfe at Quebec. He reached there in time to participate in the battle of the Plains of Abraham, where Wolfe was killed, but the English were victorious. After that battle he returned to his farm and was highly esteemed by his neighbors. It does not appear definitely what year his son was born in, but most likely it was 1714, for most of his contemporaries represent him as about sixty years of age when he was first elected to Congress. Mr. Hart pursued the avocation of his father, and was in quite independent circumstances when the Stamp Act and its train of evils attracted his attention, and aroused his sympathies for his oppressed countrymen in Boston, and elsewhere, where the heel of tyranny was planted. Although living in the secluded agricultural district of Hopewell, in Hunterdon County, yet he was fully conversant with the movements of public affairs at home and abroad, and he united with others in electing delegates to the Colonial Congress that convened in New York city, in 1765. From that time till the opening scenes of the war, Mr. Hart was active in promoting the cause of freedom; and his fellow-citizens manifested their appreciation of his services, by electing him a delegate to the first Continental Congress, in 1774. he was re-elected in 1775; but finding that his estate and family affairs needed his services, he resigned his seat, and for a time retired from public life. he was, however, elected a member of the Provincial Congress of New Jersey, and was Vice-President of that body.
The talents of Mr. Hart were considered too valuable to the public, to remain in an inactive state, and in February, 1776, he was again elected a delegate to the General Congress. He was too deeply impressed with the paramount importance of his country's claims, to permit him to refuse the office; and he took his seat again in that body, and voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence. Nothing would have seemed more inimical to Hr. Hart's private interests than this act, which was the harbinger of open hostilities, for his estate was peculiarly exposed to the fury of the enemy. Nor was that fury withheld when New Jersey was invaded by the British and their mercenary allies, the Hessians.* The signers of the Declaration everywhere were marked for vengeance, and when the enemy made their conquering descent upon New Jersey, Mr. Hart's estate was among the first to feel the effects of the desolating inroad.* The blight fell, not only upon his fortune, but upon his person, and he did not live to see the sunlight of peace and independence gladden the face of his country. He did in the year 1780, (the gloomiest period of the War of Independence), full of years and deserved honors.
ABRAHAM CLARK.— The nativity of Mr. Clark was at Elizabethtown, New Jersey, at which place he was born on the fifteenth of February, 1726. He, like Mr. Hart, was a farmer; and being an only child, he received many advantages which doting parents bestow upon such offspring. But he was made so much of in his younger days that, to some extent, his education was neglected. He did not possess by any means at stalwart frame, nor a robust constitution; and the rough labors of agriculture, therefore, were not suitable for his health. He, accordingly, turned his attention to law and mathematics. He became proficient in surveying, although not very learned in the law. Yet, for a number of years, he transacted considerable legal business in Elizabethtown. He was called the "Poor Man's Counselor." Mr. Clark held several offices under Royal appointment; but he sided with the Republican cause, and was placed upon the first Vigilance Committee ever organized in New Jersey. He was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776, and there voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence, although he knew it jeopardized his property, his life, and the lives of his family. He remained in that body until 1783, except one term.
In 1788 Mr. Clark was again elected to the General Congress. In the interim he was a member of the State Legislature, and an active politician. He early perceived the defects of the old Confederation, and was one of the delegates elected by New Jersey to the Convention that framed the present Constitution of the United States in 1787. He was, however, prevented from attending by ill-health. He was appointed one of the commissioners for settling the accounts of New Jersey with the General Government, and ably did he discharge the arduous duty. He was elected a member of the first Congress under the present Federal Government, and continued an active member of that body until near the close of his life. When Congress adjourned in June, 1794, Mr. Clark retired from public life; and early in the autumn of that year, he died of inflammation of the brain, (caused by a coup de soleil, or "stroke of the sun,") in the sixty-ninth year of his age. he was buried in the church-yard at Rahway, New Jersey. Mr. Clark was a warm partisan, and his feelings of attachment or repulsion were very strong. He had witnessed so much of the cruelty and oppression of Great Britain, in her war upon the declared freedom of the Colonies, that his feelings of hatred could not be soothed by the treaty of peace, although he patriotically acquiesced in whatever tended to his country's good. He therefore took sides with France when questions concerning her came up in Congress; and early in 1794 he laid before Congress a resolution for suspending all intercourse with Great Britain until every item of the treaty of peace should be complied with. It was not sanctioned by Congress.
JOHN MORTON.— The ancestors of John Morton were of Swedish birth, and came to this country in the beginning of the seventeenth century. He selected a spot on the Delaware River, a short distance from Philadelphia. He was the only child of his father, who died before John was born, which event took place in the year 1724. his mother, who was quite young, afterward married an English gentleman, who became greatly attached to his infant charge. Being highly educated, and a good practical surveyor, he instructed young Morton in mathematics, as well as in all the common branches of a good education. His mind was of unusual strength, and at an early age it exhibited traits of sound maturity. Mr. Morton first accepted official station in 1764, when he was appointed justice of the peace under the Provincial Government of Pennsylvania. He was soon afterward chosen a member of the General Assembly of that Province, and for a number of years was Speaker of the House. So highly were his public services appreciated, that the people were loath to dispense with them. He was a delegate to the "Stamp Act Congress" in 1765; and in 1766 he was made high sheriff of the county in which he resided. He warmly espoused the cause of the patriots, and on that account, when, after the Lexington tragedy, military corps were formed in Pennsylvania, he was offered the command of one. This he declined, on account of other engagements, for he then held the office of presiding judge of the Quarter Sessions and Common Pleas, and about the same time he was elevated to the bench of the Supreme Court of the Province.
In 1774 the Assembly of Pennsylvania appointed Mr. Morton a delegate to the General Congress. he was re-elected for 1775 in December of the same year, and he was also elected in 1776 to the same office. His election did not take place until some days after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, but he had the privilege of signing it in August.* He was very active while in Congress, and the committee duties which he performed were many and arduous. Among other committees on which he served, he formed one of that which reported the Articles of Confederation for the States, which were adopted, and remained the organic law of the nation until the adoption of the present Constitution in 1787. Mr. Morton did not live to see the blessings of peace and independence descend upon his country. He died in April 1777, in the fifty-fourth year of his age, leaving a widow and a large family of children. his death was a great public calamity, for men of his genius and patriotism were needed at that time. His career presented another instance of the triumph of virtue and sound principles in rising from obscurity to exalted station.
GEORGE CLYMER.— The subject of this sketch was born in Philadelphia, in the year 1739. His father died when George was only seven years of age, leaving him an orphan, as his mother had died previously. George was taken into the family of William Coleman, brother to his mother, where he was treated in every respect as a son. His education in the branches of ordinary English was carefully guarded, and in a short time he was taken into the counting-room of his uncle, and prepared for a commercial life. Mr. Clymer was not partial to a mercantile business, for he deemed it a pathway beset with many snares for the feet of pure morality, as sudden gains and losses were apt to affect the character of the most stable. For himself he preferred literature and science, and his mind was much occupied with these subjects. At the age of twenty-seven years he married a Miss Meredith, and entered into a mercantile business with his father-in-law, and his son, under the firm of Meredith and Sons. His uncle died about the same time, and left the principal part of his large fortune to Mr. Clymer. Still he continued in business with his father-in-law, until his death; and with his brother-in-law afterward, until 1782. Even before his marriage, when none but old commercial grievances were complained of by the Colonies, Mr. Clymer expressed decided republican principles; and when the Stamp Act aroused the resistance of the American people, he was among the most ardent defenders of the republican cause.
He was a zealous actor in all the public meetings in Philadelphia; and when, in 1774, military organizations took place preparatory to a final resort to arms, which seemed inevitable, Mr. Clymer accepted the command of a volunteer corps belonging to General Cadwallader's brigade. When the oppressions which Boston experienced at the hands of British power, after the "Tea Riot,"* aroused the strong sympathy of the people of the commercial cities, Mr. Clymer as placed at the head of a large and responsible Committee of Vigilance in Philadelphia, to act as circumstances should require. He was also placed upon the first Council of Safety that was organized in Philadelphia; and early in 1775 he was appointed by Congress one of the Continental treasurers. In 1776, after two of the Pennsylvania delegates in the General Congress declined voting for the Declaration of Independence, and withdrew from their seats, Mr. Clymer and Dr. Rush were appointed to succeed them, and they both joyfully affixed their signatures to that instrument. Mr. Clymer was soon afterward appointed one of a committee to visit the northern army at Ticonderoga; and when the British approached Philadelphia at the close of 1776, and Congress retired to Baltimore, he was put upon a committee with Robert Morris and others, to remain as a Committee of Vigilance in that city.
He as again elected to Congress in 1779, and was one of a committee sent by that body to Washington's head-quarters at Valley Forge, to inquire into the alleged abuses of the commissary department. Mr. Clymer was peculiarly obnoxious to the British,* an evidence of his patriotic zeal and unwavering attachment to the Republican cause. While the enemy were in possession of Philadelphia in the winter of 1778, they surrounded a house which they thought was Mr. Clymer's, with the intention of demolishing it, but they discovered it to belong to a relative of his of the same name, and they spared the edifice. In 1778, Mr. Clymer was sent by Congress to Pittsburg (sic) to endeavor by negotiation to quiet the savages, who, influenced by British emissaries, were committing dreadful ravages on the frontier. In this he was successful, and for his arduous services he received the thanks of Congress. In the autumn of 1780 he was elected to Congress for the third time, and he continued an attentive and active member until 1782. During that year, he joined with Robert Morris and others in the establishment of a bank in Philadelphia, designed for the public good. Mr. Clymer was a considerable subscriber, and was made one of its first directors.†
In 1782, Mr. Clymer and Edward Rutlege were appointed by Congress to visit the Southern States, and urge the necessity of a prompt contribution of their assessed quota of funds for the public Treasury. The individual States were slow to respond to the calls of Congress, and this tardiness very much embarrassed the operations of government. On his return, Mr. Clymer moved his family to Princeton, New Jersey, for the purpose of having his children educated there. Public interest soon called him back to Pennsylvania and he took a seat in its Legislature. It was while he was a member of that body, that the criminal code of that State was modified, and the penitentiary system introduced. It is conceded that the credit of maturing this wiser system of punishment, is chiefly due to Mr. Clymer, and for this alone he is entitled to the veneration due to a public benefactor. Mr. Clymer was a member of the Convention that framed the Federal Constitution, and was elected one of the first members of Congress, convened under that instrument. He declined a re-election, and was appointed, by President Washington, supervisor of the revenue for the State of Pennsylvania.
This was an office in which great firmness and decision of character was requisite, in consequence of the spirit of resistance to the collection of revenue which was then abroad. In fact, open rebellion at length appeared, and the movement know as the "Whisky Insurrection"* in Pennsylvania at one time threatened serious consequences to the whole framework of our government. But Mr. Clymer was unawed, and amid many personal dangers he pressed forward in the performance of his duty. At length, when things became quiet, he resigned. In 1796 he was appointed, with Colonels Hawkins and Pickens, to negotiate a treaty with the Cherokee and Creek tribes of Indians in Georgia. This they effected to the mutual satisfaction of the contending parties. This mission closed the public life of Mr. Clymer, and the remainder of his days were spent in acts of private usefulness,* and a personal preparation for another world. He died on the seventy-fourth year of his age. His long life was an active and useful one, and not a single moral stain marked its manifested purity.
Chapter 32 Cæsar Rodney, George Read, Thomas M'kean, Samuel Chase, Thomas Stone, Wm. Paca.
CÆSAR RODNEY was born at Dover, in the Province of Delaware, in the year 1730. He was descended from English ancestry. His grandfather came from England soon after William Penn commenced the settlement of Pennsylvania. After remaining a short time in Philadelphia, and forming acquaintances with some of its most esteemed citizens, he went into the County of Kent, on the Delaware, and settled upon a plantation. he was an active man, and becoming very popular, he held many posts of honor and distinction in that Province. He had several sons, but lost them all except his youngest, Cæsar, the father of the subject of this memoir. Unambitious of public honors, and preferring the quiet of domestic life to the bustle and turmoil of the political field, he declined all offices that were tendered to him; and in the midst of agricultural pursuits he enriched his mind by study, and prepared his children for the duties of life. He married the daughter of an esteemed clergyman, and Cæsar being the first born, received their special attention in the matter of mind and heart. On the death of his father, Mr. Rodney, as the eldest male heir, inherited the paternal estate, and with it the distinguished consideration with which the family had ever been regarded.
When the Stamp Act excited the jealousy and alarm of the Colonies, Mr. Rodney boldly proclaimed his sentiments in opposition to it and several antecedent acts of injustice which the British Government had inflicted upon her Colonies in America. He acted as well as thought and spoke, and when the "Stamp Act Congress" met in New York, in 1765, Mr. Rodney, together with Mr. M'Kean and Mr. Rollock, was chosen delegate thereto by a unanimous vote. Mr. Rodney was a member of the Provincial Assembly in 1769, and was chosen its Speaker. He continued a member, and the Speaker of that body until 1774; and, as chairman of the corresponding committee, he was arduous in plying his pen in the interchange of political sentiments with his compatriots in other Colonies. He was elected a delegate to the General Congress by a convention of the people of the three counties of Delaware in August, 1774, and took his seat at the opening of Congress on the fifth of September following. His colleagues were Thomas M'Kean and George Read, and three more devoted and active men than these could hardly be found.
He was one of a committee who drew up a Declaration of Rights, and set forth, in an address, the causes for complaint under which the colonists groaned. Mr. Rodney was elected a delegate for 1775, and while attending to his duties in Congress he was appointed Brigadier-General of his Province. He was in Congress during the closing debates upon the proposition for a Declaration of Independence in 1776, but was sent for by his colleague, Mr. M'Kean, so as to secure the vote of Delaware for that important measure. He arrived in time to give his voice for independence, and enjoyed the high privilege of signing the revered parchment. On his return to his constituents they approved, by acclamation, of his acts in the national council. After the battle of Princeton, at the beginning of 1777, in which Colonel Haslet, who belonged to General Rodney's brigade, was killed, the latter immediately started for the army, and meeting Lord Stirling at Philadelphia, received orders to remain at Princeton, and make it a sort of recruiting station. General Rodney remained there for about two months, when his services became no longer necessary, and he returned to his family. Soon after his return home, he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court. He, however, declined the honor, preferring the more active life of his military station.
He was soon afterward called to marshal his brigade to a scene of insurrectionary disorder in Delaware, which he speedily quelled; and he also joined the main army of Washington when the British under Lord Howe landed at the mouth of the Elk River, and directed their march toward Philadelphia. While thus laboring for his country's good, Mr. Rodney suffered greatly from the effects of a disease (cancer in the cheek) that had been upon him from his youth, and it made dreadful inroads upon his health. Feeling conscious that he was wasting away, he retired from public life, and calmly awaited the summons for departure to the spirit-land. He died early in the year 1783, when in the fifty-third year of his age.
GEORGE READ was born in Cecil County, in the Province of Maryland, in the year 1734, and was the eldest of six brothers. He was of Irish descent. His father emigrated to America from Ireland, about 1726. George was placed in a school of considerable repute at Chester, in Pennsylvania, where he made much progress in Latin and Greek, his father having previously instructed him in all the common branches of a good English education. He was afterward placed under the care of the Rev. Dr. Allison, who at various times had charge of several pupils, who were afterward members of the Continental Congress, or held other high official stations. At the age of seventeen years young Read commenced the study of law in the office of John Morland, a distinguished barrister of Philadelphia. He was admitted to the bar in 1753, at the early age of nineteen years, and then commenced a career of honor and usefulness to himself and others. In 1754, he settled in the county of Newcastle, Delaware, and commenced the practice of his profession. Although competitors of eminence were all around him, Mr. Read soon rose to their level, and at the age of twenty-nine, he succeeded John Ross,* as Attorney-General for the "lower counties on the Delaware," of Kent, Sussex and Newcastle. This office he held until elected a delegate to the Continental Congress, in 1774. In 1775, Mr. Read was elected a member of the General Assembly of Delaware, and was re-elected to the office seven consecutive years. He was one of a committee of that body, who, in view of the odious features of the Stamp Act, proposed an address to the King in behalf of the people of the Province.
*He was married in 1763 to the accomplished and pious daughter of the Rev. George Ross, the pastor of a church in Newcastle, and a relative of the Attorney-General.
When the sufferings of the people of Boston from the effects of the Acts of Parliament known as the "Boston Port Bill," excited the warmest sympathy throughout the Colonies, and subscriptions for their relief were everywhere made—Mr. Reed, with Nicholas Van Dyke, was made the channel of transmission of the donations of the people of Delaware, and he was exceedingly active himself in procuring pecuniary and other aid. In 1774, Mr. Read, with Cæsar Rodney and Thomas M'Kean for colleagues, was appointed by the Assembly of Delaware, a delegate to the General Congress that met in September of that year, at Philadelphia. He was a delegate also in 1775 and 1776, and during the early part of the latter year, his labors were divided between his duties in Congress and the affairs of his own State. He was an earnest advocate of the Declaration of Independence, and considered it a high privilege when he placed his name upon the parchment. After the declaration, the people of Delaware formed a State Constitution, and Mr. Read was President of the Convention that framed the instrument. His arduous duties at length affected his health; and in 1798, death by sudden illness closed his useful life, in the sixty-fourth year of his age.
THOMAS M'KEAN was born in New London, Chester County, Pennsylvania, in the year 1734. His father was a native of Ireland, and Thomas was the second child of his parents. After receiving the usual elementary instruction, he was placed under the care of the Rev. Dr. Allison, and was a pupil under him with George Read. At the conclusion of his studies, he entered the office of David Finney of Newcastle, as a law student; and soon did his talents become manifest, that in the course of a few months after entering the study of the law, he was employed as an assistant clerk of the Court of Common Pleas. In fact he performed all the duties of the principal. He was admitted to the bar before he was twenty-one years of age, and permitted to practice in the three counties of Delaware. Mr. M'Kean soon rose to eminence in his profession, and attracted the attention of most of the leading men of the day. Without any solicitation or premonition, he was appointed, in 1756, by the Attorney-General of the Province, his deputy to prosecute all claims for the Crown in the County of Sussex. He was then only twenty-two years old. The next year (1757) he was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and about the same time the House of Assembly of Delaware elected him their clerk. He declined a second election in 1758.
Mr. M'Kean was a delegate to the "Stamp Act Congress," in 1765, and was the associate upon a committee with James Otis and Thomas Lynch, in preparing an address to the British House of Commons. For their services in that Congress, he and his colleague, Mr. Rodney, received the unanimous thanks of the Assembly of Delaware. Mr. M'Kean zealously opposed the encroachments of British power upon American rights, and he heartily concurred in the sentiments of the Massachusetts Circular, recommending a General Congress. He was elected a delegate thereto, was present at the opening on the fifth of September, 1774, and soon became distinguished as one of the most active men in that august body. He continued a member of the Continental Congress from that time, until the ratification of the treaty of peace in 1783. Impressed with the conviction that reconciliation with Great Britain was out of the question, he zealously supported the measure which led to a final Declaration of Independence; and when that Declaration was submitted to Congress for action, he voted for and signed it. From the period of the conclusion of the war, Judge M'Kean was actively engaged in Pennsylvania and Delaware, in various services which the arrangement of the discordant political elements into a symmetrical form of government required; and his labors in aid of the formation and adoption of the Federal Constitution were various and arduous. He continued in the chair of Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, until 1799, (a period of twenty years,) when he was elected Governor of that State. To this office he was elected three successive terms, and held it nine years.
At the session of 1807–8, of the Pennsylvania Legislature, his opponents presented articles of impeachment for maladministration, which closed with a resolution that "Thomas M'Kean, the Governor of the Commonwealth, be impeached of high crimes and misdemeanors." The charges were brought fully before the House, but by the summary measure of indefinitely postponing their consideration, they were never acted upon. The last public act of Governor M'Kean, was to preside over the deliberations of the people of Philadelphia, when, during the war with Great Britain in 1712, that city was threatened with an attack from the enemy. He then withdrew into private life, where he remained until death, which occurred on the twenty-fourth day of June, 1817, in the eighty-fourth year of his age.
SAMUEL CHASE was born on the seventeenth day of April, 1741, in Somerset County, Maryland. His father was a clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal church, and possessing an excellent education himself, he imparted such instruction to his son in the study of the classics, and in the common branches of an English education, as well fitted him for entering upon professional life. He commenced the study of law at the age of eighteen years, under Messrs. Hammond and Hall of Annapolis, who stood at the head of their profession in that section of the province. At the age of twenty he was admitted to practice before the mayor's court; and at twenty-two he became a member of the bar, and was allowed to practice in the chancery and other colonial courts. He located at Annapolis, where he soon became distinguished as an advocate, and one of the most successful lawyers in the province. At the early age of twenty years, Mr. Chase was chosen a member of the Provincial Assembly, and there his independence of feeling and action in matters of principle greatly offended those time-serving legislators who fawned at the feet of the royal governor. There he first gave evidence of that stamina of character which he afterward so strongly manifested when called upon to act amid the momentous scenes of the Revolution.
The Stamp Act aroused the energies of his soul to do battle for his country's rights, and he was among the first in Maryland who lifted up voice and hand against the oppressor. He became obnoxious to the authorities of Annapolis, and they attempted, by degrading epithets, to crush his eagle spirit while yet a fledgling. But their persecution extended his notoriety, and he soon became popular with the great mass of the people. Mr. Chase was one of the five delegates to the first Continental Congress, in 1774, appointed by a convention of the people of Maryland. He was also appointed by the same meeting, one of the "Committee of Correspondence" for that Colony. These appointments made him obnoxious to the adherents to royalty, yet their good opinion was the least thing he coveted. In the General Congress he was bold and energetic, and even at that early day, he expressed his sentiments freely in favor of absolute independence. This feeling, however, was not general in the Colonies, and the people were desirous of reconciliation by righteous means, rather than independence. Early in the spring of 1776, he was appointed one of a committee with Dr. Franklin and Charles Carroll, to go on a mission to Canada, the chief object of which was to effect a concurrence, in that Province, with the movements in the other English Colonies. Mr. Chase gave his vote for the Declaration of Independence, and signed the instrument with a willing hand. He continued a member of Congress until 1778, and was almost constantly employed in the duties of most important committees. Some of these were of a delicate and trying nature, yet he never allowed his sensibility to control his judgment, or shake his firmness of purpose.
In 1796, President Washington nominated him a judge of the Supreme Court of the United States, which nomination was confirmed by the Senate. He held the office about fifteen years, and no man ever stood higher for honesty of purpose and integrity of motives, than Judge Chase. Notwithstanding the rancor of such party feeling as dared to charge President Washington with appropriating the public money to his own private use, did all in its power to pluck the ermine from his shoulders,* yet his purity beamed the brighter as the clouds grew darker, and he lived to hear the last whisper of calumny flit by like a bat in the morning twilight. His useful life terminated on the nineteenth day of June, 1811, when he was in the seventieth year of his age. Judge Chase was a man of great benevolence of feeling,** and in all his walks he exemplified the beauties of Christianity, of which he was a sincere professor. At the time of his death he was a communicant in St. Paul's church in Baltimore, of the parish of which, when he was a child, his father had pastoral charge.
*His political and personal opponents procured his impeachment in 1804, for malconduct on the bench. He was tried and honorably acquitted, to the shame and confusion of his enemies.
**We cannot forbear relating an incident in which this characteristic was displayed. Being on a visit to Baltimore, about the close of the Revolution, curiosity led him to a debating society, where he was struck by the elequence of a young man, a druggist's clerk. He ascertained his name, sought an interview, and advised him to study law. The youth stated frankly that his poverty was an insuperable impediment in the way. Mr. Chase at once offered him a seat at his table and free access to his extensive library. The young man gratefully accepted the kind offer, went through a course of legal studies, and was admitted to the bar, after passing an examination with distinguished ability. That young man was William Pinkney, afterward Attorney-General of the United States, and minister for the same at the Court of Great Britain.
THOMAS STONE.—Many of those bold patriots who pledged life, fortune and honor, in support of the Independence of the United State of America, left behind but few written memorials of the scenes in which they took a conspicuous part, and hence the biographers who engaged in the task of delineating the characters and acts of those men, were obliged to find their materials in scattered fragments among public records, or from the lips of surviving relations or compatriots. Such was the case of Thomas Stone, the subject of this brief sketch, whose unassuming manners and attachment to domestic life kept him in apparent obscurity except when called forth by the commands of duty. Thomas Stone was born at the Pointoin Manor, in the Province of Maryland, in the year 1743.
After receiving a good English education, and some knowledge of the classics, he entered upon the study of the law, and at the age of twenty-one years he commenced its practice. Where he began business in his profession is not certainly known, but it is supposed to have been in Annapolis. Although quite unambitious of personal fame, he nevertheless, from the impulses of a patriotic heart, espoused the cause of the patriots and took an active part in the movements preliminary to the calling of the first General Congress in 1774. He was elected one of the first five delegates thereto from that State, and after actively performing his duties throughout that first short session, he again retired to private life. But his talents and patriotism had become too conspicuous for his fellow-citizens to allow him to remain inactive, and toward the latter part of 1775, he was again elected to the General Congress.
Mr. Stone, like Paca and others, voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence. He was one of the committee who framed the Articles of Confederation, which were finally adopted in November, 1777. He was again elected to Congress that year, and finally retired from it early in 1778, and entered the Legislature of his own state, where he earnestly advocated the adoption, by that body, of the Articles of Confederation. The Maryland Legislature was too strongly imbued with the ultra principles of State rights and absolute independence of action to receive with favor the proposition for a general political union, with Congress for a Federal head, and it was not until 1781 that the State agreed to the confederation. Mr. Stone was again elected to Congress in 1783, and was present when General Washington resigned his military commission into the hands of that body. In 1784, he was appointed President of Congress, pro tempore; and had not his native modesty supervened, he would doubtless have been regularly elected to that important station, then the highest office in the gift of the people. On the adjournment of Congress, he returned to his constituents and resumed the duties of his profession at Port Tobacco, the place of his residence, in the forty-fifty year of his age.
WILLIAM PACA was the descendent of a wealthy planter on the east shore of Maryland. He was born at Wye Hall, his paternal residence, in the year 1740. His early moral and intellectual training was carefully attended to, and at a proper age he was placed in the Philadelphia College, whence he graduated, after a course of arduous and profitable study, with great credit to himself. H then commenced the study of law with Mr. Hammond and Mr. Hall, of Annapolis, and Samuel Chase, his subsequent Congressional colleague, was a fellow student. Mr. Paca was admitted to the bar at the age of twenty, and the next year (1761), he was chosen a member of the Provincial Assembly. When the Stamp Act, in 1765, aroused the people of the Colonies to their common danger, Mr. Paca, with Mr. Chase and Mr. Carrol, warmly opposed its operation. And every succeeding measure of the British government, asserting its right to tax the Americans without their consent, was fearlessly condemned by him, and thus he soon obtained the disapprobation of the royal governor of the Province, and of those who adhered to the king and parliament.
Like Mr. Chase he became very popular with the people by his patriotic conduct. He approved of the proposition for a General Congress in 1774, and he zealously promoted the meeting of people in country conventions to express their sentiments upon this point. He was appointed by a State Convention of Maryland, one of its five representatives to the Continental Congress, who were instructed to "agree to all measures which might be deemed necessary to obtain a redress of American grievances." Mr. Paca was re-elected in 1775, and continued a member of Congress until 1778, when he was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of his State. Like Mr. Case, Mr. Paca was much embarrassed in Congress by the opposition of his constituents to independence, and their loyal adherence to the British Crown, as manifested in their instructions, frequently repeated in the early part of 1776. Even as late as the middle of May, they passed a resolution prohibiting their delegates from voting fro independence; but on the twenty-eighth of the same month a remarkable change in their opinions took place, and they ceased praying for the king and royal family! This was a sort of half wheel, and toward the latter part of June the convention finished its evolutions by a "right about face," and withdrew their restrictions upon the votes of their delegates.
Thus relieved, Mr. Paca and his associates continued their efforts to effect a declaration of independence with more zeal than ever, and recorded their votes for the severance of the political bond of union with Great Britain, on the fourth of July following. On the second of August, they fearlessly affixed their signatures to the parchment. About the beginning of 1778, Mr. Paca was appointed Chief Justice of the State of Maryland. He performed the duties with great ability and fidelity until 1782, when he was elected President of Governor of that State, under the old Articles of Confederation. He held the executive office one year, and then retired to private life. He was a pure and active patriot, a consistent Christian, and a valuable citizen, in every sense of the word. His death was mourned as a public calamity; and his life, pure and spotless, active and useful, exhibited a bright exemplar for the imitation of the young men of America. He died in 1799, in the sixtieth year of his age.
Chapter 33 William Floyd, Lewis Morris, William Williams, Matthew Thorton, Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery, Roger Sherman
WILLIAM FLOYD.— Wale, in Great Britain, was the fatherland of William Floyd. His grandfather came hither from that country in the year 1680, and settle at Setauket, on Long Island. He was distinguished for his wealth, and possessed great influence among his brother agriculturists. The subject of this memoir was born on the seventeenth day of December, 1734. His wealthy father gave him every opportunity for acquiring useful knowledge. He had scarcely closed his studies, before the death of his father called him to the supervision of the estate, and he performed his duties with admirable skill and fidelity. His various excellencies of character, united with a pleasing address, made hi very popular; and having espoused the republican cause in opposition to the oppressions of the mother country, he was soon called into active public life. Mr. Floyd was elected a delegate from New York to the first Continental Congress, in 1774, and was one of the most active members of that body. He had previously been appointed commander of the militia of Suffolk County; and early in 1775, after his return from Congress, learning that a naval force threatened an invasion of the Island, and that troops were actually debarking, he placed himself at the head of a division, marched toward the point of intended debarkation, and awed the invaders into a retreat to their ships. He was again returned to the General Congress, in 1775, and the numerous committees of which he was a member attest his great activity. He ably supported the resolutions of Mr. Lee, and cheerfully voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence.
While attending faithfully to his public duties in Congress, he suffered greatly in the destruction of his property and the exile of his family from their home. After the battle of Long Island, in August, 1776, and the retreat of the American army across to York Island, his fine estate was exposed to the rude uses of the British soldiery, and his family were obliged to seek shelter and protection in Connecticut. His mansion was the rendezvous for a party of cavalry, his cattle and sheep were used as provision for the British army, and for seven years he derived not a dollar of income from his property. Yet he abated not a jot in his zeal for the cause, and labored on hopefully, alternately in Congress and in the Legislature in New York.* Through his skillful management, in connection with one or two others, the State of New York was placed, in 1779, in a very prosperous financial condition, at a time when it seemed to be on the verge of bankruptcy. The depreciation of the continental paper money, had produced alarm and distress wide-spread, and the speculations in bread-stuffs threatened a famine; yet William Floyd and his associates ably steered the bark of state clear of the Scylla and Charybdis. On account of impaired health, General Floyd asked for and obtained leave of absence from Congress, in April, 1779, and in May he returned to New York. He was at once called to his seat in the Senate, and placed upon the most important of these committees of that body, who were charged with the delicate relations with the General Congress.
In 1780 he was again elected to Congress, and he continued a member of that body until 1783, when peace was declared. He then returned joyfully, with his family, to the home from which they had been exiled for seven years, and now miserably dilapidated. He declined a re-election to Congress, but served in the Legislature of his State until 1778, when, after the newly-adopted Constitution was ratified, he was elected a member of the first Congress that convened under that charter in the city of New York, in 1789. He declined an election the second time, and retired from public life. In 1784 General Floyd purchased some wild land upon the Mohawk, and when he retired to private life, he commenced the clearing up and cultivation of those lands. So productive was the soil, and so attractive was the beauty of that country, that in 1803, he moved thither, although then sixty-nine years old. In 1800 he was chosen a Presidential Elector; and in 1801 he was a delegate in the Convention that revised the Constitution of the State of New York. He was subsequently chosen a member of the State Senate. He died on the fourth day of August, 1821, when he was eighty-seven years of age. His life was a long and active one; and, as a thorough business man, his services proved of great public utility during the stormy times of the Revolution, and the no less tempestuous and dangerous period when our government was settling down upon its present steadfast basis.
LEWIS MORRIS was born at Morrisania, Westchester County, New York, in the year 1726. Being the eldest son, he inherited his father's manorial estate,* which placed him in affluent circumstances. At the age of sixteen years he entered Yale College, and under the presidency of the excellent Rev. Mr. Clapp, he received his education. He graduated with the usual honors at twenty, and returned to the supervision of his large estate. When Great Britain oppressed her children here, he hardly felt the unkind hand, yet his sympathy for others was aroused, and he was among the first to risk ease, reputation and fortune, by coalescing with the patriots of Massachusetts and Virginia. His clear perception saw the end from the beginning, and those delusive hopes which the repeal of obnoxious acts held forth, had no power over Lewis Morris. Neither could they influence his patriotism, for he was a stranger to a vacillating, temporizing spirit. He refused office under the Colonial Government, for his domestic ease and comfort were paramount to the ephemeral enjoyments of place. Hence, when he forsook his quiet hearth, and engaged in the party strife of the Revolution, hazarding fortune and friends, no sinister motive could be alleged for his actions, and all regarded him as a patriot without selfish alloy. He looked upon war with the mother country as inevitable; and so boldly expressed his opinion upon these subjects, that the still rather lukewarm Colony of New York did not think proper to send him as a delegate to the General Congress of 1774.†
But the feelings of the people changed, and in April, 1775, Mr. Morris was elected a member of the second Congress that met in May following. During the summer of 1775, he was sent on a mission of pacification to the Indians on the western frontier. He was again elected to Congress in 1776, and when the question of independence came up, he boldly advocated the measure, although it seemed in opposition to all his worldly interests.† Like the others of the New York delegation, he was embarrassed by the timidity of the Provincial Congress, which seemed unwilling to sanction a measure so widely antipodent to all reconciliation with Great Britain. But the conviction of the final necessity of such a step, had long been fixed in the mind of Mr. Morris, and he did not for a moment falter. He voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence.* His family seemed to be imbued with his own sentiments, for three of his sons entered the army, served with distinction, and received the approbation of Congress.
Mr. Morris relinquished his seat in the National Council in 1777, but he was constantly employed in public service in his native State, either in its legislature, or as a military commander, until the adoption of the Constitution. When peace was restored, he returned to his scathed and almost ruined estate. He died in January 1798, in the seventy-second year of his age.
WILLIAM WILLIAMS.— Wales was the place of nativity of the ancestors of WILLIAM WILLIAMS. They emigrated to America in 1630, and settled at Roxbury, in Massachusetts. His grandfather and father were both ministers of the Gospel, and the latter was for more than half a century pastor of a Congregational Society, in Lebanon, Connecticut, where the subject of this brief sketch was born on the eighteenth of April, 1731. He entered Harvard College at the age of sixteen years, and at twenty he graduated with honorable distinction. He then commenced theological studies with his father; but the agitations of the French War attracted his attention, and in 1754 he accompanied his relative, Colonel Ephraim Williams, in an expedition to Lake George, during which the Colonel was killed. He returned home with settled feelings of dislike toward the British officers in general, who haughtily regarded the colonists as inferior men, and deserving of but little of their sympathy. He abandoned the study of theology, and entered into mercantile pursuits in Lebanon. At the age of twenty-five he was chosen town-clerk, which office he held nearly half a century. He was soon afterward chosen a member of the Connecticut Assembly, and for forty-five years he held a seat there. He was always present at its sessions, except when attending to his duties in the General Congress, to which body he was elected a delegate in 1775. He was an ardent supporter of the proposition for Independence, and cheerfully signed the Declaration when it was adopted. When, in 1781, Arnold, the traitor, made an attack upon New London,* Williams, who held the office of Colonel of Militia, hearing of the event, mounted his horse and rode twenty-three miles in three hours, but arrived only in time to see the town wrapped in flames.
Mr. Williams was a member of the State Convention of Connecticut, that decided upon the adoption of the present Constitution of the United States, and voted in favor of it. He constituents were opposed to the measure, but it was not long before they discovered their error, and applauded his firmness. In 1804 Colonel Williams declined a re-election to the Connecticut Assembly, and withdrew entirely from public life. His life and fortune* were both devoted to his country, and he went into domestic retirement with the love and veneration of his countrymen attending him. He was married in 1772, to Mary, the daughter of Governor Trumbull, of Connecticut, and the excellences of his character greatly endeared him to his family. In 1810 he lost his eldest son. This event powerfully shocked his already infirm constitution, and he never recovered from it. His health gradually declined; and a short time before his death he was overcome with stupor. Having laid perfectly silent for four days, he suddenly called, with a clear voice, upon his departed son to attend his dying father to the world of spirits, and then expired. He died on the second day of August, 1811, at the patriarchal age of eighty-one years.
MATTHEW THORTON was born in Ireland, in 1714, and was brought to this country by his father when he was between two and three years of age. His father, when he emigrated to America, first settled at Wiscasset, in Maine, and in the course of a few years moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, where he gave his son an academical education, with a view to fit him for one of the learned professions. Matthew chose the medical profession, and at the close of his preparatory studies, he commenced his business career in Londonderry, New Hampshire. He became eminent as a physician, and in the course of a few years acquired a handsome fortune. In 1745 he was appointed surgeon of the New Hampshire troops, and accompanied them in the expedition against Louisburg.* After his return he was appointed by the royal governor (Wentworth) a Colonel of Militia, and also a Justice of the Peace. He early espoused the cause of the colonists, and soon, like many others, became obnoxious to the governor. His popularity among the people was a cause of jealousy and alarm on the part of the chief magistrate.
When the provincial government of New Hampshire was organized, on the abdication of Governor Wentworth, Dr. Thorton was elected president.† When the provincial Congress was organized in 1776, he was chosen Speaker of the House. In September of the same year, he was appointed a delegate to the Continental Congress for one year, and was permitted to sign his name to the Declaration of Independence, when he took his seat in November.* In January, 1776 (prior to his election to the Continental Congress), he was appointed a judge of the Superior Court of his State, having previously been elected a member of the Court of Common Pleas. In December of that year, he was again elected to the general Congress for one year from the twenty-third of January, 1777. At the expiration of the term he withdrew from Congress, and only engaged in public affairs as far as his office as judge required his services. He resigned his judgeship in 1782. In 1789, Dr. Thorton purchased a farm in Exeter, where he resided until the time of his death, which took place while on a visit to his daughters in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on the twenty-fourth of June, 1803. He was then in the eighty-ninth year of age.
STEPHEN HOPKINS was born in the town of Providence, Rhode Island, on the seventh of March, 1707. His mother was the daughter of one of the Baptist ministers of Providence. The opportunities for acquiring education at the time of Mr. Hopkins' childhood, were rare, but his vigorous intellect, in a measure, become (sic) a substitute for these opportunities, and he became self-taught, in the truest sense of the word. Mr. Hopkins was a farmer until 1731, when he removed to Providence and engaged in mercantile business. In 1732, he was chosen a representative for Scituate in the General Assembly, and was rechosen annually until 1738. He was again elected in 1741, and was chosen Speaker of the House of Representatives. From that time until 1751, he was almost every year a member and speaker of the assembly. That year he was chosen Chief Justice of the Colony. Mr. Hopkins was a delegate to the Colonial Convention held in Albany in 1754.* He was elected Governor of the Colony in 1756, and continued in that office almost the whole time, until 1767. During the French war, Governor Hopkins was very active in promoting the enlistment of volunteers for the service, and when Montcalm seemed to be sweeping all before him at the north,† Hopkins raised a volunteer corps, and was placed at its head; but its services was (sic) not needed, and it was disbanded.
He early opposed the oppressive acts of Great Britain, and in 1774, he held three offices of great responsibility, which were conferred upon him by the patriots—namely: Chief Justice of Rhode Island, representative in the Provincial Assembly, and delegate to the Continental Congress. At this time he introduced a bill into the Assembly of Rhode Island, to prevent the importation of slaves; and, to show that his professions, on this point, were sincere, he manumitted all those which belonged to himself. In 1775, he was a member of the Committee of Public Safety, of Rhode Island, and was again elected a delegate to the General Congress. He was re-elected in 1776, and had the privilege of signing the Declaration of Independence.* He was chosen a delegate to the General Assembly for the last time, in 1778, and was one of the committee who drafted the ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION for the government of the States. Notwithstanding he was then over seventy years of age, he was exceedingly active, and was almost constantly a member of some important committee. He died on the nineteenth of July, 1785, in the seventy-eighth year of his age.†
WILLIAM ELLERY, the colleague of Stephen Hopkins, of Rhode Island, in the Continental Congress of 1776, was born at Newport, on the twenty-second of December, 1727. His father paid particular attention to his early education, and when qualified, he placed him in Harvard College, where he was distinguished as a close student, particularly of the Greek and Latin languages. He graduated in 1747, at the age of twenty years, with the most honorable commendations of the faculty. He chose the profession of the law as a business, and when he had completed his studies, he commenced practice in Newport, then one of the most flourishing places in the British American Colonies. For twenty years, Mr. Ellery practiced law successfully, and acquired a fortune. When the troubles of the Revolution began, and, as an active patriot,* he enjoyed the entire confidence of his fellow-citizens—he was called into public service. Rhode Island, although not so much oppressed as Massachusetts and New York at the beginning, was all alive with sympathy; and the burning of the Gaspee,† in the Providence Bay, in 1772, and the formal withdrawal of the allegiance of the Province from the British crown, and by an act of her legislature, as early as May, 1776, are an evidence of the deep, patriotic feeling with which her people were imbued. She promptly responded to the call for a general Congress, and Stephen Hopkins and William Ellery were sent as delegates. Mr. Ellery was a very active member of Congress, and on the second day of August, 1776, he signed the Declaration of Independence.
In 1778, Mr. Ellery left Congress for a few weeks, and repaired to Rhode Island, to assist in a plan to drive the British from the island.** It proved abortive, and many of the inhabitants were reduced to great distress. Mr. Ellery exerted his influence in Congress, successfully, for their relief. About the same time he was one of a committee to arrange some difficulties in which Silas Deane, and other commissioners sent to Europe, were involved.* He was also a member of another committee to arrange some difficult matters connected with the Admiralty courts. In each capacity, his wisdom and sound discretion made him successful. In 1782, Mr. Ellery was designated by Congress to communicate to Major-General Greene, their estimate of his valuable services in the Southern campaigns. In 1784, he was one of a committee to whom the definite Treaty of Peace with Great Britain was referred. At this time, he was a judge of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island. After the new constitution was adopted in 1788, and the new government was put in operation, he was appointed collector for the port of Newport, which office he retained until his death, which occurred on the fifteenth of February, 1820, in the seventy-third year of his age.
ROGER SHERMAN.— One of the most remarkable men of the Revolution was Roger Sherman. He was born in Newton, Massachusetts, on the nineteenth of April, 1721. In 1723, the family moved to Stonington, in that State, where they lived until the death of Roger's father, in 1741. Roger was then only nineteen years of age, and the whole care and support of a large family devolved on him. He had been apprenticed to a shoemaker, but he now took charge of the small farm his father left. In 1744, they sold the farm, and moved to New Milford, in Connecticut, where an elder brother, who was married, resided. Roger performed the journey on foot, carrying his shoemaker's tools with him, and for some time he worked industriously at his trade there. Mr. Sherman's early education was exceedingly limited, but with a naturally strong and active mind, he acquired a large stock of knowledge from books, during his apprenticeship.* Not long after he settled in New Milford, he formed a partnership with his brother in a mercantile business, but all the while was very studious. He turned his attention to the study of law, during his leisure hours; and so proficient did he become in legal knowledge, that he was admitted to the bar, in December, 1754.†
In 1755, Mr. Sherman was elected a representative of New Milford, in the General Assembly of Connecticut, and the same year he was appointed a Justice of the Peace. After practicing law about five years, he was, in 1759, appointed Judge of the County Court for Litchfield County. He moved to New Haven in 1761, when the same appointments were conferred upon him, and in addition, he was chosen treasurer of Yale College, from which institution, in 1765, he received the honorary degree of A.M. In 1766, he was elected to the senate, or upper house of the Legislature of Connecticut; and it was at this time that the passage of the Stamp Act was bringing the politicians of America to a decided stand in relation to the repeated aggressions of Great Britain. Roger Sherman fearlessly took part with the patriots, and was a leader among them in Connecticut, until the war broke out. He was elected a delegate from Connecticut to the Continental Congress, in 1774, and was present at the opening on the fifth of September.
He was one of the most active members of that body, and was appointed on the Committee to prepare a draft of the Declaration of Independence; a document to which he affixed his signature with hearty good-will, after it was adopted by Congress. Although his duties in Congress, during the war, were almost incessant, yet he was at the same time a member of the Committee of Safety of Connecticut. in 1783, he was appointed, with Judge Law, of New London, to revise the statutes of the State, in which service he showed great ability. He was a delegate from Connecticut in the Convention in 1787, that framed the present Constitution of the United States; and he was a member of the State Convention of Connecticut which assembled to act upon the ratification of that instrument. For two years after the organization of the government under the Constitution, he was a member of the United States House of Representatives. He was then promoted to the Senate, which office he filled at the time of his death, which took place on the twenty-third of July, 1793, in the seventy-third year of his age. He had previously been elected mayor of New Haven, when it was invested with city powers and privileges, and that office he held until the time of his death.*
Chapter 34 George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
GEORGE WYTHE, was one of Virginia's most distinguished sons. He was born in the year 1726, in Elizabeth County, and being the child of wealthy parents, he had every opportunity given him which the colony afforded for acquiring a good education. His father died when he was quite young, and his education and moral training devolved upon his mother, a woman of superior abilities. She was very proficient in the Latin language, and she aided him much in the study of the classics. But before he was twenty-one years of age, death deprived him of her guidance and instruction; and he was left at that early period of life with a large fortune and the entire control of his own actions. His character not having become fixed, he launched out upon the dangerous sea of pleasure and dissipation; and for ten years of the morning of his life he laid aside study and sought only personal gratification. When about thirty years of age a sudden change was wrought in him, and he forsook the places of revelry and the companionship of the thoughtless and gay, and resumed the studies of his youth with all the ardor of one anxious to make up lost time. He mourned over his misspent days, even in his old age, which was clustered round with honors, and he felt intensely the truth of the assertion that "time once lost, is lost forever." He was admitted to the bar in 1757, and rose rapidly to eminence, not only as an able advocate, but as a strictly conscientious one.
For several years prior to the Revolution, Mr. Wythe was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses; and when the Stamp Act aroused the patriotic resistance of the people, he stood shoulder to shoulder in that Assembly with Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Peyton Randolph and others, who were distinguished as leaders in legislation, when the storm of the War of Independence burst upon the land. In 1775, Mr. Wythe was elected a delegate to the General Congress, and was there in 1776, when his colleague, Mr. Lee, submitted his bold resolution for independence. He steadfastly promoted every measure tending toward such a result, and he voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1786, Mr. Wythe was chosen a delegate to the National Convention that framed the Federal Constitution. He was also a member of the Virginia convention called to consider its adoption, and was twice chosen a United States Senator under it. Mr. Wythe was a man of great perseverance and industry, kind and benevolent to the utmost; was strict in his integrity, sincere in every word, faithful in every trust; and his life presents a striking example of the force of good resolution triumphing over the seductions of pleasure and vice, and the attainments which persevering and virtuous toil will bring to the patrician of these necessary ingredients for the establishment of an honorable reputation, and in the labors of a useful life. Mr. Wythe was twice married, but he left no offspring—an only child, by his first wife, having died in infancy. Mr. Wythe died on the eighth of June, 1800, aged 81 years.
RICHARD HENRY LEE was born in the county of Westmoreland, Virginia, on the twentieth day of January, 1732, within a month of time, and within a few miles space, of the great and good Washington. According to the fashion of the time in the "Old Dominion," his father sent him to England, at an early age, to be educated. He was placed in a school at Wakefield, in Yorkshire, where he soon became marked as a thoughtful and industrious student. Young Lee returned to Virginia when nearly nineteen years of age and there applied himself zealously to literary pursuits. His love of activity led him to the formation of a military corps, to the command of which he was elected; and when Braddock arrived from England, on an expedition against the French and Indians upon the Ohio, Mr. Lee presented himself there, and tendered the services of himself and his volunteers, to the British general. The haughty Braddock refused to accept the service of those plain volunteers, deeming the disciplined troops whom he brought with him quite sufficient to drive the invading Frenchmen from the English domain.
Mr. Lee fearlessly expressed his sentiments of reprobation of the course pursued by the British Government toward the colonies, and he organized the first association in Virginia for opposing British oppression in that colony, when it came in the form of the "Stamp Act." Mr. Lee was one of the first "Committee of Correspondence"* appointed in Virginia in 1778, and he was greatly aided in the acquirement of knowledge respecting the secret movements and opinions of the British Parliament, by frequent letters from his brother, Arthur Lee, who was a distinguished literary character in London, and an associate with the leading men of the realm. He furnished him with the earliest political intelligence; and it was generally so correct, that the Committees of Correspondence in other colonies always received, without doubt, any information which came from the Virginia Committee.
*To Mr. Lee is doubtless due the credit of first suggesting
the system of "Committees of Correspondence," although Virginia and Massachusetts
both claim the honor of publicly proposing the measure first.
Through this secret channel of correct intelligence, Richard Henry Lee very early learned that nothing short of absolute political independence would probably arrest the progress of British oppression and misrule in America. Hence, while other men thought timidly of independence, and regarded it merely as a possibility of the distant future, Mr. Lee looked upon it as a measure that must speedily be accomplished, and his mind and heart were prepared to propose it whenever expediency should favor the movement. Mr. Lee was a delegate in the Congress of 1776, and on the seventh day of June of that year, pursuant to the dictates of his own judgment and feelings, and in obedience to the express instructions of the Assembly of Virginia, he introduced the resolution for a total separation from the mother country.** The consideration of the resolution was made the special order of the day, for the first Monday in July, and a committee, of which Thomas Jefferson was chairman, was appointed to draw up a Declaration of Independence.*** This document was presented to Congress on the first day of July; and after several amendments made in committee of the whole, it was adopted on the fourth, by the unanimous votes of the thirteen United Colonies. His last days were crowned with all the honor and reverence which a grateful people could bestow upon a benefactor, and when death cut his thread of life, a nation truly mourned. He sunk to his final rest on the nineteenth day of June, 1794, in the sixty-fourth year of his age.
**The resolution was as follows:—"Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown; and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."
***The Committee consisted of Thomas Jefferson, Dr. Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. It may be asked, why was not Mr. Lee, by common courtesy at least, put upon that committee, and designated its chairman? The reason was, that on the very day he offered the resolution, an express arrived from Virginia, informing him of the illness of some of his family, which caused him to ask leave of absence, and he immediately started for home. He was therefore absent from Congress when the committee was formed.
BENJAMIN HARRISON was born in Berkley, in Virginia, but the exact time of his birth is not certainly known. His ancestors were among the earlier settlers of that colony, having, emigrated thither from England in the year 1640. The subject of this sketch was placed by his father in the college of William and Mary, with a view of giving him a thorough classical education. He was there at the time of his father's decease, which was sudden and awful.* Being the eldest of six sons, the management of the estate of his father devolved on him at his decease; and, although then a minor, he performed his duties with great fidelity and skill. Young Harrison, at a very early age, became a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, in 1764, where his talents and sound judgment won for him the confidence and esteem of all parties. He was soon elected Speaker, and became one of the most influential men in that Assembly, where he occupied a seat during the greater part of his life. His great wealth, distinguished family connections, and personal worth, attracted the attention of the royal governor, who, desirous of retaining him on the side of the government, when the political agitations caused by the Stamp Act took place, offered him a seat in the executive council. But he had narrowly watched the gradual development of events, and he was convinced that a systematic scheme for enslaving the colonies was being matured by the home government. He therefore rejected the offer of the governor, boldly avowed his attachment to the republican cause, and joined with the patriotic burgesses of Virginia in their opposition to the oppressive acts of the British government.
*This venerable man, and two of his four daughters, were instantly struck dead by lightning, during a violent thunder storm, in their mansion house at Berkley.
Mr. Harrison was one of the first seven delegates from Virginia to the Continental Congress of 1774, and he had the gratification of seeing Peyton Randolph, a very near relative, and his colleague from Virginia, elected president of that august body. Mr. Harrison was constantly employed in active service, and was always among the first in advocating decisive and energetic measures. He was warmly in favor of independence, and when that great question was under discussion in committee of the whole, he was in the chair. He voted for the Declaration of Independence, on the fourth of July, 1776, and signed it on the second of August following.
In 1782, Mr. Harrison was elected governor of the State, and he managed public affairs at that trying time, with great ability and firmness. He was governor two successive terms, and then retired to private life. But he was almost immediately elected a member of the House of Burgesses, and again resumed the Speaker's chair, by election. Mr. Harrison was again elected governor in 1791, and the day after his election he invited a party of friends to dine with him. He had been suffering a good deal from gout in the stomach, but had nearly recovered. That night he experienced a relapse and the next day death ended his sufferings. This event occurred in April, 1791. Mr. Harrison was married in early life, to a niece of Mrs. Washington, Miss Elizabeth Bassett, who lived but one year after her husband's decease. They had a numerous offspring, but only seven lived to mature age. One of them was the venerated William Henry Harrison, late President of the United States in 1840-1.
THOMAS NELSON was born at Yorktown, in Virginia, on the twenty-sixth of December, 1738. His father, William Nelson, was a native of England, and emigrated to America about the beginning of the last century. By prudence and industry he accumulated a large fortune, and held rank among the first families of Virginia. Thomas was the oldest son of his parents; and his father, in conformity to the fashion of the times among the opulent of that province, sent him to England at the age of fourteen years to be educated. He was placed in a distinguished private school not far from London, and after completing a preparatory course of studies there, he went to Cambridge and was entered a member of Trinity College. He there enjoyed the private instructions of the celebrated Dr. Proteus, afterward the Bishop of London. He remained there, a close and diligent student until 1761, when he returned to America. Mr. Nelson watched with much interest the movements of the British Parliament, during and after the time of the administration of Mr. Grenville,* and his sympathies were keenly alive in favor of the Americans and their cause. His first appearance in public life was in 1774, when he was elected a member of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, and there he took side with the patriots. It was during that session, that the resolutions reprobating the "Boston Port Bill," caused Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, to dissolve the Assembly. Eighty-nine of the members, among whom was Mr. Nelson, met the next day at a neighboring tavern, and formed an association far more efficient in throwing up the strong bulwarks of freedom, than was the regular Assembly.
*George Grenville, the Prime Minister of England in 1765, was the author of the Stamp Act. He is represented as an honest, but short-sighted politician; and the Stamp Act was doubtless more an error of his head than of his heart. He saw an empty treasury, with large demands upon it waiting to be satisfied, and he thought to replenish it by taxing the American colonies.
In the spring of 1775 he was elected a member of another general convention, and during its debates he displayed such boldness of spirit, that he was looked upon as an efficient leader in the patriotic movements of the day. Much to the alarm of his friends, he proposed, in that convention, the bold and almost treasonable measure of organizing the militia of the State for the defense of the chartered rights of the people. Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and others, warmly seconded the proposition, and it was adopted by the convention.* This act told Governor Dunmore and his royal master, in language that could not be mistaken, that Virginia was determined to exercise with freedom all the privileges guarantied to her by the British Constitution.** In August, 1774, the Virginia convention elected Mr. Nelson a delegate to the General Congress, and he took his seat in September. There he was very active, and gave such entire satisfaction to his constituents that he was unanimously reelected for 1776. Although he seldom took part in the debates, he was assiduous and efficient in committee duty. He was a zealous supporter of the proposition for independence, and voted for and signed the declaration thereof.
*Mr. Nelson was appointed to the command of one regiment, Patrick Henry of another, and Richard Henry Lee of another, each holding the rank of colonel.
**It was not long before the wisdom of these military movements became apparent, for the royal governor of Virginia as well as those of some of the other colonies, attempted to secure the powder and other munitions of war in the public magazines, under a secret order from the British ministry. This movement clearly divulged the premeditated design of disarming the people, and reducing them to slavery.
In 1781, Virginia became the chief theatre of war-like operations. The traitor Arnold, and General Phillips with a small flotilla, ravaged the coasts and ascended the rivers on predatory excursions; and Cornwallis, from southern fields of strife, marched victoriously over the lower counties of the State. About this time, the term of Mr. Jefferson's official duties as Governor of the State expired, and General Nelson was elected his successor. This, however, did not drive him from the field, but as both governor and commander-in-chief of the militia of the State,* he placed himself at the head of a considerable force, and formed a junction with La Fayette, who had been sent there to check the northwest progress of Cornwallis. By great personal exertions and a liberal use of his own funds,** he succeeded in keeping his force together until the capture of Cornwallis at Yorktown. He headed a body of militia in the siege of that place, and although he owned a fine mansion in the town, he did not hesitate to bombard it.*** In this, as in every thing else, his patriotism was conspicuous; and General Washington, in his official account of the siege, made honorable mention of the great services of Governor Nelson and his militia.
*The active Colonel Tarleton, of the British army, made ever y effort to effect the capture of the Legislature of Virginia. He succeeded in getting some into his custody; and so irregular became their meetings, in consequence of being frequently obliged to disperse and flee for personal safety, that they passed an act which placed the government of the State in the hands of the governor and his council. The council, too, being scattered, General Nelson had the whole responsibility laid upon his shoulders; and in the exercise of his individual powers, he was compelled, by the exigencies of the times, to do some things that were not strictly legal; but the Legislature subsequently legalized all his acts.
**Mr. Nelson made many and great pecuniary sacrifices for his country. When, in 1780, the French fleet was hourly expected, Congress felt it highly necessary that provision should be made for them. But its credit was prostrate, and its calls upon the States were tardily responded to. Virginia proposed to raise two millions of dollars, and Mr. Nelson at once opened a subscription list. But many wealthy men told Mr. Nelson that they would not contribute a penny on the security of the Commonwealth, but they would lend him all he wanted. He at once added his personal security.
***During the siege he observed that while the Americans poured their shot and shells thick and fast into every part of the town, they seemed carefully to avoid firing in the direction of his house. Governor Nelson inquired why his house was spared, and was informed that it was out of personal regard for him. He at once begged them not to make any difference on that account, and at once a well-directed fire was opened upon it. At that moment a number of British officers occupied it, and were at dinner enjoying a feast, and making merry with wine. The shots of the Americans entered the house, and killing two of the officers, effectually ended the conviviality of the party.
Within a month after the battle of Yorktown, Governor Nelson, finding his health declining, resigned his office and retired to private life. He never again appeared in public life, but spent the remainder of his days alternately at his mansion in Yorktown, and his estate at Offly. His health gradually declined until 1789, when, on the fourth day of January, his useful life closed. He was in the fifty-third year of his age.
FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE, a younger brother of Richard Henry Lee, was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on the fourteenth day of October, 1734. He was too young when his father died to be sent abroad to be educated, but was favored with every advantage in the way of learning which the colony afforded. He was placed at an early age under the care of the Rev. Dr. Craig, a Scotch clergyman of eminent piety and learning. His excellent tutor not only educated his head but his heart, and laid the foundation of character, upon which the noble superstructure, which his useful life exhibited, was reared. On the return of Richard Henry Lee from England, whither he had been to acquire a thorough education, Francis, who was then just stepping from youth into manhood, was deeply impressed with his various acquirements and polished manners, and adopted him as a model for imitation. He leaned upon his brother's judgment in all matters, and the sentiments which moved the one impelled the other to action. And when his brother with his sweet voice and persuasive manner, endeavored by popular harangues, to arouse his friends and neighbors to a sense of the impending danger, which act after act of British oppression shadowed forth, Francis caught his spirit; and when he was old enough to engage in the strife of politics, he was a full-fledged patriot, and with a "pure heart and clean hands" he espoused the cause of freedom.
In 1765 Mr. Lee was elected a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, for Loudon County, while his brother was member of the same House, for Westmoreland County. By annual election, he continued a member of the Virginia Assembly for Loudon, until 1772, when he married the daughter of Colonel John Taylor, of Richmond, and moved to that city. He was at once elected a member for Richmond, and continued to represent that county until 1775, when the Virginia Convention elected him a delegate to the Continental Congress. During his whole term of service in the General Assembly of his State, he always acted in concert with the patriotic burgesses. Mr. Lee was not a fluent speaker, and seldom engaged in debate; but his sound judgment, unwavering principles, and persevering industry, made him a useful member of any legislative assembly. He sympathized with his brother in his yearnings for independence; and it was with great joy that he voted for and signed the instrument which declared his country free.
Mr. Lee continued in Congress, until 1779, and was the member, for Virginia, of the committee which framed the Articles of Confederation. Possessed of ample wealth, he used it like a philosopher and a Christian in dispensing its blessings for the benefit of his country and his fellow-men. In April, 1797, he was prostrated by an attack of pleurisy, which terminated his life in the course of a few days. He was in the sixty-third year of his age. His wife was attacked by the same disease, and died a few days after the decease of her husband.
CARTER BRAXTON was born at Newington, in King and Queen's County, Virginia, on the tenth of September, 1736. His father, George Braxton, was a wealthy farmer, and highly esteemed among the planters of Virginia. His mother was the daughter of Robert Carter, who, for a time, was president of the royal council of that State. They both died while Carter and his brother George were quite young. Carter Braxton was educated at the college of William and Mary, and at the age of nineteen years, on leaving that institution, he was married to Miss Judith Robinson, the daughter of a wealthy planter in Middlesex County. His own large fortune was considerably augmented by this marriage, and he was considered one of the wealthiest men in his native county.* In 1757, Mr. Braxton went to England, for the purpose of self-improvement and personal gratification. He remained there until 1760, when he returned to America, and soon afterward married the daughter of Mr. Corbin, the royal receiver-general of the customs of Virginia.**
*His wife died at the time of the birth of her second child, when she was not quite twenty-one years of age.
**Mr. Braxton had a large family by his second wife. She was the mother of sixteen children.
Notwithstanding the social position, and patrician connections of Mr. Braxton, which would seem naturally to have attached him to the aristocracy, he was among the earliest in Virginia who raised the voice of patriotism. In 1765 he was a member of the House of Burgesses. How much earlier he appeared in public life is not known. He was present when Patrick Henry's resolutions respecting the Stamp Act, were introduced, and was one of those who, fired by the wonderful eloquence of the orator on that occasion, boldly voted in support of them.*** Mr. Braxton was a member of the Virginia Convention in 1769, when Lord Botetourt, one of the best disposed royal governors that ever ruled in Virginia, suddenly dissolved it, in consequence of some acts therein which he deemed treasonable. Mr. Braxton was one of the members who immediately retired to a private room and signed a non-importation agreement. Lord Botetourt died toward the close of 1770, and was succeeded by Lord Dunmore, a man of very defective judgment and unyielding disposition, whose unpopular management greatly increased the spirit of opposition to royal misrule in Virginia. During the interval between the death of Botetourt and the arrival of Dunmore, Mr. Braxton held the office of high sheriff of the county where he resided, but he refused to hold it under the new governor. He was one of the eighty-nine members of the Assembly who, on the dissolution thereof by Governor Dunmore, in the summer of 1774, recommended a general convention of the people of Virginia, to meet at Williamsburg. They did so, and elected delegates to the Continental Congress, which met in Philadelphia on the fourth of the month following. Mr. Braxton was a member of that convention.
***The eloquence of Henry on that occasion, fell like successive thunderbolts on the ears of the timid Assembly. "It was in the midst of the magnificent debate on these resolutions," says Mr. Wirt, "while he was descanting on the tyranny of the obnoxious Act, that he exclaimed, in a voice of thunder, and with the look of a god—'Cæsar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell—and George the Third'—'Treason!' cried the Speaker—'Treason, treason,' echoed from every part of the House. It was one of those trying moments which are decisive of character. Henry faltered not for an instant; but rising to a loftier altitude, and fixing on the Speaker an eye of the most determined fire, he finished the sentence with the firmest emphasis—'and George the Third—may profit by their example. If that be treason, make the most of it.' "
When, in 1777, the attempt of Lord Dunmore to take the ammunition from the public magazines on board the Fowey ship-of-war, then lying off Williamsburg, excited the people to the highest pitch, and threatened open rebellion and armed resistance,**** Mr. Braxton, by a wise and prudent course, succeeded in quelling the disturbance, and in bringing about such an arrangement as quite satisfied the people, and probably saved the town from destruction.***** In December, 1775, he was chosen a delegate to the Continental Congress to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Peyton Randolph. He took an active part in favor of independence and voted for and signed the Declaration. He remained in Congress during only one session, and then resumed his seat in the Virginia Legislature, where he continued with but little interruption, until 1785. In 1786 he was appointed a member of the council of the State, and held that station until 1791. He was elected to the same office in 1794, where he continued until within four days of his death. This event, which was occasioned by paralysis, occurred on the tenth day of October, 1797, when he was in the sixty-first year of his age.
****Patrick Henry put himself at the head of a military company, and marched toward Williamsburg, to demand from Lord Dunmore the return of the powder. His company rapidly augmented in numbers as he approached the town, and he entered it at the head of an overwhelming force. The governor, finding resistance vain, finally agreed to pay for the powder, and was then allowed quietly to retire with his family on board the ship-of-war in the river.
*****The captain of the Fowey had declared his intention to fire upon and destroy the town, if the governor should experience any personal violence, and he placed the broadside of his vessel parallel with the shore, and shotted his guns for the purpose.
Chapter 35 Edward Rutledge, Thomas Hayward, Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
EDWARD RUTLEDGE, whose name we find first among the patriotic delegates from South Carolina who signed the Declaration of Independence, was born at Charleston, in November, 1749, and was the youngest of a family of seven children. After receiving a good English and classical education, young Rutledge commenced the study of law with his elder brother, John, who was then a distinguished member of the Charleston bar. As a finishing stroke in his legal education, preparatory to his admission to the bar, he was sent to England at the age of twenty, and entered as a student at the Inner Temple, London, where he had an opportunity of witnessing the forensic eloquence of those master spirits of the times, Mansfield, Wedderburn, Thurlow, Dunning, Chatham, and Camden. He returned to Charleston about the close of 1772, was admitted to the bar, and commenced practice early in 1773. Mr. Rutledge, though young, had watched with much interest the political movements of the day, and when old enough to act as well as think, he took a decisive stand on the side of the patriots.
This, together with the distinguished talents which he manifested on his first appearance at the bar, drew toward him the attention of the public mind, when the Massachusetts Circular aroused the people to vigorous action. Although then only twenty-five years of age, the Convention of South Carolina elected him a delegate to the first General Congress, and he was present at the opening, on the fifth of September, 1774. There he was active and fearless, and receiving the entire approbation of his constituents, he was reelected in 1775, and 1776; and when, preparatory to the consideration of the subject of absolute independence, Congress, by resolution, recommended the several Colonies to form permanent governments, Mr. Rutledge was associated with Richard Henry Lee and John Adams, in preparing the prefatory preamble to the recommendation. He was warmly in favor of independence, and fearlessly voted for the Declaration, notwithstanding there were large numbers of people in his State opposed to it, some through timidity, some through self-interest, and some through decided attachment to the royal cause.
When, during the summer of 1776, Lord Howe came commissioned to prosecute the war or negotiate for peace, Mr. Rutledge was appointed one of a committee with Dr. Franklin and John Adams, to meet him in conference upon Staten Island. The commissioners were instructed not to enter upon negotiations for peace, except in the capacity of representatives of free States, and having independence as a basis. As Lord Howe could not thus receive them, or listen to such proposals, the conference, as was anticipated, failed to produce any important results. Mr. Rutledge took up arms, and was placed at the head of a corps of artillery. In 1780, while Charleston was invested by the enemy, he was active in affording succor to General Lincoln, then within the besieged city. In one of these operations, in attempting to throw troops into the city, he was taken prisoner, and was afterward sent captive to St. Augustine in Florida. He remained a prisoner nearly a year, and was then exchanged and set at liberty. It was a gloomy time for the patriots, and the stoutest hearts began to quail. The bulk of the southern army, under Lincoln, had been made prisoners. But still hope did not quite expire, and the successes of Greene, and the victories of Marion and Sumpter, reanimated the fainting hearts of the republicans.
After the British evacuated Charleston in 1781, Mr. Rutledge retired, and resumed the practice of his profession; and for about seventeen years, his time was alternately employed in the duties of his business and service in the Legislature of his State. In the latter capacity he uniformly opposed every proposition for extending the evils of slavery. In 1794, Mr. Rutledge was elected to the United States Senate, to supply the vacancy caused by the resignation of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney; and in 1798, he was elected Governor of his native State. But he did not live to serve out his official term. He had suffered much from hereditary gout, and on returning to Charleston after the adjournment of the Legislature, which sat at Columbia, he caught a severe cold, that brought on a paroxysm of his disease and terminated his life on the twenty-third day of January, in the year 1800. He was in the sixtieth year of his age.
THOMAS HAYWARD was born in St. Luke's parish, South Carolina, in the year 1746. His father, Colonel Dame Hayward was one of the wealthiest planters in the Province, and fully appreciating the advantages of education, he placed his son Thomas in the best classical school in that region. He was a thoughtful and industrious student; and so readily did he master the Latin, that he read with fluency the works of the Roman historians and poets, in that language. As soon as young Hayward had completed his preparatory studies, he entered as a student the law office of Mr. Parsons, a barrister of considerable eminence in South Carolina, at that time. Having accomplished his task well, his father sent him to England at the age of about twenty years, to finish his legal education there. While in England, Mr. Hayward became deeply impressed with the injustice of the prevailing feeling there, that a colonial British subject was quite inferior to the native-born Englishman, and should be treated as such. Such was the sentiment of society, and upon this sentiment the government seemed to act, by appointing to office in the colonies few but natives of the British Islands; and in its carelessness of the rights and privileges of the colonists, they were not equally protected by the broad ægis of the British Constitution. These things, even at that early age, alienated his affection from the mother country, and he returned to his native land with mortified feelings, and a heartfelt desire to free it from the bondage of transatlantic rule.
Soon after his return, Mr. Hayward entered upon the practice of his profession. He married a most amiable and accomplished young lady, named Matthews; and with a sedateness and energy, of purpose, rare at his age, he commenced his career of usefulness. He was among the earliest in South Carolina who resisted the oppressive measures of the Home Government, and from the passage of the Stamp Act until the battle of Lexington, he consistently and zealously promoted the patriot cause, ever repudiating the degrading terms of conciliation—absolute submission—which the British Government demanded. The openness and manly frankness with which he espoused the patriot cause, made him a leader in the revolutionary movements in that Province, and he was placed in the first General Assembly, that organized after the abdication of the colonial governor. He was also appointed a member of the first "Committee of Safety" there. In 1776, Mr. Hayward was chosen a delegate to the General Congress. He at first modestly declined the honor, but being waited upon personally by a deputation of the people, he complied, and took his seat early in 1776. He warmly supported Mr. Lee's motion for absolution from British rule, when brought forward in June of that year, and he joyfully voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence. He remained in Congress until 1778, when he accepted the appointment of Judge of the criminal and civil courts of South Carolina. This acceptance, and his previous offense in signing the Declaration, made him very obnoxious to the enemy, and great efforts were made, through the treacherous tories, to get possession of his person.
Mr. Hayward held a military commission while he was Judge, and he was in active service, with Edward Rutledge, in the skirmish with the enemy at Beaufort, in 1780. In that skirmish he received a gun-shot wound, which scarred him for life. When, soon after, Charleston was captured by Sir Henry Clinton and Admiral Arbuthnot, Mr. Hayward was taken prisoner, and it was generally believed that he would be excluded from the terms of capitulation, as an arch-traitor. This, however, was not the case and he was sent, with Mr. Rutledge and others, to St. Augustine, in Florida, where he remained nearly a year. On his return to South Carolina, Judge Hayward returned his seat upon the bench, and was actively engaged in his judicial duties until 1798. He was a member of the convention of his State, which framed its constitution in 1790. Having again married an amiable lady, by the name of Savage, he coveted the retirement and happiness of domestic life, from which he had been so long an exile; and in 1799 he withdrew entirely from public life, and in the bosom of his family he bore the honor which a nation's gratitude conferred, and there calmly awaited the summons for another world. His death took place in March, 1809, when he was sixty-three years of age.
THOMAS LYNCH, JUNIOR, was born in Prince George's parish, upon the North Santee River, South Carolina, on the fifth day of August, 1749. He was sent to England, to be educated, at the age of thirteen years. He had previously received a good academical education, at Georgetown, in South Carolina. In England he was placed in Eton School, that seminary of preparation for higher instruction, in which, for a long period, many eminent men were educated. After completing his preparatory studies there, he entered the University of Cambridge, where he took his degree, and he left the institution bearing the highest respect of the tutors, because of his studious and virtuous career while there. On leaving Cambridge, young Lynch entered upon the study of the law in one of the inns of the Temple, where, by close application, he became a finished lawyer at the close of his studies. He there became acquainted with some of the leading politicians of the day, and acquired a pretty thorough knowledge of the movements of the government. And when he heard the murmur of discontent come from his native land, and listened to the haughty tone of British statesmen, when speaking of the Colonies, he felt an irrepressible desire to return home. He obtained permission of his father, and reached South Carolina in 1772.
He soon afterward married a beautiful young lady, named Shubrick, between whom and himself a mutual attachment had existed from childhood. This tender relation and the possession of an ample fortune, were calculated to wed him to the ease and enjoyments of domestic life; but young Lynch had caught the spirit of his patriot father, and he stood up, like a strong young oak, to breast the storm of the Revolution, then gathering black on every side. Mr. Lynch's first appearance in public life, was at a town-meeting called in Charleston in 1773, to consider the injuries Great Britain was inflicting on her colonies. He addressed the numerous assemblage with a patriotic eloquence which won their hearts, and the people at once looked upon him as an efficient instrument in working out the freedom of his country. They elected him by acclamation to many civil offices of trust; and when the first provincial regiment was raised in South Carolina, in 1775, a captain's commission was offered to Mr. Lynch, which he accepted. He raised a company and joined his regiment but a few days afterward, intelligence reached him of the sudden and severe illness of his father from paralysis, at Philadelphia, and he asked permission to attend him. But Colonel Gadsden absolutely refused to grant the request, on the ground that no private consideration should interfere with public duty.
But his filial yearnings were speedily gratified, for his father resigned his seat in Congress, and his son was immediately elected by the Provincial Assembly to fill it. He joyfully accepted it, and hastened to Philadelphia, where he took his seat in Congress, in 1776. He supported the proposition for Independence, and was one of the signers to the glorious declaration thereof. Mr. Lynch did not long remain in Congress, for the declining health of both himself and his father caused him to resign his seat and return home. They traveled slowly until they reached Annapolis, where his father had another paralytic stroke, which terminated his life. With a sad heart and debilitated frame, the bereaved son returned home. But the canker of disease was preying upon his vitals, and by the advice of physicians, he resolved to go to the south of Europe, with the faint hope, that restored health might be the result. It being perilous at that time to go in an American vessel, he sailed for the West Indies toward the close of 1779, with the expectation of finding a neutral vessel there, in which to embark for Europe. His affectionate wife accompanied him, but they never reached their destination. The vessel was supposed to have foundered at sea, and all on board perished, for it was never heard of afterward.
Thus, at the early age of thirty years, terminated the life of one of that sacred band who pledged life, fortune and honor, in defence of American freedom. Like a brilliant meteor, he beamed with splendor for a short period, and suddenly vanished forever.
ARTHUR MIIDDLETON was born at Middleton Place, the residence of his father, in South Carolina, in 1743. His father, Henry Middleton, was of English descent, and a wealthy planter, and he gave his son every opportunity for mental and moral culture which the Province afforded, until he arrived at a proper age to be sent to England for a thorough education. This was a prevailing custom among the men of wealth in the southern provinces, previous to the Revolution, and their sons consequently became political and social leaders, on account of their superior education. Arthur Middleton was sent to England, when he was about twelve years of age, and was placed in a school at Hackney.* At fourteen he was transferred to a school in Westminster, where he remained four years, and then entered the University at Cambridge. While there, he shunned the society of the gay and dissipated, and became a very close and thoughtful student. He remained at Cambridge four years, and at the age of twenty-two he graduated with distinguished honors. He carried with him, from that institution, the sincere respect and esteem of professors and students.
*Several of the Southern members of Congress received
their education at this school, preparatory to their entering the college
Young Middleton remained in England some time after leaving Cambridge, for the two-fold purpose of self-improvement and of forming acquaintances with the branch of his family that remained there. He then went to the continent, and for two years he traveled and made observations of men, and manners, and things, in southern Europe. He passed several months at Rome, where his highly cultivated mind became thoroughly schooled in the theory of the fine arts, and made him proficient as a painter. Mr. Middleton returned to South Carolina, in 1768, and very soon afterward married an accomplished young lady, named lzard. About a year after this event, he took his young wife and made a second tour on the continent of Europe, and spent some time in England. They returned in 1773, and, by the indulgence of his father, he took the family seat for his residence. There in the possession of wealth and every domestic enjoyment, he had a bright prospect of worldly happiness. But even then the dark clouds of the Revolution were gathering, and in less than two years the storm burst upon the South, as well as all along the Atlantic seaboard, with great fury. Men could not remain neutral, for there was no middle course, and Arthur Middleton, and his father, laid their lives and fortunes upon the altar of patriotism.
When the decision was made and the die was cast, Mr. Middleton laid aside domestic ease and entered at once upon active life. He was a member of one of the committees of safety of South Carolina, appointed by the Provincial Congress in 1775. In that body he was firm and unyielding in principle; and when, soon afterward, Lord William Campbell was appointed Governor, and it was discovered that he was acting with duplicity, Mr. Middleton laid aside all private feeling, and recommended his immediate arrest.** The proposition was too bold to meet the views of the more timid majority of the committee, and the governor was allowed to flee from the State.*** In the winter of 1776, Mr. Middleton was one of a committee appointed to form a government for South Carolina; and early in the spring of that year he was elected by the Provincial Legislature, a delegate to the General Congress, at Philadelphia. There he was an active promoter of the measures tending toward a severance of the Colonies from Great Britain, and voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence. By this patriotic act, he placed himself in a position to lose life and property, should the contest prove unsuccessful, but these considerations had no weight with him. Mr. Middleton continued a member of Congress until the close of 1777, when he returned to South Carolina. In 1778, the Assembly adopted a State Constitution, and Arthur Middleton was elected first governor under it. Doubting the legality of the proceedings of the Assembly in framing the constitution, he declined the acceptance of the appointment.
**Lord William Campbell was nearly related to Mr. Middleton's wife, and the greatest intimacy existed between the families. But private feelings and close ties of relationship had no weight In the scale against Mr. Middleton's convictions of duty, and he was among the first to recommend meetings to destroy the power of the governor.
***Had the proposition of Mr. Middleton been carried into effect, much bloodshed might have been saved in South Carolina, for Lord Campbell, after his flight, joined Sir Henry Clinton, and representing the Tory interest as very powerful in that State, induced that commander, in connection with the fleet of Sir Peter Parker, to ravage the coast and make an attack upon Charleston. In that engagement Lord Campbell was slain.
When, in 1779, South Carolina was invaded by the British, Mr. Middleton's property was exposed to their ravages. Yet he heeded not the destruction that was wrought, but joining Governor Rutledge in his attempts to defend the State, he left his estate entirely unprotected, and only wrote to his wife to remove with the family a day's journey from the scene of strife. In this invasion a large portion of his immense estate was sacrificed. The following year, after the surrender of Charleston to the British, he was one of the many influential men who were taken prisoners and sent to St. Augustine in Florida. There he remained about one year, and was then sent, as an exchanged prisoner, to Philadelphia. He was at once elected by the Assembly of South Carolina, a representative in Congress, and he remained there until November, 1782, when he returned to his family. He was a representative in his State Legislature until near the close of 1787, when disease removed him from his sphere of usefulness. By exposure he contracted an intermittent fever, which he neglected until it was too late to check its ravages upon his constitution. He died on the first day of January, 1788. He left his wife a widow with eight children. She lived until 1814, and had the satisfaction of seeing her offspring among the honored of the land.
Chapter 36 Burton Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
BURTON GWINNETT was born in England, in 1732. The pecuniary means of his parents were limited, yet they managed to give him a good common education. He was apprenticed to a merchant in Bristol, and after completing his term of service, he married, and commenced business on his own account. Allured by the promises of wealth and distinction in America, he resolved to emigrate hither, and he arrived at Charleston, in South Carolina, in the year 1770. There he commenced mercantile business, and after pursuing it for two years, he sold out his stock, moved to Georgia, and purchased large tracts of land on St. Catherine's Island in that province. He purchased a number of slaves, and devoted himself to agricultural pursuits. Mr. Gwinnett favored the opposition of the Colonies to British oppression, to some degree; yet he was one of those cautious, doubting men at that time, who viewed the success of the Colonies in an open rupture with the home government, as highly problematical. Therefore, when, in 1774, Georgia was solicited to unite her voice with the other Colonies in a General Congress, Mr. Gwinnett looked upon the proposition with disfavor, as one fraught with danger and many evils. But falling in with Doctor Lyman Hall, and a few other decided patriots, his judgment became gradually convinced that some powerful movement was necessary; and at length he came out before the people, as one of the warmest advocates of unbending resistance to the British Crown.
His cultivated mind and superior talents rendered him very popular with the people as soon as he espoused their cause, and every honor in their gift was speedily bestowed upon him. It was in the beginning of 1775, that Mr. Gwinnett openly espoused the cause of the patriots, and the parish of St. John elected him a delegate to the Continental Congress.* In February, 1776, he was again elected a delegate to that body by the General Assembly of Georgia and under their instructions, and in accordance with his own strong inclinations he voted for the Declaration of Independence, and signed it on the second of August following. He remained in Congress until 1777, when he was elected a member of the Convention of his State to form a Constitution, in accordance with the recommendation of Congress after the Declaration of Independence was made, and the grand outlines of that instrument are attributed to Mr. Gwinnett. Soon after the State Convention adjourned, Mr. Bullock, the president of the council, died, and Mr. Gwinnett was elected to that station, then the highest office in the gift of the people. The civil honors, so rapidly and lavishly bestowed upon him, excited his ambition, and while he was a representative in Congress, he aspired to the possession of military honors also: He offered himself as a candidate for the office of Brigadier-General, and his competitor was Colonel M'Intosh, a man highly esteemed for his manly bearing and courageous disposition.
*At the early stage of the controversy with Great Britain, Georgia, sparsedly populated, seemed quite inactive, except in the district known as the parish of St. John. There all the patriotism of the province seems to have been concentrated. The General Assembly having refused to send delegates to the Congress of 1774, that parish separated from the province, and appointed a representative in the Continental Congress. The leaven, however, soon spread, and Georgia gave her vote, in 1776, for Independence.
Mr. Gwinnett was defeated, and with mistaken views he looked upon his rival as a personal enemy.** A decided alienation of their former friendship took place, and the breach was constantly widened b the continued irritations which Mr. Gwinnett experienced at the hands of Colonel M'Intosh and his friends. At length he was so excited by the conduct of his opposers, and goaded by the thoughts of having his fair fame tarnished in the eyes of the community, from whom he bad received his laurels, that he listened to the suggestions of false honor, and challenged Colonel M'Intosh to single combat. They met with pistols, and at the first fire both were wounded, Mr. Gwinnett mortally; and in the prime of life, at the early age of forty-five, his life terminated. He could well have said, in the language of the lamented Hamilton, when fatally wounded in a duel by Aaron Burr: "I have lived like a man, but I die like a fool." Mr. Gwinnett left a wife and several children, but they did not long survive him.
**As we have elsewhere remarked, in the course of these memoirs, native-born Englishmen were in the habit of regarding the colonists as inferior to themselves, and they were apt to assume a bearing toward them highly offensive. In some degree Mr. Gwinnett was obnoxious to this charge, and he looked upon his rapid elevation in public life, as an acknowledgment of his superiority. These feelings were too thinly covered not to be seen by the people when he was president of the council, and it soon engendered among the natives a jealousy that was fully reciprocated by him. This was doubtless the prime cause of all the difficulties which surrounded him toward the close of his life, and brought him to his tragical death.
LYMAN HALL was born in Connecticut in the year 1721. His father was possessed of a competent fortune, and he gave his son an opportunity for acquiring a good education. He placed him in Yale College, at the age of sixteen years, whence he graduated after four years' study. He chose the practice of medicine as a profession, and he entered upon the necessary studies with great ardor, and pursued them with perseverance. As soon as Mr. Hall had completed his professional studies, and was admitted to practice, with the title of M. D., he married and emigrated to South Carolina, in 1752. He first settled at Dorchester, but during the year he moved to Sunbury, in the district of Medway, in Georgia, whither about forty New England families, then in South Carolina, accompanied him. He was very successful in the practice of his profession; and by his intelligence, probity, and consistency of character, he won the unbounded esteem and confidence of his fellow-citizens. Doctor Hall was a close observer of the "signs of the times," and he was among the earliest of the southern patriots who lifted up their voices against British oppression and misrule.
The community in which he lived was strongly imbued with the same feeling, for the people brought with them from New England the cherished principles of the Pilgrim Fathers—principles that would not brook attempts to enslave, or even to destroy a single prerogative of the Colonies. The older settlers of Georgia, many of whom were direct from Europe, had these principles of freedom inwoven with their character in a much less degree, and therefore the parish of St. John, wherein Doctor Hall resided, seemed, at the first cry of liberty, to have much of the patriotism of the province centred there. Early in 1774 Doctor Hall and a few kindred spirits, endeavored, by calling public meetings, to arouse the people of the province to make common cause with their brethren of the North; but these efforts seemed almost futile. Finally, a general meeting of all favorable to republicanism was called at Savannah, in July, 1774, but the measures adopted there were temporizing and non-committal in a great degree, and Doctor Hall almost despaired of success in persuading Georgia to send delegates to the General Congress, called to meet at Philadelphia in September.
He returned to his constituents with a heavy heart, and his report filled them with disgust at the pusilanimity of the other representatives there. Fired with zeal for the cause, and deeply sympathizing with their brother patriots of New England, the people of the parish of St. John resolved to act in the matter, independent of the rest of the colony, and in March, 1775, they elected Doctor Hall a delegate to the General Congress, and he appeared there with his credentials on the thirteenth of May, following. Notwithstanding he was not an accredited delegate of a colony, Congress, by a unanimous vote, admitted him to a seat. During the summer, Georgia became sufficiently aroused to come out as a colony in favor of the republican cause, and at a convention of the people held in Savannah, in July, five delegates to Congress were elected, of whom Doctor Hall was one. He presented his credentials in May, 1776, and he took part in the debates which ensued on the motion of Mr. Lee for independence.
Doctor Hall warmly supported it, and voted for it on the fourth of July. He signed the declaration on the second of August, and soon afterward returned home for a season. Doctor Hall was a member of Congress nearly all the while until 1780, when the invasion of his State, by the British, called him home to look after the safety of his family. He arrived there in time to remove them, but was obliged to leave his property entirely exposed to the fury of the foe. He went north, and while the British had possession of the State, and revived royal authority in the government there, his property was confiscated. He returned to Georgia, in 1782, just before the enemy evacuated Savannah.*
*After the capture of Cornwallis and his army at Yorktown, in 1781, the war virtually ceased. Armies were still on duty, and arrangements were made for regular campaigns the ensuing season; but unimportant skirmishes in the Southern States made up the bulk of actual hostilities from that time until the proclamation of peace. Georgia was the only rendezvous of the remnant of the British at the South, in the beginning of the year 1782. In June of that year, General Wayne arrived there with a portion of the Pennsylvania line, and the enemy retreated from all their outposts into Savannah. The State was thus evacuated, and republican authority was re-established. Wayne was attacked within five miles of Savannah, on the twenty-fourth of June, by a party of British and Indians, and in that skirmish Colonel John Laurens was killed. This was the last battle of the Revolution. Cessation of hostilities was proclaimed, and in July the British force evacuated Savannah, and the last hostile foot left the soil of Georgia.
The next year he was elected governor of the State. He held the office one term, and then retired from public life, and sought happiness in the domestic circle. But that was soon invaded by the arch-destroyer. His only son was cut down in the flower of his youth, and the father did not long survive him. He died in the year 1784, in the sixty-third year of his age, greatly beloved and widely lamented.**
**During the session of the Legislature of Georgia, in 1848, the sum of fifteen hundred dollars was appropriated for the purpose of creating a lead monument to the memory of Lyman Hall, and George Walton, two delegates from Georgia who signed the Declaration of Independence.
GEORGE WALTON was descended from parentage quite obscure, and the glory that halos his name derives not a gleam from ancestral distinction—it is all his own. He was born in the county of Frederick, in Virginia, in the year 1740. His early education was extremely limited, and at the age of fourteen years he was apprenticed to a carpenter. He was possessed of an inquiring mind, and an ardent thirst for knowledge, but his master's authority hung like a mill-stone about the neck of his aspirations. He was an ignorant man, and looked upon a studious boy as an idle one, considering the time spent in reading as wasted. With this feeling, he would allow young Walton no time to read by day, nor lights to study by night; but the ardent youth overcame these difficulties, and by using torch-wood for light he spent his evenings in study. Persevering in this course, he ended his apprenticeship with a well-stored mind. He then moved into the province of Georgia, and commenced the study of law in the office of Mr. Young, an eminent barrister in that Colony. Mr. Walton commenced the practice of law in the year 1774, a time when the Colonies were in a blaze respecting the various acts of the British Parliament which invaded colonial rights. Soon after commencing the practice of his profession, Mr. Walton became acquainted with some of the leading patriots in that province, among whom was Dr. Hall, and they found in him an apt pupil in the school of patriotism.
His law tutor was an ardent patriot also; and these influences combined with his own natural bias, made him espouse the republican cause with hearty zeal. He boldly opposed the movements of the loyalists, and soon called down upon his head the denunciations of the ruling powers. He labored assiduously to have the whole province take the road toward freedom, which the parish of St. John had chosen, yet his labor seemed almost fruitless. But at length the fruits of the zeal of himself and others began to appear, and in the winter of 1776, the Assembly of Georgia declared for the patriotic cause, and in February appointed five delegates to the Continental Congress. Of these delegates, Mr. Walton was one. The royal governor was so incensed at this daring and treasonable act of the Assembly, that he threatened to use military force against them. But they utterly disregarded his authority, organized a new government, and elected Archibald Bullock president of the Executive Council. The Congress was in session at Baltimore when he arrived, having adjourned there from Philadelphia, because of the expected attack upon that city by the British under Lord Cornwallis.
The confidence which that body reposed in him was manifested three days after his arrival, by his appointment upon a committee with Robert Morris and George Clymer, to repair to Philadelphia and act as circumstances might require. This was a post of great trust and danger, and the powers delegated to the committee were almost unlimited; in their keeping and disposition nearly the whole of the finances of Congress were entrusted. This service was performed with the utmost fidelity. Mr. Walton was favorable to the proposition for independence, and he used all his influence to bring about that result. He voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence and the fortune and honor he there pledged were freely devoted to its support. He remained in Congress until near the close of 1778, when he returned home, having been appointed by the Legislature colonel of a regiment in his State, then threatened by an invasion of the enemy from the sea. Colonel Walton hastened to join his regiment, and was there in time to enter the battalion of General Howe,* at Savannah, when Colonel Campbell, from New York, landed there and besieged it. In that engagement he received a severe shot wound in his thigh, and he fell from his horse.
*This was General Robert Howe, of the American Army. There were three commanding officers by the name of Howe engaged in our Revolutionary war: General Robert Howe, just named; General Sir William Howe, of the British army; and his brother, Lord Howe, Admiral in its navy. At the time in question, General Robert Howe had about eight hundred men under his command, and would doubtless have maintained a successful defense of Savannah, had it not been for a treacherous negro, who pointed out to the enemy a path across a morass that defended the Americans in the rear. By this treachery the Americans were attacked front and rear, and were obliged to surrender themselves prisoners of war.
In this condition he was taken prisoner, but was soon after exchanged.** In October, 1779, the Legislature of Georgia appointed Mr. Walton governor of the State. He did not hold that office long, for in January, 1780, he was again elected to a seat in Congress for two years, but in October following he withdrew from that body, and was again elected governor of his State, which office he then held a full term. Near the close of the term, he was appointed by the Legislature, Chief Justice of the State, and he retained that office until his death. In 1798, he was elected a member of the Senate of the United States, where he remained one year and then retired to private life, except so far as his duties upon the bench required him to act in public. His useful life was terminated in Augusta, Georgia, on the second day of February, 1804, when he was in the sixty-fourth year of his age. Mr. Walton had but one child, a son, who was a great solace to the declining years of his father.***
**He then hold the active position of major, with the rank of colonel; yet being a Member of Congress and guilty of the great offense of having signed the Declaration of Independence, a brigadier-general was demanded in exchange for him. He was finally exchanged for a naval captain.
***When General Jackson was governor of West Florida, Judge Walton's son held the office of Secretary of State, and was regarded as one of the most estimable men in that territory.
Chapter 37 William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
WILLIAM HOOPER was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on the seventeenth day of June, 1742. His father was a Scotchman, and a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. Soon after leaving that institution, he emigrated to America, and fixed his residence at Boston, where he was married. William was his first born, and he paid particular attention to his preparation for a collegiate course. He was placed under the charge of Mr. Lovell, then one of the most eminent instructors in the colony of Massachusetts Bay. Having completed his preparatory studies, William was entered a pupil at Harvard University, where he remained a close and industrious student for three years, and in 1760 he graduated with distinguished honors. His father designed him for the clerical profession, but as he evinced a decided preference for the bar, he was placed as a student in the office of the celebrated James Otis. On the completion of his studies, perceiving that the profession was quite full of practitioners in Massachusetts, he went to North Carolina, where many of his Scotch relations resided, and began business in that province in 1767. Mr. Hooper formed a circle of very polished acquaintances there, and he soon became highly esteemed among the literary men of the province. He rose rapidly in his profession, and in a very short time he stood at the head of the bar in that region. He was greatly esteemed by the officers of the government; and his success in the management of several causes, in which the government was his client, gave him much influence.
When, in 1770-71, an insurrectionary movement was set on foot by a party of people termed the "Regulators,"* Mr. Hooper took sides with the government, and advised and assisted Governor Tryon in all his measures to suppress the rebellion. For this, he was branded as a royalist; and even when he openly advocated the cause of the patriots, he was for a time viewed with some suspicions lest his professions were unreal. But those who knew him best, knew well how strongly and purely burned that flame of patriotism which his zealous instructor, Mr. Otis, had lighted in his bosom; and his consistent course in public life, attested his sincerity.
*This movement of the "Regulators," has been viewed in quite opposing lights; one party regarding them as only a knot of low-minded malcontents, who had every thing to gain and nothing to lose, and who hoped, by getting up an excitement, to secure something for themselves, in the general scramble. This was the phase in which they appeared to Mr. Hooper, and thus regarding them, he felt it his duty to oppose them and maintain good order in the State. Others viewed them as patriots, impelled to action by a strong sense of wrong and injustice, the author of which was Governor Tryon, whose oppressive and cruel acts, even his partisans could not deny. From all the lights we have upon the subject, we cannot but view the movement as a truly patriotic one, and kindred to those which subsequently took place in Massachusetts and Virginia, when Boston harbor was made a tea-pot, and Patrick Henry drove the royal governor Dunmore from the province of Virginia. Governor Tyron was a tyrant of the darkest hue, for he commingled, with his oppression, acts of the grossest immorality and wanton cruelty. Although the "Regulators" were men moving in the common walks of life, (and doubtless many vagabonds enrolled themselves among them), yet the rules of government they adopted, the professions they made, and the practices they exhibited, all bear the impress of genuine patriotism; and we cannot but regard the blood shed on the occasion by the infamous Tryon, as the blood of the early martyrs of our Revolution.
Mr. Hooper began his legislative labors in 1773, when he was elected a member of the Provincial Assembly of North Carolina, for the town of Wilmington. The next year he was returned as member for the county of Hanover; and from his first entrance into public life, he sympathized with the oppressed. This sympathy lead him early to oppose the court party in the State; and so vigorous was his opposition, that he was soon designated by the royalists as the leader of their enemies, and became very obnoxious to them. The proposition of Massachusetts for a General Congress was hailed with joy in North Carolina, and a convention of the people was called in the summer of 1774, to take the matter into consideration. The convention met in Newbern, and after passing resolutions approving of the call, they appointed William Hooper their first delegate to the Continental Congress. Although younger than a large majority of the members, he was placed upon two of the most important committees in that body, whose business it was to arrange and propose measures for action—a duty which required talents and judgment of the highest order. Mr. Hooper was again elected to Congress in 1775, and was chairman of the committee which drew up an address to the Assembly of the island of Jamaica. This address was from his pen, and was a clear and able exposition of the existing difficulties between Great Britain and her American Colonies.
He was again returned a member in 1776,** and was in his seat in time to vote for the Declaration of Independence. He affixed his signature to it, on the second of August following. He was actively engaged in Congress until March, 1777, when the derangement of his private affairs, and the safety of his family, caused him to ask for and obtain leave of absence, and he returned home. Like all the others who signed the Declaration of Independence, Mr. Hooper was peculiarly obnoxious to the British; and on all occasions they used every means in their power to possess his person, harass his family, and destroy his estate. When the storm of the Revolution subsided, and the sun-light of peace beamed forth, he resumed the practice of his profession, and did not again appear in public life until 1786, when he was appointed by Congress, one of the judges of the federal court established to adjudicate in the matter of a dispute about territorial jurisdiction, between Massachusetts and New York. The cause was finally settled by commissioners, and not brought before that court at all. Mr. Hooper now withdrew from public life, for he felt that a fatal disease was upon him. He died at Hillsborough in October, 1790, at forty-eight years.
**He was at home for some time during the spring of that year, attending two different Conventions that met at North Carolina, one at Hillsborough, the seat of the Provincial Congress, the other at Halifax. The Convention at the former place put forth an address to the people of Great Britain. This address was written by Mr. Hooper; and we take occasion here to remark, that as early as the twentieth of May, 1775, a convention of the Committees of Safety of North Carolina met at Charlotte Court House, in Mecklenburg County, and by a series of resolutions, declared themselves free and independent of the British Crown; to the support of which they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
JOSEPH HEWES.—The parents of JOSEPH HEWES were natives of Connecticut, and belonged to the Society of Friends, or Quakers. Immediately after their marriage they moved to New Jersey, and purchased a small farm at Kingston, within a short distance of Princeton. It was there that Joseph was born, in the year 1730. He was educated at the college in Princeton, and at the close of his studies he was apprenticed to a merchant in Philadelphia, to qualify him for a commercial life. On the termination of his apprenticeship, his father furnished him with a little money capital, to which he added the less fleeting capital of a good reputation, and he commenced mercantile business on his own account. His business education had been thorough, and he pursued the labors of commerce with such skill and success, that in a few years he amassed an ample fortune. At the age of thirty years, Mr. Hewes moved to North Carolina, and settled in Edenton, which became his home for life.
He entered into business there, and his uprightness and honorable dealings soon won for him the profound esteem of the people. While yet a comparative stranger among them, they evinced their appreciation of his character, by electing him a member of the Legislature of North Carolina, in 1763, and so faithfully did he discharge his duties, that they re-elected him several consecutive years. Mr. Hewes was among the earliest of the decided patriots of North Carolina, and used his influence in bringing about a Convention of the people of the State, to second the call of Massachusetts for a General Congress. The convention that met in the summer of 1774, elected him one of the delegates for that State, in the Continental Congress that met at Philadelphia in September following. He took his seat on the fourteenth of the month, and was immediately placed upon the committee appointed to draw up a Declaration of Rights. During that session he was actively engaged in maturing a plan for a general non-importation agreement throughout the Colonies, and he voted for, and signed it. In this act his devoted patriotism was manifest, for it struck a deadly blow at the business in which he was engaged. It was a great sacrifice for him to make, yet he cheerfully laid it upon the altar of Freedom.
Mr. Hewes was again elected a delegate to Congress in 1775, and took his seat at the opening, on the tenth of May. Mr. Hewes was a member of Congress in 1776; and North Carolina having early taken a decided stand in favor of independence, his own views upon this question were fully sustained by his instructions, and he voted for, and signed the Declaration thereof. As soon thereafter as the business of the session would admit, he returned home, for the troubles there demanded his presence, and his private affairs needed his attention to save his fortune from being scattered to the winds. He remained at home until July, 1779, when he resumed his seat in Congress. But his constitution, naturally weak, could not support the arduous labors of his station, and his health failed so rapidly, that he was obliged to resign his seat. He left it on the twenty-ninth of October, 1779, and being too unwell to travel, he remained in Philadelphia. But he only lived eleven days after he left his seat in Congress. He died on the tenth of November following, in the fiftieth year of his age. He was the first and only one of all the signers of the Declaration, who died at the seat of Government, while attending to public duty, and his remains were followed to the grave by Congress in a body, and a large concourse of the citizens of Philadelphia.
JOHN PENN was born in the county of Carolina, Virginia, on the seventeenth of May, 1741. His father, Moses Penn, seemed to be utterly neglectful of the intellectual cultivation of his son; and, although he possessed the means of giving him a good English education, he allowed him no other opportunity than that which two or three years' tuition in a common country school in his neighborhood afforded. Mr. Penn died when his son was about eighteen years of age, and left him the sole possessor of a competent, though not large estate. It has been justly remarked that the comparative obscurity in which the youth of Penn was passed, was, under the circumstances, a fortunate thing for him, for he had formed no associates with the gay and thoughtless, which, on his becoming sole master of an estate, would have led him into scenes of vice and dissipation, that might have proved his ruin. His mind, likewise, was possessed of much vigor, and he was naturally inclined to pursue an honorable and virtuous course. Young Penn was a relative of the celebrated Edmund Pendleton, and resided near him. That gentleman kindly gave him the free use of his extensive library, and this opportunity for acquiring knowledge was industriously improved.
He resolved to qualify himself for the profession of the law, and strong in his faith that he should be successful, he entered upon a course of legal study, guided and instructed only by his own judgment and good common sense. He succeeded admirably, and at the age of twenty-one years, he was admitted to the bar in his native county. His profession soon developed a native eloquence before inert and unsuspected, and by it, in connection with close application to business, he rapidly soared to eminence. His eloquence was of that sweet, persuasive kind, which excites all the tender emotions of the soul, and possesses a controlling power at times irresistible. In 1774, Mr. Penn moved to North Carolina, and commenced the practice of his profession there. So soon did his eminent abilities and decided patriotism become known there, that in 1775 he was elected a delegate from that State to the Continental Congress, and he took his seat in that body, in October of that year. He remained there three successive years, and faithfully discharged the duties of his high station. Acting in accordance with the instruction of his State Convention, and the dictates of his own judgment and feelings, he voted for the Declaration of Independence and joyfully placed his sign manual to the parchment.
When, in 1780, Cornwallis commenced his victorious march northward from Camden, in South Carolina,* the western portion of North Carolina, which lay in his path, was almost defenceless. Mr. Penn was a resident of that portion of the State, and the Legislature unable to act efficiently in its collective capacity, conferred upon him almost absolute dictatorial powers, and allowed him to take such measures for the defense of the State, as the exigency of the case required. This was an extraordinary evidence of great public confidence, but in no particular did he abuse the power thus conferred. He performed his duties with admirable fidelity and skill, and received the thanks of the Legislature, and the general benedictions of the people. Mr. Penn retired from public life in 1781, and resumed the practice of his profession. But he was again called out in 1784, when Robert Morris, the Treasurer of the Confederation, appointed him a Sub-Treasurer or receiver of taxes for North Carolina. It was an office of honor and great trust but unpopular in the extreme. Still he was willing to serve his country in any honorable capacity where he could be useful; but he soon found he would do but little that could in anywise conduce to the public weal, and after holding the office a few weeks, he resigned it, and resumed his private business. He did not again appear in public life, and in September, 1788, he died in the forty-seventh year of his age.
*After the defeat of the Americans under General Gates, at Sander's Creek, near Camden, Lord Cornwallis left Colonel Fergerson to keep the Americans in South Carolina at bay, and at once proceeded northward with the intention of invading Virginia. He had made arrangements for General Leslie to reinforce him in that State, by landing somewhere upon the shore of the Chesapeake. But while pursuing his march northward, and greatly harassed by bands of patriots, who had been set in motion by the active energies of Penn, he heard of the defeat and death of Colonel Fergerson at King's Mountain, and he hastened back to South Carolina, and thus, almost defenseless, Virginia was saved from a destructive invasion.
The life of John Penn furnishes another example of the high attainments which may crown those who, though surrounded by adverse circumstances, by persevering industry cultivate mind and heart, and aim at an exalted mark of distinction. If young men would, like him, resolve to rise above the hindrance of adverse circumstances and push boldly onward toward some honorable goal, they would seldom fail to reach it, and the race would be far easier than they imagined it to be, when girding for its trial.
Chapter 38 Washington's Pew
There are relics preserved in Independence Hall which give peculiar interest to the associations that cluster around the shrine of our national freedom. Every article is imbued with an inspiration that lifts the spirit from less exalted themes, and impresses the mind with the importance attached to these mementoes of the past. Among them is the portion of the Pew which Washington—the Father of his Country—occupied, when he attended Divine service in Christ Church. This relic speaks to us, through the inanimate materials of which it is made, in words of peculiar eloquence, and tells a story pregnant with historical incident. How sublime it is to contemplate the time when that meek and good man sat there, listening to the oracles of Revelation, as they fell in burning language from the lips of Zion's herald—how his full heart palpitated when allusion was made to the struggles of his countrymen to throw off the shackles that bound them to despotic domination—and how his soul leaped for joy when the minister of God prayed for the success of Liberty, and urged the patriots on to noble duty in the cause of Independence! Who can tell how many silent prayers reached the Throne of the Almighty from this humble seat, gushing fresh and vigorous from the warm heart of that holy patriot?
The exigencies of the times—the importance of the issues involved—the fearful forebodings—the anxiety for ultimate success—the safety of his fellow-countrymen—were thoughts that must have revolved constantly in his mind, inciting him to earnest supplication to the Arbiter of nations for protection in the trying ordeal. What weighty matters must have exercised his reflections? Political questions, big with the future destiny of the Colonies he defended, no doubt were mentally discussed by him, as well as the interests of Christianity. No man, before nor since, occupied so responsible a position as Washington. He stood at the head of the struggling army of the Revolution—his wisdom—his judgment—his discretion, fortitude and valor, alone could inspire an unconquerable patriotism, or incite feelings of dismay and apprehension. The burthen of this responsibility could not fail to have created in his mind emotions of deep intensity, and we cannot but fancy that his thoughts were busy, even while occupying this pew in the house of God, with the great problem of our national salvation. He, too, might have fancied the numbers who would fall in defense of freedom, and, at the same time feel the force of the poet's language—
Who knows but that, while sitting upon this pew, during the occasions he attended Divine worship, he matured some of those national measures, and adopted policies that gave his own life such brilliancy, and his country such an impetus to prosperity! Washington's mind was never idly employed. Whether at church, in the field, at home, or in the soldier's camp, he was the same self-possessed patriot. He was beloved by his friends—feared and respected by his enemies. Were the world, and especially his countrymen, in possession of the thoughts which passed through his mind while an incumbent of the pew, how much more could they have reason to feel proud of their Patriæ Pater? They would have been heirs to a richer legacy than they inherited in his Farewell Address, when he exclaimed: "The unity of government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence; the support of your tranquillity at home; your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize.
But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your politicel fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed; it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as a palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts. For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of AMERICAN, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principle.
You have, in a common cause, fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint councils and joint efforts—of common dangers, sufferings, and success. But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those to which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole. . . . While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts, greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring countries, not tied together by the same government, which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce; but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments and intrigues, would stimulate and embitter. . . . .These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the union as a primary object of patriotism.
Is there a doubt whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole, with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue of the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be a reason to distrust the patriotism of those who, in any quarter, may seek to weaken its hands. In contemplating the causes which may disturb our union, it occurs as a matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties, by geographical discriminations—Northern and Southern—Atlantic and Western—whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart-burnings which spring from these misrepresentations—they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection."
Such, no doubt, were many of the serious thoughts that occupied the mind of Washington, even while listening to the ministrations of Divine truth, as he sat upon this not very imposing seat. Oh, how his heart burned for the success of his struggling country! How he longed to see his oppressed compatriots free from despotic usurpation, and the land he was defending a nation by itself with all the requisite arrangements for self-government. When we imagine his anxiety for the cause of the struggling colonists, the important part he took in the great drama of the Revolution, and his subsequent counsel in administering the affairs of the Government over which he presided,* we cannot fail to realize that Independence Hall is the most befitting place in which to preserve the sacred relics of our national history. Here let the Pew of GEORGE WASHINGTON ever remain as an inspiring memento to attract the patriotism and religious reverence of every pilgrim to this shrine.
*The subjoined anecdote will clearly exhibit the character of Washington in an official capacity:—During his administration as President of the United States, a gentleman, the friend of the President throughout the whole course of the Revolutionary war, applied for a lucrative and responsible office. The gentleman was at all times welcome to Washington's table. He had been to a certain degree necessary to the domestic repose of a man who had for seven years fought the battles of his country, and who had now undertaken the task of wielding her political energies. At all times and in all places, Washington regarded his revolutionary associate with an eye of evident partiality and confidence. He was a jovial, pleasant and unobtrusive companion. In applying for the office, it was in the full confidence of success, and his friends already cheered him in the prospect of his arrival at competency and ease. The opponent of this gentleman was known to be decidedly hostile to the politics of Washington. He had even made himself conspicuous among the ranks of the opposition. He had, however, the temerity to stand as a candidate for the office to which the friend and favorite of Washington aspired.
He had nothing to urge in favor of his pretensions but strong integrity, promptitude, and fidelity in business, and every quality which, if called into exercise, would render service to the State. Everyone considered the appointment of this man hopeless. No flattering testimonial of merit had he to present to the eye of Washington. He was known to be a political enemy. He was opposed by a favorite of the general; and yet with such fearful odds he dared to stand a candidate. What was the result? The enemy of Washington was appointed to the office, and his table companion left destitute and rejected. A mutual friend, who interested himself in the affair, ventured to remonstrate with the President for the injustice of his appointment. "My friend," said he, "I receive him with a cordial welcome. He is welcome to my house and welcome to my heart. But, with all his good qualities, he is not a man of business. His opponent is, with all his political hostility to me, a man of business. My private feelings have nothing to do in this case. I am not George Washington, but President of the United States. As George Washington, I would do this man any kindness in my power; but, as President of the United States, l can do nothing."
Chapter 39 Franklin's Desk
Like all the other attractive relics which add peculiar interest to the associations of Independence Hall, Franklin's old and antiquated office-desk excites intense admiration. Its simplicity, like the plain habiliments of that Nestorian patriot, is powerfully suggestive, and carries the mind back to a period when the "Sons of Liberty" did not revel in as luxurious palaces as now, and statesmen and philosophers learned wisdom under more embarrassing circumstances. This old desk was Franklin's choice companion. He regarded it as a very dear friend, for he sat by its side through years of trouble; and from its unpolished surface he sent forth to the world words of wisdom, truth, and philosophy, as well as political principles, that caused kings upon their thrones to tremble. Here it was that he committed to paper for the good of future generations, his investigations respecting the force and character of electricity—here his ingenious thoughts assumed the form of tangibility, and were spread before the world in characters of living light. "Poor Richard" here uttered his wise sayings; and here the diplomatist wrote many valuable State papers. It may seem a small matter to write about so uncouth a piece of furniture as this old Desk; but the character of the man who owned it, and who penned so many valuable works upon it, invests it with an interest that cannot be estimated in dollars and cents. It has survived the wreck of years, and stands before us now as a silent memento of the times when Freedom struggled with oppression—when monarchical usurpation placed an iron incubus upon the necks of men endeavoring to free themselves from the yoke of bondage—
When Juvenal visited Rome, and stood amidst the architectural piles and memorable scenes of that renowned city, he realized a sensation of wonder take possession of his mind, and in the fullness of his soul he cried out: "Quid Romœ faciam! Mentiri nescio!" He was at a loss to know what he should do at Rome, because so vividly came to his recollection the associations connected with its history, that he declared he could not die. He may have spoken metaphorically, but the figure is impressive, and applies equally pertinent to Independence Hall. We cannot stand here, and gaze upon these mighty relics, without experiencing the same sensation; and, obtuse as our sensibilities may be, we will not fail to be alive to every impulse that thrills the patriotic breast. The history of the past, with all its concomitant incidents—the part enacted in that history by the men whose figures look down upon us here—the positions assumed by the relics so carefully preserved and arranged—all inspire us with emotions of gratitude and national reverence. Here the mind goes back to days long ago, and feels an irresistible patriotism steal over it. The Desk of Dr. Franklin is sacred to the lover of history, for it is a link in the biography of our nation that binds us to its institutions, and makes us regard with filial respect the cost of the inheritance we are enjoying—a free Republic,
There is something grand and suggestive in these old mementos. They speak to us like living oracles, and breathe the true fires of Independence. And why? Because they are representatives of the times which were fruitful in laying the foundation of our national liberty—the period of a virtuous rebellion, which culminated in the disenthralment of our colonial dependence upon the government and exactions of despotic power. Rightfully appreciated, these silent and tongueless relics exert a powerful influence upon the thoughtful student of his country's history, and serve, in no small degree, to direct and invigorate those patriotic impulses which are designed to erect a protecting ægis around the sacred fanes of our country. No one could look upon them without feeling himself in the presence of inspiring genii. A thrill of pleasure comes over us, and we fancy ourselves among the years that were. We partake the spirits of the great men around us, and realize the important characters they assumed, and the deeds they performed in the Revolutionary struggles of the country. The incidents connected with the eventful life of Franklin also rush upon our memories, and we see him in imagination conning over his books and papers beside his old Desk,* with all the gravity of a philosopher, a statesman, and a man of letters. We remember, too, that close by, in a neighboring churchyard, at Fifth and Arch streets, lie the moldering remains of that stern Nestor of Patriots and his wife Deborah, in tranquil repose. The green turf has covered them for years, but the hallowed influences their deeds exert upon mankind, will freshen in eternal bloom upon the altars of our country, and shed a halo of divine radiance along the pathway to honor and national independence.
*The history of this Desk is as follows: After the death of Dr. Franklin it came into the possession of Mr. Israel Whelen, Sr., the grandfather of the Messrs. Whelen, Exchange Brokers, on Walnut street above Third. It then passed into the hands of the father of these gentlemen, Mr. Israel Whelen, Jr.—by him it was donated to Mr. Robert Town, at the time a clerk of Mr. W. Jr.; and finally, in turn, it was donated by Mr. Town to his brother, Benjamin Town, the father of the present owner, and in whose family it has been retained nearly half a century.
Chapter 40 A Singularly Historical Chair
Among the most singularly interesting pieces of furniture in Independence Hall, is an imposing Chair, which was manufactured in 1838, by William Snyder, of Kensington, by order of the Commissioners of that District, the year previously. It was designed by John F. Watson of Germantown, commemorative of important events in the History of Pennsylvania, and is made of the following interesting Relics, presented through the politeness of the individuals whose names are hereto annexed.
1st. A portion of Mahogany from Christopher Columbus's House (the beam) near the City of St. Domingo, built in the year 1496—the first house built in America by European hands. Presented by John F. Watson, Esq.
2d. A portion of the great Elm Tree under which Wm. Penn formed his Treaty with the Indians, in 1682. This treaty was to continue unbroken while creeks and rivers run, and while the sun, moon, and stars endured. The treaty of our land was an after concern, made for Wm. Penn, by the President of the Councils, Thomas Holmes, with Shakhoppoh and three other Sachems, on the 30th of July, 1685. The treaty was pledged without an oath, and never broken. The great Elm Tree was blown down in 1810, and was ascertained by its grain to be two hundred and eighty-three years old. Presented by John Vandusen, of Kensington.
3d. A portion of Oak joist taken from a house in Letitia Court, once the house of Wm. Penn, and his Deputy-Governor, Col. Markham. It was called at the time, Penn's Cottage. The cellar is said to be the first one dug in the City of Brotherly Love. Presented by George Zigler, of the city of Philadelphia.
4th. A portion of the last of a group of Walnut trees, of which the body of the chair is made, in front of the State House. They formerly served as distant pointers when the last Hall of Legislation stood "far out of the town." There they stood in the infant cradling of our nation, and survived to see our manhood and independence asserted in that memorable Hall of Independence before which they stood. The last of this group was taken down in 1818. The tree was one hundred, and eighty-three years old. Presented by John F. Watson, Esq.
5th. A portion of cane-seating, taken from the seat of Wm. Penn's chair, in the possession of John F. Watson, of Germantown.
6th. A portion of hair from the head of Chief Justice Marshall, in the centre of the chair, under a glass case. Presented by Mr. Wm. Adams, of the Northern Liberties. This hair was procured by Wm. H. Moore, undertaker, after Mr. Marshall's death.
7th. A portion of the United States Frigate Constitution. Presented by Abraham Powell, of Southwark.
8th. A portion of the great ship Pennsylvania, built at Philadelphia, and launched in 1837. Presented by Wm. Snyder, of Kensington.
9th. The thirteen stars represent the thirteen original States, and are made of the different relies above mentioned.
EXPLANATION OF THE CHAIR.
Shield and scrolls over the eagle, are made of Oak taken from Penn's House. The half circle beads is made of Elm. Stars—No. 1 is made of Oak from Penn's house; Nos. 2, 3, 4, of Elm; Nos. 5 and 6 assorted from the stern of the line-of-battle-ship Pennsylvania, Frigate Constitution, Oak from Penn's house, from Christopher Columbus's house, and of the great Elm Tree. Stars Nos. 7, 8, 9, made of Elm; No. 10, part of the breast of the frigate Constitution.
Stars Nos. 11, 12, 13, made of Elm. The centres of stars Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, are made of wood taken from Christopher Columbus's house, Nos. 5, 6, the centres are made of the breast of the Constitution. No. 14, a glass semicircle, containing hair from the head of Chief Justice Marshall. No. 15, portions of Elm wood; No. 16, cane-seating surrounded by Elm wood. The body of the chair and the Eagle is made of the relic Walnut wood.
Such are the historical characteristics of this Chair. It is calculated to excite our curiosity, as well as to impress us with true admiration. Within this Chair are combined reminiscences and relics of nine important things—portions of articles that bore conspicuous parts in the early scenes of our country's existence. For several years it was occupied by the President of the Kensington Board of Commissioners; and when that corporation was annulled, by the act consolidating the districts and county of Philadelphia into one city, this Chair was removed to Independence Hall, the most appropriate place for such a deeply interesting memento.
Chapter 41 The Triumphal Arch
There is one circumstance connected with the history of our country which is seldom mentioned, and which was one of the most interesting in our annals. It was the reception of General WASHINGTON, by the ladies of Trenton, as he passed through that city in 1789, on his way to New York, for the purpose of being inaugurated President of the United States. Rightfully appreciating the character of Washington, the ladies of Trenton erected a Triumphal Arch, and festooned the bridge across the Assanpink—the very stream where he routed and defeated the British forces but a few years before. The following account of this pleasant incident we copy from the "New York Daily Gazette," of May 1, 1789:
"Trenton has been twice memorable during the war—once by the capture of the Hessians, and again by the repulse of the whole British army, in their attempt to cross the bridge , the evening before the battle of Princeton. Recollecting these memorable circumstances, the ladies of Trenton formed a design and carried it into execution, solely under their direction, to testify to his Excellency, by the celebration of these actions, the grateful sense they retained of the safety and protection afforded by him to the daughters of New Jersey.
"A triumphal arch was raised on the bridge twenty feet wide, supported by thirteen pillars. The centre of the arch from the ground was about twenty feet. Each pillar was entwined with wreaths of evergreen. The arch which extended about twelve feet along the bridge, was covered with laurel, and decorated in the inside with evergreens and flowers. On the front of the arch, on that side to which his Excellency approached, was the following inscription, in large gilt letters:
The upper and lower sides of this inscription were ornamented with wreaths of evergreens and artificial flowers of every kind, made for the purpose, beautifully interspersed. On the centre of the arch, above the inscription, was a dome or cupola of flowers and evergreens, encircling the dates of those glorious actions, inscribed in large gilt letters. The summit displayed a large sunflower, which, pointing to the sun, was designed to express the motto:
as emblematic of the unparalleled unanimity of sentiment in the inhabitans of the United States.
"A numerous train of ladies, leading their daughters in their hands, assembled at the Arch, thus to thank their defender and protector.
"As his Excellency passed under the Arch, he was addressed in the following Sonata, composed and set to music for the occasion, and sung by a number of young misses, dressed in white, and crowned with wreaths and chaplets of flowers.
Each of the singers held her basket in her hands, filled with flowers, which, when they sung,
"The ladies of Trenton have displayed a degree of taste, elegance, and patriotism on this occasion, which does them the highest honor, and I believe stands unexampled. But what particularly merits observation, all expense was most carefully avoided. The materials of the structure were the most plain and unpolished, and cost the ladies but the labor of a few evenings in preparing the flowers.
"The General being presented with a copy of the Sonata, was pleased to address the following CARD to the ladies of Trenton, who were assembled on the 21st day of April, 1780, at the Triumphal Arch, erected by them on the bridge which extends across the Assanpink creek.
General Washington cannot leave this place, without expressing his acknowledgments to the matrons and young ladies, who received him in so novel and grateful a manner at the Triumphal Arch in Trenton, for the exquisite sensation he experienced in that affecting moment. The astonishing contrast between his former and actual situation at the same spot—the elegant taste with which it was adorned for the present occasion—and the innocent appearance of the white-robed choir, who met him with the gratulatory song, have made such an impression on his remembrance as, he assures them, will never be effaced. 'Trenton, April 21st, 1789.' "
A drawing of this arch, and an account of the circumstances attending the reception of Washington, were presented to Independence Hall, by Am'th Quinton, of Trenton. When we reflect upon the contrast which greeted Washington's eyes in this reception, to the one he experienced when he met the deadly foes of our liberties on the banks of the same stream only a short time before, we cannot but appreciate the good taste of the ladies of Trenton, who thus welcomed to their city the heroic defender of our mothers and their homes. Oh, what a sensation of pleasure must he have enjoyed at this grand exhibition of gratitude! The man who had struggled through a seven years' war against all the disadvantages of a 'poverty-stricken' government—with a miserably supplied army to repel the well-fed and well-clothed minions of royalty—with nothing but an allwise Providence and patriotic men to rely upon for success—amidst the colds and storms of winter and the burning heats of summer—that man who never faltered in the most trying hour—whose heart had been schooled in the stern lessons of vigorous combat with a powerful nation, and triumphed over all interposing obstacles—thus to be greeted by the fair ladies of the land he defended, was too impressive for his refined sensibilities, and George Washington wept! Yes—the man who had commanded in a hundred battles—who had witnessed death in all its horrors—who had seen his brave soldiers reduced to that condition when they were obliged to eat the leather of their cartridge-boxes, and their feet impress the earth with crimson as they marched over the frozen ground—who could look upon all these without emotion as a soldier—could not avoid shedding tears at this appropriate tribute of respect. That day should be held as a day worthy of annual commemoration by the ladies of Trenton. It is one of the sacred occasions in the history of New Jersey, and of the country.
Chapter 42 The Bible In 1776
Visitors to Independence Hall, as they advance toward the statue of Gen. George Washington, may observe on their right, a beautifully bound volume of the Holy Bible, carefully preserved under a glass case. What a contrast is presented in this copy of the Sacred Scriptures to those manufactured in this country in "olden time," and what pleasant associations take possession of the reflective mind, while gazing upon the copy in this consecrated room! Our thoughts go back to the earlier, if not better days of our country, when the Fathers of the Republic did not hesitate to enlist the sympathies, and bring to bear the whole power of the Federal Government for the circulation of this divinely inspired volume. We can realize how deeply the civil calamities of 1776 inspired the people of the United States with a profound religious reverence, and with a firm reliance upon Providence to protect them from the horrors of a protracted war—how that then there was not only a prayerful disposition all over the land, but a particular desire to spread the Bible far and wide.
The patriots and the heroes of that period had taken the Holy Bible as the fundamental basis of their action, and, upon that rock, they resolved to rear a tabernacle of republican government against which the rains and storms of monarchical despotism might descend and beat without effect. The grand result of their experiment is known to the world. With the word of God as their compass and polar star, they set themselves earnestly to work. They saw their course lay through fiery ordeals and serried ranks of embattled hosts—but they knew that the establishment of Christianity and spiritual liberty cost the price of Christ's crucifixion on Calvary, and they hesitated not at the consequences that would ultimate from the vigorous resolutions they had taken. These things come upon us in our moments of serious reflections, and we remember that, on the 11th of September, 1777, in the Congress then sitting in this very room, a petition from Dr. Allison and others, to secure a better and a wider circulation of the Bible, was taken from the table and referred to a special committee. The very same day the committee returned the subjoined report:
"That they have conferred fully with the printers, etc., in this city, and are of the opinion that the proper types for printing the Bible are not to be had in this country, and that the paper cannot be procured but with such difficulties, and subject to such casualties, as to render any dependence on it altogether improper; that to import types for the purpose of setting up an entire edition of the Bible, and to strike off 30,000 copies, with paper, binding, etc., will cost £10,272 10s., which must be advanced by Congress, to be reimbursed by the sale of the books; that, in the opinion of the committee, considerable difficulties will attend the procuring the types and paper; that, afterward, the risk of importing them will considerably enhance the cost; and that the calculations are subject to such uncertainty in the present state of affairs, that Congress cannot much rely on them; that the use of the Bible is so universal, and its importance so great, that your committee refer the above to the consideration of Congress, and if Congress shall not think it expedient to order the importation of types and paper, the committee recommend that Congress will order the Committee of Commerce to import 20,000 Bibles from Holland, Scotland, or elsewhere, into the different ports of the States of the Union."
This report was favorably received, but Congress did not deem it advisable to order the types and paper at such a cost, accepting, however, the recommendation that the "Committee of Commerce" import 20,000 Bibles, by the following vote:
Ayes.—Mr. Folsom, Mr. Frost, Mr. S. Adams, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Gerry, Mr. Lovell, Mr. Merchant, Mr. Dyer, Mr. Law , Mr. Williams, Mr. Witherspoon, Mr. Clark, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Roberdeau, Mr. Harrison, Mr. E. L. Lee, Mr. Laurens, Mr. Brownson—18.
Nays.—Mr. Duane, Mr. Reed, Mr. Jones, Mr. Hamett, Mr. Middleton, Mr. Heyward—6.
By reference to the Report of the Bible Society for 1844, Appendix, page 93, we find that the next national act in regard to the Bible was made in 1781. It is said that in consequence of the interruption of the intercourse with Great Britain during the Revolutionary war, it was found that there was a general scarcity of Bibles through the colonies. Mr. Robert Aitken, of Philadelphia, a very respectable printer, proposed to certain members of Congress in 1801 to publish an edition of the sacred volume, if he could have the approbation and patronage of that venerable body. The enterprise, in a pecuniary view, was deemed one of much hazard. The National Government promptly adopted measures for its encouragement, and the work was accomplished. A copy was presented to the committee of Congress who had the subject in charge, and of whom the Hon. James Duane was Chairman, who referred it to their chaplains, the Revs. Messrs. William White and George Duffield, for a careful revision. They reported:
"We have paid attention to Mr. Robert Aitken's impression of the Old and New Testaments, and are of opinion that it is executed with accuracy as to the sense, and with as few grammatical and typographical errors as could be expected in a work of such magnitude. Being ourselves witness of the demand for this invaluable book, we rejoice in the prospect of a supply; hoping that it will prove advantageous as it is honorable to the gentleman who has exerted himself to furnish it at the evident risk of private fortune."
So well did the execution of the work suit those who had exerted an interest in it, that Congress unanimously adopted the following resolution:
"Resolved, That the United States in Congress assembled, highly approve of the pious and laudable undertaking of Mr. Aitken, as subservient to the interests of religion, as well as an instance of the progress of arts in this country; and being satisfied from the above report, of his care and accuracy in the execution of the work, they recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States, and hereby authorize him to publish this recommendation in the manner he shall think proper." CHARLES THOMPSON, Secretary.
Thus it will be seen that the founders of our Government based its institutions upon the teachings of divine inspiration. They realized their dependence upon the God of Nations, and felt it an imperative duty to aid, individually and congressionally, the circulation of the Sacred Scriptures. Why is it that some Christian publisher does not present to Independence Hall a copy of the Sacred Book? Ought they not to feel sufficient interest in this holy fane to provide it with all the various edition of the Bible that were ever published in this country? We have seen one in Boston which ought to have a place among the sacred relics here. It is a literary curiosity, and is known as "Elliot's Indian Bible." It is in quarto form, and was printed in 1635. The quality of the paper is very poor, the type uneven and unsightly. That of the title page seems to have been cut especially for the occasion with a pen-knife. It is bound in sheep-skin, with heavy ribs upon the back. The illuminations in the beginning are extremely rude, and the lines are bent and broken. The title reads thus:
This Bible is written in the Nipmuck language, a tribe of Indians which lived in Connecticut. The Old Testament contains 680 pages, and is said to have been written with a single pen. It has a very few marginal notes and references, and the titles of the chapters are given in English. The language abounds in long, harsh, and guttural words—m and n occur as frequently as in the Latin. This copy contains the Old and New Testaments, as well as the Psalms of David rendered into Indian verse. The Psalms are translated into that form of verse which is termed in our hymn books "common metre;" and they are exceedingly clumsy. Sternbold and Hopkins may be read with pleasure after perusing a few stanzas like the subjoined, which are from the 19th Psalm—"The heavens declare the glory of God," etc.:
The longest word which can be found in this Bible is in Mark 1, 40: Wutteppesittukqussunnoowehtunkquoh, and signfies kneeling down to him. Whenever the object whose name was to be translated was unknown to the Indians, Elliot uses the English word either alone or with the Indian case or tense endings appended, so that such words as the following are constantly occurring—"chaziotash," "cherubimloh," apostlesog," "silver," "gold," "temple," wine," "carpentersoh," "masonoh," and the like. In translating Judges v. 28 —"The mother of Sisera looked out at a window and cried through the lattice,"—he asked the Indians for the word "lattice," and found that he had written, "and cried through an eel-pot," that being the only object which the natives knew as corresponding with the object Mr. Elliot described to them. The difference between this Bible and the fine editions which are now issued, in a typographical point of view, appears almost as great as that between the rude "wigwams" of the poor Indians, and those elegant, commodious palaces which now occupy the site of them. Here, then, in Independence Hall, this valuable relic of the past should be placed. Not so much from its intrinsic worth as a specimen of early typography, but to preserve the instruments by which our ancestors subdued the hearts of savages, and secured this land for the birthplace of freedom and independence. They relied upon the word of Divine Revelation—
And with that book in one hand, and an axe in the other, they went boldly forward in preparing the way for the blessings we are now enjoying.
Chapter 43 The Charter Oak
As one of the interesting relics now in Independence Hall, a piece of the great Charter Oak, at Hartford, Connecticut, deserves especial notice. This tree was blown down in a heavy storm on the 21st of August, 1856, and the people of that State "mourned as though a friend had fallen." A short sketch of its history is germain to our task; for, as Mr. Desmond says, dearer to posterity and to history, that mother of experience and nurse of truth, are the memories connected with that relic of the past, than those which are recalled by the royal oak which concealed the fugitive Stuart, Charles II., the bestower of the charter of the colony, or than those with which Shakspeare has immortally made green the haunted tree of Herne the Hunter in Windsor Forest. In the memories of men, the old Charter Oak has preserved the record of the invincible courage and inflexible firmness of those patriots who, with a high sense of public duty, stood in the hour of peril
This celebrated relic of the original forests of New England, the Charter Oak of the city of Hartford, in the State of Connecticut stood on the northern declivity of the rising ground on which was situated the ancient mansion house of the Wyllis family, and on his estate, now in possession of Hon. Isaac W. Stewart. Long before the empire of Montezuma was overthrown by Cortez and his Spaniards, ere Columbus knelt on the shore of the newly-discovered country, it spread its green honors thick about it, and the red man held his council beneath its embowering shade; generations passed away, yet still it appeared unimpaired in its vigor, undecayed by time, which destroys mighty empires within the years which must elapse before this monument could have reached its maturity. The charter for the colony of Connecticut arrived in Hartford in the month of September, 1662; it was publicly read to the people, who displayed their sense of the favor with gratitude and rejoicing, appointing a committee to take charge of it, under the solemnities of an oath, to preserve this palladium of their rights and privileges. It was the organic law of Connecticut till the present constitution took its place in 1818.
The Assembly met, as usual, in October, 1687, and the government continued according to charter until the last of the month, when Sir Edmund Andros, the Governor of New England, came to Hartford and demanded the charter. He came with his suit and more than sixty regular troops, and declared the government dissolved. The Legislature being in session, a debate on that demand ensued. The assembly were extremely reluctant and slow with respect to any resolution involving the surrender of the charter or any motion to bring it forth. The tradition is, that Governor Treat strongly represented the great expenses and hardships of the colonists in planting the colony, the blood and treasure which they had expended in defending it, both against the savages—the red men of the forests of New England—and foreigners; to what hardships and perils he had himself been exposed for that purpose, and that it was like giving up his life to surrender the patent and privileges so dearly bought, and so long enjoyed. The calm dignity and firmness of this Hampden of the Assembly, made an impression on the hearers which prolonged the debate until evening, and kept them in suspense. The charter was at length brought out, and laid upon the table where the Assembly were sitting.
By this time great numbers of deeply interested people were met, and there were patriots sufficiently bold among them to enterprise whatever might be necessary or expedient. The lights were at once extinguished, and Captain Wadsworth, one of the members from Hartford, in the most silent and secret manner—as Prince Henry removed the crown from his sleeping father's couch—seized and carried off the charter, and secreted it in the large hollow tree fronting the house of the Honorable Samuel Wyllis, then one of the magistrates of the colony. The people appeared all peaceable and orderly, with a demeanor which is not rare on those great occasions. The candles were relighted, but the patent was gone, and no discovery could be made of it, or of the person who conveyed it away. Sir Edmund assumed the government, and the records of the colony were closed at a general court held at Hartford. On the abdication of James, in 1689, and on the 9th of May of that year, Gov. Treat and his associate officers resumed the government of Connecticut, the charter having been restored to the colonial executive, and is still preserved in the archives of that State. The tree measured on the ground, in 1823, thirty-six feet in circumference. The hollow in its trunk formerly visible, was closed, "because," remarked a daughter of the late secretary, Wyllis, "it had fulfilled the divine purpose for which it had been opened—to receive the Charter of Connecticut."
Several years ago some boys built a fire in the hollow of the tree, which burned out the punk, but it survived, and fresh sprouts sprung out the next Spring. At this time the recess was so large that a fire company of twenty-seven full-grown men stood up in it together. The tree appeared to have lost its upper trunk, as it was not so high as many oaks of more recent growth. The form of the tree was, however, extremely elegant, and its foliage remarkably rich and exuberant. About four or five feet from the ground (according to the Historical Collections edited by Mr. J. B. Moore, and published at Concord twenty-three years ago) an enlargement of the trunk commenced, and gradually increased until it met its surface, which caused its enormous size when measured on the ground. The pilgrims to the fallen shrine are innumerable, and bring away with them such relics as Mr. Stewart permits. At the celebration of the landing of the Pilgrims, at Plymouth, the old Charter Oak was never forgotten.
This piece of the Charter Oak was presented to Independence Hall, by J. W. Stewart. And, as we gaze upon it, we realize what an important part the parent from which it was taken performed in perpetuating the liberties and rights of a sister State. Since its fall many keepsakes and national tokens have been manufactured out of its branches, trunk, etc., in order that they might be preserved as sacred relics of the early days of the State of Connecticut. A grateful posterity should carefully guard these mementoes. The Hartford Times once spoke as follows concerning this famous tree: "All of our. citizens venerate the Charter Oak, the grand old tree that so completely shielded the written Charter, which continued to be our organic law till 1818. In song and story, the old Oak is made famous, and thousands of strangers from abroad annually visit it. The tree stands upon the Wyllys Place, now owned and occupied by the Hon. J. W. Stuart, who has kindly cared for it. A few years since some boys kindled a fire within its trunk, which burned out most of the rotten parts of it. Mr. S. soon discovered the fire, and at once had it put out. He then, at considerable expense, had the hollow enclosed by a door, with lock and key. He also had the stumps of branches that had been broken off, covered with tin and painted. The tree, from this time, seemed to be imbued with new life, each succeeding Spring dressing itself in a richer and denser foliage.
On the 22d inst., the New Haven Fire Company, who came up to join their brethren in Hartford on the occasion of their annual muster, visited the famous Oak. They were of course kindly received by Mr. Stewart. To show them the capacity of the tree, he invited the firemen to enter the hollow trunk, when twenty-four of the men belonging to Captain McGregor's company, (Neptune, No. 5,) entered together. They came out, and twenty-eight of Capt. Thomas's Company, (Washington, No. 7,) then entered. By placing twenty-eight full-grown men in an ordinary room of a dwelling, one may judge of the great size of the famous old 'Charter Oak.' "
Chapter 44 Old Documents
The following letters were written by Roger Sherman, nephew of the able representative in Congress, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, in 1776, to Benjamin P. Sherman. They are well worthy of a place in this volume, and are correct transcripts of the originals in Independence Hall:
New Haven, June 9, 1855.
The first time I saw Washington was in New Haven, in passing from New York to Boston. He stopped over the Sabbath at a public inn kept by Mr. Isaac, one of the most responsible inhabitants. The house stood on the corner where the "New Haven House," now a public-house, is located. In the afternoon he came to my father's, and passing about an hour with the family, we all went to meeting. The general accompanied us, and sat in our pew with father and the family. I again saw him in New York; and after he became President of the United States, I saw him in Philadelphia, at the "Levee of Mrs. Washington." I was introduced and conducted by his secretary, and after paying my respects to Mrs. Washington, I mingled with the crowd, when I was met by the President and conversed with him for a few moments. He was very particular in his attention to every stranger. He associated with the crowd, like other individuals, without ceremony, very much like the meeting at the Merchants' Exchange. ROGER SHERMAN.
New Haven, June 9th, 1855.
Benj'n P. Sherman.—Dear Son:
Earl was employed by Mr. Bishop Atling of New Haven, soon after the Declaration of Independence, to take the portraits of all those who signed that instrument. This design was not completed. After taking a number, of which that of your grandfather, Roger Sherman, was one, the plan was abandoned. This portrait was many years afterward sent to New Haven, without any directions, and delivered to President Stiles. On removing a part of the case in which it was enclosed, President Stiles instantly recognized the likeness, and sent it to your grandmother. From this portrait the small engravings and several large pictures have been taken. Sarah, the wife of Samuel Hoar, of Concord, Massachusetts, my youngest sister, and myself, are the only survivors of my father's children. Should my life be spared, on the 16th day of July next I shall be eighty-seven years old.
Of Massachusetts, Colonel in the Continental Army, afterward Governor of that State: The President presents his compliments to Col'n Brooks, and begs the Favor of his Company at Dinner on Wednesday next, at Four o'clock."
This card was presented to "Independence Hall," by David Kimball, Esq., of Boston, August 10, 1857.
I do hereby certify that a Commission hath issued to Captain Stephen Decatur for the Privateer Brig Fair American, mounting sixteen carriage guns, navigated by one hundred and thirty men, of the burthen of one hundred and fifty tons, belonging to Charles Miller & Company, and bearing date the twentieth day of April last. W. MATLACK, Sec'y.
The following is the "Invitation Card" of George Washington to his guests. It is printed in very antique style, but carefully preserved in Independence Hall. The card is taken from the original engraved copy-plate of General Washington, used by him for cards of invitation during his presidency. It was presented to the City Councils of Philadelphia, June 23, 1855, by William Can.
"The President of the United States and Mrs. Washington, request the
—— Company to dine on —— next, at —— o'clock
"——179 . An answer is requested."
Elsewhere we have given an extended account of the bench with the above inscription: but the subjoined historical paragraph will also be interesting:
In 1835 the interior of that ancient edifice, Christ Church, was about to be modernized. The family pew of General George Washington was presented to Ebenezer Mustin under a promise that a chair or settee should be made therefrom, and preserved as a relic. The bench was therefore made, and placed in Independence Hall.
Chapter 45 Portrait Of Washington Woven In Silk, And Other Interesting Mementoes
One of the curiosities in Independence Hall, which attracts universal admiration, is a portrait of General Washington, woven in silk, on the Jacquard loom at Lyons, France, and presented to the City of Philadelphia by Messrs. Ponson, Phillippe & Vibert, who manufactured it. The following is the correspondence in reference thereto:
CLERK'S OFFICE, SELECT COUNCIL.
CITY OF PHIL'A, Sept. 17, 1855.
The following is an extract from the Journal of the Select Council of the city of Philadelphia, of Sep't 13, 1855, page 271.
The Clerk of the Mayor being introduced, presented the following message in writing:
MAYOR'S OFFICE, Sept. 13, 1855.
TO THE SELECT COUNCIL:
GENTLEMEN:—I have the honor herewith to transmit a portrait of WASHINGTON, executed on the Jacquard loom, in Lyons, France, and presented by the manufacturers, Messrs. Ponson, Phillippe & Vibert, to the Mayor and Councils of Philadelphia. Also, a communication from Charles S. J. Goodrich, Esq., U.S. Consul at Lyons, through whom the portrait is presented. Respectfully,
R. T. CONRAD, Mayor.
CONSULATE U. S. OF AMERICA,
MR. MAYOR AND GENTLEMEN:—Two years ago, by a singular coincidence, while one class of our artisans in France were preparing implements of war for the East, a portion of another class were preparing a memorial of peace for the West. In the silk goods manufactory of Messrs. Ponson, Phillippe & Vibert, of this city, a set of artisans were weaving in silk, for our three great cities, the portrait of him who was "first in war and first in peace," our Washington. That elaborate work of art has just been finished, Messrs. Ponson, Phillippe, & Vibert, who are among the most eminent, enterprising, and successful of the merchants of Lyons, procured, as a guide for their artists, an engraving, life-size, from our own Stuart's painting of Washington, now owned by the Boston Athenæum; and their workmen, as the result of two years' employment thereupon, have procured as faithful a portraiture of the lineaments of the face of that great and good man, as at once to evince their unsurpassed skill, and at the same time exhibit the perfection to which this department of art, originating in the genius of Jacquard has been brought in this city of his birth, life, and death.
Messrs. Ponson & Co., flattering themselves that this first silk-wrought
portrait of the "Father of his country"—the specimen of the art with an
American subject—will be justly appreciated by the countrymen of that great
man, have resolved to dedicate it, multiplied for that purpose, to the
three chief commercial cities of the Union—New York, Philadelphia, and
Boston—and have charged me, in their names, to present it to the constituted
authorities thereof, trusting that it may not be deemed unworthy of a place
among the mementoes of that country's greatness, to which the immortal
subject of the picture so largely contributed. Your honorable body will
please accept the gift of the liberal donors, through your obedient servant
CHAS. S. J. GOODRICH, U. S. Consul.
Which was read and laid on the table, when Mr. Perkins offered the following:
Resolved. That the likeness of Washington, woven in silk, this day presented to the Councils of the city of Philadelphia;, through his honor the Mayor, from Messrs. Ponson, Phillippe, & Vibert, of Lyons, France, be accepted, and placed in the "Hall of Independence," and that the Mayor be requested to communicate to Messrs. Ponson, Phillippe, & Vibert, the high appreciation Councils entertain for that enlarged good feeling and courtesy which prompted them in making their very acceptable offering; and to assure them it shall be carefully preserved, not only as a memento of him whose memory is ever "first in the hearts of his countrymen," but also as illustrative of the perfection to which they have brought their time-honored art, as rivaling the pencil in the truthfulness and beauty of its delineations.
Which was twice read, considered, and unanimously adopted.
Attest: JOSEPH WOOD, JR., Clerk of Select Council.
Near this admirably wrought portrait is a photograph of the original miniature, taken from life, of George Washington, by Archibald Robertson,. in January, 1792. This original was, at the time this photograph was taken, in possession of his granddaughter, Matilda Robertson, of New York. It was presented to Independence Hall, by Jno. W. C. Moore. There is also another of Martha Washington, taken at the same time, and presented by the same person. They are striking illustrations of the original miniatures, and are worthy of being preserved here.
There is a photograph copy of the original Charter of Philadelphia, carefully taken and preserved, but it can scarcely be read, in consequence of many of the words and sentences being illegible. Probably their antiquity has rendered the paper upon which it was engrossed somewhat decayed. However, what does remain of it, is suggestive of many incidents recorded in the preliminary chapter of this work.
On the south side of the room, is a very chastely wrought frame, bearing the insignia of the "Corporation of Philadelphia." It is cut from solid Parian marble, and bears the arms of the city. Over this hovers an eagle with outstretched wing, holding an Olive branch in one talon, and a quiver of arrows in the other. In its beak is the motto: "Declaration of Independence, Phil'a, July 4, 1776."
There are numerous other interesting relics which have almost lost their identity, and to the stranger their histories are unknown. Such is the case with the Chair in which JOHN HANCOCK sat when he signed the "Declaration of Independence," and thus bade defiance to the imperious authority of despotism. This chair stands upon the left, in front of Washington's statue, as it is approached from the door; and, on the right, stands the one which was occupied by Mr. Thompson, when be engrossed the "Declaration of Independence." These ought to be properly labeled, in order to point out to visitors which were respectively occupied by the individuals referred to.
Suspended from the centre of the room is the same Chandelier that was hung there when the hall was first built, in all its beauty; the only change that has been made in it, has been to insert gas into it, in the place of candles, as was originally the case. In other respects it is the same as when it shed its light upon the more than Amphyctionic Council that met there during the stormy debates of our early struggles for freedom.
There is also a piece of the step on which Mr. Thompson, the Secretary, stood when he read the Declaration of Independence.
Such are the sacred relics which have thrilled our thoughts with their impressive associations, and filled our hearts with patriotic emotions. Carefully should they be preserved.
Chapter 46 Conclusion
Those who feel an interest in the scenes where important events have taken place, can realize the emotions we have experienced while tracing the history and associations connected with Independence Hall. The learned and sensitive of all nations pay reverence to the memory of Rome, for they know that in that city the arts and sciences were carried to great perfection, and wisdom radiated its influence over the world. They feel as though they were treading the Appian avenue
They may still look out toward the Tiber, and see its classic waters glide gently on—they can also fancy Horace on his uncouth mule as he perambulated the streets—in imagination they climb the Palatine with old Evander, where Virgil read aloud his thrilling verses, until "his voice faltered and a mother shed tears of delight." All these, with a thousand other recollections, come vividly to their minds, and they involuntarily exclaim: "We are in Rome!" Yes—they know, that
But here, in Old Independence Hall, where greater victories than the world ever before realized, were achieved, the thoughtful patriot may think down ages. Here his eye falls not upon tinselled trappings of imperial courts and liveried minions of despotic royalty—he gazes not upon the trained retinues attending sovereign authority—he beholds no mockery of justice by the pride and insolence of power. He realizes himself standing in the Holy Temple of Freedom, where human rights were promulgated by men of uncompromising integrity and decision of purpose—where the first successful impetus was given to the establishment of civil liberty and religious toleration. And his mind goes back, "to days long past," and busies itself with other times,
Yes—here, in this consecrated room, we can realize more than at Rome. We can fancy that the heroes of the past are before us, in all their imperial sovereignty and resolution—and rejoice that our country is AMERICA!. Oh, how deep a spell that little word contains! Its mention strikes terror to the hearts of European despots. Its remembrance acts as a soothing balm to the weary laborer, the manacled slave, the exiled patriot of the Old World. Some one has said, and the language is germain here, that all true lovers of freedom look forward to the day when the homes of their childhood, the land of their birth, will follow in the wake of the guiding constellation of the West—than which, since the creation of the world, never did benignant Heaven smile on a more brilliant galaxy. Three quarters of a century have elapsed since our country became an independent nation. What has enabled her to obtain this proud pre-eminence among her sister nations? It is the foresight with which she laid the foundations of her government. Her constitution, like the altar of a Druidic Temple, may be caused to vibrate by the hand of a child, yet it is so finely equipoised that, though the waves of fanatic rage and fury beat upon it, they beat in vain. These only recoil on the heads of those who lash them on—and may it so continue forever. Yet, at this very moment, there are those who believe in the "divine right of kings," who delight to sneer at our government, and would rejoice in the failure of our experiment, if such a thing were possible, so that they might proclaim to those countries of the East that aspire to follow the example set them, "man's incapacity for self-government."
From 1776 until the present time, our beloved country has gloried in a name revered by her friends and respected by her enemies. From the shores of the Pacific to those of the Atlantic—from the chain of Lakes to the Rio Grande and Gulf, her beautiful valleys, her extensive plains and western prairies, teem with the fruits of industry and enterprise. Her flag, "The Star Spangled Banner," floats in every breeze, and her Eagle overshadows with his protecting wings her citizens, in whatever clime they roam—her commerce whitens every sea with its unsullied canvas; and
America!—what charms cluster around thine honored name. America! exclaims the Poet—
In what does our country compare with other nations? Wherein consists Britain's self-assumed superiority? Does she boast her ancient castles, with their hoary walls verdant with creeping ivy? Her works of dear-bought grandeur? The seniority of her architectural ruins? We can point to our stentorian Niagara; our craggy Natural Bridge; our colossal Mammoth Cave! These far excel any work of art—they are the workmanship of the great Divine Architect of the Universe, and of an antiquity coeval to that when Great Britain lay submerged beneath the waves. Does the Old World pride herself on her magnificent gardens—her Alpine scenery—her Italian sunset? America points to the magnificence of her peerless autumnal forests—her landscapes of transcendent beauty—her trackless pleasure grounds of the broad prairies. Her rivers for size and length far excel those of the Eastern continent. Where are those that can compare with her Mississippi, her queenly Amazon, her far-famed Hudson? In every feature of her topography, she excels any other country. This is why we love our Native Land. Civilized or savage, man feels the same strong, unalterable devotion to the soil and clime which gave him birth, and though it may be in the icy North, or amid the sands of the Tropics, he clings to it as the kindest and brightest spot on earth. No time nor distance can efface the impression; and whether he be through life a dweller in the place of his nativity, or from infancy an exile or wanderer in strange climes, his heart will yearn toward and long for his native land.
The sentiment is as universal as the human race. Other lands than our own may lure us with their bright skies and varied scenes for a time; we may eat the bread and drink the waters or wines of foreign climes, and be merry even in the house of the stranger; but, when the novelty of change is past, and the banquet of excitement palls, the memory of the first home-hearth breaks in upon the heart with a light mellow and rich as the glow of the setting summer sun. God has written this holy love in the heart of man for wise and beautiful purposes. Without it man would be a rover and a robber, having neither society, civilization, government, nor country. To-day he would pitch his tent and dig a grave in the desert—to-morrow his home would be in the wilderness. Wherever there was most to tempt the passions of his nature, thither would he go, building his hearth without care for the future, and leaving it without thought or regret for the past. To him, history, associations, and old landmarks, would have no charms—like Cain, he would be an outcast and a wanderer in the earth. But there are none such: every man feels irresistibly drawn toward his native land where-ever he may be. Toward that spot and the blessed scenes of his childhood he turns his eyes, as the Hebrew does toward the East, the Moslem toward his Mecca, and the Magian toward the Sun. It fills his day visions and his night dreams—his prayers, his memories, and his hopes. It makes him a patriot, a martyr, a friend, and a fellow-loving, civilized man.
These are the feelings we have often experienced while meditating in Independence Hall. All the past scenes and incidents in our country's history come vividly to our memory, and make us feel as though we were standing in a temple consecrated to Liberty, and sanctified by the heroic deeds of our ancestors. A deep and silent awe pervades this sanctuary of our freedom, and its impressive influences subdue the thoughts to reverence. Emotions which cannot be suppressed take possession of the mind, and before we are conscious of the fact, we are lost in serious reflections. Heroes, philosophers, statesmen, soldiers, and Christians, come before our memory's eye, like the beautiful changes in an intricately wrought kaleidoscope. We can gaze upon the pictures here, and rejoice that efforts have been made to rescue the physiological features of some of those great men from oblivion. But, there is much yet to be accomplished. There should be a monument reared in Independence Square, in close proximity to this immortal room, by the free hands of a grateful posterity, that will appropriately commemorate the deeds of those heroes who bought the inheritance for us.
We say, however, as Pericles said to the Athenians: "Oh Americans, these dead bodies ask no monuments: their monument arose when they fell, and so long as Liberty has defenders, their names will be imperishable. But, it is we who need a monument to their honor. We, who survive, not having yet proven that we, too, could die for our country, and be immortal. We need a monument, that the widows and children of the dead, and all the shades of the departed, and all future ages may see and know that we honor patriotism, and virtue, and liberty, and truth; for, next to performing a great deed, and achieving a noble character, is to honor such character and deeds." Years may change many of the relics preserved in Independence Hall, but oh, may they ever be kept sacred from desecration—may this sanctified Fane of our national pride never be devoted to any other purpose than that of pure patriotism. May it ever be preserved as the Mecca of our land, where the great and the good from every quarter of our common country may come and pay homage to the place where Freedom was born and defended, and where they can look upon the figures of those who took part in the first great struggle for Independence.