Part 2 out of 3
"He then became rude, but his vulgarity made as little impression as his
money, for Jefferson had the most perfect command of his temper, and no man
could put him in a passion.
"The jockey wanted him to show the animal's gait, and urged him to trot with
him for a wager. But all in vain.
"At length, seeing that the stranger was no customer, and utterly
impracticable, he raised his whip and struck Mr. Jefferson's horse across
the flank, setting him off in a sudden gallop, which would have brought a
less accomplished rider to the ground.
"At the same time he put spurs to his own beast, hoping for a race.
Jefferson kept his seat, reined in his restive steed, and put an equally
effective rein upon his own temper.
"The jockey wondered; but impudently turned it off with a laugh, and still
keeping by the side of his new acquaintance, began talking politics. Being
a staunch Federalist, he commenced to launch out against 'Long Tom,' and the
policy of his administration.
"Jefferson took his part in the conversation, and urged some things in
"Meanwhile they had ridden into the city, and were making their way along
Pennsylvania avenue. At length they came opposite the gate of the
"Here Mr. Jefferson reined up, and courteously invited the man to enter.
"The jockey raised his eye-brows, and asked�
" 'Why, do you live here?'
" 'Yes,' was the simple reply.
" 'Why, stranger, what the deuce might be your name?'
" 'My name is Thomas Jefferson.'
"Even the jockey's brass turned pale�when, putting spurs to his nag, he
" 'And my name is Richard Jones, and I'm ok!'
"Saying which, he dashed up the avenue at double quick time, while the
President looked after him with a smile, and then rode into the gate."
JEFFERSON AND PATRICK HENRY.
Patrick Henry was an early friend and companion of Jefferson. He was a
jovial young fellow noted for mimicry, practical jokes, fiddling and
dancing. Jefferson's holidays were sometimes spent with Henry, and the two
together would go off on hunting excursions of which each was passionately
fond. Both were swift of foot and sound of wind.
Deer, turkey, foxes and other game were eagerly pursued. Jefferson looked
upon Patrick Henry as the moving spirit of all the fun of the younger
circle, and had not the faintest idea of the wonderful talents that lay
latent in his companion's mind.
And, Henry too, did not see in the slender, freckled, sandy-haired
Jefferson, the coming man who was to be united with him in some of the most
stirring and important events in American history.
Jefferson did not realize that this rustic youngster, careless of dress, and
apparently thoughtless in manner, and sometimes, to all appearance, so
unconcerned that he was taken by some to be an idiot, was to be the flaming
tongue of a coming Revolution. Henry did not dream that this fiddling boy,
Jefferson, was to be the potent pen of a Declaration which was to emancipate
One day in 1760, just after Jefferson had entered upon his college studies
at Williamsburg, Henry came to his room to tell him, that since their
parting of a few months before, after the Christmas holidays, he had studied
law, and had come to Williamsburg to get a license to practice. The fact
was he had studied law but six weeks, and yet felt himself able to pass the
examination. The examination was conducted by four examiners. Three of
them signed the license. The fourth, George Wythe, refused his signature.
But Henry was now duly admitted to the bar. He went back, however, to
assist his father-in-law, Mr. Shelton, in tending his tavern, and for four
years, practicing occasionally, he waited his time.
In May, 1765, Henry was elected to the House of Burgesses which met at
Williamsburg. While in attendance as a member Henry was the guest of young
Jefferson. Henry presented a rustic appearance. His dress was coarse and
worn. His fame had not become fully known at Williamsburg, "and he moved
about the streets unrecognized though not unmarked. The very oddity of his
appearance provoked comment."
In the Assembly were some of the most brilliant and distinguished men in the
Colony. Among them were Peyton Randolph, George Wythe, John Robinson,
Richard Henry Lee, and Edmund Pendleton.
Dignified manners prevailed among the members. An elaborate and formal
courtesy characterized them in their proceedings. They were polished and
aristocratic men, not specially interested in the welfare of the common
people. They were strongly desirous of perpetuating the class distinctions
observed in Virginia society. A very marked contrast was apparent between
them and the tall, gaunt, coarse-attired, unpolished member from Louisa.
Not being personally known to the majority of the House, little notice was
taken of him, and no expectaions of any particular influence to be exercised
by him upon its deliberations were expected. When the news of the passage
of the Stamp Act reached the assembly, amazement and indignation were felt
by the Royalist leaders, at the folly of the English ministry. But there
seemed no way before them but submission to the Imperial decree. But Henry
saw that the hour had come for meeting the issue between the King and the
He rose in his seat and offered his famous Five Resolutions, which in
substance declared that Englishmen living in America had all the rights of
Englishmen living in England, and that all attempts to impose taxes upon
them without the consent of their own representatives, had "a manifest
tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom."
These resolutions provoked an animated and exciting debate. There is a
strong probability that Jefferson knew the intentions of Henry, for he was
present on that ever memorable occasion in the House.
No provision was made in the Assembly chamber for spectators. There was no
gallery from which they could look down upon the contestants. In the
doorway between the lobby and the chamber Jefferson took his stand, intently
watching Henry's attitude and actions.
In a hesitating way, stammering in his utterances, he began reading his
Resolutions. Then followed the opening sentences of the magnificent oration
of this "Demosthenes of the woods," as Byron termed him.
No promise did they give of what was to follow. Very soon the
transformation came. Jefferson saw him draw himself to his full height and
sweep with a conqueror's gaze the entire audience before and about him.
No impediment now; no inarticulate utterances now. With a voice rich and
full, and musical, he poured out his impassioned plea for the liberties of
the people. Then soaring to one of his boldest flights, he cried out in
"Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and George the Third
-----." The Speaker sprang to his feet, crying, "Treason! treason!" The
whole assembly was in an uproar, shouting with the Speaker, "Treason!
treason!" Not only the royalists, but others who were thoroughly alarmed by
the orator's audacious words, joined in the cry. But never for a moment did
Henry flinch. Fixing his eye upon the Speaker, and throwing his arm forward
from his dilating form, as though to hurl the words with the power of a
thunderbolt, he added in a tone none but he himself could command, "May
profit by their example." Then, with a defiant look around the room, he
said, "If this be treason, make the most of it."
Fifty-nine years afterwards Jefferson continued to speak of that great
occasion with unabated enthusiasm. He narrated anew the stirring scenes
when the shouts of; "treason, treason," echoed through the Hall.
In his record of the debate which followed the speech of Henry he described
it as "most bloody." The arguments against the resolutions, he said were
swept away by the "torrents of sublime eloquence" from the lips of Patrick
Henry. With breathless interest, Jefferson, standing in the doorway,
watched the taking of the vote on the last resolution. It was upon this
resolution that the battle had been waged the hottest. It was carried by a
majority of a single vote. When the result was announced, Peyton Randolph,
the King's Attorney General, brushed by Jefferson, in going out of the
House, exclaiming bitterly with an oath as he went, "I would have given five
hundred guineas for a single vote."
The next day, in the absence of the mighty orator, the timid Assembly
expunged the fifth resolution and modified the others. The Governor,
however, dissolved the House for daring to pass at all the resolutions. But
he could not dissolve the spirit of Henry nor the magical effect of the
resolutions which had been offered. By his intrepid action Henry took the
leadership of the Assembly out of the hands which hitherto had controlled
The resolutions as originally passed were sent to Philadelphia. There they
were printed, and from that center of energetic action were widely
circulated throughout the Colonies. The heart of Samuel Adams and the
Boston patriots were filled with an unspeakable joy as they read them. The
drooping spirits of the people were revived and the doom of the Stamp Act
WASHINGTON AND JEFFERSON.
Dr. James Schouler says: "That Jefferson did not enter into the rhapsodies
of his times which magnified the first President into a demigod infallible,
is very certain; and that, sincerely or insincerely, he had written from his
distant retreat to private friends in Congress with less veneration for
Washington's good judgment on some points of policy than for his personal
virtues and honesty, is susceptible of proof by more positive testimony than
the once celebrated Mazzei letter. Yet we should do Jefferson the justice
to add that political differences of opinion never blinded him to the
transcendent qualities of Washington's character, which he had known long
and intimately enough to appreciate with its possible limitations, which is
the best appreciation of all. Of many contemporary tributes which were
evoked at the close of the last century by that great hero's death, none
bears reading so well in the light of another hundred years as that which
Jefferson penned modestly in his private correspondence."
INFLUENCE OF PROF. SMALL ON JEFFERSON.
Speaking of the influence exerted over him by Dr. William Small, Professor
of Mathematics at William and Mary College, who supplied the place of a
father, and was at once "guide, philosopher and friend," Jefferson said:
"It was Dr. Small's instruction and intercourse that probably fixed the
destinies of my life."
JEFFERSON AND THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA.
In the epitaph of Jefferson, written by himself, there is no mention of his
having been Governor of Virginia, Plenipotentiary to France, Secretary of
State, Vice President and President of the United States. But the
inscription does mention that he was the "Author of the Declaration of
American Independence; of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom; and
Father of the University of Virginia."
These were the three things which, in his own opinion, constituted his most
enduring title to fame. and it is to be observed that freedom was the fruit
of all three. By the first he contributed to the emancipation of the
American colonies from British rule; by the second he broke the chains of
sectarian bigotry that had fettered his native State; and by the third he
gave that State and her sisters the chance to strike the shackles of
ignorance from the minds of their sons.
Free Government, free faith, free thought�these were the treasures which
Thomas Jefferson bequeathed to his country and his State; and who, it may
well be asked, has ever left a nobler legacy to mankind?
His was a mind that thrilled with that active, aggressive and innovating
spirit which has done so much to jostle men out of their accustomed grooves
and make them think for themselves.
No one appreciated more than he the fact that the light of experience, as
revealed in the history of the race, should be the guide of mankind. But,
for that very reason, he did not slavishly worship the past, well knowing
that history points not only to the wisdom of sages and the virtues of
saints, but also to the villainy of knaves and the stupidity of fools.
The condition of life is change; the cessation of change is death. History
is movement, not stagnation; and Jefferson emphatically believed in
The fact that a dogma in politics, theology or educational theory had been
accepted by his ancestors did not make it necessarily true in his eyes.
"Let well enough alone" was no maxim of his. Onward and upward was ever his
His interests were wide and intense, ranging from Anglo-Saxon roots to
architectural designs, from fiddling to philosophy, from potatoes to
politics, from rice to religion. In all these things, and in many more
besides, he took the keenest interest; but in nothing, perhaps, did he
display throughout his life a more unfaltering zeal than in the cause of
"A system of general instruction," said he in 1818, "which shall reach every
description of our citizens, from the richest to the poorest, as it was the
earliest, so it will be the latest of all the public concerns in which I
shall permit myself to take an interest."
From first to last Jefferson's aim was to establish, in organic union and
harmonious co-operation, a system of educational institutions consisting of
(1) primary schools, to be supported by local taxation; (2) grammar schools,
classical academies or local colleges; and (3) a State University, as roof
and spire of the whole edifice.
He did not succeed in realizing the whole of his scheme, but he did finally
succeed in inducing the Legislature to pass an act in the year 1819 by which
the State accepted the gift of Central College (a corporation based upon
private subscriptions due to Jefferson's efforts), and converted it into the
University of Virginia.
This action was taken on the report of a commission previously appointed,
which had met at Rockfish Gap, in the Blue Ridge Mountains � a commission
composed probably of more eminent men than had ever before presided over the
birth of a university. Three of these men, who met together in that
unpretentious inn, were Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe
(then President of the United States).
Yet it was remarked by the lookers-on that Mr. Jefferson was the principal
object of regard both to the members and spectators; that he seemed to be
the chief mover of the body�the soul that animated it; and some who were
present, struck by their manifestations of deference, conceived a more
exalted idea of him on this simple and unpretending occasion than they had
ever previously entertained.�R. H. Dabney.
THE FINANCIAL DIARY OF THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Thomas Jefferson kept a financial diary and account book from January 1st
1791, to December 28th, 1803, embracing the last three years of his service
as Secretary of State under Washington, the four years of his Vice-
Presidency under John Adams, and the first three years following his own
election to the Presidency.
This diary was one of the most valuable treasures in the library of the late
Among the items enumerated in the very fine, but neat and legible hand of
Mr. Jefferson, is the following:
"Gave J. Madison ord. on bank for 9625 D."
The modern symbol of the dollar was not then in use. Jefferson uniformly
used a capital D to denote this unit of our Federal currency.
Madison was Jefferson's most intimate friend, and was a member of congress
at the time the above entry was made Jan. 8, 1791, at Philadelphia.
Whenever Jefferson went home to Monticello or returned thence to his duties,
he frequently stopped with Mr. Madison.
While they were in the public service together, it appears by this diary,
that they traveled together to and from their posts of duty. It also seems
that one or the other generally acted as paymaster.
The inadequate salary of $3,500 which Jefferson received as Secretary of
State, was $500 more than that of any other cabinet officer.
HORSE BACK RIDING TO INAUGURATION.
It would seem on the authority of Mrs. Randolph, the great-granddaughter of
Mr. Jefferson, in her work, "The Domestic Life of Thomas Jefferson," that
the President rode "the magnificent Wildair" to the capitol, and hitched to
the palisades while he went in to deliver his inaugural. The truth of the
incident, however, is not established.
In Jefferson's diary we have this entry:
Feb'y 3, 1801, Rec'd from Col. John Hoomes of the Bowling Green a bay horse
Wildair, 7 yr. old, 16 hands high, for which I am to pay him 300 D May 1.
There were no pavements, sidewalks nor railroads then in Washington. There
were not even wagon roads. There was no getting about, therefore, for
either men or women without horses.
COST OF SERVANTS, ETC.
Jefferson estimated the cost of his ten servants per week, $28.70, or $2.87
Jefferson managed to pay off many of his small debts with his first year's
salary as President. It seems never to have occurred to him to lay by
anything out of his receipts.
He thought that at the end of the second year he had about $300 in hand.
It is interesting to know in these temperance days that the wine bill of
Jefferson was $1,356.00 per year.
Mr. Jefferson, judging by his diary, was an inveterate buyer of books and
pamphlets. He also apparently never missed an opportunity of seeing a show
of any kind.
There are items for seeing a lion, a small seal, an elephant, an elk, Caleb
Phillips a dwarf, a painting, etc., with the prices charged. It cost him 11
1/2 d for seeing the lion, and 25 cents the dwarf.
WOULD TAKE NO PRESENTS.
The Rev. Mr. Leland sent him a great cheese, presumably as a present. Mr.
Jefferson was not in the habit "of deadheading at hotels," nor of receiving
presents, however inconsiderable in value, which would place him under any
obligation to the donor. The diary contains the following minute regarding
1802. Gave Rev'd Mr. Leland, bearer of the cheese of 1235 Ibs weight, 200
So the monster article cost the President sixteen cents a pound.
It will be a surprise to those who have been educated to associate Mr.
Jefferson's name with indifference, if not open hostility, to revealed
religion, to find among his expenses�some entered as charity, but most of
them, exclusive of what is reported under the charity rubric� entries like
Nov 27 Pd Mr B a Subscription for missionaries 15 D.
1798 Feby 26 pd 5D in part of 20D Subscription for a hot-press bible
June 25 Gave order on J Barnes for 25D towards fitting up a chapel.
Sept 23 pd Contribution at a Sermon 7.20
April 7 Gave order on J Barnes for 50D charity in favor of the Revd Mr
Parkinson towards a Baptist meeting house.
9 Gave order on J. Barnes in favr the Revd Doctr Smith towards rebuilding
Princeton College 100D
July 11 Subscribed to the Wilmington Academy 100D
Feby 25 Gave Hamilton & Campbell ord. on J. Barnes for 100D charity to
" 28 Gave Genl Winn ord. on J. Barnes for 100D charity to Jefferson
Monticello Academy in S. Carolina.
March 1. Gave in charity to the Revd Mr Chambers of Alexandria for his
church an order on J. Barnes for 50D
Nov 18 Gave order on J. Barnes for 100D in favor of Revd Mr Coffin for a
college in Tennessee.
We doubt whether since the Presidential salary was doubled any of President
Jefferson's successors has contributed as large a percentage of his salary
to charitable or religious uses.
In a letter to his daughter Martha, written in March,1787, Jefferson writes:
"Of all the cankers of human happiness, none corrodes with so silent, yet
baneful a tooth, as indolence.
"Body and mind both unemployed, our being becomes a burthen, and every
object about us loathsome, even the dearest.
"Idleness begets ennui, ennui the hypochondria, and that a diseased body.
"No laborious person was ever yet hysterical.
"Exercise and application produce order in our affairs, health of body and
cheerfulness of mind. These make us precious to our friends.
"It is while we are young that the habit of industry is formed. If not
then, it never is afterwards.
"The future of our lives, therefore, depends on employing well the short
period of youth.
"If at any moment, my dear, you catch yourself in idleness, start from it as
you would the precipice of a gulf.
"You are not, however, to consider yourself as unemployed while taking
exercise. That is necessary for your health, and health is the first of all
TITLES OF HONOR AND OFFICE.
He wrote to one of his friends concerning this matter as follows:
"The Senate and Representatives differed about the title of President. The
former wanted to style him 'His Highness, George Washington, President of
the United States, and Protector of their Liberties.' I hope the terms of
Excellency, Honor, Worship, Esquire, forever disappear from among us. I
wish that of Mr. would follow them."
THE TERM OF THE PRESIDENCY.
Mr. Jefferson was inclined at first to have the President elected for seven
years, and be thereafter ineligible. He afterwards modified his views in
favor of the present system, allowing only a continuance for eight years.
Regarding a third term, he says in his autobiography: "Should a President
consent to be a candidate for a third election, I trust he would be rejected
on this demonstration of ambitious views."
THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS AND LAWYERS.
Mr. Jefferson wrote in his autobiography regarding the Continental Congress
"Our body was little numerous, but very contentious. Day after day was
wasted on the most unimportant questions.
"If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise,
in a body to which the people send one hundred and fifty lawyers, whose
trade it is to question everything, yield nothing and talk by the hour?
"That one hundred and fifty lawyers should do business together ought not to
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
George Bancroft, in glowing words, speaks of this great creation of the
genius of Jefferson:
"This immortal State paper, which for its composer was the aurora of
enduring fame, was 'the genuine effusion of the soul of the country at that
"It was the revelation of its mind, when, in its youth, its enthusiasm, its
sublime confronting of danger, it rose to the highest creative powers of
which man is capable."�Bancroft's U S., vol. 8, ch. 70.
JEFFERSON AND THE MECKLENBURG DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
"On the 30th of April, 1819, some forty-three years after Jefferson's
Declaration was written, there appeared in the Raleigh (N. C.) Register what
purported to be a Declaration of Independence, drawn up by the citizens of
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, on May 20th, 1775. As this was nearly
fourteen months before the Colonies declared their independence, and as many
of the expressions in the Mecklenburg paper bore a striking resemblance to
Jefferson's expressions, it excited a good deal of curiosity, and led to a
discussion which has been continued to the present day. Those desirous of
seeing the arguments pro and con, put in their latest and best form, will
find them in two articles in the "Magazine of American History," in the
January and March numbers of 1889.
"It is sufficient here to say that there was found among the British State
papers, as well as in contemporaneous newspapers in this country, the
original Mecklenburg paper, which was not a Declaration of Independence at
all, but simply patriotic resolutions similar to those which were published
in most of the Colonies at that time.
"And so the Mecklenburg Declaration takes its place with the stories of
Pocahontas and of William Tell."� Boutell.
THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE.
In effecting the purchase of Louisiana, Mr. Jefferson has thus been
eulogized by James G. Blaine, in his "Twenty Years of Congress:"
"Mr. Jefferson made the largest conquest ever peacefully achieved, at a cost
so small that the sum expended for the entire territory does not equal the
revenue which has since been collected on its soil in a single month, in
time of great public peril."
JEFFERSON AND BENEDICT ARNOLD.
Benedict Arnold, with the British troops, had entered the Chesapeake in
January, 1781, and sailed up the James River. He captured Richmond, the
capital, then a town of less than two thousand people, and destroyed
everything upon which he could lay his hands.
Jefferson summoned the militia, who came by thousands to oppose the traitor.
Arnold, however, sailed down to Portsmouth and escaped.
Jefferson then urged upon General Muhlenburg the importance of picking out a
few of the best men in his command "to seize and bring off the greatest of
"I will undertake," he said, "if they are successful in bringing him off
alive, that they shall receive five thousand guineas reward among them."
The effort was not made.
A MAN OF THE PEOPLE.
Jefferson mingled a great deal with the common people, especially with
Often, when President, he would walk down to the Navy Yard early on a
summer's morning, and sitting down upon an anchor or spar, would enter into
conversation with the surprised and delighted shipwrights. He asked many
questions of these artisans, who would take the utmost pains to satisfy his
His political opponents believed unjustly that he did this simply for
effect. They would say,
"There, see the demagogue!"
"There's long Tom, sinking the dignity of his station to get votes and court
ARISTOCRACY OF MIND.
Although Jefferson was an ardent democrat, in some sense he was also an
He firmly believed in an aristocracy of mind, and told John Adams that he
rejoiced that nature had created such an aristocracy.
He unmistakably gave his preference to men of learning and refinement, at
least he put these above other recommendations.
Mr. Jefferson, however, was not consistent with himself, for he frequently
called General Washington "Your Excellency," during the war, and also when
he was a private citizen at Mt. Vernon.
EVIL YOUTHFUL COMPANIONS.
Just after his college days Mr. Jefferson fell into company, as so many
young men do, of a most undesirable sort.
According to his own statements it was a source of amazement even to himself
that he ever escaped to be worth anything to the world. He realized in
later years what a dangerous risk he had run.
READ LITTLE FICTION.
While he was an extensive reader in his early days, going into almost every
field of literature, including poetry, he read very little fiction.
In fact, there was comparatively but little fiction then worth the name.
Not from any sentiment of duty or moral impropriety, but from simple
aversion he let it alone.
NEITHER ORATOR NOR GOOD TALKER.
Jefferson was neither an orator nor a good talker. He could not make a
speech. His voice would sink downwards instead of rising upwards out of his
But as regards legal learning he was in the front rank. No one was more
ready than he in ably written opinions and defenses.
It was in what John Adams termed "the divine science of politics" that
Jefferson won his immortal and resplendent fame.
With all his apparent tolerance and good humor, there was a great deal of
the arbitrary and despotic in Mr. Jefferson's nature. Stern principle alone
enabled him to keep his native imperiousness within proper bounds.
THE INFLUENCE OF JEFFERSON'S SISTER.
Among those who exerted a marked influence on Jefferson's early years was
his oldest and favorite sister Jane. She was three years his senior, and
was a woman of superior standing and great elevation of character. She was
his constant companion when he was at home, and a sympathizing friend to
whom he unlocked his heart. She was a "singer of uncommon skill and
sweetness, and both were particularly fond of the solemn music used by the
Church of England in the Psalms." She died in the fall of 1765, at the age
of twenty-five. He cherished her memory with the warmest affection to the
close of his life.
JEFFERSON A DOCTRINAIRE.
Lewis Henry Boutell, in his "Jefferson as a Man of Letters," says:
"That Jefferson, in justifying the action of the colonists, should have
thought more of the metaphysical rights than historical facts, illustrates
one of the marked features of his character. He was often more of a
doctrinaire than a practical statesman. He reminds us of the words which
Burke applied on a certain occasion to Chatham: 'For a wise man he seemed
to me at that time to be governed too much by general maxims.' "
RECONCILIATION WITH JOHN ADAMS.
For many years the friendship between Jefferson and John Adams had been
broken off. Mrs. Adams had become decidedly hostile in feeling towards
Jefferson. But through a mutual friend, Dr. Rush, of Philadelphia, a
reconciliation was fully established between them.
It was a spectacle in which the whole country greatly rejoiced, to see the
intimacy restored between the two venerable men, once Presidents of the
United States, and brothers in helping secure the independence of their
Although they did not see each other face to face again, a continuous,
instructive and affectionate correspondence was kept up between them. Their
topics of discourse were those relating to Revolutionary times, but
especially to religion.
Mr. Jefferson believed in the colonization of negroes to Africa, and the
substitution of free white labor in their place.
He wrote to John Lynch, of Virginia, in 1811, as follows: "Having long ago
made up my mind on this subject (colonization), I have no hesitation in
saying that I have ever thought it the most desirable measure which could be
adopted, for gradually drawing off this part of our population most
advantageously for themselves as as [sic] well as for us.
"Going from a country possessing all the useful arts, they might be the
means of transplanting them among the inhabitants of Africa, and would thus
carry back to the country of their origin, the seeds of civilization, which
might render their sojournment and sufferings here a blessing in the end to
Many other eminent men have shared the same opinion, and not a few prominent
leaders among the Afro-American people.
But it is now an impossibility. The American negro is in America to stay.
The ever pressing problem of his relationship to the white man involves
questions of education, labor, politics and religion, which will take
infinite patience, insight, forbearance and wisdom to settle justly.
EDUCATING AMERICAN BOYS ABROAD.
Mr. Jefferson was a strong opponent of the practice of sending boys abroad
to be educated. He says:
"The boy sent to Europe acquires a fondness for European luxury and
dissipation, and a contempt for the simplicity of his own country.
"He is fascinated with the privileges of the European aristocrats, and sees
with abhorrence the lovely equality which the poor enjoy with the rich in
his own country.
"He contracts a partiality for aristocracy or monarchy.
"He forms foreign friendships which will never be useful to him.
"He loses the seasons of life for forming in his own country those
friendships which of all others are the most faithful and permanent.
"He returns to his own country a foreigner, unacquainted with the practices
of domestic economy necessary to preserve him from ruin.
"He speaks and writes his native tongue as a foreigner, and is therefore
unqualified to obtain those distinctions which eloquence of the tongue and
pen insures in a free country.
"It appears to me then that an American going to Europe for education loses
in his knowledge, in his morals, in his health, in his habits and in his
These utterances of Jefferson apply of course only to boys in the formative
period of their lives, and not to mature students who go abroad for higher
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.
Mr. Jefferson always believed the cause of the French Revolution to be just.
Its horrors and excesses were the necessary evils attendant upon the death
of tyranny and the birth of liberty.
Louis the XVI was thoroughly conscientious. At the age of twenty he
ascended the throne, and strove to present an example of morality, justice
and economy. But he had not firmness of will to support a good minister or
to adhere to a good policy.
In the course of events a great demonstration of the French populace was
made against the king. Thousands of persons carrying pikes and other
weapons marched to the Tuileries. For four hours Louis was mobbed. He then
put on a red cap to please his unwelcome visitors, who afterwards retired.
Long after the "Days of Terror" Jefferson wrote in his autobiography:
"The deed which closed the mortal course of these sovereigns (Louis XVI and
Marie Antoinette), I shall neither approve nor condemn.
"I am not prepared to say that the first magistrate of a nation cannot
commit treason against his country or is not amenable to its punishment.
Nor yet, that where there is no written law, no regulated tribunal, there is
not a law in our hearts and a power in our hands given for righteous
employment in maintaining right and redressing wrong.
"I should have shut the queen up in a convent, putting her where she could
do no harm."
Mr. Jefferson then declared that he would have permitted the King to reign,
believing that with the restraints thrown around him, he would have made a
SAYINGS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON.
From the Life of Jefferson, by Dr. Irelan.
Harmony in the marriage state is the very first object to be aimed at.
Nothing can preserve affections uninterrupted but a firm resolution never to
differ in will, and a determination in each to consider the love of the
other as of more value than any object whatever on which a wish had been
How light, in fact, is the sacrifice of any other wish when weighed against
the affections of one with whom we are to pass our whole life!
EDITORS AND NEWSPAPERS.
Perhaps an editor might begin a reformation in some such way as this:
Divide his paper into four chapters, heading the 1st, Truths; 2nd,
Probabilities; 3rd, Possibilities; 4th, Lies. The first chapter would be
very short, as it would contain little more than authentic papers, and
information from such sources as the editor would be willing to risk his own
reputation for their truth. The second would contain what, from a mature
consideration of all circumstances, he would conclude to be probably true.
This, however, should rather contain too little than too much. The third
and fourth should be professedly for those readers who would rather have
lies for their money than the blank paper they would occupy.
Give up money, give up fame, give up science, give the earth itself and all
it contains rather than do an immoral act.
Whenever you are to do anything, though it can never be known but to
yourself, ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you,
and act accordingly.
From the practice of the purest virtue, you may be assured you will derive
the most sublime comforts in every moment of life, and in the moment of
Though you cannot see when you take one step, what will be the next, yet
follow truth, justice, and plain dealing, and never fear their leading you
out of the labyrinth in the nearest manner possible.
An honest heart being the first blessing, a knowing head is the second.
Nothing is so mistaken as the supposition that a person is to extricate
himself from a difficulty by intrigue, by chicanery, by dissimulation, by
trimming, by untruth, by injustice.
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty
than those attending a too small degree of it.
Yet it is easy to foresee, from the nature of things, that the encroachments
of the State governments will tend to an excess of liberty which will
correct itself, while those of the General Government will tend to monarchy,
which will fortify itself from day to day.
Responsibility is a tremendous engine in a free government.
Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people
(the slaves) are to be free.
When we see ourselves in a situation which must be endured and gone through,
it is best to make up our minds to it, meet it with firmness, and
accommodate every thing to it in the best way practicable.
The errors and misfortunes of others should be a school for our own
The article of dress is, perhaps, that in which economy is the least to be
All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of
the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be
reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws
must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.
A good cause is often injured more by ill-timed efforts of its friends than
by the arguments of its enemies.
Persuasion, perseverance, and patience are the best advocates on questions
depending on the will of others.
I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as
necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. An observation
of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their
punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a
medicine necessary for the sound health of government.
No race of kings has ever presented above one man of common sense in twenty
With all the defects in our Constitution, whether general or particular, the
comparison of our government with those of Europe, is like a comparison of
Heaven with Hell. England, like the earth, may be allowed to take the
I have a right to nothing, which another has a right to take away.
Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it
is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them.
When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall
become corrupt as in Europe, and go to eating one another as they do there.
Health, learning, and virtue will insure your happiness; they will give you
a quiet conscience, private esteem and public honor.
If I were to decide between the pleasures derived from the classical
education which my father gave me, and the estate left me, I should decide
in favor of the farmer.
Good humor and politeness never introduce into mixed society a question on
which they foresee there will be a difference of opinion.
The general desire of men to live by their heads rather than their hands,
and the strong allurements of great cities to those who have any turn for
dissipation, threaten to make them here, as in Europe, the sinks of
I have often thought that if Heaven had given me choice of my position and
calling, it should have been on a rich spot of earth, well watered, and near
a good market for the productions of the garden. No occupation is so
delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to
that of the garden.
I sincerely, then, believe with you in the general existence of a moral
instinct. I think it is the brightest gem with which the human character is
studded, and the want of it as more degrading than the most hideous of the
I must ever believe that religion substantially good, which produces an
honest life, and we have been authorized by one (One) whom you and I equally
respect, to judge of the tree by its fruit.
Where the law of majority ceases to be acknowledged there government ends,
the law of the strongest takes its place, and life and property are his who
can take them.
Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever He has a
chosen people, whose breasts he has made this peculiar deposit for
substantial and genuine virtue, it is the focus in which He keeps alive that
sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth.
The wise know their weakness too well to assume infallibility; and he who
knows most knows best how little he knows.
TEN CANONS FOR PRACTICAL LIFE.
1. Never put off till to-morrow what you can do today.
2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3. Never spend your money before you have it.
4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to
5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
6. We never repent of having eaten too little.
7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
1O. When angry count ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.
ADAMS AND JEFFERSON.
By Daniel Webster
Discourse in Commemoration of the Lives and Services of John and Thomas
Jefferson, Delivered in Faneuil Hall, August 2, 1826.
This is an unaccustomed spectacle. For the first time, fellow-citizens,
badges of mourning shroud the columns and overhang the arches of this hall.
These walls, which were consecrated, so long ago, to the cause of American
liberty, which witnessed her infant struggles, and rung with the shouts of
her earliest victories, proclaim, now, that distinguished friends and
champions of that great cause have fallen. It is right that it shall be
thus. The tears which flow, and the honors that are shown when the founders
of the republic die, give hope that the republic itself may be immortal. It
is fit, by public assembly and solemn observance, by anthem and by eulogy,
we commemorate the services of national benefactors, extol their virtues,
and render thanks to God for eminent blessings, early given and long
continued, to our favored countrty [sic].
Adams and Jefferson are no more; and we are assembled, fellow-citizens, the
aged, the middle-aged, and the young, by the spontaneous impulse of all,
under the authority of the municipal government, with the presence of the
chief-magistrate of the commonwealth, and others, its official
representatives, the university, and the learned societies, to bear our part
in those manifestations of respect and gratitude which universally pervade
the land. Adams and Jefferson are no more. On our fiftieth anniversary,
the great day of national jubilee, in the very hour of public rejoicing, in
the midst of echoing and re-echoing voices of thanksgiving, while their own
names were on all tongues, they took their flight together to the world of
If it be true that no one can safely be pronounced happy while he lives, if
that event which terminates life can alone crown its honors and its glory,
what felicity is here! The great epic of their lives, how happily
concluded! Poetry itself has hardly closed illustrious lives, and finished
the career of earthly renown, by such a consummation. If we had the power,
we could not wish to reverse this dispensation of the Divine Providence.
The great objects of life were accomplished, the drama was ready to be
closed. It has closed; our patriots have fallen; but so fallen, at such
age, with such coincidence, on such a day, that we cannot rationally lament
that that end has come, which we know could not long be deferred.
Neither of these great men, fellow-citizens, could have died, at any time,
without leaving an immense void in our American society. They have been so
intimately, and for so long a time blended with the history of the country,
and especially so united, in our thoughts and recollections, with the events
of the revolution [text destroyed] the death of either would have touched
the strings of public sympathy. We should have felt that one great link
connecting us with former times, was broken; that we had lost something
more, as it were, of the presence of the revolution itself, and of the act
of independence, and were driven on, by another great remove, from the days
of our country's early distinction, to meet posterity, and to mix with the
future. Like the mariner, whom the ocean and the winds carry along, till he
sees the stars which have directed his course and lighted his pathless way
descent, one by one, beneath the rising horizon, we should have felt that
the stream of time had borne us onward till another luminary, whose light
had cheered us and whose guidance we had followed, had sunk away from our
But the concurrence of their death on the anniversary of independence has
naturally awakened stronger emotions. Both had been presidents, both had
lived to great age, both were early patriots, and both were distinguished
and ever honored by their immediate agency in the act of independence. It
cannot but seem striking and extraordinary, that these two should live to
see the fiftieth year from the date of that act; that they should complete
that year; and that then, on the day which had fast linked forever their
own fame with their country's glory, the heavens should open to receive them
both at once. As their lives themselves were the gifts of Providence, who
is not willing to recognize in their happy termination, as well as in their
long continuance, proofs that our country and its benefactors are objects of
Adams and Jefferson, I have said, are no more. As human beings, indeed they
are no more. They are no more, as in 1776, bold and fearless advocates of
independence; no more, as on subsequent periods, the head of the government;
no more, as we have recently seen them, aged and venerable objects of
admiration and regard. They are no more. They are dead. But how little is
there of the great and good which can die! To their country they yet live,
and live forever. They live in all that perpetuates the remembrance of men
on earth; in the recorded proofs of their own great actions, in the
offspring of their intellect, in the deep-engraved lines of public
gratitude, and in the respect and homage of mankind. They live in their
example; and they live, emphatically, and will live, in the influence which
their lives and efforts, their principles and opinion, now exercise, and
will continue to exercise, on the affairs of men, not only in their own
country, but thoughout the civilized world. A superior and commanding human
intellect, a truly great man, when Heaven vouchsafes so rare a gift, is not
a temporary flame, burning bright for a while, and then expiring, giving
place to returning darkness. It is rather a spark of fervent heat, as well
as radiant light, with power to enkindle the common mass of human mind; so
that when it glimmers in its own decay, and finally goes out in death, no
night follows, but it leaves the world all light, all on fire, from the
potent contact of its own spirit. Bacon died; but the human understanding
roused by the touch of his miraculous wand to a perception of the true
philosophy and the just mode of inquiring after truth, has kept on its
course successfully and gloriously. Newton died; yet the courses of the
spheres are still known, and they yet move on in the orbits which he saw,
and described for them, in the infinity of space.
No two men now live, fellow-citizens, perhaps it may be doubted whether any
two men have ever lived in one age, who, more than those we now commemorate,
have impressed their own sentiments, in regard to politics and government,
on mankind, infused their own opinions more deeply into the opinions of
others, or given a more lasting direction to the current of human thought.
Their work doth not perish with them. The tree which they assisted to plant
will flourish, although they water it and protect it no longer; for it has
struck its roots deep, it has sent them to the very center; no storm, not of
force to burst the orb, can overturn it; its branches spread wide; they
stretch their protecting arms broader and broader, and its top is destined
to reach the heavens. We are not deceived. There is no delusion here. No
age will come in which the American revolution will appear less than it is,
one of the greatest events in human history. No age will come in which it
will cease to be seen and felt, on either continent, that a mighty step, a
great advance, not only in American affairs, but in human affairs, was made
on the 4th of July, 1776. And no age will come we trust, so ignorant or so
unjust as not to see and acknowledge the efficient agency of these we now
honor in producing that momentous event.
We are not assembled, therefore, fellow-citizens, as men overwhelmed with
calamity by the sudden disruption of the ties of friendship or affection, or
as in despair for the republic by the untimely blighting of its hopes.
Death has not surprised us by an unseasonable blow. We have, indeed, seen
the tomb close, but it has closed only over mature years, over long-
protracted public service, over the weakness of age, and over life itself
only when the ends of living had been fulfilled. These suns, as they rose
slowly and steadily, amidst clouds and storms in their ascendant, so they
have not rushed from their meridian to sink suddenly in the west. Like the
mildness, the serenity, the continuing benignity of summer's day, they have
gone down with slow-descending, grateful, long-lingering light; and now that
they are beyond the visible margin of the world, good omens cheer us from
"the bright track of their fiery car!"
There were many points of similarity in the lives and fortunes of these
great men. They belonged to the same profession, and had pursued its
studies and its practice, for unequal lengths of time indeed, but with
diligence and effect. Both were learned and able lawyers. They were
natives and inhabitants, respectively, of those two of the colonies which at
the revolution were the largest and most powerful, and which naturally had a
lead in the political affairs of the times. When the colonies became in
some degree united, by the assembling of a general congress, they were
brought to act together in its deliberations, not indeed at the same time,
but both at early periods. Each had already manifested his attachment to
the cause of the country, as well as his ability to maintain it, by printed
addresses, public speeches, extensive correspondence, and whatever other
mode could be adopted for the purpose of exposing the encroachments of the
British parliament, and animating the people to a manly resistance. Both,
were not only decided, but early, friends of independence. While others yet
doubted, they were resolved; where others hesitated, they pressed forward.
They were both members of the committee for preparing the declaration of
independence, and they constituted the sub-committee appointed by the other
members to make the draft. They left their seats in congress, being called
to other public employment, at periods not remote from each other, although
one of them returned to it afterward for a short time. Neither of them was
of the assembly of great men which formed the present constitution, and
neither was at any time member of congress under its provisions. Both have
been public ministers abroad, both vice-presidents and both presidents.
These coincidences are now singularly crowned and completed. They have
died together; and they died on the anniversary of liberty.
When many of us were last in this place, fellow-citizens, it was on the day
of that anniversary. We were met to enjoy the festivities belonging to the
occasion, and to manifest our grateful homage to our political fathers. We
did not, we could not here forget our venerable neighbor of Quincy. We knew
that we were standing, at a time of high and palmy prosperity, where he had
stood in the hour of utmost peril; that we saw nothing but liberty and
security, where he had met the frown of power; that we were enjoying
everything, where he had hazarded everything; and just and sincere plaudits
rose to his name, from the crowds which filled this area, and hung over
these galleries. He whose grateful duty it was to speak to us, [Hon,
Joshiah Quincy] on that day, of the virtues of our fathers, had, indeed,
admonished us that time and years were about to level his venerable frame
with the dust. But he bade us hope that "the sound of a nation's joy,
rushing from our cities, ringing from our valleys, echoing from our hills,
might yet break the silence of his aged ear; that the rising blessings of
grateful millions might yet visit with glad light his decaying vision."
Alas! that vision was then closing forever. Alas! the silence which was
then settling on that aged ear was an everlasting silence! For, lo! in
the very moment of our festivities, his freed spirit ascended to God who
gave it! Human aid and human solace terminate at the grave; or we would
gladly have borne him upward, on a nation's outspread hands; we would have
accompanied him, and with the blessings of millions and the prayers of
millions, commended him. to the Divine favor.
While still indulging our thoughts, on the coincidence of the death of this
venerable man with the anniversary of independence, we learn that Jefferson,
too, has fallen. and that these aged patriots, these illustrious fellow-
laborers, have left our world together. May not such events raise the
suggestion that they are not undesigned, and that Heaven does so order
things, as sometimes to attract strongly the attention and excite the
thoughts of men? The occurrence has added new interest to our anniversary,
and will be remembered in all time to come.
The occasion, fellow-citizens, requires some account of the lives and
services of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. This duty must necessarily be
performed with great brevity, and in the discharge of it I shall be obliged
to confine myself, principally, to those parts of their historv and
character which belonged to them as public men.
John Adams was born at Quincy, then part of the ancient town of Braintree,
on the 19th of October, (old style,) 1735. He was a descendant of the
Puritans, his ancestors having early emigrated from England, and settled in
Massachusetts. Discovering early a strong love of reading and of knowledge,
together with the marks of great strength and activity of mind, proper care
was taken by his worthy father to provide for his education. He pursued his
youthful studies in Braintree, under Mr. Marsh, a teacher whose fortune it
was that Josiah Quincy, Jr., as well as the subject of these remarks, should
receive from him his instruction in the rudiments of classical literature.
Having been admitted, in 1751, a member of Harvard College, Mr. Adams was
graduated, in course, in 1755; and on the catalogue of that institution, his
name, at the time of his death, was second among the living alumni, being
preceded only by that of the venerable Holyoke. With what degree of
reputation he left the university is not now precisely known. We know only
that he was a distinguished in a class which numbered Locke and Hemmenway
among its members. Choosing the law for his profession, he commenced and
prosecuted its studies at Worcester, under the direction of Samuel Putnam, a
gentleman whom he has himself described as an acute man, an able and learned
lawyer, and as in large professional practice at that time. In 1758 he was
admitted to the bar, and cormmenced business in Braintree. He is understood
to have made his first considerable effort, or to have attained his first
signal success, at Plymouth, on one of those occasions which furnish the
earliest opportunity for distinction to many young men of the profession, a
jury trial, and a criminal cause. His business naturally grew with his
reputation, and his residence in the vicinity afforded the opportunity, as
his growing eminence gave the power, of entering on the large field of
practice which the capital presented. In 1766 he removed his residence to
Boston, still continuing his attendance on the neighboring circuits, and not
unfrequently called to remote parts of the province. In 1770 his
professional firmness was brought to a test of some severity, on the
application of the British officers and Soldiers to undertake their defense,
on the trial of the indictments found against them on account of the
transactions of the memorable 5th of March. He seems to have thought, on
this occasion, that a man can no more abandon the proper duties of his
profession, than he can abandon other duties. The event proved, that, as he
judged well for his own reputation, he judged well, also, for the interest
and permanent fame of his country. The result of that trial proved, that
notwithstanding the high degree of excitement then existing in consequence
of the measures of the British government, a jury of Massachusetts would not
deprive the most reckless enemies, even the officers of that standing army
quartered among them which they so perfectly abhorred, of any part of that
protection which the law, in its mildest and most indulgent interpretation,
afforded to persons accused of crimes.
Without pursuing Mr. Adams's professional course further, suffice it to say,
that on the first establishment of the judicial tribunals under the
authority of the state, in 1776, he received an offer of the high and
responsible station of chief-justice of the supreme court of his state. But
he was destined for another and a different career. From early life, the
bent of his mind was toward politics. a propensity which the state of the
times, if it did not create, doubtless very much strengthened. Public
subjects must have occupied the thoughts and filled up the conversation in
the circles in which he then moved, and the interesting questions at that
time just arising could not but sieve on a mind like his, ardent, sanguine,
and patriotic. The letter, fortunately preserved, written by him at
Worcester, so early as the 12th of October, 1755, is a proof of very
comprehensive views, and uncommon depth of reflection, in a young man not
yet quite twenty. In this letter he predicted the transfer of power, and
the establishment of a new seat of empire in America; he predicted, also,
the increase of population in the colonies; and anticipated their naval
distinction, and foretold that all Europe combined could not subdue them.
All this is said not on a public occasion or for effect, but in the style of
sober and friendly correspondence, as the result of his own thoughts. "I
sometimes retire," said he, at the close of the letter, "and, laying things
together, form some reflections pleasing to myself. The produce of one of
these reveries you have read above."* This prognostication so early in his
own life, so early in the history of the country, of independence, of vast
increase of numbers, of naval force, of such augmented power as might defy
all Europe, is remarkable. It is more remarkable that its author should
have lived to see fulfilled to the letter what could have seemed to others,
at the time, but the extravagance of youthful fancy. His earliest political
feelings were thus strongly American, and from this ardent attachment to his
native soil he never departed.
While still living at Quincy, and at the age of twenty-four, Mr. Adams was
present, in this town, on the argument before the supreme court respecting
Writs of Assistance, and heard the celebrated and patriotic speech of James
Otis. Unquestionably, that was a masterly performance. No flighty
declamation about liberty, no superficial discussion of popular topics, it
was a learned, penetrating, convincing, constitutional argument, expressed
in a strain of high and resolute patriotism. He grasped the question then
pending between England and her colonies with the strength of a lion; and if
he sometimes sported, it was only because the lion himself is sometimes
playful. Its success appears to have been as great as its merits, and its
impression was widely felt. Mr. Adams himself seems never to have lost the
feeling it produced, and to have entertained constantly the fullest
conviction of its important effects. "I do say," he observes, "in the most
solemn manner, that Mr. Otis's Oration against Writs of Assistance breathed
into this nation the breath of life."
In 1765 Mr. Adams laid before the public, what I suppose to be his first
printed performance, except essays for the periodical press, A Dissertation
on the Canon and Feudal Law. The object of this work was to show that our
New England ancestors, in, consenting to exile themselves from their native
land, were actuated mainly by the desire of delivering themeslves [sic] from
the power of the hierarchy, and from the monarchial and aristocratical
political systems of the other continent, and to make this truth bear with
effect on the politics of the times. Its tone is uncommonly bold and
animated for that period. He calls on the people, not only to defend, but
to study and understand, their rights and privileges; urges earnestly the
necessity of diffusing general knowledge; invokes the clergy and the bar,
the colleges and academies, and all others who have the ability and the
means to expose the insidious designs of arbitrary power, to resist its
approaches, and to be persuaded that there is a settled design on foot to
enslave all America. "Be it remembered," says the author, "that liberty
must, at all hazards, be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our
Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned it and bought it for us,
at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their
blood. And liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among
the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge,
as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them
understandings and a desire to know. But, besides this, they have a right,
an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible right, to that most dreaded and
envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the character and conduct of their
rulers. Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents, and trustees of the
people and if the cause, the interest and trust, is insidiously betrayed or
wantonly trifled away, the people have a right to revoke the authority that
they themselves have deputed, and to constitute other and better agents,
attorneys, and trustees."
The citizens of this town conferred on Mr. Adams his first political
distinction, and clothed him with his first political trust, by electing him
one of their representatives in 1770. Before this time he had become
extensively known throughout the province, as well by the part he had acted
in relation to public affairs, as by the exercise of his professional
ability. He was among those who took the deepest interest in the
controversy with England and whether in or out of the legislature, his time
and talents were alike devoted to the cause. In the years 1773 and 1774 he
was chosen a councilor by the members of the general court, but rejected by
Governor Hutchinson in the former of those years, and by Governor Gage in
The time was now at hand, however, when the affairs of the colonies urgently
demanded united counsels. An open rupture with the parent state appeared
inevitable, and it was but the dictate of prudence that those who were
united by a common interest and a common danger, should protect that
interest and guard against that danger, by united efforts. A general
congress of delegates from all the colonies having been proposed and agreed
to, the house of representatives, on the 17th of June, 1774, elected James
Bowdoin, Thomas Cushing, Samuel Adams, John Adams, and Robert Treat Paine,
delegates from Massachusetts. This appointment was made at Salem, where the
general court had been convened by Governor Gage, in the last hour of the
existence of a house of representatives under the provincial charter. While
engaged in this important business, the governor, having been informed of
what was passing, sent his secretary with a message dissolving the general
court. The secretary, finding the door locked, directed the messenger to go
in and inform the speaker that the secretary was at the door with a message
from the governor. The messenger returned, and informed the secretary that
the orders of the house were that the doors should be kept fast; whereupon
the secretary soon after read a proclamation, dissolving the general court,
upon, the stairs. Thus terminated forever, the actual exercise of the
political power of England in or over Massachusetts. The four last named
delegates accepted their appointments, and took their seats in congress the
first day of its meeting, September 5th, 1774, in Philadelphia.
The proceedings of the first congress are well known, and have been
universally admired. It is in vain that we would look for superior proofs
of wisdom, talent, and patriotism. Lord Chatham said that, for himself, he
must declare that he had studied and admired the free states of antiquity,
the master states of the world, but that, for solidity of reasoning, force
of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, no body of men could stand in
preference to this congress. It is hardly inferior praise to say that no
production of that great man himself can be pronounced superior to several
of the papers, published as the proceedings of this most able, most firm,
most patriotic assembly. There is, indeed, nothing superior to them in the
range of political disquisition. They not only embrace, illustrate and
enforce everything which political philosophy, the love of liberty, and the
spirit of free inquiry had antecedently produced, but they add new and
striking views of their own, and apply the whole, with irresistible force,
in support of the cause which had drawn them together.
Mr. Adams was a constant attendant on the deliberations of this body, and
bore an active part in its important measures. He was of the committee to
state the rights of the colonies, and of that, also, which reported the
Address to the King.
As it was in the continental congress, fellow-citizens, that those whose
deaths have given rise to this occasion were first brought together, and
called on to unite their industry and their ability in the service of the
country, let us now turn to the other of these distinguished men, and take a
brief notice of his life up to the period when he appeared within the walls
Thomas Jefferson descended from ancestors who had been settled in Virginia
for some generations, was born near the spot on which he died, in the county
of Albemarle, on the 2d of April, (old style,) 1743. His youthful studies
were pursued in the neighborhood of his father's residence, until he was
removed to the college of William and Mary, the highest honors of which he
in due time received. Having left the college with reputation, he applied
himself to the study of the law under the tuition of George Wythe, one of
the highest judicial names of which that state can boast. At an early age,
he was elected a member of the legislature, in which he had no sooner
appeared than he distinguished himself by knowledge, capacity, and
Mr. Jefferson appears to have been imbued with an early love of letters and
science, and to have cherished a strong disposition to pursue these objects.
To the physical sciences, especially, and to ancient classic literature, he
is understood to have had a warm attachment, and never entirely to have lost
sight of them in the midst of the busiest occupations. But the times were
times for action, rather than for contemplation. The country was to be
defended, and to be saved, before it could be enjoyed. Philosophic leisure
and literary pursuits, and even the objects of professional attention, where
[sic] all necessarily postponed to the urgent calls of the public service.
The exigency of the country made the same demand on Mr. Jefferson that it
made on others who had the ability and the disposition to serve it; and he
obeyed the call; thinking and feeling in this respect with the great Roman
orator: "Quis enim est tam cupidus in perspicienda cognoscendaque rerum
nature, ut, si, ei tractanti contemplantique, res cognitione dignissmas
subito sit allatum periculum discrimenque patriae, cui subvenire
opitularique possit, non illa omnia relinquat atque abJiciat, etiam si
dinumerare se stellas, aut metiri mundi magnitudinem posse arbitretur?"
Entering with all his heart into the cause of liberty, his ability,
patriotism, and power with the pen, naturally drew upon him a large
participation in the most important concerns. Wherever he was, there was
found a soul devoted to the cause, power to defend and maintain it, and
willingness to incur all its hazards. In 1774 he published a Summary View
of the Rights of British America, a valuable production among those intended
to show the dangers which threatened the liberties of the country, and to
encourage the people in their defense. In June, 1775, he was elected a
member of the continental Congress, as successor to Peyton Randolph, who had
retired on account of ill health, and took his seat in that body on the 21st
of the same month.
And now, fellow-citizens, without pursuing the biography of these
illustrious men further, for the present, let us turn our attention to the
most prominent act of their lives, their participation in the DECLARATION OF
Preparatory to the introduction of that important measure, a committee, at
the head of which was Mr. Adams, had reported a resolution, which congress
adopted the 10th of May, recommending, in substance, to all the colonies
which had not already established governments suited to the exigencies of
their affairs, to adopt such government as would, in the opinion of the
representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of
their constituents in particular, and America in general.
This significant vote was soon followed by the direct proposition which
Richard Henry Lee had the honor to submit to Congress, by resolution, on the
7th day of June. The published journal does not expressly state it, but
there is no doubt, I suppose, that this resolution was in the same words
when originally submitted by Mr. Lee, as when finally passed. Having been
discussed on Saturday, the 8th, and Monday, the 10th of June, this
resolution was on the last mentioned day postponed for further consideration
to the first day of July; and at the same time, it was voted that a
committee be appointed to prepare a Declaration to the effect of the
resolution. This committee was elected by ballot, on the following day, and
consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman,
and Robert R. Livingston.
It is usual when committees are elected by ballot, that their members are
arranged in order, according to the number of votes which each has received.
Mr. Jefferson, therefore, had received the highest, and Mr. Adams the next
highest number of votes. The difference is said to have been but of a
single vote. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams, standing thus at the head of the
committee, were requested by the other members to act as a sub-committee to
prepare the draft; and Mr. Jefferson drew up the paper. The original draft,
as brought by him from his study, and submitted to the other members of the
committee, with interlineations in the handwriting of Dr. Franklin, and
others in that of Mr. Adams, was in Mr. Jefferson's possession at the time
of his death. The merit of this paper is Mr. Jefferson's. Some changes
were made in it on the suggestion of other members of the committee, and
others by congress while it was under discussion. But none of them altered
the tone. the frame, the arrangement, or the general character of the
instrument, As a composition, the Declaration is Mr. Jefferson's. It is
the production of his mind, and the high honor of it belongs to him, clearly
It has sometimes been said, as if it were a derogation from the merits of
this paper; that it contains nothing new; that it only states grounds of
proceeding, and presses topics of argument, which had often been stated and
pressed before. But it was not the object of the Declaration to produce
anything new. It was not to invent reasons for independence, but to state
those which governed the congress. For great and sufficient causes it was
proposed to declare independence; and the proper business of the paper to be
drawn was to set forth those causes, and justify the authors of the measure,
in any event of fortune, to the country, and to posterity. The cause of
American independence, moreover, was now to be presented to the world in
such manner, if it might so be, as to engage its sympathy, to command its
respect, to attract its admiration. and in an assembly of most able and
distinguished men, Thomas Jefferson had the high honor of being the selected
advocate of this cause. To say that he performed his great work well, would
be doing him injustice. To say that he did it excellently well, admirably
well, would be inadequate and halting praise. Let us rather say that he so
discharged the duty assigned him, that all Americans may well rejoice that
the work of drawing the title-deed of their liberties devolved on his hands.
With all its merits, there are those who have thought that there was one
thing in the declaration to be regretted; and that is, the asperity and
anger with which it speaks of the person of the king; the industrious
ability with which it accumulates and charges upon him all the injuries
which the colonies had suffered from the mother country. Possibly some
degree of injustice, now or hereafter, at home or abroad, may be done to the
character of Mr. Jefferson, if this part of the declaration be not placed in
its proper light. Anger or resentment, certainly much less personal
reproach and invective, could not properly find place in a composition of
such high dignity, and of such lofty and permanent character.
A single reflection on the original ground of dispute between England and
the colonies, is sufficient to remove any unfavorable impression in this
The inhabitants of all the colonies, while colonies, admitted themselves
bound by their allegiance to the king; but they disclaimed altogether, the
authority of parliament; holding themselves, in this respect, to resemble
the condition of Scotland and Ireland before the respective unions of those
kingdoms with England, when they acknowledged allegiance to the same king,
but each had its separate legislature. The tie, therefore, which our
revolution was to break, did not subsist between us and the British
parliament, or between us and the British government, in the aggregate, but
directly between us and the king himself. The colonists had never admitted
themselves subject to parliament. That was precisely the point of the
original controversy. They had uniformly denied that parliament had
authority to make laws for them. There was, therefore, no subjection to
parliaments to be thrown off.** But allegiance to the king did exist, and
had been uniformly acknowledged; and down to 1775, the most solemn
assurances had been given that it was not intended to break that allegiance,
or to throw it off. Therefore, as the direct object and only effect of the
declaration, according to the principles on which the controversy had been
maintained on our part, were to sever the tie of allegiance which bound us
to the king, it was properly and necessarily founded on acts of the crown
itself, as its justifying causes. Parliament is not so much as mentioned in
the whole instrument. When odious and oppressive acts are referred to, it
is done by charging the king with confederating with others, "in pretended
acts of legislation," the object being constantly to hold the king himself
directly responsible for those measures which were the grounds of
separation. Even the precedent of the English revolution was not
overlooked, and in this case as well as in that, occasion was found to say
that the king had abdicated the government. Consistency with the principles
upon which resistance began, and with all the previous state papers issued
by congress, required that the declaration should be bottomed on the
misgovernment of the king; and therefore it was properly framed with that
aim and to that end. The king was known, indeed, to have acted, as in other
cases, by his ministers, and with his parliament; but as our ancestors had
never admitted themselves subject either to ministers or to parliament,
there were no reasons to be given for now refusing obedience to their
authority. This clear and obvious necessity of founding the declaration on
the misconduct of the king himself gives to that instrument its personal
application, and its character of direct and pointed accusation.
The declaration having been reported to congress by the committee, the
resolution itself was taken up and debated on the first day of July, and
again on the second on which last day, it was agreed to and adopted, in
"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 Britian is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."
Having thus passed the main resolution, congress proceeded to consider the
reported draft of the declaration. It was discussed on the second, and
third, and fourth days of the month, in committee of the whole, and on the
last of those days, being reported from that committee, it received the
final approbation and sanction of congress. It was ordered, at the same
time, that copies be sent to the several states, and that it be proclaimed
at the head of the army. The declaration thus published did not bear the
names of the members, for as yet, it had not been signed by them. It was
authenticated like other papers of the congress, by the signatures of the
President and secretary. On the 19th of July, as appears by the secret
journal, congress "Resolved, That the declaration, passed on the fourth, be
fairly engrossed on parchment, with the title and style of 'THE UNANIMOUS
DECLARATION OF THE THIRTEEN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA;' and that the same,
when engrossed, be signed by every member of congress." And on the SECOND
day of August following, "the declaration being engrossed, and compared at
the table, was signed by the members." So that it happens, fellow-citizens,
that we pay these honors to their memory on the anniversary of that day, on
which these great men actually signed their names to the declaration. The
declaration was thus made, that is, it passed and was adopted as an act of
congress, on the fourth of July; it was then signed, and certified by the
President and secretary, like other acts. The FOURTH OF JULY, therefore, is
the anniversary of the declaration. But the signatures of the members
present were made to it, being then engrossed on parchment, on the second
day of August. Absent members afterward signed, as they came in; and indeed
it bears the signatures of some who were not chosen members of congress
until after the fourth of July. The interest belonging to the subject will
be sufficient, I hope, to justify these details.
The congress of the revolution, fellow-citizens, sat with closed doors, and
no report of its debates was ever taken. The discussion, therefore, which
accompanied this great measure, has never been preserved, except in memory
and by tradition. But it is, I believe, doing no injustice to others to say
that the general opinion was, and uniformly has been, that in debate, on the
side of independence, John Adams had no equal. The great author of the
declaration himself has expressed that opinion uniformly and strongly.
"John Adams," said he, in the hearing of him who has now the honor to
address you, "John Adams was our colossus on the floor. Not graceful, not
elegant, not always fluent, in his public addresses, he yet came out with a
power, both of thought and of expression, which moved us from our seats."
For the part which he was here to perform, Mr. Adams doubtless was eminently
fitted. He possessed a bold spirit, which disregarded danger, and a sanguine
reliance on the goodness of the cause, and the virtues of the people, which
led him to overlook all obstacles. His character, too, had been formed in
troubled times. He had been rocked in the early storms of the controversy,
and had acquired a decision and a hardihood proportioned to the severity of
the discipline which he had undergone.
He not only loved the American cause devoutly, but had studied and
understood it. It was all familiar to him. He had tried his powers on the
questions which it involved, often and in various ways; and had brought to
their consideration whatever of argument or illustration the history of his
own country, the history of England, or the stores of ancient or of legal
learning could furnish. Every grievance enumerated in the long catalogue of
the declaration had been the subject of his discussion, and the object of
his remonstrance and reprobation. From 1760, the colonies, the rights of
the colonies, the liberties of the colonies, and the wrongs inflicted on the
colonies, had engaged his constant attention; and it has surprised those who
have had the opportunity of observing, with what full remembrance and with
what prompt recollection he could refer, in his extreme old age, to every
act of parliament affecting the colonies, distinguishing and stating their
respective titles, sections, and provisions; and to all the colonial
memorials, remonstrances and petitions with whatever else belonged to the
intimate and exact history of the times from that year to 1775. It was, in
his own judgment, between these years that the American people came to a
full understanding and thorough knowledge of their rights, and to a fixed
resolution of maintaining them; and bearing, himself, an active part in all
important transactions, the controversy with England being then in effect
the business of his life, facts, dates and particulars, made an impression
which was never effaced. He was prepared, therefore, by education and
discipline, as well as by natural talent and natural temperament, for the
part which he was now to act.
The eloquence of Mr. Adams resembled his general character, and formed,
indeed, a part of it. It was bold, manly, and energetic, and such the
crisis required. When public bodies are to be addressed on momentous
occasions, when great interests are at stake, and strong passions excited,
nothing is valuable in speech farther than it is connected with high
intellectual and moral endowments. Clearness, force, and earnestness, are
the qualities which produce conviction. True eloquence, indeed, does not
consist in speech. It cannot be brought from far. Labor and learning may
toil for it, but they will toil in vain. Words and phrases may be marshaled
in every way, but they cannot compass it. It must exist in the man, in the
subject, and in the occasion. Affected passion, intense expression, the
pomp of declamation, all may aspire after it; they cannot reach it. It
comes, if it come at all, like the outbreaking of a fountain from the earth,
or the bursting forth of volcanic fires, with spontaneous, original, native
force. The graces taught in the schools, the costly ornaments and studied
contrivances of speech, shock and disgust men, when their own lives, and the
fate of their wives, their children, and their country, hang on the decision
of the hour. Then words have lost their power, rhetoric is vain, and all
elaborate oratory contemptible. Even genius itself then feels rebuked and
subdued, as in the presence of higher qualities. Then patriotism is
eloquent; then self-devotion is eloquent. The clear conception, outrunning
the deductions of logic, the high purpose, the firm resolve, the dauntless
spirit, speaking on the tongue, beaming from the eye, informing every
feature, and urging the whole man onward, right onward to his object�this,
this is eloquence; or rather it is something greater and higher than all
eloquence, it is action, noble, sublime, godlike action.
In July, 1776, the controversy had passed the stage of argument. An appeal
had been made to force, and opposing armies were in the field. Congress,
then, was to decide whether the tie which had so long bound us to the parent
state was to be severed at once, and severed forever. All the colonies had
signified their resolution to abide by this decision, and the people looked
for it with the most intense anxiety. And surely, fellow-citizens, never,
never were men called to a more important political deliberation. If we
contemplate it from the point where they then stood, no question could be
more full of interest; if we look at it now, and judge of its importance by
its effects, it appears in still greater magnitude.
Let us, then, bring before us the assembly, which was about to decide a
question thus big with the fate of empire. Let us open their doors and look
in upon their deliberations. Let us survey the anxious and care-worn
countenances, let us hear the firm-toned voices of this band of patriots.
HANCOCK presides over the solemn sitting; and one of those not yet prepared
to pronounce for absolute independence is on the floor, and is urging his
reasons for dissenting from the declaration.
"Let us pause! This step once taken, cannot be retraced. This resolution,
once passed, will cut off all hope of reconciliation. If success attend the
arms of England, we shall then be no longer colonies, with charters and with
privileges; these will all be forfeited by this act; and we shall be in the
condition of other conquered people, at the mercy of the conquerors. For
ourselves, we may be ready to run the hazard; but are we ready to carry the
country to that length? Is success so probable as to justify it? Where is
the military, where the naval power, by which we are to resist the whole
strength of the arm of England, for she will exert that strength to the
utmost? Can we rely on the constancy and perseverance of the people? or
will they not act as the people of other countries have acted, and, wearied
with a long war, submit, in the end, to a worse oppression? While we stand
on our old ground, and insist on redress of grievances, we know we are
right, and are not answerable for consequences. Nothing, then can be
imputed to us. But if we now change our object, carry our pretensions
farther, and set up for absolute independence, we shall lose the sympathy of
mankind. We shall no longer be defending what we possess, but struggling
for something which we never did possess, and which we have solemnly and
uniformly disclaimed all intention of pursuing, from the very outset of the
troubles. Abandoning thus our old ground, of resistance only to arbitrary
acts of oppression, the nations will believe the whole to have been mere
pretense, and they will look on us, not as injured, but as ambitious
subjects. I shudder before this responsibility. It will be on us, if,
relinquishing the ground we have stood on so long, and stood on so safely we
now proclaim independence, and carry on the war for that object, while
these cities burn, these pleasant fields whiten and bleach with the bones of
their owners, and these streams run blood. It will be upon us, it will be
upon us, if, failing to maintain this unseasonable and ill-judged
declaration, a sterner despotism, maintained by military power, shall be
established over our posterity, when we ourselves, given up by an exhausted,
a harassed, a misled people, shall have expiated our rashness and atoned for
our presumption on the scaffold."
It was for Mr. Adams to reply to arguments like these. We know his
opinions, and we know his character. He would commence with his accustomed
directness and earnestness.
"'Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my hand and my heart
to this vote. It is true, indeed, that in the beginning we aimed not at
independence. But there's a divinity which shapes our ends. The injustice
of England has driven us to arms; and, blinded to her own interest for our
good, she has obstinately persisted, till independence is now within our
grasp. We have but to reach forth to it, and it is ours. Why, then, should
we defer the declaration? Is any man so weak as now to hope for
reconciliation with England, which shall leave either safety to the country
and its liberties, or safety to his own life and his own honor? Are not
you, sir, who sit in that chair, is not he, our venerable colleague near
you, are you not both already the proscribed and predestined objects of
punishment and of vengeance? Cut off from all hope of royal clemency, what
are you, what can you be, while the power of England remains, but outlaws?
If we postpone independence, do we mean to carry on, or to give up the war?
Do we mean to submit to the measures of parliament, Boston Port Bill and
all? Do we mean to submit, and consent that we ourselves shall be ground to
powder, and our country and its rights trodden down in the dust? I know we
do not mean to submit. We never shall submit. Do we intend to violate that
most solemn obligation ever entered into by men, that plighting, before God,
of our sacred honor to Washington, when, putting him forth to incur the
dangers of war, as well as the political hazards of the times, we promised
to adhere to him, in every extremity, with our fortunes and our lives? I
know there is not a man here, who would not rather see a general
conflagration sweep over the land, or an earthquake sink it, than one jot or
title of that plighted faith fall to the ground. For myself, having, twelve
months ago, in this place, moved you, that George Washington be appointed
commander of the forces raised, or to be raised, for defense of American
liberty, may my right hand forget her cunning, and my tongue cleave to the
roof of my mouth, if I hesitate or waver in the support I give him.
"The war, then, must go on. We must fight it through. And if the war must
go on, why put off longer the declaration of independence? That measure
will strengthen us It will give us character abroad. The nations will then
treat with us, which they never can do while we acknowledge ourselves
subjects, in arms against our sovereign. Nay, I maintain that England
herself will sooner treat for peace with us on the footing of independence,
than consent, by repealing her acts, to acknowledge that her whole conduct
toward us has been a course of injustice and oppression. Her pride will be
less wounded by submitting to that course of things which now predestinates
our independence, than by yielding the points in controversy to her
rebellious subjects. The former she would regard as the result of fortune,
the latter she would feel as her own deep disgrace. Why, then, why, then,
sir, do we not as soon as possible change this from a civil to a national
war? And since we must fight it through, why not put ourselves in a state
to enjoy all the benefits of victory, if we gain the victory?
"If we fail, it can be no worse for us. But we shall not fail. The cause
will raise up armies; the cause will create navies. The people, the people,
if we are true to them, will carry us, and will carry themselves,
gloriously, through this struggle. I care not how fickle other people have
been found. I know the people of these colonies, and I know that resistance
to British aggression is deep and settled in their hearts, and cannot be
eradicated. Every colony, indeed, has expressed its willingness to follow,
if we but take the lead. Sir, the declaration will inspire the people with
increased courage. Instead of a long and bloody war for the restoration of
privileges, for redress of grievances, for chartered immunities, held under
a British king, set before them the glorious object of entire independence,
and it will breathe into them anew the breath of life. Read this
declaration at the head of the army; every sword will be drawn from its
scabbard, and the solemn vow uttered, to maintain it, or to perish on the
bed of honor. Publish it from the pulpit; religion will approve it, and the
love of religious liberty will cling round it, resolved to stand with it, or
fall with it. Send it to the public halls; proclaim it there; let them hear
it who heard the first roar of the enemy's cannon, let them see it who saw
their brothers and their sons fall on the field of Bunker Hill, and in the
streets of Lexington and Concord, and the very walls will cry out in its
"Sir, I know the uncertainty of human affairs, but I see, I see clearly,
through this day's business. You and I, indeed, may rue it. We may not
live to the time when this declaration shall be made good. We may die; die
colonists; die slaves; die, it may be, ignominiously and on the scaffold.
Be it so. Be it so. If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall
require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready, at the
appointed hour of sacrifice, come when that hour may. But while I do live,
let me have a country, or at least the hope of a country, and that a free
"But whatever may be our fate, be assured, be assured that this declaration
will stand. It may cost treasure, and it may cost blood; but it will stand,
and it will richly compensate for both. Through the thick gloom of the
present I see the brightness of the future as the sun in heaven. We shall
make this a glorious, an immortal day. When we are in our graves, our
children will honor it. They will celebrate it with thanksgiving, with
festivity, with bonfires, and illuminations. On its annual return they
will shed tears, copious, gushing tears, not of subjection and slavery, not
of agony and distress, but of exultation, of gratitude, and of joy. Sir,
before God, I believe the hour is come. My judgment approves this measure,
and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all
that I hope, in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it; and I leave
off as I begun, that live or die, survive or perish, I am for the
declaration. It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall
be my dying sentiment, independence, now, and INDEPENDENCE FOREVER."
And so that day shall be honored, illustrious prophet and patriot! so that
day shall be honored, and as often as it returns, thy renown shall come
along with it, and the glory of thy life, like the day of thy death, shall
not fail from the remembrance of men.
It would be unjust, fellow-citizens, on this occasion while we express our
veneration for him who is the immediate subject of these remarks, were we to
omit a most respectful, affectionate, and grateful mention of those other
great men, his collegues, who stood with him, and with the same spirit, the
same devotion, took part in the interesting transaction. Hancock, the
proscribed Hancock, exiled from his home by a military governor, cut off by
proclamation from the mercy of the crown�Heaven reserved for him the
distinguished honor of putting this great question to the vote, and of
writing his own name first, and most conspicuously, on that parchment which
spoke defiance to the power of the crown of England. There, too, is the
name of that other proscribed patriot, Samuel Adams, a man who hungered and
thirsted for the independence of his country, who thought the declaration
halted and lingered, being himself not only ready, but eager, for it, long
before it was proposed: a man of the deepest sagacity, the clearest
foresight, and the profoundest judgment in men. And there is Gerry, himself
among the earliest and the foremost of the patriots, found, when the battle
of Lexington summoned them to common counsels, by the side of Warren, a man
who lived to serve his country at home and abroad, and to die in the second
place in the government. There, too, is the inflexible, the upright, the
Spartan character, Robert Treat Paine. He also lived to serve his country
through the struggle, and then withdrew from her councils, only that he
might give his labors and his life to his native state, in another relation.
These names, fellow-citizens, are the treasures of the commonwealth: and
they are treasures which grow brighter by time.
It is now necessary to resume and to finish with great brevity the notice of
the lives of those whose virtues and services we have met to commemorate.
Mr. Adams remained in congress from its first meeting till November, 1777,
when he was appointed minister to France. He proceeded on that service in
the February following, embarking in the Boston frigate on the shore of his
native town at the foot of Mount Wollaston. The year following, he was
appointed commissioner to treat of peace with England. Returning to the
United States, he was a delegate from Braintree in the convention for
framing the constitution of this commonwealth, in 1780. At the latter end
of the same year, he again went abroad in the diplomatic service of the
country, and was employed at various courts, and occupied with various
negotiations, until 1788. The particulars of these interesting and
important services this occasion does not allow time to relate. In 1782 he
concluded our first treaty with Holland. His negotiations with that
republic, his efforts to persuade the states-general to recognize our
independence, his incessant and indefatigable exertions to represent the
American cause favorably on the continent, and to counteract the designs of
its enemies, open and secret, and his successful undertaking to obtain
loans, on the credit of a nation yet new and unknown, are among his most
arduous. most useful, most honorable services. It was his fortune to bear a
part in the negotiation for peace with England, and in something more than
six years from the declaration which he had so strenuously supported, he had
the satisfaction to see the minister plenipotentiary of the crown subscribe
to the instrument which declared that his "Britannic majesty acknowledged
the United States to be free, sovereign, and independent." In these
important transactions, Mr. Adams' conduct received the marked approbation
of congress and of the countrty.
While abroad, in 1787, he published his Defense of the American
Constitution; a work of merit and ability, though composed with haste, on
the spur of a particular occasion, in the midst of other occupations, and
under circumstances not admitting of careful revision. The immediate object
of the work was to counteract the weight of opinion advanced by several
popular European writers of that day, Mr. Turgct, the Abbe de Mably and Dr.
Price, at a time when the people of the United States were employed in
forming and revising their system of government.
Returning to the United States in 1788, he found the new government about
going into operation, and was himself elected the first vice-president, a
situation which he filled with reputation for eight years, at the expiration
of which he was raised to the presidential chair, as immediate successor to
the immortal Washington. In this high station he was succeeded by Mr.
Jefferson, after a memorable controversy between their respective friends,
in 1801; and from that period his manner of life has been known to all who
hear me. He has lived for five-and-twenty years, with every enjoyment that
could render old age happy. Not inattentive to the occurrences of the
times, political cares have not yet materially, or for any long time,
disturbed his repose. In 1820 he acted as elector of president and vice-
president, and in the same year we saw him, then at the age of eighty-five,
a member of the convention of this commonwealth called to revise the
constitution. Forty years before, he had been one of those who formed that
constitution; and he had now the pleasure of witnessing that there was
little which the people desired to change. Possessing all his faculties to
the end of his long life, with an unabated love of reading and
contemplation, in the center of interesting circles of friendship and
affection, he was blessed in his retirement with whatever of repose and
felicity the condition of man allows. He had, also, other enjoyments. He
saw around him that prosperity and general happiness which had been the
object of his public cares and labors. No man ever beheld more clearly, and
for a longer time, the great and beneficial effects of the services rendered
by himself to his country. That liberty which he so early defended, that
independence of which he was so able an advocate and supporter, he saw, we
trust, firmly and securely established. The population of the country
thickened around him faster, and extended wider, than his own sanguine
predictions had anticipated; and the wealth respectability, and power of the
nation sprang up to a magnitude which it is quite impossible he could have
expected to witness in his day. He lived also to behold those principles of
civil freedom which had been developed, established, and practically applied
in America, attract attention, command respect, and awaken imitation, in
other regions of the globe; and well might, and well did, he exclaim, "Where
will the consequences of the American revolution end?"
If anything yet remains to fill this cup of happiness let it be added that
he lived to see a great and intelligent people bestow the highest honor in
their gift where he had bestowed his own kindest parental affections and
lodged his fondest hopes. Thus honored in life, thus happy at death, he saw
the JUBILEE, and he died; and with the last prayers which trembled on his
lips was the fervent supplication for his country, "Independence forever!"
Mr. Jefferson, having been occupied in the years 1778 and 1779 in the
important service of revising the laws of Virginia, was elected governor of
that state, as successor to Patrick Henry, and held the situation when the
state was invaded by the British arms. In 1781 he published his Notes on
Virginia, a work which attracted attention in Europe as well as America,
dispelled many misconceptions respecting this continent, and gave its author
a place among men distinguished for science. In November, 1783, he again
took his seat in the continental congress, but in the May following was
appointed minister plenipotentiary, to act abroad, in the negotiation of
commercial treaties, with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams. He proceeded to
France in execution of this mission, embarking at Boston; and that was the
only occasion on which he ever visited this place. In I785 he was appointed
minister to France, the duties of which situation he continued to perform
until October, 1789, when he obtained leave to retire, just on the eve of
that tremendous revolution which has so much agitated the world in our
times. Mr. Jefferson's discharge of his diplomatic duties was marked by
great ability, diligence, and patriotism; and while he resided at Paris, in
one of the most interesting periods, his character for intelligence, his
love of knowledge and of the society of learned men, distinguished him in
the highest circles of the French capital. No court in Europe had at that
time in Paris a representative commanding or enjoying higher regard for
political knowledge or for general attainments, than the minister of this
then infant republic. Immediately on his return to his native country, at
the organization of the government under the present constitution, his
talents and experience recommended him to President Washington for the first
office in his gift. He was placed at the head of the department of state.
In this situation, also, he manifested conspicuous ability. His
correspondence with the ministers of other powers residing here, and his
instructions to our own diplomatic agents abroad, are among our ablest state
papers. A thorough knowledge of the laws and usages of nations, perfect
acquaintance with the immediate subject before him, great felicity, and
still greater faculty, in writing, show themselves in whatever effort his
official situation called on him to make. It is believed by competent
judges, that the diplomatic intercourse of the government of the United
States, from the first meeting of the continental congress in 1774 to the
present time taken together, would not suffer, in respect to the talent with
which it has been conducted, by comparison with anything which other and
older states can produce; and to the attainment of this respectability and
distinction Mr. Jefferson has contributed his full part.
On the retirement of General Washington from the presidency, and the
election of Mr. Adams to that office in 1797, he was chosen vice-president.
While presiding in this capacity over the deliberations of the senate, he
compiled and published a Manual of Parliamentary Practice, a work of more
labor and more merit than is indicated by its size. It is now received as
the general standard by which proceedings are regulated; not only in both
houses of congress, but in most of the other legislative bodies in the
country. In 1801 he was elected president, in opposition to Mr. Adams, and
re-elected in 1805, by a vote approaching toward unanimity.
From the time of his final retirement from public life, in 1809, Mr.
Jefferson lived as became a wise man. Surrounded by affectionate friends,
his ardor in the pursuit of knowledge undiminished, with uncommon health and
unbroken spirits, he was able to enjoy largely the rational pleasures of
life, and to partake in that public prosperity which he had so much
contributed to produce. His kindness and hospitality, the charm of his
conversation, the ease of his manners, the extent of his acquirements, and,
especially, the full store of revolutionary incidents which he possessed,
and which he knew when and how to dispense, rendered his abode in a high
degree attractive to his admiring countrymen, while his high public and
scientific character drew toward him every intelligent and educated traveler
from abroad. Both Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson had the pleasure of knowing
that the respect which they so largely received was not paid to their
official stations. They were not men made great by office; but great men,
on whom the country for its own benefit had conferred office. There was
that in them which office did not give, and which the relinquishment of
office did not, and could not, take away. In their retirement, in the midst
of their fellow-citizens, themselves private citizens, they enjoyed as high
regard and esteem as when filling the most important places of public trust.
There remained to Mr. Jefferson yet one other work of patriotism and
beneficence, the establishment of a university in his native state. To this
object he devoted years of incessant and anxious attention, and by the
enlightened liberality of the legislature of Virginia, and the cooperation
of other able and zealous friends, he lived to see it accomplished. May all
success attend this infant seminary; and may those who enjoy its advantages,
as often as their eyes shall rest on the neighboring height, recollect what
they owe to their disinterested and indefatigable benefactor; and may
letters honor him who thus labored in the cause of letters!
Thus useful, and thus respected, passed the old age of Thomas Jefferson.
But time was on its ever-ceaseless wing, and was now bringing the last hour
of this illustrious man. He saw its approach with undisturbed serenity. He
counted the moments as they passed, and beheld that his last sands were
falling. That day, too, was at hand which he had helped to make immortal.
One wish, one hope, if it were not presumptuous, beat in his fainting
breast. Could it be so might it please God, he would desire once more to
see the sun, once more to look abroad on the scene around him on the great
day of liberty. Heaven, in its mercy, fulfilled that prayer. He saw that
sun, he enjoyed its sacred light he thanked God for this mercy, and bowed
his aged head to the grave. "Felix, non vitae tantum claritate, sid etiam
The last public labor of Mr. Jefferson naturally suggests the expression of
the high praise which is due, both to him and to Mr. Adams, for their
uniform and zealous attachment to learning, and to the cause of general
knowledge. Of the advantages of learning, indeed, and of literary
accomplishments, their own characters were striking recommendations and
illustrations. They were scholars, ripe and good scholars; widely
acquainted with ancient, as well as modern literature, and not altogether
uninstructed in the deeper sciences. Their acquirements, doubtless, were
different, and so were the particular objects of their literary pursuits; as
their tastes and characters, in these respects differed like those of other
men. Being, also, men of busy lives, with great objects requiring action
constantly before them, their attainments in letters did not become showy or
obtrusive. Yet I would hazard the opinion, that, if we could now ascertain
all the causes which gave them eminence, and distinction in the midst of the
great men with whom they acted, we should find not among the least their
early acquisitions in literature, the resources which it furnished, the
promptitude and facility which it communicated, and the wide field it opened
for analogy and illustration; giving them thus, on every subject, a larger
view and a broader range, as well for discussion as for the government of
their own conduct.
Literature sometimes, and pretensions to it much oftener disgusts, by
appearing to hang loosely on the character, like something foreign or
extraneous, not a part, but an ill-adjusted appendage; or by seeming to
overload and weigh it down bv its unsightly bulk, like the productions of
bad taste in architecture, where there is messy and cumbrous ornament
without strength or solidity of column. This has exposed learning, and
especially classical learning, to reproach. Men have seen that it might
exist without mental superiority, without vigor, without good taste, and
without utility. But in such cases classical learning has only not inspired
natural talent, or, at most, it has but made original feebleness of
intellect, and natural bluntness of perception, something more conspicuous.
The question, after all, if it be a question, is, whether literature,
ancient as well as modern, does not assist a good understanding, improve
natural good taste, add polished armor to native strength, and render its
possessor, not only more capable of deriving private happiness from
contemplation and reflection, but more accomplished also for action in the
affairs of life, and especially for public action. Those whose memories we
now honor were learned men; but their learning was kept in its proper place,
and made subservient to the uses and objects of life. Thev were scholars,
not common nor superficial; but their scholarship was so in keeping with
their character, so blended and inwrought, that careless observers, or bad
judges, not seeing an ostentatious display of it, might infer that it did
not exist; forgetting, or not knowing, that classical learning in men who
act in conspicuous public stations, perform duties which exercise the
faculty of writing, or address popular deliberative, or judicial bodies, is
often felt where it is little seen, and sometimes felt more effectually
because it is not seen at all.
But the cause of knowledge, in a more enlarged sense, the cause of general
knowledge and of a popular education, had no warmer friends, nor more
powerful advocates, than Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson. On this foundation
they knew the whole republican system rested; and this great and all-
important truth they strove to impress, by all the means in their power. In
the early publication already referred to Mr. Adams expresses the strong and
just sentiment, that the education of the poor is more important, even to
the rich themselves, than all their own. On this great truth indeed, is
founded that unrivaled, that invaluable political and moral institution, our
own blessing and the glory of our fathers, the New England system of free
As the promotion of knowledge had been the object of their regard through
life, so these great men made it the subject of their testamentary bounty.
Mr. Jefferson is understood to have bequeathed his library to the university
of his native state, and that of Mr. Adams is bestowed on the inhabitants of
Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson, fellow-citizens, were successively presidents
of the United States. The comparative merits of their respective
administrations for a long time agitated and divided public opinion. They
were rivals, each supported by numerous and powerful portions of the
people, for the highest office. This contest, partly the cause and partly
the consequence of the long existence of two great political parties in the
country, is now part of the history of our government. We may naturally
regret that anything should have occurred to create difference and discord
between those who had acted harmoniously and efficiently in the great
concerns of the revolution. But this is not the time, nor this the
occasion, for entering into the grounds of that difference, or for
attempting to discuss the merits of the questions which it involves. As
practical questions, they were canvassed when the measures which they
regarded were acted on and adopted; and as belonging to history, the time
has not come for their consideration.
It is, perhaps, not wonderful, that, when the constitution of the United
States went first into operation, different opinions should be entertained
as to the extent of the powers conferred by it. Here was a natural source
of diversity of sentiment. It is still less wonderful, that that event,