« PrejšnjaNaprej »
tions. This difficulty was unexpectedly removed by his election to Congress, as the successor of his father, by an unanimous vote of the assembly of his state. He received the information with deep emotions of diffidence and gratitude. He promptly repaired to his new and dignified station, and took his seat in the Congress of 1776, composed of sages and statesmen whose combined talents and wisdom have no parallel in ancient or modern history. On his arrival at Philadelphia he found his father partially relieved from his paralytic affection, and in August he attempted to return to South Carolina, but only reached Annapolis, where he expired in the arms of his son who was soon to follow him.
On his entrance in the national legislature, Captain Lynch became a bold and eloquent advocate of the Declaration of Independence, and gained the reputation of being an able statesman and a firm patriot. He most cheerfully and fearlessly affixed his name to the charter of our rights, and did all in his power, and more than his feeble state of health warranted, to promote the glorious cause of FREEDOM. He was finally compelled to yield to increasing disease, and relinquish his public duties. Medical skill proved unavailing, and by the advice of his physicians he undertook a voyage to Europe, a change of climate being the only thing that promised him relief. Near the close of the year 1779, himself and lady sailed with Captain Morgan, whose vessel was never heard from after she had been a few days at sea. The last account of the unfortunate ship was from a Frenchman, who left her from some cause unknown and went on board of another, shortly after which a violent tempest arose and unquestionably sent her, with all on board, to the bottom of the ocean.
Previous to his embarking, Captain Lynch, having no issue, willed his large estate to his three sisters in case of the death of himself and wife.
The private character of this worthy man was unsullied, and in all respects amiable. Had his valuable life been spared, he would undoubtedly have rendered his country eminent services, and maintained an elevated rank among the patriots and sages of the eventful era he saw so gloriously commenced. During his short career, he performed enough to immortalize his name. Although his morning sun never reached its meridian, its splendour contributed largely in illuminating the horizon of LIBERTY, and shed a lustre over his memory enduring
The brief but brilliant career of Thomas LYNCH, JR., admonishes us that life is held by a slender tenure, and that high accomplishments, like some rich flowers, often bloom just long enough to be admired and revered, then withdraw their beauties from our enraptured sight forever.
In the sages of the American revolution, we recognise every variety of character that ennobles man and confers upon him dignity and merit. To rouse the people to a becoming sense of their inalienable and chartered rights, and to induce them to rise in the majesty of their might and vindicate them, was the first great business of the illustrious patriots who boldly planned and nobly achieved American independence. To effect this important object, all the varied forms and powers of eloquence were necessary, from the mighty torrent of logic that overwhelms, the keen sarcasm that withers, to the mild persuasion that leads the heart a willing captive.
The latter talent was pre-eminently possessed by MATTHEW THORNTON, who was born in Ireland in 1714, and immigrated to this country with his father, James Thornton, in 1717, who settled at Wiscasset, Maine. This son received a good academical education, and was much admired for his industry, correct deportment, and blandness of manners. After completing his course at school, he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Grout, of Leicester, Massachusetts. He made rapid progress in the acquisition of that important branch of science, and gave early promise of future and extensive usefulness. When he became prepared to enter upon the duties of his profession, he commenced practice in Londonderry, New Hampshire, which was principally settled by immigrants from his native country. He soon acquired a lucrative business, and the confidence and esteem of his numerous patrons.
In the expedition against Cape Breton, then belonging to the French, he was appointed surgeon of the New Hampshire division of the invading army, and performed his duty with great fidelity, skill, and credit.
He was an early and prominent advocate of American rightsa bold and uniform opposer to the usurpations of the British ministry. He had a great opportunity to disseminate liberal principles among the people, which did not pass unimproved. When the revolutionary storm burst upon the colonies, he had command of a regiment of militia in Londonderry. He also held the commission of justice of the peace, and had filled various civil offices. His urbanity of manners, sincerity and honesty of purpose, and uncommon powers of persuasion, gave him a rare and salutary influence, both in private parties and public assemblies.
He was appointed president of the first provincial convention of New Hampshire, after the dissolution of the king's government. The people of that state, for a time, did not come up to the line marked out by the patriots of Massachusetts, but Dr. Thornton, and other
leading men, soon brought them into the rank and file of opposition to the invading foe, and redeemed them from the bonds of servitude and fear. In 1774, they sent delegates to the Congress convened at Philadelphia, and in December of that year, when they were apprised of the order of the king in council prohibiting the exportation of gunpowder, the committee of safety in the town of Portsmouth collected a body of men, who, before the governor was apprised of their intention, seized upon the fort and carried off one hundred barrels of that then important commodity.
Soon after the flight of Governor Wentworth upon receiving the intelligence of the battle of Lexington, an address was prepared by a committee of the provincial convention, of which Dr. Thornton was president, which was published over his signature. To the young reader this may seem unimportant, until it is known it was full evidence to convict him of high treason, and would have doomed him to the scaffold had he fallen into the hands of his enemies. Hence, the patriotism and boldness of the act.
The address was couched in strong and feeling terms, well calculated to produce the intended effect. The following extract is a fair sample of the whole: “You must all be sensible that the affairs of America have at length come to an affecting crisis. The horrors and distresses of a civil war, which, till of late, we only had in contemplation, we now find ourselves obliged to realize. Painful, beyond expression, have been those scenes of blood and devastation which the barbarous cruelty of British troops have placed before our eyes. Duty to God, to ourselves, to posterity, enforced by the cries of slaughtered innocents, have urged us to take up arms in our own defence. Such a day as this was never before known either to us or to our fathers.
We would therefore recommend to the colony at large to cultivate that christian union, harmony, and tender affection which is the only foundation upon which our invaluable privileges can rest with any security, or our public measures be pursued with the least prospect of success."
On the 10th of January, 1776, Dr. Thornton was appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of New Hampshire, and on the 12th of September he was elected a member of the Continental Congress, and when he took his seat affixed his name to the Declaration of Independence. For those who are not correctly informed upon the subject it is natural to suppose that the signers of the chart of our liberty were present on the memorable 4th of July when it was adopted. This was not the case. Messrs. Franklin, Rush, Clymer, Wilson, Ross, and Taylor, as in the case of Dr. Thornton, were not members on that day. Nor does the name of Thomas M.Kean appear upon the printed records of Congress, although he was present and signed on the 4th of July; and the name of Henry Wisner, a delegate from Orange county, New York, who signed the original manuscript of the declaration on the day it was adopted, has never been properly recognised. These errors were undoubtedly clerical, not intentional. Mr. Wisner was a highly respectable member, and a pure and zealous patriot.
Dr. Thornton discharged the duties of his important station ably and faithfully until his services were required upon the bench. On the 24th of December of the same year, he was again elected to Congress, and served until the 23d of January, 1777, when he retired finally from the national legislature, highly esteemed by all his associates, enjoying the full confidence and gratitude of his constituents, and the proud satisfaction of having performed his duty towards his country. For six years he served on the bench of the Superior Court, and was also Chief Justice of the Common Pleas; the coinbined duties of which rendered his task arduous. In 1779, he removed to Exeter, and the following year purchased a plantation upon the banks of the Merrimack river, where he sought that repose that his advanced age required. His friends, however, were not willing to excuse him from acting in public concerns, and induced him to serve as a member of the general court, and also in the state senate during the war, and for two years after its close. On the 25th of January, 1784, he was appointed a justice of the peace and quorum throughout the state, which was an important office under the original constitution of the state, but which was abolished in part, and abridged in jurisdiction, by the amendments of 1792. This he held to the day of his final retirement from all public duties; and, after 1785, he took no part in the politics of the day, but continued to afford salutary counsel on all important matters relative to the public weal, about which he was often consulted. During the controversy between his state and Vermont concerning a portion of disputed territory, he wrote several letters to those in power, urging the necessity of conciliatory measures, and an unconditional submission to the decision of Congress in the premises. They were highly creditable to him as an able patriot, a good writer, and a discreet man.
DR. THORNTON was one of the most fascinating and agreeable men of his age. He was seldom known to smile, but was uniformly cheerful, entertaining, and instructive; similar, in many respects, to the illustrious Franklin. His mind was stored with a rich variety of useful and practical knowledge, which rendered him an interesting companion. 'He sustained an unblemished private reputation, and discharged all the social relations of life with fidelity and faithfulness. He was opposed to sectarian religion, belonged to no church, but was devoutly pious and a constant attendant of public worship. He was a kind husband, an affectionate father, and a good neighbour. He was very exact in collecting his dues, by some thought too severe, and was rigidly scrupulous in liquidating every farthing he owed. He was a large portlý man, over six feet in height, well proportioned, with an expressive countenance, enlivened by keen and penetrating black eyes. He died at Newburyport, Massachusetts, on the 24th of June, 1803, whilst visiting his daughter. His remains were conveyed to New Hampshire, and deposited near Thornton's Ferry, on the bank of the Merrimack, where a neat marble slab rests over his dust, with this laconic and significant epitaph
Private virtue and undisguised sincerity were marked characteristics of the revolutionary patriots. They were actuated by pure and honest motives, and not by wild ambition and political phrenzy. Noisy partisans and intriguing demagogues were not the favourites of the people during the war of independence. The man of genuine worth and modest merit was the one whom they delighted to honour and trust.
In the character of William Floyd these qualities were happily blended. He was a native of Suffolk, Long Island, in the state of New York, born on the 17th of December, 1734. His grandfather, Richard Floyd, immigrated from Wales in 1680, and settled at Setauket, Long Island. During his childhood he was remarkable for frankness and truth, and for amiableness of disposition and urbanity of manners. He was an industrious student, and acquired a liberal education. During the prosecution of his studies, he preserved his health in its full vigour, by devoting a short period almost daily to the use of his gun, in pursuit of game, the only diversion to which he was ardently attached. This exercise gave his system a healthy tone, and enabled him to master his lessons with more accuracy than soine who confine themselves exclusively to their rooms, and become debilitated for the want of physical action. Upon the health of the body the improvement of the juvenile mind very much depends—exercise in the open air should not be neglected.
The father of William M.Nicoll Floyd died before this son arrived at his majority, and left him an ample fortune. He managed it with prudence and economy, and when his country was doomed to pass through the fiery furnace of a revolution, he was one of the most opulent and influential men on Long Island. From his youth he had been the advocate of liberal principles, and opposed to the innovations of the British ministry, upon the chartered rights of the American colonies. As oppression increased, his patriotic feelings were more frequently and freely expressed, and when the Congress of 1774 convened at Philadelphia, he was an active and zealous member. By his uniform candour and purity of purpose, he gained the unlimited confidence of his constituents and of his country. His cool deliberation and calm deportment, under all circumstances, were well calculated to preserve an equilibrium among those of a more fiery temperament and of more rashness in action. The Congress of 1774 was remarkable for clear and unanswerable argument, calm and learned discussion, wise and judicious plans, and reasonable but firm purposes. The course pursued operated powerfully and favourably upon