Slike strani


they heard that giant say, “Come to me, and I stated are candidly, calmly, and mildly discusswill give thy flesh to the fowls of the air and ed; where neither pride, nor shame, nor anger the beasts of the field.” But, there were those take part in the discussion, nor stand in the who never trembled—who knew that there way of a correct conclusion; but where every was a God in Israel, and who were willing to thing being conducted frankly, delicately, recommit their cause “to his even-handed jus- spectfully, and kindly, the better cause and the tice," and his almighty power. That their better reasoner are almost always sure of sucgreat trust was in Him, is manifest from the re In this kind of service, as well as in all marks that were continually breaking from the that depended on the power of composition, Mr. lips of the patriots.' Thus, the patriot Hawley, Jefferson was as much a master-magician as bis when pressed upon the inequality of the con- eloquent friend Adams was in debate. They test, could only answer, We must put to seam were, in truth, hemispheres of the same golden Providence will bring us into port;" and Patrick globe, and required only to be brought and put Henry, when urged upon the same topic, ex- together, to prove that they were parts of the claimed, “True, true; but there is a God same heaven-formed whole. above, who rules and overrules the destinies On the present occasion, however,

much still of nations."

remained to be effected by debate. The first of Amid this appalling array that surrounded July came, and the great debate on the resoluthem, the first to enter the breach, sword in tion for independence was resumed, with fresh hand, was John Adams—the vision of his youth spirit. The discussion was again protracted for at his heart, and his country in every nerve. two days, which, in addition to the former On the sixth of May, he offered, in committee three, were sufficient, in that age, to call out all of the whole, the significant resolution, that the speaking talent of the House. Botta, the the colonies should form governments independ- Italian historian of our Revolution, has made ent of the crown. This was the harbinger of Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Lee the principal speakmore important measures, and seeins to have ers on the opposite sides of this question, and been pnt forward to feel the pulse of the House. availing himself of that dramatic license of anThe resolution, after a bloody struggle, was cient historians, which the fid of modern adopted on the 15th day of May following. On history has exploded, he has drawn, from his the 7th of June, by previous concert, Richard own fancy, two orations, which he has put into Henry Lee moved the great resolution of In- the mouths of those distinguished men. With dependence, and was seconded by John Adams; no disposition to touch, with a hostile band, one and “then came the tug of war.” The debate leaf of the well-earned laurels of Mr. Lee, (which upon it was continued from the 7th to the 10th, every American would feel far more pleasure in when the further consideration of it was post-contributing to brighten and to cherish,) and poned to the 1st of July, and at the same time with no feelings but those of reverence and à committee of five was appointed to prepare, gratitude for the memory of the other great provisionally, a draught of a Declaration of In- patriots who assisted in that debate, may we dependence. At the head of this important not say, and are we not bound in justice to say, committee, which was then appointed by vote that Botta is mistaken in the relative promiof the House, although he was probably the nency of one, at least, of his prolocutors Mr. youngest member, and one of the youngest men Jefferson has told us that “the Colossus of that in the House, (for he had served only part of Congress--the great pillar of support to the the former session, and was but thirty-two Declaration of Independence, and its ablest adyears of age,) 'stands the name of Thomas Jeffer-vocate and champion on the floor of the House, son—Mr. Adams stands next. And these two was John Adams." How he supported it, can gentlemen having been deputed a sub-commit- now be only matter of imagination : for, the tee to prepare the draught, that draught, at Mr. debate was conducted with closed doors, and Adams earnest importunity, was prepared by there was no reporter on the floor to catch the his more youthful friend. Of this transaction strains living as they rose. I will not attempt Mr. Adams is himself the historian, and the au- what Mr. Adams himself, if he were alive, could thorship of the Declaration, though once dis- not accomplish. He might recall the topics of puted, is thus placed for ever beyond the reach argument ; but with regard to those flashes of of question.

inspiration, those bursts of passion, which grew The final debate on the resolution was post- out of the awful feelings of the moment, they poned, as we have seen, for nearly a month. In are gone for ever, with the reality of the occathe mean time, all who are conversant with the sion; and the happiest effort of fancy to supply course of action of all deliberative bodies, know their place, (by me, at least,) would bear no how much is done by conversation among the better resemblance to the original, than the members. It is not often, indeed, that prose- petty crepitations of an artificial volcano to the lytes are made on great questions by public sublime explosions of thundering Ætna. Waisdebate. On such questions, opinions are far ing, therefore, the example of Botta, let it sufmore frequently formed in private, and so form- fice for us to know, that in that moment of ed that debate is seldom known to change them. darkness, of terror, and of consternation, when Hence the value of the out-of-door talent of the election was to be made between an atteinpt chamber consultation where objections candidly I at liberty and independence on the one hand,

and defeat, subjugation and death on the other, 1 separate themselves from Great Britain, and to the courage of Adams, in the true spirit of he declare these States free and independent. It roism, rose in proportion to the dangers that was the voice of the American nation addressing pressed around him; and that he poured forth herself to the other nations of the earth; and that only genuine eloquence, the eloquence of the address is, in all respects, worthy of this the soul, which, in the language of Mr. Jeffer- noble personification. It is the great argument son, “moved his hearers from their seats.” of America in vindication of her course : and The objections of his adversaries were seen no as Mr. Adams had been the Colossus of the longer but in a state of wreck; floating, in cause on the floor of Congress, his illustrious broken fragments, on the billows of the storm ; friend, the author of this instrument, may well and over rocks, over breakers, and amid ingolf- be pronounced to have been its Colossus on the ing whirlpools, that every where surrounded theatre of the world. him, he brought the gallant ship of the nation The decisive step, which fixed the destiny of safe into port.

the nation, had now been taken: and that step It was on the evening of the day on which was irrevocable. “The die was now indeed this great victory was achieved, (before which, cast. The Rubicon had been crossed,” effectuin moral grandeur, the trophies of Marengo and ally, finally, for ever. There was no return but the Nile fade away,) and while his mind was to chains, slavery and death. No such backyet rolling with the agitation of the recent ward step was meditated by the firm hearts that tempest, that he wrote that letter to the vener- led on the march of the nation: but, confiding able partner of his bosom, which has now be in the justice of Heaven, and the final triumph come matter of history; in which, after an- of truth, they moved forward in solid phalanx, nouncing the adoption of the resolution, he and with martial step, regardless of the tempest foretells the future glories of his country, and that was breaking around them. the honors with which the returning anniver Their confidence in the favor and protection sary of her Declaration of Independence would of Heaven, however, strong and unshaken as it be hailed, till time should be no more. That was, did not dispose them to relax their own which strikes us on the first perusal of this let- exertions, nor to neglect the earthly means of ter, is, the prophetic character with which it is securing their triumph. They were not of the stamped, and the exactness with which its pre-number of those who call upon Hercules, and dictions have been fulfilled. But, his biogra- put not their own shoulders to the wheel. Our pher will remark in it another character: the adversary was one of the most powerful nadeep political calculation of results, through tions on earth. Our whole strength consisted which the mind of the writer, according to of a few stout hearts and a good cause. But its habit, had flashed; and the firm and un we were wofully deficient in all the sinews of doubting confidence with which, in spite of war: we wanted men, we wanted arms, we those appearances that alarmed and misled wanted money; and these could be procured weaker minds, he looked to the triumphant only from abroad. But the intervening ocean close of the struggle.

was covered with the fleets of the enemy; and The resolution having been carried, the the patriot Laurens, one of their captives, was draught of the declaration came to be examined already a prisoner in the Tower of London. in detail ; and, so faultless had it issued from Who was there to undertake this perilous serthe hands of its author, that it was adopted as vice? He who was ever ready to peril any he had prepared it, pruned only of a few of its service in the cause of his country: John brightest inherent beauties, through a prudent Adams. Congress knew their man, and did not deference to some of the States. It was adopted hesitate on the choice. Appointed a minister about noon of the fourth, and proclaimed to an to France, he promptly obeyed the sacred call, exulting nation, on the evening of the same day. and, with a brave and fearless heart, he ran the

That brave and animated band who signed gauntlet through the hostile fleet, and arrived it—where are they now? What heart does in safety. Passing from court to court, he not sink at the question? One only survives : pleaded the cause of his country with all the Charles Carroll, of Carrollton—a noble speci- resistless energy of truth; and, availing himself men of the age that has gone by, and now the adroitly of the selfish passions and interests of single object of that age, on whom the venera- those courts, he ceased not to ply his efforts, tion and prayers of his country are concentrated. with matchless dexterity, until the objects of The rest have bequeathed to us the immortal his mission were completely attained. With record of their virtue and patriotism, and have the exception of one short interval of a return ascended to a brighter reward than man can home, in 1779, when he aided in giving form to confer.

the constitution of his native State, he remained Of that instrument to which you listen with abroad, in France, in Holland—wherever he reverence on every returning anniversary of its could be most useful—in the strenuous, faithful adoption, “which forms the ornament of our and successful service of his country, receiving halls, and the first political lesson of our chil- repeated votes of thanks from Congress, till the dren," it is needless to speak. You know that storm was over, and peace and liberty came to in its origin and object, it was a statement of crown his felicity, and realize the cherished the causes which had compelled our fathers to vision of his youth.


Mr. Jefferson, meanwhile, was not less strenu- | true that a poor attempt was made in afterously and successfully engaged at home, in for- times to wound the honor of his administration. warding and confirming the great objects of the But he bore a charmed character; and this, like Revolution, and making it a revolution of mind, every other blow that has ever been aimed at as well as of government. Marking, with that it, only recoiled to crush his accuser, and to sagacity which distinguished him, the series of leave him the brighter and stronger for the inventions by which tyranny had contrived to assault. tutor the mind to subjection, and educate it in In 1781, bis alert and active mind, which

habits of servile subordination, he proceeded in watched the rising character of his new-born · Virginia, with the aid of Pendleton and Wythe, country with all the jealous vigilance of an anx

to break off the manacles, one by one, and de- ious father, found a new occasion to call him liver the imprisoned intellect from this debasing into the intellectual field. Our country was yet sorcery. The law of entails, that feudal con- but imperfectly known in Europe. Its face, its trivance to foster and nourish a vicious aristoc- soil, its physical capacities, its animals, and racy at the expense of the community, had at a even the men who inhabited it, were so little previous period been broken up, on their sug- known, as to have furnished to philosophers gestion; and property was left to circulate abroad a theme of unfounded and degrading freely, and impart health and vigor to the ope- speculation. Those visionaries, dreaming over rations of society. The law of primogeniture, theories which they wanted the means or the that other feudal contrivance to create and inclination to confront with facts, had advanced, keep up an artificial inequality among men among others, the fantastic notion, that even whom their Creator had made equal, was now man degenerated by transplantation to Amerrepealed, and the parent and his children were ica. To refute this insolent position, and to restored to their natural religion. And, above place his country before Europe and the world all

, that daring usurpation on the rights of the on the elevated ground she was entitled to hold, Creator, as well as the creature, which pre- the Notes on Virginia were prepared and pubsumes to dictate to man what he shall believe, lished. He there pointed to Washington, to and in what form he shall offer the worship of Franklin, and to Rittenhouse, as being alone his heart, and this, too, for the vile purpose of sufficient to exterminate this heresy; and we strengthening the hands of a temporal tyrant, may now point to Jefferson and to Adams, as by feeding and pampering the tools of his power, sufficient to annihilate it. This pure and proud was indignantly demolished, and the soul was offering on the altar of his country, "The Notes restored to its free communion with the God on Virginia," honored its author abroad not who gave it.

less than at home; and when, shortly afterThe preamble to the bill establishing religious wards, the public service called him to Europe, freedom in Virginia, is one of the most morally it gave him a prompt and distinguished passsublime of human productions. By its great port into the highest circles of science and liteauthor it was always esteemed as one of his rature. happiest efforts, and the measure itself one of Thus actively and usefully employed in guardhis best services, as the short and modest epi- ing the fame, and advancing the honor and haptaph left by him attests. Higher praise cannot piness of his country, the war of the Revolution and need not be given to it than to say, it is in came to its close; and on the 19th of October, in all respects worthy of the pen which wrote 1781, of which this day is the anniversary, the Declaration of Independence; that it breathes Great Britain bowed to the ascendency of our the same lofty and noble spirit, and is a fit com- cause. Her last effective army struck her standpanion for that immortal instrument.

ard on the heights of York, and peace and inThe legislative enactments that have been dependence came to bless our land. mentioned, form a small part only of an entire Mr. Adams was still abroad when this great revision of the laws of Virginia. The collection consummation of his early hopes took place; of bills passed by these great men (one hundred and, although the war was over, a difficult task and twenty-six in number), presents a system still remained to be performed. The terms of of jurisprudence, so comprehensive, profound peace were yet to be arranged, and to be arand beautiful, so perfectly, so happily adapted ranged under circumstances of the most comto the new state of things, that, if its authors plicated embarrassment. That the acknowledghad never done any thing else, impartial history ment of our independence was to be its first and would have assigned them a place by the side indispensable condition was well understood; of Solon and Lycurgus.

and Mr. Adams, then at the Hague, with that In 1779, Mr. Jefferson was called to assume decision which always marked his character, the helm of government in Virginia, in succes- refused to leave his post and take part in the sion to Patrick Henry. He took that helm at negotiation at Paris, until the powers of the the moment when war, for the first time, had British commissioner should be so enlarged as entered the limits of the commonwealth. With to authorize him to make that acknowledgment what strength, fidelity, and ability he held it, unequivocally. I will not detain you by a reunder the most trying circumstances, the high-hearsal of what you so well know, the difficulest testimonials now stand on the journals of ties and intricacies by which this negotiation Congress, as well as those of Virginia. It is I was protracted. Suffice it to say, that the firmness and skill of the American commissioners | diversified continent: discussions with the ministriumphed on every point. The treaty of peace ters of foreign governments, more especially was executed, and the last seal was thus put to with those of France and England and Spain, the independence of these States.

on those great and agitating questions of interThus closed the great drama of the American national law, which were then continually Revolution. And here for a moment let us arising; and instructions to our own ministers pause. If the services of our departed fathers abroad, resident at the courts of the great belhad closed at this point, as it did with many of ligerent powers, and wbo had consequently their compatriots-with too many, if the wishes the most delicate and discordant interests to and prayers of their country could have averted manage; presented a series of labors for the it-what obligations, what honors, should we mind, which few, very few men in this or any not owe to their inemories! What would not other country could have sustained with reputathe world owe to them! But, as if they tion. How Mr. Jefferson acquitted himself, had not already done enough, as if, indeed, you all know. It is one of the peculiarities of they had done nothing while any thing yet re- his character to have discharged the duties of mained to be done, they were ready, with reno- every office to which he was called, with such vated youth and elastic step, to take a new start exact, appropriate, and felicitous ability, that in the career of their emancipated country. he seemed, for the time, to have been born for

The Federal Constitution was adopted, and that alone. As an evidence of the unanimous a new leaf was turned in the history of 'man. admiration of the matchless skill and talent With what characters the page should be in- with which he discharged the duties of this scribed—whether it should open a great era office, I hope it may be mentioned, without of permanent good to the human family, or pass awaking any asperity of feeling, that when, at away like a portent of direful evil, was now to a subsequent period, he was put in a nominadepend on the wisdom and virtue of America. tion by his friends for the office of President, At this time our two great patriots were both his adversaries publicly objected—“that nature abroad in the public service: Mr. Adams in had made him only for a Secretary of State." England, where, in 1787, he refuted, by his President Washington having set the great exgreat work, “ The Defence of the American ample, which has ingrafted on the constitution Constitutions,” the wild theories of Turgot, as firmly as if it had formed one of its express De Mably, and Price; and Mr. Jefferson in provisions, the principle of retiring from the France, where he was presenting in his own office of President at the end of eight years, person a living and splendid refutation of the Mr. Adams succeeded him, and Mr. Jefferson notion of degeneracy in the American man. followed Mr. Adams in the office of Vice PresiOn the adoption of the Federal Constitution, dent. they were both called home, to lend the weight Mr. Adams came into the office of President of their character and talents to this new and at a time of great commotion, produced chiefly momentous experiment on the capacity of man by the progress of the revolution in France, for self-government. Mr. Adams was called to and those strong sympathies which it naturally fill the second office under the new government, generated here. The spirit of party was high, the first having been justly conferred by the and in the feverish excitement of the day much rule "detur fortiori :" and Mr. Jefferson, to was said and done, on both sides, which the take the direction of the highest Executive voice of impartial history, if it shall descend to Departinent. The office of Vice President such details, will unquestionably condemn, and afforded, as you are aware, no scope for the which the candid and the good on both sides public display of talent. But the leisure which lived, themselves, to regret. One incident I it allowed, enabled Mr. Adams to pour out from will mention, because it is equally honorable his full fraught mind, another great political to both the great men whom we are uniting in work, his Discourses on Davila ; and, while he these obsequies. In Virginia where the oppopresided over the Senate with unexceptionable sition ran high, the younger politicians of the dignity and propriety, President Washington day, taking their tone from the public journals, always found in him an able and honest adviser, bave, on more occasions than one, in the prein whom his confidence was implicit and un- sence of Mr. Jefferson, imputed to Mr. Adams bounded.

a concealed design to sap the foundations of Mr. Jefferson had a theatre that called for the republic, and to supply its place with a action. The Department of State was now, for monarchy, on the British model. The uniform the first time, to be organized. Its operations answer of Mr. Jefferson to this charge will were all to be moulded into system, and an in- never be forgotten by those who have heard it, tellectual character was to be given to it, as and of whom (as I have recently had occasion well as the government to which it belonged, to prove) there are many still living, besides before this nation and before the world. The the humble individual who is now addressing frequent calls inade by Congress for reports on you. It was this: “Gentlemen, you do not the most abstruse questions of science con- know that man: there is not upon this earth a nected with government, and on those vast and more perfectly honest man than John Adams. novel and multifarious subjects of political Concealment is no part of his character; of that economy, peculiar to this wide-extended and I he is utterly incapable: it is not in his nature to meditate any thing that that he would not | lican administration, on the true basis, and in publish to the world. The measures of the the true spirit of the constitution; and that by general government are a fair subject for differ- them the measures of all the succeeding adence of opinion. But do not found your ministrations have been continually brought to opinions on the notion, that there is the small- the standard of Mr. Jefferson's, as to an estabest spice of dishonesty, moral or political, in lished and unquestionable test, and approved or the character of John Adams; for I know him condemned in proportion to their accordance well, and I repeat it, that a man more perfectly with that standard. These are facts which are honest never issued from the hands of his known to you all. Another fact I will menCreator.” And such is now, and has long been, tion, because it redounds so highly to the the unanimous opinion of his countrymen. honor of his magnanimous and patriotic rival

Of the measures adopted during his adminis- It is this: that that part of Mr. Jefferson's adtration you do not expect me to speak. I ministration, and of his successor treading in should offend against your own sense of pro- his steps, which was most violently opposed, the priety were I to attempt it. We are here to policy pursued towards the British Government mingle together over the grave of the departed subsequent to 1806, received the open, public, patriot, our feelings of reverence and gratitude and powerful support of the pen, as well as the for services whose merit we all acknowledge : tongue, of the great sage of Quincy. The and coid must be the heart which does not see banished Aristides never gave a nobler proof and feel, in his life, enough to admire and to of pure and disinterested patriotism. It was love, without striking one string that could a genuine emanation from the altar of the Reproduce one unhallowed note. History and volution, and in perfect accordance with the biography will do ample justice to every part whole tenor of the life of our illustrious patriot of his character, public and private; and im- sage. partial posterity will correct whatever errors Waiving all comment on Mr. Jefferson's pubof opinion may have been committed to his lic measures, there is yet a minor subject, which; prejudice by his cotemporaries. Let it suffice standing where we do, seems to be a peculiar for us, at this time, to know, that he adminis- propriety in noticing; for, small as it is, it is tered the government with a pure, and honest, strikingly characteristic of the man, and we and upright heart; and that whatever he ad- have an immediate interest in the subject. It vised, flowed from the master passion of his is this: the great objects of national concern, breast, a holy and all-absorbing love for the and the great measures which he was continuhappiness and honor of his country.

ally projecting and executing for the public Mr. Jefferson, holding the Vice Presidency, good, on a new and vast scheme of policy did not leave even that negative office, as, in- wholly his own, and stamped with all the vigor deed, he never left any other, without marking and grandeur of his Olympic mind, although his occupancy with some useful and permanent they were such as would not only have engrossed vestige. For it was during this term that he but overwhelmed almost any other man, did not digested and compiled that able manual which even give full employment to him; but with now gives the law of proceeding, not only to that versatile and restless activity which was the two Houses of Congress, but to all the prone to busy itself usefully and efficaciously legislatures of the States throughout the Union. with all around him, he found time to amuse

On Mr. Adams's retirement, pursuing the himself and to gratify his natural taste for the destiny which seems to have tied them together, beautiful, by directing and overlooking in perMr. Jefferson again followed him in the office son, (as many of you can witness,) the improve which he had vacated, the Presidency of the ments and ornaments of this city of the nation: United States; and he had the good fortune to and it is to his taste and industry that we owe, find, or to make a smoother sea. The violence among other things which it were needless to of the party storm gradually abated, and he enumerate, this beautiful avenue, * which he left was soon able to pursue his peaceful course in such order as to excite the admiration of all without any material interruption. Having who approached us. forborne, for the obvious reasons which have Having closed his administration, he was been suggested, to touch the particulars of Mr. followed by the applause, the gratitude, and Adams's administration, the same forbearance, blessings of his country, into that retirement for the same reasons, must be exercised with which no man was ever better fitted to grace regard to Mr. Jefferson. But, forbearing de- and enjoy. And from this retirement, together tails, it will be no departure from this rule to with his precursor, the venerable patriarch of state in general the facts, that Mr. Jefferson Quincy could enjoy that supreme of all earthly continued at the helm for eight years, the term happiness, the retrospect of a life well and which the example of Washington had conse- greatly spent in the service of his country and crated; that he so administered the govern- mankind. The successful warrior, who has ment as to meet the admiration and applause desolated whole empires for his own aggranof a great majority of his countrymen, as the dizement, the successful usurper of his country's overwhelming suffrage at his second election rights and liberties, may have their hours of attests; that by that majority he was thought have presented a perfect model of a repub

* Pennsylvania Avenue.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »