Abbildungen der Seite

gloriously for America. And let us play the man for our God, and for the cities of our God; while we are using the means in our power, let us hum-.bly commit our righteous cause to the great Lord of the universe, who loveth righteousness and ha- ; tet! iniquity. And having secured the approba- .. tion of our hearts, by a faithful and unwearied discharge of our duty to our country, let us joyfully leave our concerns in the hands of Him who raiseth up and putteth down the empires and kingdoms of the world as He pleases; and with cheerful submission to his sovereign will, devoutly say, .

66 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the field shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold; and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet we will rejoice in the Lord, we will joy in the God of our salvation."

The battle of Lexington now announced the commencement of the revolutionary war.. To gain possçssion of the persons of Hancock and Adams, who lodged together in that village, was one of the motives, it is said, of the expedition which led to that memorable conflict. The design, though covered with great secrecy, was anticipated, and the victims escaped, upon the entrance of their habitation by the British troops. Thus, by the felicitous intervention of a moment, were rescued from a virulent: enemy, and perhaps from the executioner, those who were to contribute by their future virtues, to the revolution of empires, and to be handed down to posterity as the benefactors of mankind.

The defeat of the English in this battle was followed by the governor's proclamation declaring the province in a state of rebellion; offering, at the same time, pardon to all whose penitence should recommend them to this act of grace, with the excep: tion of those notorious offenders, Samuel Adams

· and John Hancock. These, by the enormity of

their guilt, which was declared too flagitious for impunity, were reserved to propitiate the férocity of the royal vengeance. But this signal and glorious denunciation, less the effect of good policy, than of passion, advanced these popular chiefs upon the lists of fame; they were everywhere hailed with increased acclamations and applauses, and not only by their illustrious merits, but by the dangers to which they were exposed, were endeared to the affections of their countrymen. · Hancock, in October, 1774, was unanimously elected president of the provincial congress of Massachusetts. In 1775, he attained the meridian of his political distinction, and the highest honour that the confidence or the esteem of his compatriots could bestow upon him; being made president of the continental congress. By his long experience in business, as moderator of the town meetings, president and speaker of the provincial assemblies and conventions, during times of great turbulence and commotion, in his native state, he was eminently qualified, as well as by his natural dignity of manners, to preside in this great council of the nation.

That there were, in this assembly, personages of a superior age to that of Mr. Hancock, and men, at the same time, of pre-eminent virtues and talents, will not be denied; who required at least some indications of deference from a generous mind, in reverence of their merits. It was, besides, an occasion upon which calmness and composure had been little commendable; and upon which indifference, or a haughty and supercilious confidence had been criminal in him who was crowned with the principal honours. For rarely in the vicissitudes of nations, has it happened that interests more sacred have been confided to the infirmity of human wisdom or integrity; and that a


spectacle more imposing has been exhibited to human observation.

In 1776, July 4th, his name appears as president of the congress which declared the colonies independent of the crown of Great Britain.' The name of the president alone was published with the declaration, though every member signed it. It was a mark of respect due to Massachusetts, to have one of their members in the chair, which had been filled by a member from South Carolina and Virginia. Mr. Hancock had those talents which were calculated to make him appear to more advantage as chairman, than in the debates of a publiç body. He excelled as moderator of the Boston town-meetings, as president of the provincial congress, and state convention; and, as head of the great council of our nation, he was much respected. He discovered a fine address, great impartiality, sufficient spirit to command attention, and preserve order. His voice and manner were much in his favour, and his experience in public business, gave him ease and dignity. .

In 1779, Mr. Hancock resigned his place in congress. He was chosen a member of the convention that formed the constitution of Massachusetts.

From 1780 to-1785, Mr. Hancock was annually chosen governor of the commonwealth of Massachusetts. He declined being a candidate for the office the ensuing year, and was succeeded by the honourable James Bowdoin, Esq. During the administration of Mr. Bowdoin, there was an insurrection in the state, which was happily quelled. Every thing was done in the most judicious manner, by the governor and the legislature, yet a part of the community appeared to be discontented with the administration, and in the year 1787, Mr. Hancock was again placed in the chair.

His conduct in the state convention during the

discussion of it, gained him honour. The opposition to this excellent form of government was great. It was said that the majority of the convention would be against the adoption; and that the governor was with the opposers. He was chosen president of the convention, but did not attend the debates till the latter week of the session. Certain amendments were proposed to remove the objections of those, who thought some of the articles deprived the people of their rights. He in- . troduced these amendments with great propriety, and voted for the adoption of the constitution. His name and influence doubtless turned many in favour of the federal government.

The latter years of his administration were easy to him, on account of the public tranquility. The federal government became the source of so much prosperity, that the people were easy and happy. The two patriots, Hancock and Adams, were reconciled. When lieutenant governor Cushing died, general Lincoln was chosen as his successor, This gave great offence to Mr. Adams, and it was very disagreeable to the governor. They joined their strength to support the same measures, as well as renewed their friendship. The next year -Lincoln was left out of office, and Mr. Adams chosen lieutenant governor. This gentleman succeeded Mr. Hancock. as governor of the commonwealth, after his death. He died October 8, 1793.

The death of such a man was interesting to the people at large. The procession at his funeral was very great. Doctor Thacher preached his funeral sermon the next sabbath. He was very friendly to the clergy of all denominations, and did a great deal to promote the cause of learning as well as religion. The library of Harvard College will give an exhibition of his munificence; for the name of Hancock, in golden letters, now adorns one of the alcoves of the library room, and is upon

the records of the university among her greatest benefactors.

Mr. Hancock was promoted to every office which a man fond of public life could expect or desire. His manners were pleasing. He was polite, affable, easy, and condescending; and, what was greatly in his favour, did not appear lifted up with pride. Such an elevation to prosperous circumstances would make some men giddy, and cause others to despise their neighbour, poorer than themselves.

The editor will again refer to, and give an extract from, the oration of Richard Rush, Esq. delivered at the city of Washington, July 4, 1812. He said, “during the siege of Boston, general Washington consulted congress upon the proprie ty of bombarding the town. Mr. Hancock was then president of congress. After general Washington's letter was read, a solemn silence ensued. This was broken by a member making a motion that the house should resolve itself into a committee of the whole, in order that Mr. Hancock might give his opinion upon the subject, as he was so deeply interested from having all his estate in Boston. After he left the chair, he addressed the chairman of the committee of the whole, in the following words: “It is true, sir, nearly all the property I have in the world, is in houses and other real estate in the town of Boston; but if the expulsion of the British army from it, and the liberties of our country require their being burnt to' ashes, issue the orders for that purpose immediately."

HAWLEY, JOSEPH, distinguished as a statesman and patriot, was born in Northampton, Mas. sachusetts, in 1724, and was graduated in Yale college in 1742. Soon after finishing his collegial education, he engaged in the study and the practice of the law in his native town. In this science

« ZurückWeiter »