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is not always a creature of justice, and often adopts the principle that "might makes right." Upon this corrupt and sandy foundation the British ministry based their conduct towards the colonies. Starting upon these false premises, their harsh measures recoiled upon them with a force that levelled their superstructure to the dust. For a time the cords of oppression were partially slackened, the stamp act was repealed, a spirit of conciliation seemed to pervade the heart of the king, but his old preceptor, lord Bute, in conjunction with lord North, soon induced him to sanction measures more oppressive and arbitrary than those previously complained of. The tax on tea was received with more indignation than the stamp act, and the popular rage soon rose to a foaming fury.
Governor Wentworth thought to secure Dr. Bartlett by appointing him a member of the judiciary; but he could not be seduced by any trappings from the crown, and continued to oppose the innovations of the royalists. The minority in the legislature, to which the doctor belonged, was fast increasing, and to prevent a majority against his own views, the governor obtained the king's writ for three new members from townships not entitled to an additional representation. This act of injustice disgusted many of the members who had not espoused the cause of liberal principles, and determined them to enlist under the banner of freedom. Opposition grew bolder under every act of oppression; private meetings were held, committees of correspondence and safety were appointed, a concert of feeling was produced through most of the colonies, and plans of resistance were rapidly taking the place of petitions to the king. Governor Wentworth several times dissolved the assembly at the commencement of its sessions, until he so exasperated the members and people as to virtually dissolve his own authority, and was obliged to seek safety on board the man-of-war Forney. The three new members had been expelled from the legislative body, a warfare commenced between the adherents of the crown and the friends of equal rights; Dr. Bartlett and others were deprived of all authority within the control of the governor, the line of demarcation was drawn, and the tocsin of war was sounded.
Dr. Bartlett was one of the members elected by the eighty-five delegates convened for the purpose at Exeter, on the first of July, 1774, to meet the general Congress at Philadelphia. In consequence of the recent destruction of his house by fire he was compelled to decline the appointment at that time, but in September of the year following he took his seat in that patriotic body. Simultaneous with his election to Congress, he was appointed to the command of a regiment of provincial troops. In Congress he performed his duties with great zeal, industry, and ability. He was uniformly placed on the most important committees, whose duties occupied their time until a late hour at night. Congress met at nine in the morning, and sat until four in the afternoon. After this hour the arduous duties of the committees were performed. When we contemplate the labours of the Continental Congress, surrounded as they were by difficulties on every side, a tremendous storm bursting over their heads, retreating
from place to place before a victorious foe; their country bleeding at every pore, without resources, their army almost annihilated, the only rational conclusion to be drawn how they were sustained is derived from the fact, that many of its members were consistent and devoted christians, firmly relying upon Him who rules the destinies of nations to support them and crown their efforts with victory and success. Nor did they trust in vain.
In 1776, Dr. Bartlett was again elected to Congress and took a conspicuous part in the discussion of separating from the mother country. Amongst the patriots there were many who doubted the propriety of this determination in consequence of their weakness. A concert of feeling was eventually produced and a decided majority declared in favour of emancipation. On the fourth of July the final question was put to each member. Commencing with the most northern colony, Dr. Bartlett was the first who was called. Firmly relying on the justice of the cause, with his eyes raised to heaven, he responded YEA and AMEN; and laid the first stone in the base of the fair fabric of liberty, now towering in majesty over our happy land. Next to the president, the venerable John Hancock, Dr. Bartlett was the first who signed that invaluable instrument which gave our nation birth, and at one bold effort burst the chains of slavery and dissolved the power that had been swayed, with an iron hand, over the oppressed and bleeding colonies.
Worn down with the fatigue of arduous duties, Dr. Bartlett found his health declining and was not able to take his seat in Congress after the close of this session, until 1778. He was, however, enabled to be useful to his native state in her civil departments, and also aided greatly in raising troops for the northern army. When Congress assembled at York Town Dr. Bartlett again resumed his seat. Although re-elected to the succeeding term, this was the last of his attendance in that body. His domestic concerns had suffered from his absence in the public service, and he obtained leave to remain at home. His services were immediately required by his fellow citizens of New Hampshire. He was appointed chief justice of the common pleas and muster master of the troops, then enlisting for the continental service. In 1782 he was appointed a justice of the superior court, and six years after, chief justice.
The usefulness of Dr. Bartlett did not close with the war. Although victory had crowned the efforts of the patriots, and their independence had been achieved, much remained to be done. Numerous conflicting interests were to be reconciled, a system of government was to be organized, an enormous debt was to be paid, many abuses and corruptions were to be corrected, a concert of feeling and action to be produced, and the art of self-government to be learned. In my view the wisdom of the patriots and sages of the revolution shone more conspicuously in perfecting our system of government, than in driving the foe from our shores. It is a task of no small magnitude to reduce a nation from a seven years' war to a civil and quiet government, entirely different from the one to which it has been accustomed. It often requires more sagacity and wisdom to retain and enjoy, than to obtain an object.
Thus, with regard to our independence, after it was obtained, storms arose that threatened utter destruction and ruin. It required the combined wisdom of the wisest legislators to preserve it. Long and arduous were the labours that effected a confederated consolidation. During the time this subject was under discussion, many of the states were shook to their very centre by internal commotions. That concert of action and feeling that had carried the people triumphantly through the revolution, was now, with a great mass of the community, lost in the whirlpool of selfishness. Fortunately for our country and the cause of liberty, those who stood at the helm during the storm of war still remained at their posts. Their labours resulted in the adoption of that constitution under which we have enjoyed a prosperity before unknown. Dr. Bartlett was a member of the convention of his native state for the adoption of the consolidating instrument, and gave it his warm and efficient support. In 1789 he was chosen a member of the national senate, the next year president of New Hampshire, and in 1793 he was elected the first governor of the state. He enjoyed universal confidence and esteem, and discharged his duties with so much wisdom and integrity, that slander and envy could find no crevice for an entering wedge. Worn down by years Worn down by years of arduous toil, old age fastening its wrinkled hand upon him, and the confines of the eternal world just before him, he resigned his authority and closed his public career on the 29th of January, 1794, covered with laurels of immortal fame, without a spot to tarnish the glory of his bright escutcheon.
Governor Bartlett now retired to private life, anticipating the enjoyments that are peculiarly pleasing to men who accept of public stations from a sense of duty rather than a desire to acquire popularity for the sake of advancement. But his fond anticipations were soon blasted. Disease fastened its relentless grasp upon him, his amiable wife had died six years before, the world had lost its charms, and, on the 19th of May, 1795, his happy spirit left its tenement of clay, ascended to Him who gave it, leaving a nation to mourn the loss of one of its brightest ornaments, one of its noblest patriots.
In the life of this estimable man, we behold one of the fairest pictures spread on the pages of history. His public career was of that discreet and solid character, calculated to impart enduring and substantial usefulness. Without dazzling the eyes of every beholder, his course was onward in the cause of philanthropy and human rights. He could look back upon a life well spent; he stood acquitted and approved at the dread tribunal of conscience. He had nobly acted his part, fulfilled the design of his creation, discharged his duty to his country and his God, and filled the measure of his glory.
In his private character he was all that we could desire in a patriot, a citizen, a friend, a husband, a father and a christian. No man was more highly esteemed by all who knew him—no man more richly deserved it.
THOSE Who are familiar with the history of England, with her constitution, with her great Magna Charta, and with the usurpations of men in power upon the rights of British subjects at various periods, can readily conceive why so many men of high attainments and liberal minds immigrated to America. Disgusted with oppression at home they sought liberty abroad. The cause that prompted them to leave their native land, impelled them to action when imported tyranny invaded their well-earned privileges. The mind of every immigrant patriot was as well prepared to meet the crisis of the revolution, as that of a native citizen. The feelings created by remembered injuries, which drove them from the mother country, rendered them as formidable opponents to the unjust pretensions of the crown as those who had never breathed the atmosphere of Europe.
In tracing our own history back to the early settlements, we find an almost constant struggle between the people and the officers sent by the king to govern them; the former claiming their inherent rights, the latter frequently infringing them.
Among those whom at an early period boldly espoused the cause of freedom was Edward Middleton, the great grandfather of the subject of this brief sketch, who immigrated from Great Britain near the close of the seventeenth century, and settled in South Carolina. His son, Arthur Middleton, imbibed all the feelings of his father, and in 1719, when the crown officers became insolent beyond endurance, he stood at the head of the opposition that boldly demanded and obtained their removal. His son, Henry Middleton, the father of Arthur, whose biographette is my present object, also inherited the same bold patriotism, and took a conspicuous part in rousing his fellow citizens to action at the commencement of the revolution.
ARTHUR MIDDLETON, the subject of this memoir, was born in 1743, at Middleton place, on the banks of Ashley river, where his father owned a beautiful plantation. His mother was a Miss Williams, the only child of a wealthy and reputable planter. Arthur was the eldest of his father's children, and received all the advantages of an early education. At the age of twelve years he was placed in the celebrated seminary of Hackney, near London, and two years after, was transferred to the classic seat of learning at Westminster. He applied himself with great industry to his studies, excelling in all he undertook, and gained the esteem and respect of those around him. In his nineteenth year he became a student at the University of Cambridge, and four years after, graduated with the degree of bachelor of arts, a profound scholar and a virtuous man. Trivial amusements and dissipation, which had ensnared many of his classmates, had no charms for him. Although an heir to wealth and liberally supplied with money, economy was his governing principle, wisdom his constant guide.
After he had completed his education he spent nearly two years in travelling, making the tour of Europe. Familiar with the Greek and Roman classics, he enjoyed peculiar satisfaction in visiting Rome and other ancient seats of literature. He possessed an exquisite taste for poetry, music, and painting, and was well versed in all the technicalities of sculpture and architecture. After completing this tour he returned home. Soon after his arrival, he led the amiable and accomplished Miss Izard, daughter of Walter Izard, to the hymeneal altar.
About a year after, he embarked with his wife for England. After enjoying a pleasant season with their friends and connexions there, they visited France and Spain, and in 1773, returned home and located on his native spot, which his father bestowed upon him, placing him at once in possession of an ample fortune.
Having resided so long in Great Britain, possessed of an observing mind, tracing causes and results to their true source, he was well qualified to aid in directing the destiny of his country through the approaching revolution. Rocked in the cradle of patriotism by his father, tracing its fair lines in the history of his ancestors, he acted from the genuine feelings of his heart when he boldly espoused the cause of liberal principles and human rights. The Middletons were the nucleus of the opposition in South Carolina. Unlike many others who mounted the stage of public action for the first time, untried and almost unknown, this family had been proved and their influence was felt throughout the colony, and was known in the mother country. Hence the importance of their services at the commencement of the doubtful struggle, and for the same reason they were peculiarly obnoxious to the creatures of the crown. Aristocracy, too often the attendant of riches, found no resting place in their bosoms. The very marrow of their bones was republican, and to defend their country's rights they freely pledged "their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honours."
Arthur Middleton was a member of the different committees that were appointed by the people to devise means of safety. On the 17th of April, 1775, he was one of the committee of five, in South Carolina, that determined to have recourse to arms, and under whose direction the royal magazine was entered, in defiance of the king's officers, and its contents put into the hands of the people for their defence.
On the 14th of June following, the provincial Congress of this state appointed a council of safety, consisting of thirteen persons, of whom Arthur Middleton was one. They were fully authorized to organize a military force, and adopt such measures as they deemed necessary to arrest the mad career of the royalists. Mr. Middleton was one of its boldest and most decided members, and appears to have been much chagrined at the temporizing spirit of some of his colleagues.
That he possessed a penetrating sagacity as well as a firm patriotism, appears from the following circumstance.
During the session of the first provincial Congress of South Carolina, the new governor, Lord William Campbell, fresh from his majesty, arrived to enter upon the duties of reducing the rebellious sub