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jects to subordination. He was all mildness and did not pretend to justify the oppressions of which the people complained. To prove his sincerity, Captain Adam M'Donald, one of the council, was introduced to Lord William as a tory from the upper country, who seemed anxious to have some means devised to put down the rebels. The plan succeeded. The governor desired him and his friends to remain quiet for the present, as he expected troops in a short time that would put a quietus upon the new fangled authorities.
When the report of this interview was laid before the council, Mr. Middleton, although nearly related to the governor by marriage, made a motion to have him immediately arrested and confined. This measure was too bold for his timid companions, a majority of whom voted against it. Soon after, his excellency retired on board a British sloop of war and did not venture to return until accompanied by Sir Henry Clinton and Sir Peter Parker, who showed more bravery than judgment in their unsuccessful attack on Fort Moultrie. In this engagement Sir William was severely wounded, and Sir Peter had his silk breeches badly mutilated by the unceremonious course of a rebel cannon ball.
On the 11th of February, 1776, Mr. Middleton was one of the comImittee that drafted the first constitution of his native state. Soon after this he was elected a member to the Continental Congress, taking a conspicuous part in its deliberations. Bold in all his movements, he advocated, and by his signature sanctioned the declaration of independence, then called by many the death-warrant of the fifty-six, but ultimately proving the warrant of LIBERTY, the morning star of FREEDOM. Mr. Middleton was a man of few words in debate these few words were to the point, and gave him a substantial influence in every legislative body of which he was a member. He stood at the head of the delegation of his state. He possessed a strong mind, a clear head, and a good heart. He exercised plain common sense, attending diligently to the business of his constituents and his country. He was on the most intimate terms with John Hancock and was by him highly esteemed. He remained in Congress until the close of the session of 1777. The following year he was elected governor of South Carolina, not knowing that he was a candidate until his election was announced. The mode was by secret ballot by the members of the assembly, who had not then learned the art of intrigue and caucusing-merit was the only passport to office-management and corruption dared not show their hydra heads.
For the same reasons that induced Governor Rutledge to resign a few days previous, Mr. Middleton declined accepting the proffered honour. These reasons were founded in objections to a new constitution, then before the legislature for adoption, and which required the sanction of the chief magistrate of the state before it could go into operation. Mr. Rawlins Lowndes was then elected, who approved the new form of government on the 19th of March, 1778. Political candour and honesty were marked traits in the character of Arthur Middleton. No inducements could swerve him from the path of rectitude. He weighed measures, men, and things, in the unerring scales
of reason and justice. He went with no man when clearly wrong, he concurred with all whom he believed right. Patriotism, pure and unalloyed, governed his every action. Discretion, the helm of man's frail bark, guided him in the path of duty. Philanthropy and love of country pervaded his manly bosom. He was sound at the core. His mind was pure and free as mountain air; his purposes, noble, bold, and patriotic.
In 1779, when the British spread terror and destruction over South Carolina, Mr. Middleton took the field with Governor Rutledge, and cheerfully endured the privations of the camp. He was at Charleston when General Provost attacked that place, and was found in the front ranks acting with great coolness and courage. Knowing that the plundering enemy would visit his plantation, he sent word to his lady to remove out of danger, but took no means to remove his property, which fell a sacrifice to the mercenary army. They did not burn but rifled his house, and several large and valuable paintings that they could not carry away they defaced in the most shameful manner.
At the surrender of Charleston in 1780, Mr. Middleton was among the prisoners sent to St. Augustine, and endured the indignities there practised upon the Americans with heroic fortitude. In July of the following year he was included in the general exchange, and arrived safe at Philadelphia. He was shortly after appointed a member of Congress, and again assumed the important duties of legislation. Soon after this, the last important act of the revolutionary tragedy was performed at Yorktown, where the heroes of the revolutionary stage and of our nation took a closing benefit at the expense of British pride and kingly ambition. With the surrender of Lord Cornwallis the last hope of the crown expired in all the agonies of mortification. Had a spirit of retaliation predominated in the bosom of Washington, awful would have been the doom of his barbarian, desolating foe. But he possessed a noble soul that soared above revenge. He sunk his enemy into the lowest depths of humiliation by kindness and generosity.
In 1782, Mr. Middleton was again elected to Congress, where he continued until November, when he visited his family, from whom he had long been separated. At the declaration of peace he declined a seat in the national legislature, believing the interests of his own state required his services at home. He was highly instrumental in restoring order, harmony, and stability in the government of South Carolina. He was several times a member of its legislature, and used every exertion to advance its prosperity. During the intervals of his public duties he spent his time in improving his desolated plantation, the place of his birth, and of the tomb of his venerable ancestors. He once more participated in the enjoyments of domestic felicity and fondly anticipated years of happiness. But, alas! how uncertain are all sublunary things. In the autumn of 1786, he was attacked with an intermittent fever, which paved the way for disease that terminated his life on the first of January, 1787, leaving a wife, two sons and six daughters, to mourn their irreparable loss. By the public he was deeply lamented. His memory was held in great veneration by his contemporaries. He had a strong hold upon the affections of his fel
low citizens. Those who knew him best esteemed him most. In his private character he was a consolation to his friends, an ornament to society, a consistent, honest, and virtuous man. His wife lived until 1814, highly respected and beloved. The example of a good man is visible philosophy; the memory of departed worth "lives undivided, operates unspent.'
AMONG the strange freaks of human nature is that of inconsistency, showing itself in as many shapes and forms as are exhibited by the kaleidescope, but of a contrary character. One of its most odious features is persecution, prompted by jealousy and promulgated by slander and falsehood. Great and good men are often the victims of unprincipled and designing partisans, who stop at nothing and stoop to every thing calculated to accomplish their unholy desires. In recurring to the eventful period of the American revolution, we would naturally suppose that party spirit found no place in the bosoms of any of those who advocated the principles of liberty; that all were united in the common cause against the common enemy. This is the impression upon the minds of many, perhaps all who are not familiar with the history of the local politics of that period. But far otherwise was the fact. Many of the best men of that trying time were scourged and lacerated, and their noblest exertions for a time paralyzed by the reckless hand of party spirit. No one, perhaps, suffered more from this source, and no one gave less room for censure than JAMES WILSON.
He was born of respectable parents, residing near St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1742. His father was a farmer, in moderate circumstances, which he rendered still more limited by rushing into the whirlpool of speculation, a propensity which unfortunately seems to have been transmitted to his son. After receiving a good classical education, having been a worthy student at St. Andrews, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, James was finished under the master hand of Dr. Blair, in rhetoric, and of Dr. Watts, in logic. Thus fitly prepared, he immigrated to Philadelphia in 1766, with letters of high recommendation, and soon obtained the situation of usher in the college of that city. His moral worth, combined with fine talents and high literary attainments, gained for him the esteem and marked respect of Dr. Richard Peters, Bishop White, and many others of the first rank in society. Indeed, those who knew him best admired him most.
He subsequently commenced the study of law under John Dickinson, Esq. and when admitted to the practice, settled permanently at Carlisle, in Pennsylvania, where he exhibited powers of mind sur
passed by no one at that bar, and equalled but by few in the province.
A powerful display of his legal knowledge and Ciceronean eloquence at the trial of an important land cause between the Proprietaries and Samuel Wallace, gained for him an early celebrity in his profession. Mr. Chew, who was then attorney-general, is said to have fixed his eyes upon him soon after he commenced his speech, and to have gazed at him with admiring astonishment until he concluded. He was immediately retained in another important land case, and from that time forward he stood second to no one at the Pennsylvania bar. He removed from Carlisle to Annapolis, in Maryland, where he remained a year, and then removed to Philadelphia, where he obtained a lucrative practice.
Notwithstanding the liberal patronage of the public, his circumstances frequently became embarrassed by unfortunate speculations, to which he frequently became a victim. Amidst his severest adversities he frequently sent remittances to his mother, in Scotland, his father having died and left her poor. To the day of her death he manifested an earnest and commendable solicitude for her comfort, and used every means within his power to alleviate her wants and smooth her downward path to the tomb.
With the commencement of British oppression the political career of Mr. Wilson began. He freely spoke and ably wrote in favour of equal rights and liberal principles. He was an early, zealous, and able advocate of the American cause. Of a consistent and reflecting mind, he sometimes censured the rashness of those who were less cool, which laid the foundation for many unjust and malicious slanders against him, which, in the dark fog of party spirit, several times enabled his enemies to obtain a momentary triumph over him, but which were always fully and satisfactorily confuted.
In 1774, a short time previous to the meeting of the Continental Congress, the provincial convention of Pennsylvania convened to concert plans for the redress of wrongs imposed by the mother country, of which Mr. Wilson was a bold and efficient member. So conspicuous were his talents and so pure his patriotism, that he was nominated by the same convention one of the delegates to the national assembly. His appointment was opposed by Mr. Galloway, who had long been his bitter enemy; but on the sixth of May, 1775, he was appointed a member of that august body. At the commencement of hostilities he was honoured with the commission of colonel, and was one of the commissioners to treat with the Indians. He was continued a member of Congress until 1777, when his enemies again succeeded in their machinations against him.
On the 4th of July, 1776, Mr. Wilson, with a bold and fearless hand, guided by love of country and motives pure as heaven, gave his vote in favour of independence, and subscribed his name to that matchless instrument which records the birth of our nation and liberty. That act alone was sufficient to confute the base slanders circulated against him, in the minds of all whose eyes were not covered by the baneful and deceptive film of party spirit. At the shrine of this
dread Moloch, our country's glory has been too often sacrificed. No purity of heart, no brilliancy of talent, no pre-eminence of worth, can save a man from the vile attacks of party spirit. Even Washington, the father of his country, often writhed under its withering lash. Some men seem born demagogues, and live under the influence of Gog and Magog during their whole lives.
As a member of the Continental Congress, Mr. Wilson acted well his part, and was esteemed as one of its most active and useful delegates. Coolness and consistency, marked characteristics of the Scotch nation, were the crimes of Mr. Wilson, on which his enemies based an accusation that he was not a pure patriot, and that he opposed the declaration of independence. But those who knew him well soon convinced the people of the falsity of the slander, and the character of this great and good man shone with renewed brightness.
On the twelfth of November, 1782, he was again elected to the national legislature, and the same year was appointed one of the counsellors and agents of Pennsylvania to attend the court of commissioners at Trenton, to which was referred the final determination of the protracted controversy between Connecticut and the Commonwealth relative to certain lands claimed by the latter within the limits of the former, situated in Wyoming valley.
The luminous and unanswerable arguments of Mr. Wilson, which lasted for several days, contributed, in no small degree, to influence that court to determine in favour of Pennsylvania, and put at rest for ever an angry litigation of years.
During the interim in which he was not a member of Congress he held the office of Advocate General for the French nation, which led him to the close investigation of national and maritime law. At the close of his services, the French king rewarded him with ten thousand livres. He was at the same time a director of the bank of North America, and had the full confidence of Robert Morris as a safe and able adviser in financial matters.
As an active, clear headed, and discreet member of the most important committees, Mr. Wilson stood in the front rank. He weighed every subject with a mathematical judgment, and traced all its bearings with the compass of wisdom.
He arrived at the desired goal with less parade but with more certainty than many others, whose zeal was more impetuous but not more pure than his. He sought more to bestow lasting benefits upon his bleeding country than to excite the huzzas and gaze of the multitude. Substantial usefulness is not always found in the foaming froth of popularity. It lives and is admired long after that transient vapour has disappeared and left its subject to repose in the peaceful shades of oblivion. Those who become inflated and rise by the power of party, vain pride and flattery, may soar aloft in the political atmosphere, followed by the eyes of thousands, but rely upon it, in a large majority of instances, their every action is dependent upon these subtile gases, and they will ultimately prove to be a mere bag of wind. Modest worth avoids etherial excursions; the terra firma of deep thought, calm reflection, and sound discretion, constitute its