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industry was equal to his patriotism, seldom retiring until after twelve at night, and rising at early dawn.
He was a member of the convention of his state when the federal constitution was adopted, and was a warm advocate for that instrument. He was never permitted to enjoy full retirement from public service until disabled by disease, which terminated his useful career on the 2nd of August, 1811. He had lived the life of a good man, his last end was peaceful, calm and happy. During his last years he was considerably deaf, and spent much time in christian devotion. But few men have served their country as much, and no one more faithfully than did WILLIAM WILLIAMS.
No quality of the human mind sheds over it more lustre than consistency. "Be consistent," was a Roman motto, and once a Roman virtue that influenced the hearts and actions of its republican sages, heroes, and literati. Consistency is one of the brightest jewels in the escutcheon of a name. It is the crowning glory of meritorious fame, and implies a course of life that ennobles and dignifies man. It is based upon true wisdom and sound discretion, the pilot and helm of the bark of life in navigating the ocean of time. Without it, the buffetings of chaos, the sand-bars of folly, and the rocks of disaster, cannot be avoided. Without it, the brightness of other talents and attainments of a high order are often eclipsed by the clouds of error and obscured by the mists of ridicule. With it, mediocrity shines and enables the plough-boy of the field to reach the pinnacle of substantial and enduring fame, when his classic friend who has no share in consistency, but is in all other respects his superior, sinks into oblivion.
It is a propensity susceptible of cultivation, and where its developements are small in youth, parents and instructers should nurture it with great attention and peculiar care. It is of more importance than classic lore and the most powerful elocution. Dr. Young has truly said, "With the talents of an angel a man may be a fool." The sages of the American revolution were remarkable for consistency. Many of them rose from the humble walks of life by the force of their own exertions, guided by this darling attribute, and became eminently useful in the cause of liberty.
Among this class the name of SAMUEL HUNTINGTON stands conspicuous. He was a native of Windham, Connecticut, born on the 2nd of July, 1732. His father, Nathaniel Huntington, was a plain honest farmer, and gave this son only a common English education. Three of his brothers enjoyed the advantages of Yale College and became gospel ministers, all of them adorning their profession, and one of them, Joseph, becoming an eminent divine and an able writer.
Their pious mother was the happy instrument that led them to the pure font of religion, and had the happiness to see her numerous offspring all walking hand in hand in the ways of wisdom and virtue. Samuel followed the plough until he was twenty-two years of age. He was of middle stature, dark complexion, keen eyes, countenance expressive, with a deportment that commanded respect, love and esteem. He was remarkable for industry and integrity, and from his early youth had been a close observer of men and things, and an attentive reader. His native talents were strong and of a grave cast, his judgment was clear and his reflections deep. From his childhood to his grave he was remarkable for consistency in all things. This was his strong forte, and exalted him to a lofty eminence. In his twenty-third year he commenced reading law at his father's domicile, from books loaned to him by Zedediah Elderkin, Esq. a member of the Norwich bar. Like Roger Sherman, he soon mastered the elementary principles of that intricate science, was admitted to the practical honours of the profession, and immediately opened an office in his native town. His reputation as an honest man, possessing a clear head and a good heart, already rested on a firm basis. His fame as an able advocate and safe counsellor, soon added new grace to this superstructure. He was not celebrated for Ciceronean powers; he imitated more closely Socrates and Solon. His manner was plain and unvarnished, but marked by that deep sincerity and candour that seldom fail to impress the minds of a court and jury favourably, and often foil the most brilliant and happy displays of Demosthenean eloquence. To his other strong qualities he added punctuality, which is the very life of business. He soon obtained a lucrative practice and the confidence of the community. In 1760, he removed to Norwich, where a wider field was open before him; and two years after, he emerged from the lonely regions of celibacy with Martha, the accomplished daughter of Ebenezer Devotion, and entered the delightful bowers of matrimony, thus giving him an importance in society that single blessedness never confers. The choice he made was consistent; his partner proved to be an amiable companion, uniting the accomplishments of a lady and the piety of a christian, with laudable industry and strict economy. "Marriage, with peace, is this world's paradise."
The professional fame of Mr. Huntington continued to rise and expand, and when the all-important subject of American rights and British wrongs was agitated, he exerted his extensive influence and noblest powers in favour of the cause of equal rights. In 1764, he was elected to the general assembly, and the next year was appointed king's attorney, the duties of which office he continued to ably discharge until the pestiferous atmosphere of monarchial oppression drove him from under the dark mantle of a corrupt and impolitic ministry. He was appointed to the bench of the Superior Court in 1774, and the next year a member of the council of his native state. In October, 1775, he had the honour of being associated with the patriots and sages of the Continental Congress then assembled at Philadelphia, of which body he became a prominent and useful member.
In January following he again took his seat in that venerable assembly, and advocated boldly, fearlessly, and with undisguised sincerity, the necessity of severing, at one gigantic stroke, the cords that bound the colonies to England. The solemnity of his manners, the deep tone of his reasoning, the lucid demonstration of his propositions, and the purity of his patriotism, were well calculated to carry conviction to the heart and impart confidence to the wavering and timid. He was present on the memorable 4th of July, 1776, at the birth of our independence, and became a subscribing witness to the imposing solemnities of that eventful day. He was continued a member of Congress until 1781, when ill health compelled him to retire, for a season, from the halls of legislation.
He was a man of great industry, clearness of perception, honesty of purpose, and profound research; united with an extensive practical knowledge of human nature, general business, and political economy, which rendered him worthy of unlimited confidence and gave him a place on the most important committees. So highly was Mr. Huntington esteemed, that on the resignation of Mr. Jay, in 1779, who was appointed minister to Europe, he was elected president of Congress, the duties of which high and dignified station he discharged with so much consistency and ability, that on his final resignation in July 1781, that august body passed and communicated to him a vote of thanks for the able manner he had filled the chair and promoted the execution of public business. So anxious were the members that he should resume his seat, that they waited considerable time before they supplied the vacancy permanently, hoping that his health might be restored and enable him to return. During this interim of his congressional career, when he was able, he served his own state on the bench and in her council. In 1783, he resumed his seat in the national legislature, during which year he closed his services in that body and declined a re-election. He had aided in completing the mighty work of national freedom; the star spangled banner was floating in the breeze of liberty; his country had triumphed over a merciless foe; her political regeneration had been consummated; America was disenthralled; he then desired retirement from the arena of public life. His rest was of brief duration. In 1784, he was appointed chief justice of his native state; the ensuing year, lieutenant-governor; and the year following that, he was elected governor of Connecticut, which responsible and important office he filled until the 5th day of January, 1796, when he sunk under a complication of diseases, and closed his eyes in death. He died the death of a righteous man, having long adorned the profession of religion by a life of consistent and exemplary piety.
In the life of this good and useful patriot, we find much to admire and nothing to condemn. His superior virtues and uniform consistency eclipsed every frailty of his nature. In the performance of all the duties of public and private life, he was a model worthy of the highest praise and of the closest imitation. From the plough in the field, through his bright career to the presidential chair in Congress, and from thence to the chief magistracy of his native state, so great
were his consistency, wisdom, prudence, discretion, and even-handed justice, that envy, malice, and slander, shrunk from the torpedo touch of his moral purity. As a lawyer, a judge, a statesman, and a chief magistrate, he stood admired, approved, and honoured. He was a stranger to pomp and show; republican in his manners as well as in his principles; temperate and frugal in his habits; scrupulously honest in the discharge of every duty; calm and deliberate in all his actions; urbane and affable in his intercourse with mankind; completely master of all his passions; systematic and punctual in private and public business; emphatically a son of consistency, liberty, order, and law. His fame is based upon substantial merit; his name is surrounded by a sacred halo that renders it dear to every freeman; his examples will shed a salutary influence over the mind of every reader capable of receiving the congenial impression of angelic CONSISTENCY.
KNOWLEDGE is the treasure of the mind; virtue is the parent of earthly happiness. In this enlightened age and in our free country, ignorance is a voluntary misfortune arising from idleness, the parent of want, vice, and shame. Under the benevolent arrangements of the present day, every child, youth, woman and man can have access to books, and generally to schools. At no era of the world has the mantle of science been so widely spread as at this time. All who will may drink at the pure fountain of intelligence, and go on their way rejoicing in light. By a proper improvement of time, the apprentice of the workshop may lay in a stock of useful information that will enable him, when he arrives at manhood, to take a respectable stand by the side of those who have been illumined with the full blaze of a collegiate education. In his own hands are the materials of future fame, oblivial obscurity, or shameless infamy. He is the architect of his own fortune, and will rise in the scale of being just in proportion with his mental exertions. Youth of America, if you desire to remain free, store your minds with knowledge. Several bright examples have already been spread before the reader, in this review of the lives of the signers of the declaration, of men who raised themselves by the force of their own powers and industry to the loftiest pinnacle of enduring fame.
In tracing the career of GEORGE WALTON, another instance of the same kind is presented. He was a native of Frederic county, Virginia, born in 1740. Without any school education he was apprenticed to a morose carpenter at an early age, who was so penurious as to deny him a candle to read by, after having faithfully performed his task of labour. So great was his desire to become familiar with books, that he would collect pine knots, which afforded him the only light for the prosecution of his studies during his boyhood
and youth. He served out his time in strict accordance with his indentures, and when manhood dawned upon him, his mind was stored with a rich stock of useful intelligence and practical information. This he had acquired alone by the dint of industry during those hours of the night when a large proportion of others boys and youth were either reposing in slumber, or were wasting their time in corrupt and vicious company, demonstrating most clearly that ignorance is a voluntary misfortune.
When he arrived at his majority he went to Georgia and commenced the study of law with Henry Young, Esq., under whose instruction he rapidly acquired the elements of the profession, and was admitted to the bar in 1774. During his investigation of the principles laid down by Blackstone and other able writers, he was most forcibly struck with the gross violation of the chartered and constitutional rights of the colonies. His indignation became roused, he communicated his views and feelings to other kindred spirits, and was among the first to oppose British oppression in his adopted state. The interests of the crown were sustained in Georgia longer than in either of the other provinces. A temporizing spirit pervaded the minds of many of those who desired liberty, but believed its attainment beyond their reach. For some time they preferred enduring their present sufferings, lest a severer fate should overtake them. They knew their own weakness, they dreaded the physical power of England. But George Walton and a few other bold patriots were not to be intimidated by a display of military force. They considered that to die in the cause of liberty was more glorious than to wear the chains of a tyrant. They were determined never to bow the knee to Baal, or offer a sacrifice at the altar of monarchy. They resolved to be free or nobly perish in the attempt.
In order to test the public mind, Messrs. Walton, Noble, Bullock, and Houston, over their proper signatures, published a notice for a meeting of their fellow citizens to be held at the Liberty Pole, Tondee's tavern, Savannah, on the 27th of July, 1774, in order to take into consideration the constitutional rights and liberties of the American subjects of the British empire. This was the first liberty pole planted in that state; this was the first meeting that put the revolutionary ball in motion in Georgia. A large number of citizens assembled at the time and place appointed, and were eloquently addressed by Mr. Walton, who, from that time, became a prominent and able leader of the popular party. A committee was organized for the purpose of rousing the people to a sense of impending danger and to a vindication of their injured rights. Governor Wright, with the hireling phalanx of the crown, used great exertions to obtain from the inhabitants of every parish a written pledge to sustain them in executing the nefarious designs of the mother country, and to submit their necks more implicitly to the yoke of bondage. Fascinating promises of redress were held out, and the people were in a measure lulled into quietness by a renewal of their petitions to the throne for the repeal of the unconstitutional laws of parliament. But the fire of patriotism had commenced its insulating course. From Mr. Walton and his compatriots its holy flame continued to spread from heart to