Abbildungen der Seite

Mr. Adams prevented the further effusion of blood, after the populace had been roused to vengeance by the death of several of their companions. He addressed the assembled multitude, and proposed the appointment of a committee to wait upon Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson, and request the immediate removal of the soldiers, then quartered upon the town. The plan was approved, and Mr. Adams was made the chairman of the committee. His excellency at first refused the request, but found that fatal results would follow if he persisted. The chairman met all his objections fearlessly, and confuted them triumphantly, and told him plainly, that an immediate compliance with the request of the people would alone prevent the most disastrous consequences, and that the Lieutenant Governor would be held responsible for the further waste of human life. The troops were removed to the castle, and peace restored.

Every exertion was used by the adherents of the crown to induce Mr. Adams to relinquish his whig principles, and accept of golden honours under the King. Governor Gage sent a special messenger, Colonel Fenton, to him, to induce him to bow his knee to the throne. After finding that England was not rich enough to buy him, he threatened to have him arrested and sent beyond the seas to be tried for high treason. He listened with more apparent attention to this last suggestion, and, after a pause, asked Colonel Fenton if he would truly deliver his reply to Governor Gage. On receiving an affirmative assurance, he rose from his chair, and assuming an air of withering contempt, he said "I trust I have long since made my peace with the KING OF KINGS. No personal consideration shall induce me to abandon the righteous cause of my country. Tell Governor Gage, it is the advice of Samuel Adams to him, no longer to exasperate the feelings of an insulted people."

This reply roused the ire of the royal governor, and when he subsequently issued his proclamation, offering a free pardon to such of the rebels as would return to what he termed their duty, he excepted Samuel Adams and John Hancock. The two patriots received this mark of distinction as a high commission from the throne, directing their future course. They received it as a carte blanche, that left them as free as mountain air in all their actions. No bribe could seduce, or threat divert Mr. Adams from the patriotic path he had inarked out. He placed his trust in the Rock of Ages, and enjoyed the rich consolations of an approving conscience, and the unlimited confidence and cheering approbation of the friends of equal rights. These were more dearly prized by him than all the royal honours within the gift of kings.

Mr. Adams was from that time forward marked out as an object of vengeance by the British authorities. He was one of the causes that hastened on the final commencement of open hostilities. The object of the king's troops in proceeding to Lexington on the memorable 19th of April, 1775, was to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock, and obtain their papers. Apprised of their business, General Joseph Warren despatched an express late in the evening to the two patriots, warning them of the approaching danger. In a few moments after

they received the information, the British troops entered the house in which they were, from whom they narrowly escaped. In a few short hours the dark curtain rose, and the revolutionary tragedy commenced. The last maternal cord was severed, the great seal of the original compact was dissolved in blood, and the covenants of the two parties were fully cancelled.

Mr. Adams remained in the neighbourhood; and the next morning, as the day dawned, and the sun rose without a cloud to dim its rays, he remarked to a friend, "this is a glorious day for America." He viewed the sacrifice as an earnest of future blessings and ultimate happiness.

To rouse the people to action, now became the sole business of this devoted friend of his bleeding country. Having been a member of the Congress that met at Philadelphia the previous year, he was well convinced, from the feelings then expressed by the members from all the colonies, that the simultaneous efforts of those opposed to the usurpations of the crown, would be exerted in the common cause against the common enemy. They only waited for the grand signal to action; this had now been given; the tocsin of war had been sounded; the requium of battle had been sung; its heart piercing notes were wafted far and wide on the wings of echo, and were responded to by millions of patriotic souls, resolved on liberty or death, victory or the grave. Mr. Adams mourned deeply the death of his friends who were the martyrs of that tragical, yet glorious day; but rejoiced that their funeral knell would shake to its very centre the temple of British power in America, and that their blood would cry to Heaven for vengeance, and incite to vigorous and triumphant action, the hardy sons of the new world. The event gave to his own mind new powers of propulsion, and nerved him with fresh vigour to meet the fiery trials that were in reserve for him. As dangers increased he became more bold in his propositions to the people to maintain their rights; as the wrath of his enemies grew hotter against him, he became more highly appreciated by the populace, and was uniformly styled, Samuel Adams the Patriot. His fame and his influence expanded with each revolving day; his friends were animated by his counsels and eloquence; his foes were astounded and chagrined at the boldness of his career. In the assembly of his own state, he effected the passage of a series of resolutions deemed treasonable by the royal governor, by locking the door and keeping the key himself to prevent the proceedings of the house from being known in time for the adherents of the crown to defeat them. In the Congress of 1776, he was among the first to propose and strongly advocate the declaration of independence; and always contended it should have followed immediately after the battle of Lexington. He demonstrated all his propositions in a clear, calm, dignified and logical manner; and always planted himself upon the firm basis of reason and justice. He was extremely zealous, but not rash; he was ardent and decisive, but wise and judicious. When the Declaration of Rights was adopted by the Continental Congress, on the 4th of July, 1776, he most cheerfully affixed his name to that sacred instrument without the

least hesitation. He had been an able and eloquent advocate of the measure; he had long cherished and fondly nursed the project of an unequivocal separation from the mother country, and rejoiced at the final consummation of his ardent desires.

During the darkest periods of the revolution, he was calm and cheerful, and did much to banish despair from the minds of the desponding. In 1777, when Congress was obliged to fly to Lancaster, and a dismal gloom was spread over the cause of the patriots like the mantle of night, several of the leading members were convened, in company with Mr. Adams, and were conversing upon the disasters of the American arms, and concluded the chance for ultimate success was desperate. Mr. Adams replied, "If this be our language, it is so indeed. If we wear long faces, they will become fashionable. Let us banish such feelings, and show a spirit that will keep alive the confidence of the people. Better tidings will soon arrive. Our cause is just and righteous, and we shall never be abandoned by Heaven, while we show ourselves worthy of its aid and protection." At that time there were but twenty-eight members in Congress, and Mr. Adams remarked, "it was the smallest, but truest Congress they ever had."

Shortly after that trying period, the rays of hope dawned upon them, the news of the surrender of Burgoyne removed the long faces, and put a new aspect upon the American cause. The friends of liberty were reanimated; their hearts were enlivened by fresh courage; the anchor of hope held them more firmly to their moorings. The arrival of Lord Howe, the Earl of Carlisle, and Mr. Eden, with what they termed the olive branch of peace from Lord North, also created a new excitement. Mr. Adams was on the committee appointed to treat with these messengers of the king. On examining the terms proposed, the committee found that the pretended olive branch had been plucked from the Bohon Upas of an overbearing and corrupt ministry, and promptly replied, through Mr. Adams, "Congress will attend to no terms of peace that are inconsistent with the honour of an independent nation." This answer was as unexpected to the royal trio, as it was laconic and patriotic. The grand Rubicon had been passed, the city of chains had been abandoned, and nothing could induce the sages of '76 to look back, or tarry on the plain of monarchy.

In 1779, Samuel Adams and John Adams were appointed by the committee of which they were members, to draft a constitution for the state of Massachusetts, under the new form of government. They ably performed the duty assigned them-the convention sanctioned the document they submitted with but few amendments, and adopted it for the future government of the state. The same gentlemen also prepared for the convention an address to the people on that occasion, which also met the approval of that body, and was responded to, with high approbation, by the hardy yeomanry of that state.

Mr. Adams was also a member of the convention of his native state, convened in 1787, to act upon the Constitution of the United States, then submitted for consideration. Some of its features appeared objectionable to him, but he cautiously avoided any opposition, lest he

should endanger its final adoption, which he considered the best policy, securing for it future amendments. He was most particularly opposed to the article that rendered the states amenable to the national courts. After listening to the arguments for and against it, he submitted certain amendments, which were approved by the convention, and when it was finally sanctioned by a majority of the members, these amendments were submitted with it, and recommended for the future consideration of Congress, and some of them have since been adopted.

From 1789 to 1794 Mr. Adams was lieutenant-governor of Massachusetts, and from that time to 1797 was governor of that state. He performed the executive duties with great ability, and contributed largely in raising his native domain to a flourishing condition and dignified standing. He watched over all her interests with a parental care, and viewed her rising greatness with an honest pride. He had seen her sons writhing under the lash of oppression, and the bones of her daughters bleaching in the wind. He now beheld the people independent and happy, prosperous and virtuous. He could now depart in peace. His infirmities and age admonished him to retire from the great theatre of public action, on which he had so long been a prominent actor, and having filled the gubernatorial chair for three years, he bid a final farewell to political life, approved by his country, his conscience and his God. His health continued to decrease gradually with each returning autumn, and on the 3d of October, 1803, his immortal spirit left its tenement of clay, and soared aloft, on wings of faith, to mansions of bliss beyond the skies, where flow rivers of joy for evermore. He died, rejoicing in the merits of his glorified Redeemer, who had triumphed over death and the grave. He had fought the good fight of faith, as well as that of LIBERTY; and felt a full assurance of receiving a crown of glory at the hands of King Immanuel.

Amidst all the turmoils of political and revolutionary strife, Mr. Adams never neglected religious duties. When at home, he was faithful to the family altar, and uniformly attended public worship when practicable. He was a consistent every-day christian, free from bigotry and fanaticism, not subject to sudden contractions and expansions of mind, rather puritanical in his views, yet charitable in his feelings, and not disposed to persecute any one for the sake of opinion. He adorned his profession of christianity by pure moral conduct, and the most scrupulous honesty, during his whole life. As a public man and a private citizen, he was highly esteemed, and richly earned a place in the front rank of the fathers of the American revolution. He placed a low value upon riches, and died poor, but not the less esteemed because of his poverty. He placed a high value upon common school education, and a proper estimate upon the higher branches of science. He was strongly in favour of teaching the great mass of the people the rudiments of an English education, even should it be at the expense of the classics. General intelligence, widely and thoroughly disseminated, he considered one of the strongest bulwarks to preserve the independence of a nation against the innovations of intriguing and designing men, who regard self more than the glory of their country,

He took a liberal, expansive, and philosophic view of every subject he investigated, and formed his conclusions only from a close conviction that they were based upon correct premises and sound common sense. In the cause of freedom he laboured incessantly, from his youth through a long life, and was ever ready to throw himself in every breach made by the creatures of the crown upon the rights of his country. At town meetings, in the formation of independent societies, in the columns of a newspaper, in the assembly of his own state, and in the national legislature, he always filled a broad space and moved in a large circumference. He was pure in his motives, bold in his plans, open and frank in his sentiments, firm in his purposes, energetic in his actions, and honourable in his course. wielded an able pen, varying his style to suit every occasion. few of his productions have been preserved. His answer to Thomas Paine's writings against christianity, is perhaps superior to any thing that has been written on the subject. His four letters on government, published in 1800, show a clear head, a good heart, and a gigantic mind. His political essays, penned before and during the revolution, were soul-stirring appeals, and contributed largely in rousing the people to a defence of their inalienable rights.

He But

As an orator, he was eloquent, chaste, and logical, always rising with the magnitude of his subject. It was only on great occasions that his powers were fully developed; but on all occasions he was listened to with profound attention. He always spoke sensibly and to the point, addressing the understanding rather than the passions.

His manners were urbane, plain, and unaffected; his mode of living frugal and temperate; his attachments strong, sincere, and uniform; his whole life was one continued chain of usefulness, devoted to the good of his fellow men, the liberty and prosperity of his country, and the happiness of the human family. Let his example be imitated, and our Union may long be preserved from the iron grasp of ambitious partisans and the fatal snares of designing demagogues: let them be discarded, and it will prove a rope of sand, the temple of our LIBERTY will crumble and moulder with the dust of SAMUEL Adams.

[ocr errors]



A SACRED halo surrounds this name, as imperishable as the pages history. In the service of his country, and in the pursuit of his profession, BENJAMIN RUSH filled the measure of his glory. His revered memory is cherished by many surviving friends; his fame will be chaunted by millions yet unborn.

He was a native of Bristol, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, born on the 24th of December, 1745. His ancestors immigrated to this country under the auspices of William Penn, as early as 1683. His father

« ZurückWeiter »