Skip to main content

Full text of "Biography of the signers to the Declaration of independence"

See other formats

% -,.«- 




-*^ ^^^. ^m%<%,. .J"' 



^'. .^^■ 

o -^ 


t3 0^ 





"A ^^ 






sV 'ci- 




-' C 3,5' 4^ 




^(7 > 




J.MrVXVV l-.l .1. I^l^raNTTJ.Tu. 

• i8Z7. 







J^asiern District of Pennsylvania, to wit : 
**«**•* BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the twentieth day of January, 
JL. S. * in the fiftv-first year of the Independence of the United States of 
******* America, A. D. 1827, R. W. Fomeroy, of the said District, hath de- 
posited in this office the title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as Fro- 
prietor, in the words following, to wit : 

** Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. — Vol, VII." 

In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, "An 
act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, 
and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times 
therein mentioned." And also to the act, entitled, "An act supplementary to 
an act, entitled, 'An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the 
copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such 
copies during the times therein mentioned,' and extending the benefits thereof 
to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints." 

Cleric of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 


^M®i^s <ffaiFifiims®Mc 

l);caTOii&miioTavea_lTr.T.J3Xaji^ari:e ii-ran the roirtrait-b'r lielcL nftex StLiart 


The great tragic poet of antiquity has observed^ and 
historians and philosophers in every age, have repeated 
the observation, that no one should be pronounced happy, 
till death has closed the period of human uncertainty. 
Yet if to be happy, is to descend into the vale of years, 
loved and honoured; to enjoy in life, that posthumous 
fame, which is usually bestowed only beyond the tomb ; 
to see the labours of our earlier years, crowned with 
more than hoped for success ; and to find those theoretic 
visions which untried, could offer nothing more than 
expected excellence, exceeding in practical utility their 
promised advantages ; if these can confer aught of hap- 
piness on this side the grave, then may the subject of 
our memoir be esteemed truly happy. 

He has indeed outlived those who were the partners 
of his toils, and the companions of his earlier years ; but 
in so doing, he has not experienced the usual fate of mor- 
tality, in outliving the sympathy, the kindness and the 
love of his fellow creatures. A new race of companions 
has risen around him, who have added to those feelings 
the deeper ones of admiration, respect, and gi^atitude; 
and he still lives in the bosom of his country, which is 

VOL. VII. — B 


the bosom of his friends^ cherished with an affection that 
mingles at once the ardour of youth, with the steadiness 
of age. 

One cannot resist applying to him that sentiment, in 
which the greatest of historians has indulged, when 
speaking of a man whom Mr. Jefferson seems strongly 
to resemble, in the mild and virtuous dignity of his do- 
mestic character, his fondness for the pursuits of science, 
chastened but not extinguished by the occupations of an 
active life, the serenity of his temper and manners, and 
a modesty and simplicity which, while they shed an 
uncommon lustre over his public career, doubly adorn the 
less conspicuous scenes of retirement. ^^ Agricola had 
possessed to the full," says Tacitus, ^^ those enjoyments 
which alone can make us truly happy, those which spring 
from virtue — he had been adorned with all the dignity, 
which consular rank or triumphal honours could be- 
stow-— what more could fortune add to his happiness or 
his fame?" 

Need the author of this article say, that it is with 
feelings of unaffected diffidence, he takes his pen to re- 
cord a brief, and probably transient account, of the chief 
incidents in the life of this distinguished man? need he 
say, that he can indulge no hope of portraying, either 
vividly or justly, those brilliant characteristics with 
which it abounds? and need he add, that if his sketch 
shall possess any interest, it is to be attributed more to 
the illustrious name which adorns it, than to its own ex- 
cellence? He is indeed but too well aware that the his- 
torian of Mr. Jefferson has not an easy task to perform. 


His is a life of no common character. It is one abounding 
in great events and extraordinary circumstances, upon 
which the opinions of his countrymen have been so much 
divided, that prejudices arising from their divisions, have 
thrown their shade upon almost every transaction of his 
life. Let it be remembered, however, that to these con- 
flicting sentiments a biographer is not called on to become 
a party ; nor would it be proper in him to obtrude the 
peculiar opinions he may entertain. It is his duty alone 
to state their existence, with the powerful influence that 
attended them, and to ask from his country, that, all pre- 
judices laid aside, the illustrious object of his labours 
may come before them, in that cloudless mirror, wherein 
posterity will examine the fathers of our country. 

Thomas Jefferson is descended from a family, which 
had been long settled in his native province of Virginia. 
His ancestors had emigrated thither at an early period ; 
and although bringing with them, so far as is known, 
no fortune beyond that zeal and enterprise which are 
more than useful, to adventurers in a new and un- 
known country ; no rank beyond a name, which was free 
from dishonour ; they had a standing in the community 
highly respectable, and lived in circumstances of consi- 
derable affluence. His father, Peter Jefferson, was a gen- 
tleman well known in the province. He was appointed 
in the year 1747, one of the commissioners for deter- 
mining the division line, between Virginia and North 
Carolina, an office which would seem to indicate at once 
considerable scientific knowledge, and that integrity^ 


firmness and discernment, which are so peculiarly ne- 
cessary in settling the boundaries between small but 
independent territories. 

Thomas Jefferson w^as born on the second day of 
April (O.S.) 1743, at Shadwell, in Albemarle county, 
Virginia, and on the death of his father, succeeded to an 
ample and unembarrassed fortune. But little is known of 
the incidents of his early life, and the biographer is en- 
tirely destitute of those anecdotes of youth which are so 
often remembered and recorded, pointing out as they 
seem to do, the latent sparks of genius, and fortelling the 
career of future usefulness and honour. We first hear of 
him as a student in the college of William and Mary, at 
Williamsburg, and then, ignorant of his success on the 
youthful arena of literary fame, find him a student of law, 
under a master whose talents and virtue, may have 
offered a model for his succeeding life, the celebrated 
George Wythe, afterwards chancellor of the state of Vir- 
ginia. With this gentleman he was united, not merely 
by the ties of professional connexion, but by a conge- 
niality of feeling, and similarity of views, which are alike 
honourable to them both ; the friendship formed in youth 
was cemented and strengthened by age, and when the 
venerable preceptor closed his life, in 1806, he bequeath- 
ed his library and philosophical apparatus to a pupil and 
friend, who had already proved himself worthy alike of 
his instruction and regard. 

Mr. Jefferson was called to the bar in the year 1766; 
and pursued the practice of his profession with zeal and 
success. In the short period during which he continued 


to devote himself to it, without the interruption of poli- 
tical objects, he acquired very considerable reputation, 
and there still exists a monument of his early labour and 
useful talents, in a volume of Reports of Adjudged Cases 
in the Supreme Courts of Virginia, which he compiled 
and digested, amid the engagements of active professional 

But he came into life at a period, when those who 
possessed the confidence of their fellow citizens, and the 
energy and talents requisite for public life, were not long 
permitted to remain in a private station, and pursue their 
ordinary affairs ; he was soon called to embark in a ca- 
reer of more extensive usefulness, and to aim at higher 
objects — ingenium illustre altioribus studiis juvenis ad- 
modum dedit, quo firmior ad versus fortuita rempubli- 
cam capesseret. We find him accordingly, as early as 
the year 1769, a distinguished member of the legislature 
of Virginia, associated with men, whose names have come 
down to us, as the earliest and most determined cham- 
pions of our rights. Ever since the year 1763, a spirit 
of opposition to the British government, had been gradu- 
ally arising in the province, and this spirit was more and 
more increased, by the arbitrary measures of the mother 
country, which seemed to be the mere offsprings of rash- 
ness and folly. The attachment to England was consi- 
derable in all the colonies, but in Virginia it was more 
than usually strong ; many of the principal families of the 
state, were connected with it by the strongest ties of 
consanguinity; the young men of promise, were sent 
thither to complete their education in its colleges ; and 


by many;, and those not the least patriotic^ it was fondly 
looked to as their home. To sever this connexion, one 
would suppose to be a work of no ordinary facility ; yet 
such was the rash course pursued by the British ministry, 
that a very brief period was sufficient to dissolve in 
every breast, that glowed with national feeling, the ties 
which had been formed by blood, by time and by policy ; 
a very short experience was enough to convince every 
mind, conversant with the political history of the world, 
and able to weigh, amid the tumult of the times, the 
probable chances of successful resistance, with the mise- 
ries of submission or defeat, that there was no hazard too 
great to be encountered, for the establishment of institu- 
tions, which would secure the country from a repetition 
of insults that could only end in the most abject slavery. 
It will not be doubted, that Mr. Jefferson was among the 
first to perceive the only course that could be adopted ; 
his own expressive language portrays at once the suf- 
ferings of the country, and the necessity of resistance. 

" The colonies were taxed internally and externally ; 
their essential interests sacrificed to individuals in Great 
Britain; their legislatures suspended ; charters annulled ; 
trials by juries taken away; their persons subjected to 
transportation across the Atlantic, and to trial before 
foreign judicatories; their supplications for redress 
thought beneath answer ; themselves published as cow- 
ards in the councils of their mother country and courts 
of Europe ; armed troops sent amongst them to enforce 
submission to these violences ; and actual hostilities com- 
menced against them. No alternative was presented 


but resistance;, or unconditional submission. Between 
these there could be no hesitation. They closed in the 
appeal to arms.'^ 

On the first of January, 1772, Mr. Jefferson married 
the daughter of Mr. Wayles, an eminent lawyer of Vir- 
ginia ; an alliance by which he at once gained an acces- 
sion of strength and credit ; and secured in the intervals 
of public business (which indeed were few) the do- 
mestic happiness he was so well fitted to partake and to 
enjoy. Its duration however wa« but short; in little 
more than ten years, death deprived him of his wife, 
and left him the sole guardian of two infant daughters^ 
to whose education he devoted himself with a constancy 
and zeal, which might in some degree compensate for 
the want of a mother's care and instruction. 

On the 12th March, 1773, Mr. Jefferson was appoint- 
ed a member of the first committee of correspondence, 
established by the colonial legislatures ; one of the most 
important acts of the revolution, and which paved the 
way for that union of action and sentiment, from which 
arose the first effective resistance, and on which depended 
the successful conduct and final triumph of the cause. 

The year 1774, found Mr. Jefferson still an active 
member of the legislature of Virginia. The passage of 
the Boston Port Act, and the bills which immediately 
followed it, had filled up the measure of insult and op- 
pression. The private property of all was to be sacri- 
ficed for the public conduct of a few ; the faith of charters 
was unhesitatingly violated; and personal liberty and 
life itself were destroyed, without resort to the common 


forms of justice^ and without redress. At this crisis Mr. 
JeiFerson found time, amid the arduous and incessant 
labours of his public life, to write and publish his ^^ Sum- 
mary View of the Rights of British America/'' 

This pamphlet he addressed to the king, as the chief 
officer of the people, appointed by the laws and circum- 
scribed with definitive power, to assist in working the 
great machine of government, erected for their use, and 
consequently subject to their superintendence. He re- 
minded him, that our ancestors had been British freemen, 
that they had acquired their settlements here, at their 
own expense and blood ; that it was for themselves they 
fought, for themselves they conquered, and for them- 
selves alone, they had a right to hold. That they had 
indeed thought proper to adopt the same system of laws, 
under which they had hitherto lived, and to unite them- 
selves under a common sovereign: but that no act of 
theirs had ever given a title to that authority, which the 
British parliament w^ould now arrogate . That the crown 
had unjustly commenced its encroachments, by distribut- 
ing the settlements among its favourites, and the followers 
of its fortunes ; that it then proceeded to abridge the 
free trade, which they possessed as of natural right, with 
all parts of the world ; and that afterwards offices were 
established of little use, but to accommodate the minis- 
ters and favourites of the crown. That during the pre- 
sent reign, the violations of our rights had increased in 
rapid and bold succession ; they were no longer single 
acts of tyranny, that might be ascribed to the accidental 
opinion of a day ; but a series of oppressions, pursued 


so unalterably through every change of ministers^ as to 
prove too plainly a deliberate and systematical plan, of 
reducing us to slavery. He next proceeds, in a style 
of the boldest invective, to point out the several acts by 
which their plan had been enforced, and enters against 
them a solemn and determined protest. He then con- 
siders the conduct of the king, as holding the executive 
powers of the laws of these states, and points out, with- 
out restraint, his deviation from the line of duty ; he 
asserts, that by the unjust exercise of his negative power, 
he had rejected laws of the most salutary tendency; that 
he had defeated the repeated attempts of the Colonies to 
stop the slave trade and abolish slavery ; thus preferring 
the immediate advantages of a few African corsairs, to 
the lasting interests of the American states, and to the 
rights of human nature, deeply wounded by this infa- 
mous practice. That inattentive to the necessities of 
his people, he had neglected for years, the laws which 
were sent for his inspection. And that assuming a 
powder, for advising the exercise of which, the English 
judges in a former reign had suifered death as traitors to 
their country, he had dissolved the representative assem- 
blies and refused to call others. That to enforce these, 
and other arbitrary measures, he had from time to time 
sent over large bodies of armed men, not made up of 
the people here, nor raised by the authority of their 
laws. That to render these proceedings still more cri- 
minal, instead of subjecting the military to the civil 
powers, he had expressly made the latter subordinate to 
the former. That these grievances were thus laid be- 
VOL. VII. — c 


fore their sovereign^ with that freedom of language and 
sentiment which became a free people, whom flattery 
would ill beseem, when asserting the rights of human 
nature; and who knew nor feared to say, that kings are 
the servants, not the proprietors of the people. 

In these sentiments, bold as they wei?e^ his political 
associates united with him ; they considered that which 
was nominally directed against the colonies of New^ 
England alone, equally an attack on the liberties and 
rights of every other province. They resolved that the 
iirst of June, the day on which the operation of the 
Boston port bill was to commence, should be set apart 
by the members, as a day of fasting, humiliation and 
prayer; ^* devoutly to implore the divine interposition, 
for averting the heavy calamities which threatened de- 
struction to their civil rights, and the evils of a civil 
war ; and to give tiiem one heart and one mind, to oppose, 
by all just and pi^per means, every injury to American 

Such proceedings greatly exasperated lord Dun- 
more, the royal governor of the province. He threat- 
ened a prosecution for high treason against Mr. Jef- 
ferson, who boldly avov%^ed himself the author of the 
obnoxious pamphlet, and dissolved the house of burges- 
ses, immediately.after the publication of their resolution. 
Notwithstanding these arbitrary measures, the members 
met in their private capacities and mutually signed & 
spirited declaration, wherein they set forth the unjust 
conduct of the governor, wliich had left them this, the 
only method to point out to their countrymen, the mea- 


siires they deemed the best fitted to secure their rights 
and liberties from destruction^ by the heavy hand of 
power. They told them, that they could no longer resist 
the conviction, that a determined system had been formed 
to reduce the inhabitants of British America to slavery, 
by subjecting them to taxation without their consent, 
by closing the port of Boston, and raising a revenue on 
tea. They therefore strongly recommended a close al- 
liandfe with their sister colonies, the formation of com- 
mittees of correspondence, and the annual meeting of a 
general congi^ess ; earnestly hoping that a persistance 
in tliose unconstitutional principles, would not compel 
them to adopt measures of a character more decisive. 

The y^ar 1775 opened in England, ^^ith attempts, at 
once by the friends and the enemies of the colonies, to ef- 
fect a reconciliation. Perhaps the period had passed away, 
when success was to be expected, from the elforts of the 
former : but even an experiment on their plan was not 
allowed to be made. The house of lords received, with 
chilling apathy, the proposition submitted by the energy, 
the patriotism and the experience of the dying Chatham ; 
and the house of commons listened without conviction, 
to the well digested plans of Mr. Burke, brought for- 
ward as they were, with an eloquence unequalled per- 
haps in the records of any age or country, and supported 
by that intuitive quickness of perception, that astonish- 
ing correctness of foresight, which almost gives to his 
political predictions, the character of prophetic inspi- 


The ministry were determined that the reconciliation, 
if indeed they ever sincerely wished for one^ should 
proceed from themselves, and be made on their own 
terms ; they offered that so long as the colonial legisla* 
tures should contribute a fair proportion for the com- 
mon defence, and for the support of the civil govern- 
ment, no tax should be laid by parliament; but that 
the amount raised by these means, should be disposa- 
ble by that body. This proposition, bearing indeed 
some semblance of conciliation, but in fact yielding no 
single point of that arbitrary system which Great Bri- 
tain had chosen to adopt, was carried by a large majo- 
rity, and sent to the governors of the several colonies, 
with directions to lay it before the respectite legisla- 
tures. It was at least hoped, that if the scheme did 
not finally succeed, it might produce disunion or dis- 

On the first of June, 1775, lord Dunmore presented 
to the legislature of Virginia, the resolution of the Bri- 
tish parliament. It was referred immediately to a com- 
mittee, and Mr. Jefferson was selected to frame the 
reply. This task he performed with so much strength 
of argument, enlightened patriotism, and sound political 
discretion, that the document has been ever considered, 
as a state paper of the highest order. It is found in most 
of the histories of that period, and for a work like this, 
it may be sufficient merely to give the sentence, with 
which he concludes a series of propositions, and an array 
of facts, alike unanswered and unanswerable. 


'* These, my lord, are our sentiments on this impor- 
tant subject; which we offer only as an indi^idual part 
of the whole empire. Final determination we leave to 
the general congress now sitting, before whom we shall 
lay the papers your lordship has communicated to us. 
For ourselves, we have exhausted every mode of appli- 
cation, which our invention could suggest as proper and 
promising. We have decently remonstrated with par- 
liament, they have added new injuries to the old ; we 
have wearied our king with supplications, he has not 
deigned to answer us ; we have appealed to the native 
honour and justice of the British nation, their efforts in 
our favour have hitherto been ineffectual. What then 
remains to be done? That we commit our injuries to the 
ev€n handed justice of that Being who doth no wrong, 
earnestly beseeching him to illuminate the councils, and 
prosper the endeavours of those to whom America hath 
confided her hopes; that through their v>ise directions, 
we may again see reunited the blessings of liberty, pros- 
perity, and harmony with Great Britain.'' 

Mr. Jefferson had been elected, on the twenty-seventli 
of March, 1775, one of the members to represent the pro- 
vince of Virginia, in the general congress of the confede- 
rated colonies, already assembled at Philadelphia. When 
about to leave the colony, a circumstance is said to have 
occurred to him, and to Mr. Harrison and Mr. Lee, his 
fellow delegates, that conveyed a noble mark of the un- 
bounded confidence, which their constituents reposed 
in their integrity and virtue. A portion of the inhabi- 
tants, who, far removed from the scenes of actual tyranny. 


which were acted in New England^ and pursuing unin- 
terruptedly their ordinary pursuits/ could form no idea 
of the slavery impending over them, waited on their 
three representatives, just before their departure, and 
addressed them in the following terms ; 

^^ You assert that there is a fixed design to invade our 
rights and privileges; we own that we do not see this 
clearly, but since you assure us that it is so, we believe 
the fact. We are about to take a very dangerous step ; 
but we confide in you, and are ready to support you in 
every measure you shall think proper to adopt/' 

On Wednesday, the twenty-first of June, 1775, Mr. 
Jefferson appeared and took his seat in the continental 
congress ; and it was not long before he became conspicu- 
ous among those, most distinguished by their abilities and 
ardour. In a few days after his arrival, he was made a mem- 
ber of a committee appointed to draw up a declaration, 
setting forth the causes and necessity of resorting to arms ; 
a task, which, like all the other addresses of this congress^ 
was executed with singular ability, and in which it is 
more than probable, the Virginia delegate took no in- 
considerable part. 

In July, the resolution of the house of commons for 
conciliating the colonies, which had been presented to 
the different legislatures, and to which, as we have al- 
ready related, Mr. Jefferson had framed the reply of 
Virginia, was laid before congress. He was immediately 
named, as a member of the committee to whom it was 
referred, and in a few days a report was presented em- 
bracing the same general vi^ws as his own, and repeat-^ 


ing that the neglect with which all our overtures were 
received, had destroyed every hope, but that of reliance 
on our own exertions. 

On the eleventh of August, Mr. Jefferson was again 
elected a delegate from Virginia, to the third congress. 
During the winter, his name appears very frequently 
on the journals of that assembly, and we find him con- 
stantly taking an active part, in the principal matters 
wiiich engaged its attention. He was a member of vari- 
ous committees, but from the information to be obtained 
from the records of congress, and it is but scanty, his 
attention seems rather to have been devoted to objects 
of general policy, the arrangement of general plans and 
systems of action, the investigation of important docu- 
ments, and objects of a similar nature, than to the de- 
tails of active business for which other members could 
probably be found, equally well qualified. 

With the commencement of the year 1776, the aiFairs 
of the colonies, and certainly the views of their political 
leaders, began to assume a new aspect, one of more en- 
ergy, and with motives and objects more decided and 
apparent. Eighteen months had passed away, since the 
colonists had learned by the entrenchments at Boston, 
that a resort to arms was an event, not beyond the con- 
templation of the British ministry ; nearly a year had 
elapsed, since the fields of Concord and Lexington had 
been stained with hostile blood ; during this interval 
armies had been raised, vessels of war had been equip- 
ped, fortifications had been erected, gallant exploits had 
been performed, and eventful battles had been lost and 


won ; yet still were the provinces bound to their British 
brethren, by the ties of a similar allegiance; still did 
they look upon themselves as members of the same em- 
pire, subjects of the same sovereign, and partners in 
the same constitution and laws. They acknowledged, 
that the measures they had adopted were not the result 
of choice, but the exercise of a right if not a duty, re- 
sulting from this very situation; they confessed that 
they were engaged in a controversy peculiarly abhor- 
rent to their affections, and whose only object was to 
restore the harmony which had formerly existed between 
the two countries, and to establish concord between 
them, on so firm a basis, as to perpetuate its blessings 
uninterrupted by any future dissensions, to succeeding 
generations in both countries. 

There is indeed among all men a natural reluctance 
to throw off those habits, we may say principles, to 
which they have become attached, by education and 
long usage — there is an uncertainty always hanging 
over the future, that makes us dread to explore it, in 
search of an expected but uncertain good — and we seem 
rather willing to wait until fortune or time shall afford a 
remedy, than to seek it by boldly grasping at that, which 
although bright and beautiful in appearance, can be 
reached only with toil and danger, and may prove at last 
a phantom. A revolution, however just in its princi- 
ples, however plausible in its conduct, however pure in 
its ends, cannot be but uncertain in its results ; and though 
even the thinking and the good will not hesitate, when 
no otber means are left to preserve those rights \vithout 


which happiness is only a name^ they will resort to it as 
the last resource^ after every other expedient has heen 
tried, after long suiferingj with hesitation, almost with 

Every expedient, however, short of unconditional 
separation, had now been tried by congress — but in vain« 
It appeared worse than useless, longer to pursue measures 
of open hostility, and yet to hold out the promises of 
submission. The time had arrived when a more decided 
stand must be taken — the circumstances of the nation 
demanded it, the success of the struggle depended on 
it. The best and wisest men had become convinced, 
that no accommodation could take place, and that a 
course which was not marked by decision, would create 
dissatisfaction among the resolute, while it would render 
more uncertain the feeble and the wavering. 

During the spring of 1776, therefore, the question of 
independence, became one of very general interest and 
reflection among all classes of the nation. It was taken 
into consideration by some of the colonial legislatures^^ 
and in Virginia a resolution was adopted in favour of 
its immediate declaration. 

Under these circumstances, the subject was brought 
directly before congress, on Friday, the seventh June^ 
1776. It was discussed very fully on the following Satur» 
day and Monday, after which they came to the determi- 
nation, to postpone the further consideration of it until 
the first of July following; and in the mean while, that 
no time might be lost, in case the congress should agree 
thereto, a committee was appointed to prepare a decla° 

VOL. VII. — ^D 


ration ^^That these United Colonies are^ and of right 
ought to be^ free and independent states ; that they are 
absolved from all allegiance to the British crown ; and 
that all political connexion between them and the state 
of Great Britain is^ and ought to be^ totally dissolved.'^ 

This committee consisted of Mr. Jefferson, Mr. J. 
AdamS; Mr. Franklin, Mr. Sherman, and Mr. R. R. 
Livingston, and to Mr. Jefferson, the chairman of the 
committee, was ultimately assigned the important task of 
preparing the draught of the document for the forma- 
tion of which they had been appointed. 

The task thus devolved on Mr. tJeffersori, was of no 
ordinary magnitude; and required the exercise of no 
common judgment and foresight. The act was one, 
which in its results, would operate far beyond the effects 
of the moment ; and which was to indicate, in no small 
degree, the future tone of feeling, and the great course 
of policy that were to direct the movements of a new 
and extensive empire. Yet it was on all hands surrounded 
with difficulty and danger- — clouds and darkness rested 
on the future — and without experience, without re- 
sources, and without friends, they were entering on a 
wide field, with nought but providence for their guide. 
Even the feelings of the nation, the very feelings which 
prompted the act, were to be examined with caution and 
relied on with distrust, for how much soever they might 
be the primary cause, and however powerfully they 
might exist at the moment, their effect would have 
ceased, and their operation would be unknown, at that 
period when the principles they had called forth were 


in full exercise. Yet all this caution and distrust was 
to be exerted^ amid the excitement of passion, the 
fluctuation of public opinion, and the headstrong impe- 
tuosity, which made the people, whose act it purported 
to be, blind to every thing but their own wrongs, and 
the deepest emotions of exasperation and revenge. 

It was an act which at once involved the dearest and 
most vital interests of the whole people. It overturned 
systems of government long established, and sacrificed 
a trade, already amounting annually to more than twen- 
ty millions oif dollars. By it the whole nation was to 
stand or fall ; it was a step that could not be retracted ; 
a pledge involving the lives, the fortunes, and the ho- 
nour of thousands, which must be redeemed at the deepest 
cost of blood and treasure ; it was a measure, supposed 
to be viewed unfavourably by a very large proportion 
of those whose interests and happiness, were concerned 
in it, and, as such, a want of prudence in its conduct, 
as well as of success in its end, would be attended with 
even more than ridicule or disgrace. 

Nor was it in America alone, that its eifects would be 
felt ; it was a document to guide other nations in their 
course of policy, to turn their attention to our situation, 
in which there was nothing to dazzle and little to interest, 
and to bring them if possible into our alliance. As such^ 
it would become a matter of deep reflection by prudent 
if not unfeeling statesmen, far removed from the scene 
of action ; looking upon it without passion ; and forming 
from it their opinions of our character, and the reliance 
that might be placed on us. In a word while it purported 


to be, as it was, the offspring of injuries unatoned for, 
and rights wantonly violated, it was to bear the marks 
of calm heroic devotion, and to show us ardent in the 
pursuit and preservation of our rights, but cool and de- 
liberate in our plans, slow in undertaking that which 
was attended with uncertainty and danger, but, once 
convinced of its necessity, undeviating in our course, 
and fixed on the object of pursuit. 

It presented indeed to the consideration of the world, 
an object of greater magnitude than had for ages engaged 
its attention. It was no question of insulted flags, or 
violated boundaries ; no matter to be traced through the 
labyrinths of diplomacy, or to be settled by the rules of 
court etiquette. It w^as not the manifesto of an ambi- 
tious sovereign, who proclaims to the world in loud and 
haughty language, a long catalogue of imaginary griev- 
ances, to form a pretext for the violation of plighted 
faith and the last resort to arms. But it was the manly 
declaration of indignant suffering ; the result of injury 
protracted beyond endurance ; the just appeal to the 
only remedy that was left, after every milder method 
had been tried in vain. 

To frame such a document, was the effort of no ordi- 
nary mind. That of Mr. Jefferson proved fiilly equal 
to the task. His labours received the immediate appro- 
bation and sanction of the committee ; and their opinion 
has been confirmed by the unvarying testimony of suc- 
ceeding ages, and of every nation where it has been 


On the twenty- eighth of June the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence was presented to congress, and read ; t)n the 
first, second and third of July, it was taken into very 
full consideration ; and on the fourth, it was agreed to 
after several alterations and considerable omissions had 
been made in the draught, as it was first framed by the 

The declaration in its original form, compared with 
that which was subsequently given to the w'orld, is a 
document of such interest, and seems indeed so pecu- 
liarly proper to be inserted in a memoir of its illustrious 
author, that we subjoin it; marking in italics the w^ords 
which were erased by congress, and introducing be- 
tween brackets, the additions and substitutions that were 
made, before it received the final sanction of that as- 

^ Declaration by the Repi-esentatives of the United 
States of America^ in General Congress assembled. 

^^When in the course of human events, it becomes 
necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands 
which have connected them with another, and to assume 
among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal 
station to which the law^s of nature and of nature's God 
entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mam- 
kind, requires that they should declare the causes which 
impel them to the separation. 

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are 
created equal 5 thattheyareendow^ed by their Creator with 


[certain] inhtrent and unalienable rights ; that amongst 
these are^ life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ; that 
to secure these rights, governments are instituted among 
men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the 
governed ; that whenever any form of government be- 
comes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the 
people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new go- 
vernment, laying its foundation on such principles, and 
organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem 
most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Pru- 
dence, indeed, will dictate, that governments long es- 
tablished, should not be changed for light and transient 
causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, 
that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils 
are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing 
the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a 
long train of abuses and usurpations, begun at a distin- 
guished period and pursuing invariably the same object^ 
evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despot- 
ism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such 
government, and to provide new guards to their future 
security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these 
colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains 
them to [alter] expunge their former systems of govern- 

The history of the present king of Great Britain is a 
history of [repeated] unremitting injuries and usurpa- 
tions, among which appears no solitary fact to contra- 
did the uniform tenor of the rest ; hut all have [all 
havingj] in direct object^ the establishment of an abso- 


lute tyranny over these states. To prove this^ let facts 
be submitted to a candid world^ for the truth of which 
ive pledge a faith yet unsullied by falsehood. 

He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome 
and necessary for the public good. 

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of imme- 
diate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their 
operation till his assent should be obtained ; and when so 
suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. 

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommoda- 
tion of large districts of people, unless those people 
would relinquish the right of representation in the legis- 
lature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to 
tyrants only. 

He has called together legislative bodies at places un- 
usual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of 
their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing 
them into compliance with his measures. 

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly and 
rMntinually^ for opposing with manly firmness his inva- 
sions on the rights of the people. 

He has refused for a long time after such dissolutions 
to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative 
powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the 
people at large for their exercise; the state remaining 
in the mean time exposed to all the danger of invasion 
from without, and convulsions within. 

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these 
states ; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturali- 
mtioa of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage 


their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new 
appropriations of lands. 

He has suffered [obstructed] the administration of 
justice totally to cease in some of these states, [by] re- 
fusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powei^s. 

He has made owr judges dependent on his will alone 
for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and pay- 
ment of their salaries. 

He has erected a multitude of new offices, by a self 
assumed power , and sent hither swarms of officers to 
harass our people and eat out their substance. 

He has kept among us in times of peace standing ar- 
mies, and ships of war^ without the consent of oui* 

He has affected to render the military independent of 
and superior to the civil power. 

He has combined with others to subject us to a juris- 
diction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged 
by our laws; gi^ing his assent to their acts of pretended 

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: 

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment 
for any murders which they should commit on the inha- 
bitants of these states: 

For cutting off our trade wdth all parts of the world: 

For imposing taxes on us without our consent: 

For depriving us, [in many cases,] of the benefits of 
trial by jury: 

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pre- 
tended offences: 


For abolishing the free system of English laws in a 
neighbouring province, establishing therein an arbiti^ary 
government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render 
it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing 
the same absolute rule into these states [colonies :] 

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most va- 
luable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our 
governments : 

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring 
themselves invested with power to legislate for us, in 

all cases w hatever : 

He has abdicated government here withdrawing his 
governors, and [by] declaring us out of his [allegiance 
and] protection, [and vraging war against us :] 

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt 
our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people : 

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign 
mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, 
and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cru- 
elty and perfidy, [scarcely paralleled in the most barba- 
rous ages, and] totally unworthy the head of a civilized 

The three next paragraphs in the original draught, 
were as follows : 

He has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of 
our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, ichose known 
rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all 
ages, sexes* and conditions of exisiencc. 

^^OL. VII. -^r 


'-^ He has incited treasonable insurrections of our 
felhv) citizens^ with the allurements of forfeiture and 
confiscation of our property. 

" He has constrained others^ taken captives on the 
high seas, to bear arms against their country, to be- 
come the executioners of their friends and brethren, or 
to fall themselves by their hands. 

In place of the three paragraphs erased^ the two fol- 
lowing were introduced: 

[He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive 
on the high seas^ to bear arms against their country, to 
become the executioners of their friends and brethren, 
or to fall themselves by their hands.] 

[He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, 
and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our 
frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known 
rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction, of all 
ages, sexes and conditions.] 

The next paragraph, which related to the slave trade* 
was entirely erased. It was as follows: 

He has waged cruel war against human nature it- 
self, molating its 7nost sacred rights of life and liberty 
in the persons of a distant people, who never offended 
him, captivating and carrying them into slavery, in 
another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their 
transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the 
opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of a Chris- 
tian king of Great Britian. Determined to keep open 
a market where ME JV should be bought and sold, he 
has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legis- 


iative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable 
commerce; and that this assemblage of horrors might 
ivcmt no fact of distinguished dye, he is now exciting 
those very people to rise in arms among us, and to 
purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, 
by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded 
them; thus paying off former crimes committed against 
the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges 
them to commit against the lives of another. 

In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned 
for redress in the most humble terms : our repeated peti- 
tions have been answered only by repeated injury. A 
prince whose character is thus marked by every act 
which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a 
[free] people who mean to be free. Future ages will 
scarce believe that the hardiness of one man adventured 
within the short compass of twelve years only, to build 
ft foundation so broad and undisguised, for tyranny 
over <i people fostered and fixed in pi^inciples of freedom. 

Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British 
brethren. We have warned them from time to time, 
of attempts by their legislature to extend a jurisdiction 
over these our states, [to extend an unwarrantable juris- 
diction over us.] We have reminded them of the cir- 
cumstances of our emigration and settlement here, no 
one of which could ivarrant so strange a pretension : 
that these ivere effected at the expense of our own blood 
nnd treasure, unassisted by the wealth or the strength of 
Great Britain: that in cojistituting indeed our several 
forms of government, ive had. adopted one common king, 


thereby laying a foundation for perpetual league and 
amity with them: but that subinission to their par- 
liament teas no part of our constitution^ nor ever in 
idea, if history may he credited; ajidwe [have] appealed 
to their native justice and magnanimity^ as luell as to 
[and we have conjured them by] the ties of our common 
kindredj to disavow these usurpations^ which loere likely 
to [would inevitably] interrupt our connexions and cor- 
respondence. They too, have been deaf to the voice 
of justice and of consanguinity ; and when occasiotis have 
been given them by the regular course of their laws, of 
removing from their councils, the distitrbe?^s of our 
harmony, they have by their free election re-established 
them in poiver. At this very time too, they are permit- 
ting their chief magistrate to send over not only soldiers 
of our common blood, but \_Scotch and'\ foreign merce- 
naries to invade and destroy us. These facts have given 
the last stab to agonizing affection: and manly sphnt 
bids us to renounce forever these unfeeling brethren. 
We must endeavour to for get our former love for them, 
and to hold them as lue hold the rest of mankind, enemies 
in ivar, in peace friends. We might have been a free 
and a great people together; but a communication of 
grandeur and of freedom it seems, is below their dignity. 
Be it so, since they ivill have it. The road to happi- 
ness and to glory is open to us too : tve ivill climb it 
apaiH from them, and acquiesce in the necessity which 
denounces our eternal separation. [We must therefore 
acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces OTir separa- 


tioiij and liold them^ as we hold the rest of mankind, 
enemies in war^ in peace friends.] 

We^ therefore^ the representatives of the United 
States of America^ in General Congress assem- 
bled^ [appealing to the supreme judge of the world for 
the rectitude of our intentions] do, in the name^, and 
hy authority of the good people of these states fcolo- 
nies,] 7^eject and renounce all allegiance and subjection 
to the kings of Great Britain^ and allotherSj ivho may 
hereafter clairn hy^ through^ or under them; we utterly 
dissolve all political connexion ivhich may heretofore 
have subsisted between us and the parliament of Great 
Britain; and finally ive do assei^t [solemnly publish 
and declare] That these United Colonies are, [and of 
right ought to be^] free and independent states; [that 
they are absolved from all allegiance to the British 
crown^ and that all political connexion between them 
and the state of Great Britain is^ and ought to be, totally 
dissolved,] and that as free and independent states, they 
have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract 
alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts 
and things which independent states may of right do. 
And for the support of this Declaration, [with a firm 
reliance on Divine Providence,] we mutually pledge 
to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred 

During the summer of this year, 1776, Mr. Jefferson 
took an active part in the deliberations and business of 
congress, his name appears on the journals of the house 


very often, and he was a member of several iiiglily im- 
portant committees. Being obliged however to return 
to Virginia, he w^as during his absence, appointed, in 
conjunction with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Deane, a com- 
missioner to the court of France, for the purpose of 
arranging with that nation a measure, now become of 
vital necessity, the formation of treaties of alliance and 
commerce. But owing at once to the state of his health, 
the situation of his family, and the embarrassed position 
of public affairs, especially in his own state, he was con- 
vinced that to remain in America, w^ould be more useful 
than to go abroad, and in a letter to congress of the 
eleventh of October, declined the appointment. 

From this period, during the remainder of the revo- 
lutionary war, Mr. Jefferson devoted himself mainly to 
the service of his own state. In June he had been a 
third time, elected a delegate to congress, but in Octo- 
ber following, he resigned his situation in that body, and 
was succeeded by B enj amin Harrison . The obj ect which 
now chiefly engaged him was the improvement of the 
civil government of Virginia. In May preceding, im- 
mediately on the disorganization of the colonial go- 
vernment, the convention assembled at Richmond, had 
turned their attention to tlie formation of a new^ plan of 
government ; and with a haste, which bespeaks rather 
the ardour of a zealous and oppressed people, for the 
assertion of their own rights, than the calm deliberation 
that should attend an act, in which their future welfare 
was so deeply involved, they adopted their constitution 
in the following month. Mr. Jefferson was at this time 


absent in Philadelphia^ a delegate to congress ; foreseeing 
the inevitable result of the contest between the colonies 
and the mother country, he had for a long while devoted 
much reflection and research^ to maturing a plan for a 
new government^ and had already formed one, on the 
purest pi'inciples of republicanism. This draught he 
transmitted to the convention ; but unfortunately, the 
one that they had hastily framed, had received a final 
vote, on the day it reached Richmond. The debate had 
already been ardent and protracted, the members were 
wearied and exhausted, and after making a few altera- 
tions, and adopting entire the masterly declaration of 
rights wdiich Mr. Jefferson had prefixed, it was thought 
expedient for the present, to adhere to the original plan, 
imperfect as on all hands it was acknowledged to be. 

The extremes of right and wTong are said very closely 
to approach each other. An incident in the political 
history of Virginia, does not invalidate this maxim. In 
June, this constitution had been adopted, breathing in 
every article the most vehement spirit of equal rights, 
and established on the dowiifall of arbitrary rule. In 
the following December, a serious proposition was made 
to establish a dictator, ^•invested with every powder 
legislative, executive and judiciary, civil and military, 
of life and of death, over our persons and over our pro- 
perties." To the wise and good of every party, such a 
scheme could not but appear as absurd as it was danger- 
ous. In Mr. Jefferson it found a ready and successful 
opponent at the time, and he has devoted to its consider- 
ation and censure, a few^ pages of his later works. 


A wiser plan was adopted to relieve the state from its 
difficulties^ by a careful revision of its laws. A commis- 
sion was appointed for this purpose^ consisting of Thomas 
Jefferson, Edmund Pendleton, George Wythe, George 
Mason and Thomas Ludweil Lee, who employed them- 
selves zealously in their task, from the commencement of 
the year 1777, to the middle of 1779. In that period it is 
said, their industry and zeal prepared no less than one 
hundred and twenty- six bills, from which are derived 
all the most liberal features of the existing laws of 
the commonwealth. The method they pursued was 
marked with prudence and intelligence. It is thu? 
described by Mr. Jeiferson himself. 

'' The plan of the revisal was this. The common law of 
England, by which is meant, that part of the English law 
which was anterior to the date of the oldest statutes extant, 
is made the basis of the w^ork. It was thought dangerous 
to attempt to reduce it to a text : it was therefore left to 
be collected from the usual monuments of it. Necessary 
alterations in that, and so much of the whole body of the 
British statutes, and of acts of assembly, as were thought 
proper to be retained, were digested into a hundred and 
twenty- six new acts, in which simplicity of style was 
aimed at, as far as was safe." 

In the account which Mr. Jefferson has given, of this 
revisal of the laws of Virginia, he has with the modesty 
of true greatness, suppressed every word which could 
indicate his own participation in an employment, so 
highly honourable. But it is the duty of those who re- 
cord the actions of the great, to point out that which 


their own modesty would conceal. It should be men- 
tioned, that in addition to the prominent and laborious 
part which Mr. Jefferson took in the general revision, 
Virginia owes to his enlightened mind alone, the most 
important and beneficial changes in her code. The 
laws forbidding the future importation of slaves ; con- 
verting estates tail into fees simple ; annulling the rights 
of primogeniture ; establishing schools for general edu- 
cation ; sanctioning the right of expatriation ; and con- 
firming the rights of freedom in religious opinion, were 
all introduced by him, and were adopted at the time 
they were first proposed, or at a subsequent period ; and, 
in addition to these, he brought forward a law propor- 
tioning crimes and punishments, which w^as afterwards 
passed under a different modification. 

To enter into the details of these laws, would lead us 
from the objects, as it would far exceed the limits of 
this slight sketch ; yet to the lawyer and the politician, 
they may be recommended as containing many an inva- 
luable lesson in legal and political science, and to those 
who have been accustomed to view this great statesman 
rather as the author of ingenious theories, than a lawgi- 
ver skilled in the practical details of government, and 
the useful application of laws to the great exigencies of 
civil society, they will speak more, than the most labour- 
ed panegyric. 

Nor was it in public duties alone that Mr. Jefferson 
was employed ; with a zeal alike honourable and useful, 
he devoted his attention to the personal welfare of those 
of the enemy, whom the chances of war had placed 

VOL. VII. — F 


within his reach. It will be recollected, that Congress 
had deemed it prudent to retain in America, the troops 
who had surrendered at Saratoga, until an authentic 
ratification of the convention, entered into by the Bri- 
tish general, should be obtained from his government. 
In the mean time it was thought expedient, to remove 
them into the interior of the country, and Charlottesville 
in Virginia w^as selected, as the place of their destina- 

There they arrived early in the year 1779. The win- 
ter was uncommonly severe; the barracks unfinished 
for want of labourers ; no sufiicient stores of bread laid 
in; and the roads rendered impassable by the incle- 
mency of the weather, and the number of wagons 
which had lately traversed them. Mr. Jefferson, aided 
by Mr. Hawkins the commissary general, and the bene- 
volent dispositions of his fellow citizens, adopted every 
plan to alleviate the distresses of the troops, and to 
soften as much as possible the hardships of captivity. 
Their efforts were attended with success. The officers 
who were able to command money, rented houses and 
small farms in the neighbourhood, while the soldiers 
enlarged the barracks and improved their accommoda- 
tions, so as in a short time to form a little community, 
flourishing and happy. These arrangements had scarcely 
been completed, when in consequence of some powei's 
lodged in them by congress, the governor and council 
©f Virginia determined to remove the prisoners to an- 
other part of the state ; this intention was heard by the 
captives themselves with distress, and by those amongst 


whom they were settled^ with regret. Mr. Jefferson 
immediately addressed a letter to governor Henry^ in 
which he stated in strong and glowing language, the 
impolicy and impropriety of such a measure. His appeal 
was successful, and the troops were permitted to i^main. 
Indeed the hospitality and generous politeness of Mr. 
Jefferson to these unfortunate strangers was such, as to 
secure their lasting friendship and esteem. From them 
he received many letters, expressing the warmth of their 
attachment and gratitude ; and in his subsequent travels 
through Europe, when chance again threw him into their 
society, they loaded him with civility and kindness, and 
spoke to their countrymen, in warm terms, of the hospi- 
tality of Virginia. When about to leave Charlottes\ille, 
the principal officers wrote to him, to renew their thanks, 
and to bid him adieu ; the answer of Mr. Jefferson to 
one of them has been preserved. '' The little attentions,'' 
he says, " you are pleased to magnify so much, never 
deserved a mention or a thought. * ^ * «^ ^ Opposed 
as we happen to be in our sentiments of duty and honour, 
and anxious for contrary events, I shall, nevertheless, 
sincerely rejoice in every circumstance of happiness and 
safety which may attend you personally.'' To another 
of them he thus wrote, -^The very small amusements 
which it has been in my power to furnish, in order to 
lighten your heavy hours, by no means merited the ac- 
knowledgments you make. Their impression must be 
ascribed to your extreme sensibility, rather than to their 
own weight. When the course of events shall have re- 
moved you to distant scenes of action, where laurels not 


moistened with the blood of my country , may be gather- 
ed^ I shall urge my sincere prayers for your obtaining 
every honour and preferment^ which may gladden the 
heart of a soldier. On the other hand^ should your fond- 
ness for philosophy resume its merited ascendency, is it 
impossible to hope that this unexplored country may 
tempt your residence, by holding out materials, where- 
with to build a fame, founded on the happiness and not 
on the calamities of human nature? Be this as it may, 
a philosopher or a soldier, I wish you personally many 

On the first of June, 1779, the term for which Mr, 
Henry, the first republican governor of Virginia, had 
been chosen, having expired, Mr. Jefferson was elected 
to fill that ofiice. The time was one at which its duties 
had become arduous and difficult ; it was at that period 
of the war, when the British government, exasperated 
by the long protraction of hostilities, and goaded by their 
continual defeats, had increased the usual horrors of war- 
fare, by the persecution of the wretched prisoners who 
fell into their power. The governor of Virginia among 
others, promptly expresssed his determination to adopt, 
as the only resource against a system of warfare so bar- 
barous and unheard of, a retaliation on the British pri- 
soners in his power. ^^I shall give immediate orders," 
he says in a letter to general Washington, ^^for having 
in readiness every engine, which the enemy have con- 
trived for the destruction of our unhappy citizens, capti- 
vated by them. The presentiment of these operations 
is shocking beyond expression. I pray Heaven to avert 


them; but nothing in this world will do with such an 
enemy but proper firmness and decision !'' This course^ 
for a short time^ produced on the part of the enemy an 
excess of cruelty, especially directed against the ofiicers 
and soldiers of Virginia ; it was, however, without avail ; 
the measure was the last resort, brought on by a long 
course of unfeeling conduct, and the only remedy that 
was left. — ^^ There is nothing" said the governor in a 
letter to one of the prisoners, ^^you maybe assured, 
consistent with the honour of your country, which we 
shall not, at all times, be ready to do for the relief of 
yourself and companions in captivity. We know that 
ardent spirit and hatred for tyranny, which brought you 
into your present situation, will enable you to bear against 
it with the firmness which has distinguished you as a sol- 
dier, and to look forward with pleasure to the day when 
events shall take place, against which the wounded 
pride of your enemies will find no comfort, even from 
reflections on the most refined of the cruelties with 
which they have glutted themselves.'^ The policy of 
the measure was proved by its ultimate success ; and the 
British government, when taught by experience, ac- 
knowledged the correctness of a principle which they 
had refused to listen to, when urged only by the dictates 
of humanity and the usages of civilized society. 

In the year 1780, Virginia, which had hitherto been 
distant from the seat of actual warfare, was threatened 
with invasion from the south. In the spring, the fero- 
cious Tarleton had made his appearance on her southern 
borders, marking his path with a barbarity, in compari- 



son to which, the well known horrors of Indian warfare 
may almost seem humane. Immediately after him, fol- 
lowed the main army under lord Cornwallis. It was 
then time for Virginia to exert herself. Troops were 
rapidly raised and sent off to the south, artillery and 
ammunition were collected, lines of communication es- 
tablished, and every preparation made to meet the ene- 
my. It is needless to remark, that all the former habits 
and pursuits of the governor, had been of a kind little 
likely to fit him for military command; but aware of 
the importance of energy and exertion, at such a crisis, 
he bent his mind to the new task which fortune had 
thrown upon him, with alacrity and ardour. " Our in- 
telligence from the southward,'' he writes to general 
Washington, on the eleventh June, ^^is most lamentably 
defective. Though Charleston has now been in the 
hands of the enemy a month, we hear nothing of their 
movements, which can be relied upon. Rumours say 
that they are penetrating northward. To remedy this 
defect, I shall immediately establish a line of expresses 
from hence to the neighbourhood of their army, and send 
thither a sensible, judicious person, to give us informa- 
tion of their movements. This intelligence will, I hope, 
be conveyed at the rate of one hundred and twenty 
miles, in the twenty- four hours. They set out to their 
stations to-morrow. I wish it were possible that a like 
speedy line of communication could be formed, from hence 
to your excellency's head quarters. Perfect and speedy 
information of what is passing in the south, might put it 
in your power perhaps to frame your measures by theirs. 


There is really nothing to oppose the progi'ess of the 
enemy northward, but the cautious principle of the mili 
tary art. North Carolina is without arms. They do not 
abound with us. Those we have are freely imparted to 
them ; but such is the state of their resources that they 
have not been able to move a single musket from this state 
to theirs. All the w^agons we can collect here, have been 
furnished to the Baron De Kalb, and are assembled for the 
march of two thousand five hundred men under general 
Stevens, of Culpepper, who will move on the nineteenth 
instant. 1 have written to congress to hasten supplies of 
arms and military stores for the southern states, and parti- 
cularly to aid us with cartridge paper and boxes, the want 
of which articles, small as they are, renders our stores 
useless. The want of money cramps every eifort. This 
will be supplied by the most unpalatable of all substi- 
tutes, force. Your excellency will readily conceive that, 
after the loss of one army, our eyes are turned towards 
the other, and that we comfort ourselves with the hope 
that, if any aids can be furnished by you, without de- 
feating the operations more beneficial to the union, they 
will be furnished. At the same time, I am happy to find 
that the wishes of the people go no further, as far as I 
have an opportunity of learning their sentiments. Could 
arms be furnished, I think this state and North Carolina 
would embody from ten to fifteen thousand militia imme- 
diately, and more, if necessary. I hope ere long to be 
able to give you a more certain statement of the enemy's 
as well as our own situation.'^ 


The legislature^ becoming fully aware of their danger, 
adopted the most vigorous measures^ for the increase and 
support of the southern army. They conferred on the 
governor^ new and extraordinary powers ; and that of- 
ficer exerted himself in every mode, which ingenuity 
could suggest, to ward oif the approaching danger. 

While however all eyes were turned to the south, a 
sudden attack in another quarter, was the more disas- 
trous as it was the less expected. 

Arnold, whose treachery seems to have increased the 
natural daring and recklessness of his temper, aware of 
the unprotected situation of Virginia on the sea board, 
formed a plan for an attack on that quarter. He set sail 
from New York, with sixteen hundred men, and support- 
ed by a number of armed vessels, ascended James river, 
and landed about fifteen miles below Richmond. All the 
militia of the state, that could be supplied with arms, had 
been already called out, and placed in the neighbour- 
hood of Williamsburg, under the orders of general 
Nelson. This event seemed to leave the governor al- 
most without resource ; he saw the enemy, within a few 
miles of the capital of the state, which was entirely un- 
defended ; he collected hastily about two hundred half 
armed militia, whom he placed under the command of 
baron Steuben, for the purpose of protecting the re- 
moval of the records and military stores, across James 
river; he superintended their movements in person 
with the utmost zeal, courage and prudence ; and he 
was seen coolly issuing his orders, until the enemy had 


actually entered the lower part of the town^ and begun 
to flank it with their light horse. 

Although Arnold had thus succeeded^ in plundering 
and laying waste the country^ the governor determined 
if possible, that the traitor should not escape with im- 
punity ; he believed that a plan for his capture prudently 
formed, and boldly executed, would be attended with 
success ; this scheme he explains in a letter, written to 
general Muhlenberg, on the thirty-first of January, as 
follows : 

" Sir — Acquainted as you are with the treasons of Ar- 
nold, I need say nothing for your information, or to give 
you a proper sentiment of them. You will readily sup- 
pose that it is above all things desirable to drag him from 
those, under whose wing he is now sheltered. On his 
march to and from this place, I am certain it might have 
been done with fecility, by men of enterprise and firm- 
ness. I think it may still be done, though perhaps, not 
quite so easily. Having peculiar confidence in the men 
from the western side of the mountains, I meant, as soon 
as they should come down, to get the enterprise pro- 
posed to a chosen number of them, such, whose courage 
and whose fidelity would be above all doubt. Your 
perfect knowledge of those men personally, and my con- 
fidence in your discretion, induce me to ask you to pick 
from among them, proper characters, in such numbers 
as you think best; to reveal to them our desire; and 
engage them to undertake to seize and bring off this 
greatest of all traitors. Whether this may be best effected 
by their goingan as friends, and awaiting their opportu- 

voL, vn. G 


nity; or otherwise^ is left to themselves. The smaller 
the number the better^ so that they may be sufficient to 
manage him. Every necessary caution must be used on 
their part^ to prevent a discovery of their design by the 
enemy. I will undertake^ if they are successful in bring- 
ing him off alive^ that they shall receive five thousand 
guineas reward among them ; and to men formed for such 
an enterprise, it must be a great incitement to know that 
their names will be recorded with glory in history, with 
those of Vanwert, Paulding and Williams. The enclosed 
order from Baron Steuben will authorize you to call for, 
and to dispose of any force you may think necessary to 
place in readiness, for covering the enterprise and secur- 
ing the retreat of the party. Mr. Newton, the bearer 
of this, and to whom its contents are communicated in 
confidence, will provide men of trust, to go as guides. 
These may be associated in the enterprise, or not, as you 
please; but let the point be previously settled, that no 
difficulty may arise as to the parties entitled to partici- 
pate in the reward. You know how necessary profound 
secrecy is in this business, even if it be not undertaken.'' 
Men were found without difficulty, bold enough and 
ready to undertake this scheme ; but it was rendered una- 
vailing by the cautious prudence of Arnold, who avoided 
every exposure to such a danger. 

Frustrated in this plan, the governor turned his atten- 
tion to another, on a bolder scale, in which he was to be 
aided by general Washington and the French fleet. The 
latter, then at Rhode Island, were to sail immediately for 
James river, to prevent the escape of the enemy by sea, 


while a large body of troops should be collected on shore;> 
for the purpose of blockading them, and ultimately com- 
pelling a surrender. On the eighth of March, Mr. Jeifer- 
son thus wi'ites to the commander in chief, ^' We have 
made on our part, every preparation which we were able to 
make. The militia proposed to operate, will be upwards of 
four thousand from this state, and one thousand or twelve 
hundred from Carolina, said to be under general Gregory. 
The enemy are at this time, in a great measure, blockaded 
by land, there being a force on the east side of Elizabeth 
river. They suffer for provisions, as they are afraid to 
venture far, lest the French squadron should be in the 
neighbourhood, and come upon them. Were it possible 
to block up the river, a little time would suffice to reduce 
them by want and desertions ; and w^ould be more sure in 
its event than any attempt by storm. '^ The French 
fleet, however, encountered on their arrival at the Che- 
sapeake, a British squadron of equal if not superior 
force, by which they were driven back ; by these means 
the plan was defeated, and Arnold again escaped. 

The disasters of Virginia, and the difficulties of the 
governor, however, were not yet at an end. Arnold had 
scarcely left the coast, when Cornwallis entered the state, 
on the southern frontier. Never was a country less pre- 
pared to repel invasion, her troops had been drawn off 
to distant quarters, her resources had been exhausted to 
supply other states, and she was alike destitute of military 
stores, and of funds to obtain them. The whole burden 
of affiiirs too, had been thrown on the governor; the 
legislature had hastily adjourned, on the invasion of 


Arnold in January^ to meet again at Charlottes ville, on 
the twenty-fourth of May ; in the mean time he had no 
resource^ but to make the best of the means which 
providence had given him^ and to depend on that good 
fortune, which had already so often befriended his coun- 
try, at moments the most gloomy and unpromising. To 
resist invasion^ the militia was his only force, and the 
resort even to this, was limited by the deficiency of arms. 
He used every effort, however, to increase its efficiency. 
When it was sent into the field, he called into ser- 
vice a number of officers, who had resigned or been 
thrown out of public employment, by reductions of con- 
tinental regiments for want of men, and gave them com- 
mands ; an expedient which, together with the aid of 
the old soldiers scattered in the ranks, produced a sudden 
and highly useful degree of skill, discipline and subor- 
dination . Men were draughted for the regular regiments, 
and considerable detachments of the militia were sent to 
the south, and a number of horses, essentially necessary, 
were suddenly obtained by an expedient of Mr. Jeifer- 
son's. Instead of using a mercenary agency, he wrote 
to an individual, generally a member of assembly, in 
each of the counties where thy were to be had, to pur- 
chase a specified number, with the then expiring paper 
money. This expedient met with a success, highly im- 
portant to the common cause. Nor was it sufficient to 
protect his own state alone ; aid was demanded for the 
Carolinas, and this, though increasing the destitution and 
distress at home, was furnished to a very considerable ex- 
tent. At length, however, exhausted by her efforts to 


assist her sister states^ almost stript of arms^ without 
money, and harassed on the east and on the west with 
formidable invasions, Virginia appeared at last almost 
without resource. 

In this state of things, the twenty-fourth of May ar- 
rived, but it was not until the twenty- eighth that the 
legislature was formed at Charlottesville, to proceed to 
business. On that day the governor addressed the fol- 
lowing letter to the commander in chief; the general 
view which it presents of the situation of the state, and 
the personal feelings of Mr. Jefferson, give it an import- 
ance, more than sufficient, to compensate for its length. 
" I have just been advised,'' he writes on the twenty- 
eighth of May, '^ that the British have evacuated Peters- 
burg, been joined by a considerable reenforcement from 
New York, and crossed James river at Westover. They 
were on the twenty-sixth instant, three miles advanced 
towards Richmond, at which place major general, the 
Marquis Fayette, lay with three thousand men, regulars 
and militia ; that being the whole nmnber we could arm, 
until the arrival of the eleven hundred stand of arms 
from Rhode Island, which are about this time at the 
place where our public stores are deposited. The whole 
force of the enemy within this state, from the best in- 
telligence I have been able to get, is, I think, about 
seven thousand men, including the garrison left at Ports- 
mouth. A number of privateers which are constantly 
ravaging the shores of our rivers, prevent us from re- 
ceiving any aid from the counties lying on navigable 
waters 5 and powerful operations meditated against oui* 



western fi'ontier^ by a joint force of British and Indian 
savages, have;, as your excellency before knew, obliged 
us to embody between two and three thousand men, in 
that quarter. Your excellency will judge from this 
state of things, and from what you know of your own 
country, what it may probably suffer during the present 
campaign. Should the enemy be able to obtain no 
opportunity of annihilating the marquis's army, a small 
proportion of their force may yet restrain his movements 
effectually, while the greater part is employed in detach- 
ments to waste an unarmed country, and lead the minds 
of the people to acquiesce under those events which 
they see no human power prepared to ward off. We 
are too far removed from the other scenes of war, to say 
whether the main force of the enemy be within this state ; 
but I suppose they cannot any where spare so great an 
army for the operations of the field. Where it possible 
for this circumstance to justify in your excellency, a 
determination to lend us your personal aid, it is evident 
from the universal voice, that the presence of their 
beloved countryman, whose talents have so long been 
successfully employed in establishing the freedom of kin- 
dred states, to whose person they have still flattered 
themselves they retained some right, and have ever 
looked upon as their dernier resort in distress ; that your 
appearance, among them I say, would restore full con- 
fidence of salvation, and would render them equal to 
whatever is not impossible. I cannot undertake to for- 
see and obviate the difficulties which lie in the way of 
such a resolution. The whole subject is before you, of 


which I see only detached parts — and your judgment 
will be formed on a view of the whole. Should the 
danger of the state and its consequence to the Union^ 
be such as to render it best for the whole^ that you 
should repair to its assistance^ the difficulty would then 
be how to keep men out of the field. I have undertaken 
to hint this matter to your excellency^ not only on my 
own sense of its importance to us^ but at the solicitation 
of many members of weight in our legislature^ which 
has not yet assembled to speak its own desires. A 
few days will bring to me that relief, which the consti- 
tution has prepared for those oppressed with the labours 
of my office ; and a long declared resolution of relin- 
quishing it to abler hands^ has prepared my way for 
retirement to a private station ; stilly as an individual^ I 
should feel the comfortable effects of your presence^ 
and have (what I thought could not have been) an ad- 
ditional motive for that gratitude^ esteem and respect^ 
which I have long felt for your excellency.^' 

On the second of June^ the term for which Mr. Jef- 
ferson had been elected, expired, and he returned to 
the situation of a private citizen, after having conducted 
the aifairs of his state, through a period of difficulty and 
danger, without any parallel in its preceding or subse- 
quent history, and with a prudence and energy, that 
might have gained him more fame had the times been 
more propitious, but which from that very reason, have 
been and will be more appreciated and honoured, in suc- 
ceeding times. 


Two days after his retirement from the government; 
and when on his estate at Monticello^ intelligence was 
suddenly brought, that Tarleton at the head of two hun- 
dred and fifty horse, had left the main army, for the 
purpose of surprising and capturing the members of 
assembly at Charlottesville. The house had just met, 
and was about to commence business, when the alarm 
was given ; they had scarcely taken time to adjourn in- 
formally, to meet at Staunton on the seventh, when the 
enemy entered the village, in the confident expectation 
of an easy prey. The escape was indeed narrow, but 
no one was taken. In pursuing the legislature however, 
the governor was not forgotten ; a troop of horse under 
a captain M'Leod had been despatched to Monticello, 
fortunately with no better success. The intelligence 
received at Charlottesville w^as soon conveyed thither, 
the distance between the two places being very short. 
Mr. Jefferson immediately ordered a carriage to be 
in readiness to carry off his family, wiio, however, 
breakfasted at leisure with some guests. Soon after 
breakfast, and when the visitors had left the house, a 
neighbour rode up in full speed, with the intelligence 
that a troop of horse was then ascending the hill. Mr. 
Jefferson now sent off his family, and after a short delay 
for some indispensable arrangements, mounted his horse, 
and taking a course through the woods, joined them, at 
the house of a friend, where they dined. It w^ould 
scarcely be believed by those not acquainted with the 
fact, that this flight of a single and unarmed man, from 
a troop of cavalry, whose whole legion, too. was within 


vtipporting distance^ and whose main object was his 
capture^ has been the subject of volumes of reproach 
in prose and poetry, serious and sarcastic. 

In times of difficulty and danger, it is seldom that the 
actions of the wisest and the best, can escape without 
censure. Where they are not the marks of malevolence, 
they are yet dwelt on with morbid distrust by the dis- 
contented and the timid ; they are contrasted by every 
speculative reasoner, with the fanciful schemes which his 
own imagination has suggested ; and if they do not chance 
to be crowned with unexpected success, the failure is 
attributed to intrinsic weakness, rather than to unavoid- 
able accident. In the preceding pages of this memoir 
a rapid, and it is acknowledged an insufficient sketchy 
has been recorded of the public acts of Mr. Jefferson, 
during the singularly eventful period in which he 
was placed at the head of the government in Virginia. 
The truth of those facts may be relied on. From 
them, a reader of the present day, far removed from 
the bustle and feelings of the times, may form a calm 
judgment of the principles and talents of the man, when 
placed in this station of unexpected difficulty. There 
is little danger in asserting, that such a judgment will be 
as favourable to the zeal and talents of the statesman, as 
it will be honourable to the feelings and patriotism of the 
man. It would therefore seem almost useless, to record 
imputed errors and unfounded charges with regard to 
him, which have passed into oblivion by the lapse of 
years, were it not in some degree a duty, not to pass un- 

VOL. VII „ — M 


noticed^ events wliich^ in their own day at least, excited 
considerable attention. 

The meeting of the legislature at Staunton, was attend- 
ed by several members who had not been present at 
Richmond, at the period of Arnold's incursion. One 
of these, a Mr. George Nicholas, actuated, it is said, by 
no unkind feelings, yet it must be acknowledged with a 
patriotism somewhat too ardent, accused the late gover- 
nor of great remissness in his measures on that occasion, 
and moved for an inquiry into the aiFair. To this neither 
Mr. JeiFerson nor his friends had the least objection, nor 
did they make the slightest opposition. The ensuing 
session of the legislature, was the period fixed for the 
investigation, but before that time arrived, Mr. Nicho- 
las, convinced that the charges were unfounded, in the 
most honourable and candid manner declined the farther 
prosecution of the affair. In the mean time that he 
might be placed on equal ground for meeting the inquiry, 
one of the representatives of his county resigned his 
seat, and Mr. Jefferson was unanimously elected in his 
place. When the house assembled, no one appeared to 
bring forward the inquiry; he, however, rose in his 
place, and recapitulating the charges which had been 
made, stated in brief terms his own justification. His 
remarks were no sooner concluded, than the house 
passed unanimously the following resolution : 

^^ Resolved, That the sincere thanks of the general 
assembly, be given to our former governor Thomas Jef- 
ferson, for his impartial, upright and attentive adminis- 
tration whilst in ofiice. The assembly wish, in the 


Strongest manner^ to declare the high opinion they enter- 
tain of Mr. Jeiferson's ability, rectitude, and integrity, 
as chief magistrate of this commonwealth, and mean, by 
thus publicly avowing their opinion, to obviate and to 
remove all unmerited censure/' 

It is due to Mr. Nicholas to state, that in a publication 
some time afterwards, he made an honourable acknow- 
ledgment of the erroneous views he had entertained on 
the subject. The same candour has not marked all the 
opponents of Mr. Jefferson ; but we are not, however, 
now to learn, that in the violence of political asperity, 
circumstances long proved and generally acknowledged 
to be incorrect, are brought forward with no inconsider- 
able effrontery, and the mild and the good must be con- 
tent to wait until age has swept away the fabrications 
and assertions of faction, and confirmed that which is 
founded in honesty and truth. 

Mr. Jefferson has already appeared before us, as a 
writer of no ordinary talents ; but it has been in one 
point of view solely, that of a politician. Great as were 
his skill and knowledge as a statesman, and active as 
were his labours for the public good, we find him in the 
year 1781, snatching sufficient leisure amid the tumult 
and confusion of politics and war, to compose a work 
devoted exclusively to science. M. De Marbois, the 
secretary of the French legation in the United States, 
at the suggestion it is supposed of his own court, pro- 
posed to Mr. Jefferson a number of questions relative to 
the state of Virginia, embracing a general view of its 
geography, natural productions, statistics, government;, 


history and laws. To these Mr. Jefferson returned 
ansv/ers full of learning and research ; so ihuch so, that 
the gentleman to whom they were addressed, found it 
necessary to have a few copies printed in the French 
language, for the use exclusively, however, of his 
friends, among whom the work had excited great in- 
terest. From one of these copies, a translation was 
surreptitiously made into English ; and this induced Mr. 
Jefferson at length, in the year 1787, to publish the work 
himself, under the simple title it still retains of ^^ Notes 
on Virginia.'' The principal charms of this little 
volume are the unpretending simplicity of its style, and 
the variety of its information. After a lapse of more 
than forty years, we are surprised at the slow advances 
we have made in the subjects of which it treats; and 
when we reflect on the wild state of the country, at that 
period, the comparatively narrow bounds within which 
was contained all of civilization and knowledge, we look 
with astonishment at the facts, that industry could thus 
accumulate. Even if the length or nature of this 
memoir would permit it, it seems hardly necessary to 
analyse a work so generally known ; yet one might dwell 
with pleasure on many of the subjects which its pages 
embrace, and find in them a cheerful relief from the 
tedious uniformity of political history. The fanciful 
theories of Buffon, have met their refutation in the in- 
creasing intelligence of succeeding times — opinionum 
commenta delet dies, naturae judicia confirmat; yet one 
reads wdth satisfaction, if not with pleasure, the success- 
ful but simple refutation of the greatest philosopher of 



his day, by a citizen of an almost unknown and despised 
country^ who had thrown aside for a moment, the sword 
and the portfolio, to amuse himself in the more conge- 
nial investigations of science. The refutation of acknow- 
ledged absurdity^ has often been the mother of invalu- 
able wisdom ; the wild visions of Fulmer, produced the 
matchless dissertations of Locke. In the interesting 
picture of Indian habits and manners; the records of 
their untutored eloquence; the vindication of their 
bravery, their generosity and their virtue — in the deli- 
neation of the character, the fidelity, the kindly feelings 
of the enslaved negro race, whose champion he had ever 
been, alike in the times of colonial subjection, and of 
established freedom — in his investigations relative to re- 
ligious and political liberty — in his researches in science, 
philosophy and antiquity, every reader will find much to 
instruct and amuse. He will not perhaps regret, that 
he has chosen public life as the great theatre of his am- 
bition, but he will acknowledge, that his fame would 
probably have been as great, in the more peaceful pur- 
suits of science. 

About the close of the year 1782, Mr. Jefferson was 
appointed a minister plenipotentiary, to join those in 
Europe, who w ere to determine on the conditions of a 
treaty of peace, which it was expected would soon be 
entered into. In December he arrived at Philadelphia, 
in order to embark for Europe. Congress immediately 
ordered, that during his stay in that city, he should have 
full access to the archives of the government. 


The minister of France oiFered him the French fri- 
gate Romiikis^ which was then at Baltimore^ for his 
passage ; but^ before the ice would permit her to leave 
the port^ intelligence was received that preliminaries 
of peace between the United States and Great Britain 
had been signed. Mr. Jefferson wrote to congress from 
Baltimore^ to inquire whether the occasion of his ser- 
vices w as not passed^ and they^ of course^ dispensed w^th 
his leaving America. 

On the sixth of June 1783^ Mr Jefferson was again 
elected a delegate to congress, from the state of Virginia, 
but he did not take his seat in that body, until the fourth 
of November following. The part which he immediately 
acted, was of course a prominent one, and we find him 
at once engaged in all the principal measures that occu- 
pied the public attention. Early in December, letters 
were received from the commissioners who had been sent 
to France, accompanied with the definitive treaty be- 
tween the United States and Great Britain, which had 
been signed at Paris on the third of September. It was 
immediately referred to a committee, of which Mr. 
Jefferson was chairman. On the fourteenth of January, 
1784, on the report of this committee, the treaty was 
unanimously ratified, tlius putting an end to the eventful 
struggle between the two countries, and confirming the 
independence, which had already been gained. On the 
thirtieth of March he was elected chairman of congress, 
and chairman also of a grand committee, instructed to 
revise the institution of the treasury department, and 
report such alterations as they should deem expedient. 


This they did, in an able report on the fifth of April, 
embracing a general and comprehensive view, of the 
finances of the country — ^a subject of infinite difficulty, 
and presenting obstacles which threatened to disturb the 
harmony of the Union, to embarrass its councils and ob- 
struct its operations. 

About this period, another opportunity w^as offered to 
Mr. Jefferson, of expressing again, as he had already so 
frequently done, his earnest desire to provide for the 
emancipation of the negroes, and the entire abolition of 
slavery in the United States. Being appointed chair- 
man of a committee, to which was assigned the task of 
forming a plan for the temporary government of the 
Western Territory, he introduced into it the following 
clause: ^^That after the year 1800 of the Christian sera, 
there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in 
any of the said states, otherwise than in punishment of 
crimes, whereof the party shall have been convicted to 
have been personally guilty.^' When the report of the 
committee was presented to congress, these words were 
however struck out. 

On the seventh of May, congress resolved that a minis- 
ter plenipotentiary should be appointed, in addition to 
Mr. Adams and Dr. Franklin, for the purpose of nego- 
tiating treaties of commerce. To this office ^r. Jeffer- 
son was immediately elected, and orders were issued to 
the agent of marine, to provide suitable accommodations 
for his passage to Europe. 

In July, he sailed from the United States, and joined 
the other commissioners at Paris, in the following 


month. Full powers were given to them, to form alli- 
ances of amity and commerce with foreign states, and 
on the most liberal principles. In this useful design^ 
they were occupied for a year, but not with the success 
that congress had anticipated ; they succeeded in their 
negotiations, only with the governments of Morocco 
and Prussia. The treaty with the latter power is so 
remarkable for some of the provisions it contains, that 
it may be looked upon as an experiment in diplomacy 
and national law. By it blockades of every description 
were abolished, the flag covered the property, and con- 
trabands were exempted from confiscation, though they 
might be employed for the use of the captor, on pay-^ 
ment of their full value. This it is said, is the only treaty 
ever made by America, in which the latter stipulation 
is introduced, nor is it known to exist in any other mo- 
dern treaty. 

With Great Britain also, a negotiation was attempted^ 
but without success. The treaty of the preceding year, 
had dissolved for ever the bands by which the two coun- 
tries wxre united, but the ties of consanguinity, religion, 
manners, and perhaps of interest, seemed to point out 
by nature, an alliance somewhat more intimate, than that 
which usually exists between independent states. To 
effect such an alliance, two of the commissioners, Mr. 
Jefferson and Mr. Adams, crossed over to London, and 
made every endeavour to promote betw^een the two 
countries, a cordial connexion; so much so, that among 
the terms they proposed to offer, was a mutual exchange 
of naturalization to the citizens and vessels of either 


^country, in every thing relating to commerce or com- 
mercial navigation. The ministers were received by 
lord Carmathaen -with respect, but, whether from some 
remains of hostile feeling and injured pride, or from the 
pressure of her domestic affairs, injured as they had 
been by a long and unsuccessful war, the intercourse 
with America, for several years after the treaty of inde- 
pendence, does not appear to have occupied much of 
the attention of Great Britain. Every attempt to pro- 
cure a conference was evaded, the period for which the 
general commission was issued, was on the eve of expir- 
ing, and after a fruitless visit of seven weeks to London^ 
Mr. Jefferson returned to Paris. 

On the tenth of March, 1785, Mr. Jefferson was una- 
nimously appointed by congress, to succeed Dr. Franklin 
as minister plenipotentiary at the court of Versailles ; and 
on the expiration of his commission in October, 1787, he 
was again elected to the same honourable situation. He 
remained in France until October, 1789. 

The eminent rank which Dr. Franklin had obtained 
as a philosopher, before he was appointed a commissioner 
to Paris, had in no small degree facilitated his introduc- 
tion there, and greatly aided the success of his political 
mission ; that a man of such acknowledged distinction in 
science, should have been produced by these states, gave 
them a character beyond that which is usually bestowed 
on the colonists of a remote and unknown country, and 
strongly contributed to bring them forward into the rank 
of nations. These features of Dr. Franklin's character, 
were eminently supported by Mr. Jefferson, and it was 

VOL. VII. — ^i 

66 jeffehsox, 

certainly no common circumstance, that at a time when 
the spirit of political and philosophical investigation^ es- 
pecially so far as it applied to the state of society^ had 
made such rapid advances, and produced so many great 
men, our simple country scarcely yet heard of in Europe, 
should furnish such practical lessons in freedom and the 
assertion of liberty, and two men so fitted by their talents 
and the congeniality of their dispositions, to mingle with 
the most distinguished statesmen and philosophers of th€ 

During the period of Mr. Jefferson's residence in 
France, he was engaged in many diplomatic negotia- 
tions of considerable importance to this country, though 
not of sufficient general interest, to amuse a transient 
reader. The great questions which had so long occupied 
the public mind, were fitted to arrest the attention of 
the most thoughtless, aifecting as they did, the policy of 
nations and the fate of empires ; but the details which 
arise out of the interpretation of treaties, or the measures 
which are necessary to increase their effect, and to re- 
medy their deficiencies, are interesting only to him who 
studies the minute points of political history. These only 
were the objects, which could claim the attention of the 
minister to France, at this period ; they did not call 
forth any prominent display of his great and various 
talents, but they required no ordinary address, involved 
as they were by the skilful intrigues of such ministers 
as Vergennes and Calonne, and opposed for the most part 
by all the men of influence who thought that their inte- 
rests might be compromised or endangered. Among 


the principal benefits then obtained^ and continued to 
the United States until the period of the French revo- 
lution^ were the abolition of several monopolies^ and the 
free admission into France of tobacco^ rice, whale oil, 
salted fish, and flour ; and of the two latter articles into 
the French West India islands. 

During the period of his ministry, Mr. Jeiferson took 
advantage of the leisure he occasionally enjoyed to make 
an excui'sion to Holland, and another to Italy. Each 
offered a useful lesson to a philosopher and statesman, 
the representative of a young and rising nation. The 
one displayed the successfid efforts of patient industry, 
gradually removing the difiiculties which nature had 
created and neglect increased. In the fair clime and 
fertile soil of the other, he saw that arbitrary power 
changes the field of plenty to a desert, and that though 
the Italian might look around on the stupenduous ruins 
which proclaimed at once the power and the freedom of 
his ancestors, he had inherited nothing of their lofty spi- 
rit, but was rather a stranger wandering amid the relics of 
foreign grandeur, than the descendant of a nation whose 
humblest citizens were mightier tlian kings. It was, 
however, in the gaiety, the learning, the taste, elegance 
and hospitality of Paris, that he found the T^leasures 
that were most congenial to his disposition. Years had 
passed away, loaded with public cares, since he had in- 
dulged in those pursuits, wliich formed so favourite an 
occupation for his mind ; and now, placed at once in the 
midst of learning and elegance, admired for his genius^ 
loved for his modesty and kindness, received with open 


arms by the men whose names were most conspicuous for 
their talents and virtues, it will be readily believed, that 
he enjoyed the new scene around him with peculiar zest. 
The Abbe Morrellet translated his little work on Vir- 
ginia, Condorcet and D'Alembert claimed him as their 
friend, and he was invited and welcomed among the lite- 
rary institutions and circles of Paris. His letters, writ- 
ten during this period to his friends in America, display 
the versatility of his genius, and the attention he con- 
stantly bestowed on whatever was calculated to embellish 
or benefit society. Perhaps, indeed, of his long and 
not unprosperous life, he would ^x on this as the period 
of greatest enjoyment; as a statesman and patriot he was 
honoured, respected and loved ; of rank and fortune he 
had enough to supply his wants and gratify his ambition : 
in the prospect of the future there *was little to add t& 
his present happiness, while it was surrounded with the 
uncertainty which ever attends the most successful, iii 
the career of public life. 

It was during Mr. Jefferson's residence in France, that 
the difiiculties of this country, for want of a general 
government, were more and more felt ; they were greatly 
increased by the failure of treaties abroad, which might 
have given a system to our foreign relations, that could 
scarcely be expected, while the states presented a social 
form so feebly connected ; the federal constitution there- 
fore, had been framed from a general conviction of its 
necessity. But, however Mr. Jefferson had contributed 
to impress this necessity, and had communicated his ideas 
to his friends, he of course had no personal share in its 


formation. That the structure of it would awaken his 
attention, there could be no doubt ; and it appears, that 
his friends were early desirous of obtaining his views, 
with regard to it. In a late publication it is asserted, 
that so soon as 1787, he had expressed his sentiments of 
it, in a letter to Mr. Madison ; that letter has not been 
published, but it seems that soon after, Mr. Jefferson was 
written to by colonel Forrest of Georgetown, requesting 
his opinion of the new constitution, and that he sent to 
him, in reply, a copy or extract of his letter to Mr. 
Madison. As this has every appearance of authenticity, 
and certainly expresses Mr. Jeiferson's sentiments on 
this interesting subject, far better than any abridgment 
of them would do, no apology is necessary, for inserting 
it at length. 

'' I like much,'' he says, " the general idea of framing a 
government which should go on of itself peaceably, with- 
out needing continual recurrence to the state legislatures, 
I like the organization of the government into legislative, 
judiciary, and executive. I like the power given the 
legislature to levy taxes, and, for that reason solely, I 
approve of the greater house being chosen by the people 
directly: for, though I think a house so chosen will be very 
far inferior to the present congress, will be very illy qua- 
lified to legislate for the Union, for foreign nations, &c. 
yet this evil does not weigh against the good of preserv- 
ing inviolate the fundamental principle, that the people 
are not to be taxed but by representatives chosen imme- 
diately by themselves. I am captivated by the compro- 
mise of the opposite claims of the great and little states, 


of the latter to equal^ and the former to proportional in- 
fluence. I am much pleased^ too^ with the substitution 
of the method of voting by persons instead of that of 
voting by states 5 and I like the negative given to the 
executive conjointly mth a third of either house^ though 
I should have liked it better had the judiciary been asso- 
ciated for that purpose, or invested separately with a simi- 
lar power. There are other good things of less moment. 
I will now^ tell you what I do not like. First, the omis- 
sion of a bill of rights, providing clearly, and without the 
aid of sophisms, for freedom of religion, freedom of the 
press, protection against standing armies, restriction of 
monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of the ha- 
beas corpus laws, and trials by jury in matters of fact tri- 
able by the laws of the land, and not by the law of 
nations. To say, as Mr. Wilson does, that a bill of 
rights was not necessary, because all is reserved in the 
case of the general government which is not given, while 
in the particular ones, all is given which is not reserved, 
might do for the audience to which it was addressed, 
but it is surely a gratis dictum, the reverse of which 
might just as well be said; and it is opposed by strong 
inferences from the body of the instrument, as well as 
iTom the omission of the clause of oui' present confede- 
i^tion, which had made the reservation in express terms. 
It was hard to conclude, because there has been a want 
of uniformity among the states as to the cases triable by 
jury, because some have been so incautious as to dispense 
with this mode of trial in certain cases ; therefore, the 
more prudent states shall be reduced to the same 


level of calamity. It would have been much more just 
and wise to have concluded the other way, that, as most 
of the states had preserved with jealousy this sacred pal- 
ladium of liberty, those who had wandered should be 
brought back to it ; and to have established general right 
rather than general wrong. For I consider all the ill 
as established, which may be established. I have a right 
to nothing which another has a right to take away ; and 
congress will have a right to take away trials by jury in 
all civil cases. Let me add, that a bill of rights is what 
the people are entitled to against every government on 
earth, general or particular ; and what no just govern- 
ment should refuse, or rest on inferences. 

The second feature I dislike, and strongly dislike, 
is the abandonment, in every instance, of the principle 
of rotation in office, and most particularly in the case of 
the president. Reason and experience tell us that the 
first magistrate will always be reelected, if he may be 
reelected. He is then an officer for life. This once 
observed, it becomes of so much consequence to certain 
nations to have a friend or a foe at the head of our af- 
fairs, that they will interfere, with money and with arms, 
A Galloman or an Angloman will be supported by the 
nation he befriends. If once elected, and at a second 
or third election outvoted by one or two votes, he will 
pretend false votes, foul play, hold possession of the 
reins of government, be supported by the states voting 
for him, especially if they be the central ones, lying in 
a compact body themselves, and separating their oppo- 
nents ; and they will be aided by one nation in Europe^ 


while the majority are aided by another. The election 
of a president of America^ some years hence^ will be 
much more interesting to certain nations of Europe, than 
even the election of a king of Poland was. 

Reflect on all the instances in history^ ancient and 
modern^ of elective monarchies, and say if they do not 
give foundation for my fears — the Roman emperors, the 
popes, while they were of any importance, the German 
emperors, till they became hereditary in practice, the 
kings of Poland, the deys of the Ottoman dependencies. 
It may be said that if elections are to be attended with 
these disorders, the seldom er they are repeated the bet- 
ter. But experience says, that, to free them from dis- 
order, they must be rendered less interesting by a neces- 
sity of change. No foreign power, nor domestic party, 
will waste their blood and money to elect a person who 
must go out at the end of a short period. The power of 
removing every fourth year by the vote of the people, is 
a power which they will not exercise ; and if they were 
disposed to exercise it, they would not be permitted. 
The king of Poland is removable every day by the diet, 
but they never remove him, nor would Russia, the em- 
peror, &c. permit them to do it. Smaller objections 
are the appeal on matters of fact as well as law ; and the 
binding all persons, legislative, executive, and judiciary, 
by oath to maintain that constitution. I do not pretend 
to decide what would be the best method of procuring 
the establishment of the manifold good things in this con- 
stitution, and of getting rid of the bad; whether by 
adopting it in hopes of future amendment; or, after it 


shall have been duly weighed and canvassed by the peo- 
ple, after seeing the parts they generally dislike, and 
those they generally approve, to say to them, ^we see 
now what you wish; you are willing to give to your 
federal government such and such powers; but you 
wish, at the same time, to have such and such funda- 
mental rights secured to you, and certain sources of 
convulsion taken away; be it so; send together your 
deputies again, let them establish your fundamental 
rights by a sacrosanct declaration, and let them pass the 
parts of the constitution you have approved. These 
mil give powers to your federal government sufficient 
for your happiness.' This is what might be said, and 
would probably produce a speedy, more perfect, and 
more permanent form of government. At all events, I 
hope you will not be discouraged from making other 
trials, if the present one should fail ; we are never per- 
mitted to despair of the commonwealth. 

I have thus told you freely what I like and what I dis- 
like, merely as matter of curiosity : for I know it is not 
in my power to offer matter of information to your judg- 
ment, which has been formed after hearing and weigh- 
ing every thing which the wisdom of man could offer 
on these subjects. I own I am not a friend to a very en- 
ergetic government ; it is always oppressive ; it places the 
governors indeed more at their ease, but at the expense 
of the people. The late rebellion in Massachusetts has 
given more alarm than I think it should have done. Cal- 
culate that one rebellion in thirteen states, in the course 
of eleven years, is but one for each state in a century 

VOL. VII. — ^K 


and a half. No country should be so long without one^ 
nor will any degree of power in the hands of government 
prevent insurrections. In England, where the hand of 
power is heavier than with us, there are seldom half a 
dozen years without an insurrection. In France, where 
it is still heavier, but less despotic, as Montesquieu 
supposes, than in some other countries, and where there 
are always two or three hundred thousand men ready 
to crush insurrections, there have been three in the 
course of the three years I have been here, in every 
one of which, greater numbers were engaged than in 
Massachusetts, and a great deal more blood was spilt. 
In Turkey, where the sole nod of the despot is death, 
insurrections are the events of every day. Compare 
again the ferocious depredations of their insurgents with 
the order, the moderation, and the almost self- extinguish- 
ment of ours, and say, finally, whether peace is best pre- 
served by giving energy to the government, or informa- 
tion to the people. This last is the most certain and the 
most legitimate engine of government. Educate and 
inform the whole mass of the people, enable them to see 
that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and 
they will preserve it ; and it requires no very high de- 
gree of education to convince them of this ; they are the 
only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. 
After all, it is my principle that the will of the majority 
should prevail. If they approve the proposed constitu- 
tion in all its parts, I shall concur in it cheerfully, in 
hopes they will amend it, whenever they shall find it 
works wrong. This reliance cannot deceive us, as long 





as we remain virtuous ; and I think we shall be so^ as 
long as agriculture is our principal object, which will 
be the case while there remain vacant lands in any part 
of America. When we get piled upon one another in 
large cities, as in Europe, we shall become corrupt as in 
Europe, and go to eating one another as they do there, 
I have tired you by this time with disquisitions which 
you have already heard repeated by others a thousand 
and a thousand times, and therefore shall only add assur- 
ance of the esteem and attachment, with which I have 
the honour to be, dear Sir,^^ &c. 

In the month of October, 1789, Mr. Jefferson obtained 
leave of absence, for a short time, and returned to the 
United States. While he was abroad, the federal con- 
stitution, the formation of which we have mentioned^ 
an^ relative to which we have given his views, had been 
regularly ratified by the requisite number of states^ 
general Washington had been raised unanimously to the 
presidential chair, and the new government had been 
successfully organized. In filling the executive ofiices, 
the president had with that wisdom which marked all 
the acts of his public life, carefully selected those whose 
talents or previous employments, rendered them pecu- 
liarly fit for the duties of the stations, to which they 
were appointed. After his arrival from France, and 
while on his way to Virginia, Mr. Jefferson received a 
letter from the president, offering him the option of be- 
coming secretary of state, or returning to France, as 
minister plenipotentiary to that court. His feelings 
and his habits, alike urged him to the latter, but he could 



not and did not refuse to acquiesce, in the very strong 
desire expressed by the president, that he would afford 
the aid of his talents to the administration at home. 

Of all the offices under the government of the United 
States, there is no one which calls for the exercise of 
such various abilities, such extensive knowledge of laws 
and facts, such prompt decision on questions involving 
principles of .the highest political import, as the depart- 
ment of state ; and in proportion to the infancy of the 
office itself, and the new and peculiar situation of the 
government, was the difficulty of the task assumed by 
Mr. Jefferson. The subsequent events of his political 
life, have been tinged by the hue of party, and perhaps 
the time has not arrived when we can view them with 
strict impartiality, and weigh the policy of his measures 
without dwelling too much on circumstances merely tem- 
porary or local. But all unite in the candid acknow- 
ledgment, that the duties of this station were performed 
with a prudence, intelligence, and zeal honourable to 
himself, and useful to his country. In the intercourse 
with foreign nations, the laws of a strict neutrality, at a 
period of peculiar difficulty, were maintained with un- 
yielding firmness and consummate ability ; the dignity of 
the nation was remembered and supported : and the in- 
terests of the citizens was cherished and protected. At 
home he turned his attention to objects of a minuter 
character, but of equal importance ; he laid before con- 
gress from time to time reports on various branches of 
domestic policy, which displayed at once the extent and 
variety of his genius, the depth of his information, and 


the zeal with which he applied them both to the pecu- 
liar duties of his situation. It has been observed, that 
these papers evince not only the feelings of a patriot and 
the judgment of an accomplished statesman, but display, 
at the same time, uncommon talents and knowledge as a 
mathematician and natural philosopher, the deepest re- 
* search as an historian, and even an enlarged and intimate 
acquaintance with the business and concerns of a mer- 

Mr. Jefferson had scarcely entered upon the duties of 
his office, when congress referred to him a subject whose 
nature and importance called for the exercise of a ma- 
ture judgment, while its intricacy was such, as to require 
in the investigation, more than ordinary scientific know- 
ledge. They directed him to prepare and report a 
plan, for establishing a uniform system of currency, 
weights and measures. This was a subject which, it was 
admitted on all hands, demanded very serious attention. 
It had already attracted the notice of the most enlight- 
ened European nations; and a partial experiment in 
one branch, that of the public currency, had been re- 
ceived throughout the United States, with general ap- 
probation and unexpected success. The established 
system of weights and measures was alike inconvenient 
and absurd. In the ages of feudal ignorance, when the 
sallies of passion, the dictates of unrestrained ambition, 
or the gratification of each changing caprice, were all 
that a monarch asked as the foundation of his laws, it was 
at least not inconsistent, that the length of his arm or 
foot should regulate the measures of the nation. But 


the necessities of modern commercial intercourse^ seem 
to demand a scale. more certain and convenient; while 
the improvements of modern science^ oiffered standards 
of unerring correctness and uniformity. The first object 
that presents itself in such an inquiry^ is the discovery 
of some measure of invariable length. For this purpose^ 
Mr. JeiFerson proposed to select a pendulum vibrating 
seconds; and after answering the various objections 
which may be made to such a standard, he submits to 
congress two alternative plans for its adoption. By the 
first, he proposes, that if, in the opinion of congress, the 
difficulty of changing the established habits of the nation, 
renders it expedient to retain the present weights and 
measures, yet that they should be rendered uniform and 
invariable, by bringing them to the same invariable 
standard. With this view, he enters minutely into the 
details of the established system, its history, the remark- 
able coincidence to be discovered in some of its varieties- 
its useless inconsistencies, and the extreme ease, and 
trifling variation, ^\ath which it may be rendered uni- 
form and stable. But, in the second place, he proceeds 
to say, "if it be thought, that either now or at any future 
time, the citizens of the United States may be induced 
to undertake a thorough reformation of their whole sys- 
tem of measures, weights and coins, reducing every 
branch to the same decimal ratio already established in 
their coins, and thus bringing the calculation of the 
principal affairs of life within the arithmetic of every 
man who can multiply and divide plain numbers, greater 
changes will be necessary.^' 


These changes he points out briefly and distinctly ; 
as being such as are easy of introduction, and useful both 
to the citizens of our own and foreign countries. '^ A gra- 
dual introduction/' he concludes, ^^ would lessen the in- 
conveniences which might attend too sudden a substitu- 
tion, even of an easier, for a more difficult system. After 
a given term, for instance, it might begin in the custom- 
houses, where the merchants would become familiarised 
to it. After a further term, it might be introduced into 
all legal proceedings; and merchants and traders in fo- 
reign commodities might be required to use it in their 
dealings with one another. After a still further term all 
other descriptions of people might receive it into com- 
mon use. Too long a postponement, on the other hand, 
would increase the difficulties of its reception with the 
increase of our population. '^ 

This valuable document is still before the country. 
A cautious deliberation, a natural attachment to long 
established usage, a prudent deference to existing pre- 
judices, perhaps the acknowledged difficulties in every 
system, have hitherto prevented any change in the ex- 
isting laws; but the subject has demanded and received, 
during half a century, the anxious attention of distin- 
guished philosophers and enlightened statesmen, in this 
country and in France, England and Spain : and we may 
justly indulge the hope, that a long period w^ll not elapse 
before their efforts shall have produced a grand and use- 
ful system. 

On the eighteenth of January, 1791, Mr. Jefferson 
made a report^ as secretary of state; on the subject of 


tonnage duties payable by France. Very soon after the 
meeting of the first congress, the same subject had been 
discussed in that body, with considerable animation, and 
an act had passed the house of representatives, embracing 
a discrimination in these duties, highly favourable to 
France. The principle thus adopted, coincided with 
the general sentiments of the nation, and appeared to be 
called for, not by this circumstance only, but by the 
strongest dictates of national gratitude, as well as those 
of sound policy. The discrimination, however, was 
rejected by the senate, and the house of representatives 
w^ere obliged reluctantly to yield. What it was thus 
deemed inexpedient to grant, even as a matter of favour 
or policy, the French government demanded as a right, 
under the treaty of amity and commerce of 1778. 
The demand was referred to Mr. Jefferson, by the pre- 
sident, and elicited from him the able report to which 
we have alluded. In this he clearly proved, that the 
article of the treaty on which the French government 
founded their claim, was e^adently meant to extend no 
farther than to the exemption of the United States from 
a duty, from which other favoured nations were also 
exempted, and that in return France could claim of our 
government, no greater advantages than favoured nations 
also received from us. That if the article in question 
had a more extended relation, it applied reciprocally to 
each government, and would lead to the mutual abolition 
of duties, highly useful to both, and to consequences in 
which it was hardly conceivable, that either party could 
see its interest. But he appears to incline to the opi- 


nion, that if France persisted in claiming this exemption^ 
there were extrinsic causes which might justify and even 
render advisable some relaxation in her favour ; not on 
the grounds on which it was demanded^ but from the 
effect it would have on the finances, revenue and com- 
merce of our own country. This report, the presi- 
dent immediately submitted to the senate of the United 

But the foreign relations of the country, were not the 
only subject, on which the opinions of congress were di- 
vided, during the session of 1791. The secretary of the 
treasury, in introducing his celebrated system of finance, 
had recommended the establishment of a national bank^ 
as necessary to its easy and prosperous adniinistration. 
A bill conforming to the plan he suggested was sent down 
from the senate, and was permitted to proceed unmo- 
lested, in the house of representatives, to the third read- 
ing. On the final question, however, a great, and it would 
seem an unexpected opposition was made to its passage ; 
and after a debate of considerable length, which was sup- 
ported on both sides with ability, and with that ardour 
which was naturally excited by the importance attached 
by each party to the principle in contest, the question 
was put, and the bill carried in the affirmative by a ma- 
jority of nineteen voices. 

The point which had been agitated with so much zeal 
in the house of representatives, was examined not less 
deliberately by the executive. The advice of each 
minister, with his reasoning in support of it, was required 
in writing, and their arguments were considered by the 

VOL. VIT. — L 


president with all that attention which the magnitude 
of the question, and the interest taken in it by the op- 
posing parties^ so eminently required. 

The opinion of Mr. Jefferson, and it agreed with that 
of the attorney general, was decided. He believed that 
congress, in the passage of the bill, had clearly transcend- 
ed the powers granted them by the constitution. That 
as a body, with limited authority, they were strictly 
confined to the exercise of those powers which were 
granted to them, and that to their exercise, an establish- 
ment of such vast pow er and influence, was neither inci- 
dental nor necessary. That even if a free interpretation 
of the constitution, seemed to authorize that which was 
no where expressly allowed, it was still better for those 
who were exercising merely a delegated pow er, to con- 
fine themselves within limits which were well known, 
and where their power was universally acknowledged, 
than to assume as a right, what was at least considered 
as doubtful, by a large and intelligent portion of their 

The views of the secretary of the treasury were equally 
decided, and in favour of the establishment. The pre- 
sident after receiving their opinions, weighing their rea- 
sons and examining the subject, deliberately made up 
his mind in favour of the constitutionality of the law , and 
gave it the sanction of his name. This circumstance, 
together with the renewal of the charter of the bank, at 
a subsequent period, may perhaps be considered suffi- 
cient, to settle the legality, as well as the policy, of the 


measure ; yet none will regret that it was adopted with 
so much hesitation^ and that it led to so serious a discus- 
sion of the fundamental principles of our government. 
It was a matter of high importance, at that early period, 
when experience had afforded no lessons, when the re- 
mote effects, and bearings of any act wxre unknown, and 
when the people were naturally and properly jealous, 
of the slightest infringment of the rights they had re- 
served, that nothing which could be construed, even by 
the ignorant, into the unwarranted assumption of power, 
should be done w^ithout the utmost calmness, inquiry and 

On the first of February, 1791, Mr. Jefferson presented 
to the house of representatives, an elaborate and valu- 
able report, on the subject of the cod and whale fisheries. 
Before the revolution a large number of seamen, and a 
great amount of tonnage, were successfully employed in 
this trade ; but during the war it had been almost anni- 
hilated, and now required the immediate and efficient 
aid of the government to restore it. It was too valuable 
to be neglected. To a maritime nation, its preservation 
was of vital and acknowledged importance. It afforded 
employment and subsistence to the inhabitants of a sandy 
and rocky district, who had no resource in agriculture ; 
by augmenting the quantity of food, it reduced the 
prices of all the necessaries of life ; and thus improved 
the condition of the labouring classes, especially on the 
sea coast ; it was the means of rearing and supporting a 
hardy race of men, useful alike in extending and defend- 
ing the commerce of the country ; and it was a sure 


nursery of excellent seamen^ for the public vessels of the 
nation^ and for the rapidly increasing trade between the 
United States and the European powers — an object of 
immense importance^ when the scarcity of labour, and 
the readiness with which employment could be found, 
in less arduous pursuits, were taken into view. Im- 
pressed with these considerations, congress very early 
determined to give the subject that investigation, which 
its importance demanded. The report of Mr. Jefferson 
was accordingly made. In it he enters with sufficient 
minuteness, into an historical view of the rise and pro- 
gress of the trade, both among ourselves and foreign 
nations; he points out distinctly the facilities ajfforded by 
our situation, the cheapness and excellence of our ves- 
sels, and the superiority of our mariners ; the disadvan- 
tages under which we labour, from the prohibitory policy 
of other nations, and the means they have used, directly 
and indirectly, to destroy our trade ; and concludes with 
recommending to congress, the adoption of such measures 
as he conceives sufficient to restore the confidence and 
energy of those engaged in it, to defeat the efforts of 
foreign governments, and to open new markets for our 
enterprise. The utility of these measures was acknow- 
ledged, and the adoption of this policy has secured to 
us a branch of trade and domestic enterprise, which 
cannot be too highly appreciated. 

Towards the close of this year, 1791, Mr. Jefferson 
became involved in a discussion with Mr. Hammond, the 
British minister, of considerable length and some impor- 
tance. It arose, in the first instance, out of the provi- 


sions in the original treaty of peace, between the United 
States and Great Britain. Soon after the termination 
of the war^ each party had charged the other with a 
violation of its engagements. The charge could not be 
entirely controverted by either. At lengthy however, 
the opening of a diplomatic intercourse, by the recep- 
tion of Mr. Hammond and the appointment of Mr. 
Pinckney, seemed to aiford a proper opportunity for 
bringing these differences to a close, and for fixing the 
principles, which might serve as the basis of a definitive 
commercial arrangement, between the two countries. 
Accordingly, soon after the arrival of the British minis- 
ter, Mr. Jefferson called his attention to the seventh ar- 
ticle of the treaty, which contained stipulations against 
carrying away negroes or destroying any American pro- 
perty, and secured the removal or evacuation by the 
British forces of all posts within the limits of the United 
States. To this letter Mr. Hammond promptly replied, 
that his government had only been induced to suspend 
the execution of that article, by the non-compliance of 
the United States with the engagements they had made, 
in the same treaty, to secure the payment of debts justly 
due to British creditors, and to stop all confiscations and 
prosecutions against British subjects. This was followed 
on both sides, by an exposition of the various circum- 
stances relied on to support the grounds that had been 
respectively assumed ; and while on one hand, the refu- 
sal to evacuate the military stations was acknowledged, 
it cannot on the other be denied, that the terms of the 
treaty did not appear, in several important instances^ to 


have been strictly complied with. To account for this^ 
Mr. Jefferson^ on the twenty-second of May, addressed 
to Mr. Hammond a long and circumstantial letter. 
Placing out of view, all the acts which had occurred 
during the war, as recollections equally unprofitable and 
unconciliatory, and, to use his own language, dropping 
for ever the curtain on that tragedy, he proceeds to 
show, and with no little success, that the acts complained 
of by the British government, were no infraction of the 
treaty; that on the subject of exile and confiscation, 
congress only could and did stipulate, to recommend it 
to the individual states, and that the stipulation was so 
understood, by both parties to the treaty — it was not 
indeed denied that the recommendation had been ear- 
nestly and faithfully made ; that the British infractions 
had preceded, and thereby produced, the acts com- 
plained of, as obstacles to the recovery of the debts, 
thus justifying, on our part, a resort to retaliatory mea- 
sures ; but that even those acts, being the proceedings 
of individual states, were controlled by the treaty, and 
that anxious, not even to leave the shadow of doubt, they 
had already been repealed, in every state of the Union 
but one. That the claim set up by the British creditors 
for interest during the war, was not given by the treaty, 
was not generally allowed in other countries, and was 
fairly a subject that should be left to the decision of the 
legal tribunals, without imputing to them palpable wrong, 
or making it a pretence for not executing the treaty. 
"These things," concludes Mr. Jefferson, "being evi- 
dent, I cannot but flattel' myself; after the assurances 


received from you of his Britannic majesty's desire to 
remove every occasion of misunderstanding from between 
us^ that an end will now be put to the disquieting situa- 
tion of the two countries, by as complete execution of 
the treaty as circumstances render practicable at this 
late day: that it is to be done so late, has been the 
source of heavy losses of blood and treasure, to the 
United States. Still our desire of friendly accommo- 
dation is, and has been constant. These difficulties 
being removed from between the two nations, I am per- 
suaded the interests of both will be found in the strictest 
friendship. The considerations which lead to it, are too 
numerous and forcible to fail of their effect ; and that 
they may be permitted to have their full effect, no one 
wishes more sincerely than myself.'' To this letter no 
reply was ever received; and although the subject was 
from time to time renewed, it seems to have been 
attended with no other result, than confirming each 
party in its original impressions. The whole controversy 
was finally merged, in the more important differences 
which afterwards arose between the two countries, and 
was incorporated at length in the definitive negotiations^, 
which terminated in the treaty of 1794. 

Nor was Great Britain the only country, with which 
the United States were, about this time, involved in a 
controversy of much delicacy and importance. As early 
as the revolutionary war, the Spanish government appear 
to have contemplated, with considerable apprehension, 
the probable future strength of the new republic, and 
to have strongly desired to restrain it, within the most 


confined limits^ towards the south and west. After the 
conclusion of the war^ attempts to form a treaty had been 
repeatedly made, but without any advance towards an 
agreement, on the point of difference, between the two 
countries. These points were chiefly, the settlement of 
our boundaries, the exclusion of our citizens from navi- 
gating the Mississippi below our southern limits, the in- 
terference with the neighbouring Indian tribes, the res- 
titution of property carried away, and fugitivesfrom 
justice escaping within the territories of each other, 
and the arrangement of the general principles of a com- 
mercial treaty. About the close of the year 1791, 
however, Mr. Jefferson reported to the president, that 
the Spanish government, apprised of our solicitude to 
have some arrangement made, respecting our free navi- 
gation of the Mississippi, were ready to enter into a 
treaty thereon at Madrid. This, it was true, referred 
merely to one of the subjects then unsettled, but it was 
a matter of too great importance to be neglected ; and 
accordingly commissioners were appointed, without de- 
lay, to proceed to Madrid, and their powers wxre extend- 
ed to include the other arrangements, which it was 
desired should be made between the two countries. In the 
spring of 1792, Mr. Jefferson drew up his observations on 
the several subjects of negotiation, to be communicated by 
way of instruction to the two commissioners. As the 
negotiation itself, was one of the most difficult, intricate 
and vexatious in which the government has ever been 
engaged, so are these documents among the most import- 
ant and valuable, that have arisen out of our relations 


with foreign powers. In the first place, the absurdity 
t)f a claim set up by Spain to possessions within the state 
of Georgia, founded on her having rescued them by- 
force from the British during the war, is clearly estab- 
lished; and it is shown, that the boundary between the 
possessions of the two countries, must rest as it had been 
fixed by former treaties. The next and most important 
subject, the navigation of the Mississippi, is treated 
more in detail. Our right to use that river, from its 
source to where our southera boundary touched it, was 
not denied ; it was only from that point downward, that 
the exclusive navigation was claimed by Spain. Our 
right to participate in it however, Mr. Jefferson con- 
tended, was established at once by former treaties, and 
by the law of nature and nations. By the treaty of 
1763, the right of navigating the river in its whole 
length and breadth, from its source to sea, was expressly 
.secured to all, at that time, the subjects of Great Britain. 
By the treaty of 1782, this common right was confirmed 
to the United States, by the only power who could pre- 
tend to claim against them, founded on the state of war. 
By the law of nature and nations, he remarks, if we ap- 
peal to it as we feel it written on the heart of man, what 
sentiment is written in deeper characters than that the 
ocean is free to all men, and their rivers to all their in- 
habitants ? Is there a man, savage or civilized, unbiassed 
by habit, who does not feel and attest this truth? 
Accordingly, in all tracts of country united under the 
same political society, we find this natural right univer- 
sally acknowledged and protected, by laying the naviga- 

VOL. VII. — M 


ble rivers open to all their inhabitants. When their 
rivers enter the limits of another society, if the right of 
the upper inhabitants to descend the stream is in any 
case obstructed, it is an act of force by a stronger soci- 
ety against a weaker, condemned by the judgment of 
mankind. If we appeal to the law of nature and nations, 
as expressed by writers on the subject, it is agreed by 
them, that were the river, where it passes between 
Florida and Louisiana the exclusive right of Spain, still 
an innocent passage along it is a natural right in those 
inhabiting its borders above. It would indeed be what 
those writers call an imperfect right, because the modi- 
fication of its exercise depends, in a considerable degree- 
on the conveniency of the nation through which they 
are to pass. But it is still a right as real as any other 
right, however well defined ; and were it to be refused, 
or to be so shackled by regulations not necessary for the 
peace or safety of its inhabitants, as to render its use 
impracticable to us, it would then be an injury, of 
which we should be entitled to demand redress. This 
right of navigation therefore, as well as that of moor- 
ing vessels to its shores, of landing on them in case 
of distress, or for other necessary purposes is established 
and supported, at considerable length, and with great 
learning and intelligence. 

As the basis of a commercial treaty, Mr. Jefierson pro- 
posed to exchange, between the two countries, the rights 
of native citizens, or the privileges mutually granted te 
the most favoured nations. With respect to fugitives, he 
stated it as his opinion, that by the law of nature, no natioa 


has a right to punish a person who has not offended itself; 
but that murder was a crime so atrocious and imminently 
dangerous to society, as to justify a denial of habitation^ 
arrest and delivery — carefully restraining it however, to 
homicide of malice prepense, and not of the nature of 
treason. Treason, he observed, when real, merits the 
highest punishment. But most codes extend their defini- 
tions of treason to acts not really against one's country. 
They do not distinguish between acts against the govern^ 
ment, and acts against the oppressions of the government. 
The latter are virtues, yet have furnished more victims 
to the executioner than the former : because real treasons 
are rare, oppressions frequent. The unsuccessful strug- 
glers against tyranny, have been the chief martyrs of 
treason laws in all countries. Reformation of government 
with our neighbours, is as much wanting now, as reform- 
ation of religion is or ever was any where. We should not 
wish therefore, to give up to the executioner the patriot 
who fails and flees to us ; and treasons, on the whole, tak- 
ing the simulated with the real, are sufficiently punished 
by exile. Crimes against property, and flight from debts^ 
are not of such a nature, as to authorize the delivery of the 
offender : they may be punished in the tribunals of the na- 
tion, where he is found ; and these tribunals, it ought to 
be stipulated, shall be open to the claimant from a neigh- 
bouring nation, in like manner as they are open to their 
own citizens. On the remaining subject of controversy, 
the interference with the neighbouring Indians, such 
had been the perverse conduct of the Spanish govern- 
ment, that it became necessary to address them directly, 


in tlie most decided terms, ^^We love and we value 
peace;,'' observes Mr. Jefferson | ^^we know its blessings 
from experience ; unmedxiling witfi the affairs of otheF 
nations; we had hoped that our distance and our dispo- 
sitions would have left us free, in the example and indul- 
gence of peace, with all the world. We had with 
sincere and particular dispositions, courted and cultiva- 
ted the friendship of Spain. Cherishing the same 
sentiments, we have chosen to ascribe tlie unfriendly 
insinuations of the Spanish commissioners, in their in- 
tercourse with the government of the United States, to 
the peculiar character of the writers and to remove the 
cause from them to their sovereign, in whose justice and 
love of peace we have confidence. If we are disappoint- 
ed in this appeal, if we are to be forced into a contrary 
order of things, our mind is made up ; we shall meet it 
with firmness. The necessity of our position will su- 
persede all appeal to calculation now, as it has done 
heretofore. We confide in our own strength, without 
boasting of it : we respect that of others without fearing 
it. If Spain chooses to consider our self defence against 
savage butchery as a cause of war to her, we must meet 
her also in war, with regret, but without fear; and we 
shall be happier to the last moment to repair with her 
to the tribunal of peace and reason.'' 

The importance of these various objects of negotia- 
tion, will not be denied ; it appears to have been equally 
the interest of each nation, that they should at least be 
placed on some definite footing. The Spanish govern- 
ment; however, beheld Y^ith dread any measure which 


would extend the limits of the United States, or confirm 
to them privileges on the frontier, to which their claim 
was even doubtfuL All the efforts of Mr. Jefferson 
were in vain ; the negotiation was protracted by artifi- 
cial delays, and it was not until some years after, when 
embarrassed by an unsuccessful war, and perhaps con- 
scious of her own increasing weakness, and the rising 
power of the republic, that Spain reluctantly consented 
to accede to a few of the propositions, which had been 
so often and so zealously urged by the United States, 
It finally remained however, for the distinguished states- 
man who now presides over the republic, to complete* 
in our own day, with honour and success, the task which 
had been commenced so long before, by his illustrious 

In the spring of the year 1793, a negotiation was be- 
gun, arising out of circumstances, more directly affect- 
ing the present and future situation, and involving the 
political rights of the United States, than any that had 
occurred since the formation of the constitution. It 
was the question of her neutral policy and rights. Early 
in April, the declaration of war made by France against 
Great Britian and Holland, reached America. Scarcely 
was this event known before indications were given in 
some of the sea ports, of a disposition to engage in the 
unlawful business of privateering on the commerce of 
the belligerent powers. The subject was too interesting 
and important, to be treated either with precipitation or 
neglect; and, on the nineteenth of April, the heads of 
department and the attorney general met at the presi- 


dent's housfe^ to consult with him on the measures which 
the occasion demanded. Every feeling of sympathy^ 
generosity and gratitude, was enlisted in the cause of 
France ; she was boldly struggling against the leagued 
nations of Europe, for the preservation of her natural 
and domestic rights, from foreign aggression ; she was 
endeavouring to obtain, for her own oppressed people, 
those liberties, laws and institutions which she had ge- 
nerously aided us in maintaining ; and if, in the excess 
of popular frenzy, or under the instigation of ambitious 
and unprincipled leaders, the bounds of propriety, or 
of moral right were sometimes passed, it was to be at- 
tributed to long ages of ignorance and oppression, to the 
unrestrained exultation of a new and almost unexpected 
freedom, not held up as the justification of foreign inva- 
sion, or the excuse for illiberal conduct and violated 
treaties. Such feelings were alike honourable and cor- 
rect ; they were the general and spontaneous feelings of 
the American people. Yet it was the anxious desire 
of the administration, that even while this feeling was 
indulged, nothing should be done to destroy that rela- 
tion to foreign powers, which was deemed most benefi- 
cial to our interests and happiness ; that policy which 
has since been so emphatically confirmed, of preserving 
peace, commerce and friendship with all nations, and 
forming entangling alliances with none. The president, 
therefore, submitted to his council a proclamation, for- 
bidding the citizens of the United States to take part 
in any hostilities on the seas with, or against, any of the 
belligerent powers ; warning them against carrying to 


rny of those powers^ articles deemed contraband accord- 
ing to the modern usages of nations, and enjoining them 
from all acts inconsistent with the duties of a friendly 
nation towards those at war. The adoption of this 
proclamation was unanimously ad\dsed, and it was ac- 
cordingly issued on the twenty-second of April. 

The next point submitted by the president, was the 
propriety of receiving a minister from the French repub- 
lic ; this he was advised to do with equal unanimity. But 
it was at the same time suggested, by some members of 
the administration, that from the turbulence and fury 
which had marked the late proceedings in France, from 
their doubts whether the present possessors had not ob- 
tained it by unjustifiable violence, and from the danger 
they apprehended to the United States, from too close 
a connexion with the new republic, it was expedient 
while we gave its minister an unqualified reception, can 
didly to apprize him, that we should reserve for future 
discussion, the question, whether the operation of our 
treaties, ought not to be deemed temporarily or pro\'i- 
sionally suspended. This extraordinary doctrine, not 
less needless than illiberal, was decidedly opposed by 
Mr. Jefferson, who at once expressed his opinion, that 
no cause existed for departing in the present instance 
from the usual mode of acting on such occasions. The 
revolution in France, he conceived, had produced no 
change in the relations between the two nations. The 
obligations created by pre-existing treaties remained 
the same ; and there was nothing in the alteration of 
government, or in the character of the war, which could 


impair the right of France to demand^ or weaken tlie 
duty of the United States faithfully to comply with the 
engagements which had been solemnly formed. In this 
opinion the president concurred ; and determined to 
receive the minister of the republic, without qualifying 
that act by any explanations. 

The principles thus established, were called into im- 
mediate operation. The citizen Genet, a gentleman of 
considerable talents, but of a temper naturally ardent, 
and particularly excited by the passions and politics of 
the day, arrived just at this time at Charleston, as minis 
ter from France. He was welcomed by the people with 
unbounded, and not unnatural enthusiasm, as the first 
representative of a new republic, and the ambassador of 
an old and generous ally^ From the publications of that 
period, his progress through the country 'seems rather to 
have been a triumphal procession, than the journey of 
an unknown stranger, and in the failure of his subse- 
quent measures, he could look only to their impropriety 
and his own intemperance or imprudence. Either 
distrusting the concurrence of the American govern- 
ment, or too ardent to wait for it, in a few days after his 
landing in Charleston, he undertook to authorize the 
fitting and arming of vessels in that port, enlisting men, 
and giving commissions to cruise and commit hostilities 
on nations, with which the United States were at peace. 
These proceedings of course produced immediate com= 
plaints, and before the arrival of the ambassador at the 
seat of government, before he was accredited as a minis- 
ter, a long catalogue of grievances committed by him^ 


had been made to the president. Mr. Jeiferson imme- 
diately addressed a letter to Mr. Ternan, the French 
minister^ residing at Philadelphia. In it he candidly 
stated the determination of the government, and ex- 
pressed his surprise at the assumption of jurisdiction by 
an officer of a foreign power, in cases which had not 
been permitted by the nation, within whose limits it had 
been exercised. 

Mr. Genet arrived in Philadelphia on the follow^ing 
day, and from that period a correspondence commenced, 
which was continued without interruption as long as 
Mr. Jefferson occupied the department of state. The 
letters of Mr. Jefferson, take up in succession, the 
different assertions which were made and views which 
were entertained by the French minister, answering and 
refuting them, always with success, and frequently 
with singular happiness and ingenuity. The language 
and conduct he had used in his intercourse with 
the American government, and the unwarrantable ex- 
pressions in which he had indulged, when speaking 
of the illustrious man at its head, were treated with 
the indignation and contempt which they deserved. 
The spirit of friendship for the nation was carefully pre- 
served, w^hile the unauthorized aggressions of its agent 
were resisted, and his insinuations repelled and denied. 
This correspondence, indeed, forms one of the most im- 
portant features in the history of the United States, as 
it is the foundation of a policy, which it has been the 
invariable aim of the government, since that period, to 
follow ; and it contains nearly all the important princi- 

YOL. vn. — N 


ples^ in the conduct of a neutral nation, which hav t 
since been more fully developed and supported. 

Mr. Jefferson's participation in the government was 
now drawing to a close. As his last important official 
act, in pursuance of a resolution passed some time before, 
he presented to congress, on the sixteenth of December, 
1793, a report on the nature and extent of the privileges 
and restrictions of the commercial intercourse of the 
United States with foreign nations, and the measures 
which he should think proper to be adopted for the im- 
provement of their commerce and navigation. 

In this report, which has been ever considered as one 
of great importance, he enumerates in the first place, 
the articles of export, with their value to the several 
nations with whom we have carried on a commercial 
intercourse. He then proceeds to point out minutely » 
the various restrictions which they have placed on that 
intercourse, and calls the attention of congress to the 
best modes of removing, modifying or counteracting 
them. These he states to be twofold : first, by friendly 
arrangements with the several nations with whom these 
restrictions exist: or, secondly, by separate legislative 
acts for countervailing their effects. 

He gave a decided preference to friendly arrange 
ments. Instead of embarrassing commerce under piles 
of regulating laws, duties and prohibitions, he thought 
it was desirable that it should be relieved from all its 
shackles in all parts of the world- If even a single nation 
would unite with the United States in this system of free 
commerce; it would be advisable to begin it with that na- 


tion. But should any nation^ contrary to the wishes of 
America, suppose it might better find its advantages by 
continuing its system of prohibitions, duties, and regula- 
tions, it would behove the United States to protect their 
citizens, their commerce, and navigation, by counter 
prohibitions, duties and regulations, also. These views 
are then pursued at considerable length, the protec- 
tion of our navigation strenuously recommended, the 
principles of national reciprocity pointed out and en- 
forced, and the necessity, or at least the propriety advo- 
cated, should these principles be neglected, of establish- 
ing regulations and prohibitions coextensive with those 
experienced by the United States, but finally indulging 
the hope that friendly arrangements may be made- 
equally beneficial to all commercial nations. 

This report gave rise to one of the longest and most 
interesting discussions, which has ever agitated the 
national legislature ; it was the foundation of a series of 
resolutions, proposed by Mr. Madison, sanctioning 
the views which it embraced; these resolutions be- 
came the subject of ardent debate ; in their conside- 
ration many extrinsic questions of general politics were 
introduced; and the past and future policy of the 
country, the course to be adopted amid the conflicts 
of Europe, the aggressions on our commerce, the 
means and the necessity of retaliation, were all warmly 
discussed. It was ascertained that there was a de- 
cided majority in favour of their passage, but from 
reasons which were not fully explained, an imme- 
diate determination upon them was not pressed ; and 


they seem afterwards to have been lost sight of, or given 
up, in the changes of policy which succeeding events 

On the thirty-first of December, 1793, Mr. Jefferson 
resigned the ofiice of secretary of state, and retired once 
more to private life. The sketch we have given of the 
duties he performed while he held it will show with what 
advantage to his country he had assisted in the adminis- 
tration of its government ; the firmness and dignity with 
which he had supported its rights, and vindicated its 
character towards foreign nations ; and his zeal and in- 
dustry in supporting its domestic interests. But the 
times had now become full of danger and uncertainty ; 
at home the government, new alike in its principles and 
conduct, was assailed by unexpected and extraordinary 
difiiculties, before its own organization was perfected or 
it had received the benefit of experience ; and abroad 
an eventful struggle had arisen, which was overthrowing 
the strong holds of religious and political error, but un- 
happily carrying with them much that humanity la- 
mented, and wisdom would have saved. At such a time 
a wide scope for opinion was opened, in which the best 
and wisest might essentially differ, and Mr. Jefferson 
found himself a member of an administration, where 
views different from his own appeared to predominate, 
while those which he entertained seemed to be approved 
©f by a large proportion of his countrymen. In the di- 
versity of sentiment which thus occurred, he viewed 
with dread every measure that he thought calculated ta 
lessen the influence of the people at home 5 he looked. 


too with exultation on the rising liberties of a nation, which 
had so recently assisted our struggles for freedom and was 
now so deeply engaged in maintaining its own ; and with 
avowed distrust on too close an alliance with a country, 
from which we had so lately separated ourselves. These 
feelings were perhaps to a considerable extent those of 
the people of the United States generally, but in the 
mode of acting upon them, there existed a great differ- 
ence of sentiment among the political leaders. 

At the present day, when the heat of prejudice and 
party has subsided, no one will attribute to those who 
thus diifered from Mr. Jefferson views which were in- 
imical to the interests or prosperity of their country; 
but without so doing, it may be asserted that there were 
so many points of foreign and domestic policy, in which 
the opinion of his colleagues varied from his own, that 
retirement was the only course left for a statesman, who 
felt the value of his own principles and wished to act 
with firmness and generosity. He carried with him 
into his seclusion, not only the kind feelings of the great 
man who had selected him for the post he had filled^ 
but the warm attachment of a large proportion of his 
fellow citizens. 

From this period, Mr. Jefferson devoted himself to 
the education of his family, the cultivation of his estate, 
and the pursuit of his philosophical studies, which he 
bad so long abandoned, but to which he now returned, 
with new ardour. Amid such employments there is 
little to attract the attention of a casual reader, and little 
which a biographer can find to notice; yet perhaps it 

102 3EFFERS0N. 

will not be considered superfluous^ to introduce the 
remarks which were made by a well known French 
traveller^ who visited him at Monticello, during this 
period. '^ His conversation," says the Duke de Liancourt 
'^ is of the most agreeable kind, and he possesses a stock 
of information not inferior to that of any other man. In 
Europe, he would hold a distinguished rank among men 
of letters, and as such he has already appeared there. 
At present he is employed with activity and perseve- 
rance in the management of his farms and buildings, and 
he orders, directs and pursues, in the minutest detail, 
every branch of business relating to them. The author 
of this sketch found him in the midst of harvest, from 
which the scorching heat of the sun does not prevent 
his attendance. His negroes are nourished, clothed, 
and treated as well as white servants could be. As he 
cannot expect any assistance from the two small neigh- 
bouring towns, every article is made on his farm : his 
negroes are cabinet makers, carpenters, masons, brick- 
layers, &c. The children he employs in a nail manu- 
factory, which yields already a considerable profit. The 
young and old negresses spin for the clothing of the rest. 
He animates them by rewards and distinctions ; in fine^ 
his superior mind directs the management of his domes- 
tic concerns with the same abilities, activity and regu- 
larity, which he evinced in the conduct of public aifairs, 
and which he is calculated to display in every situation 

The only incident relative to him, during this period^ 
which we find recorded in the public documents of 


the day, was his unanimous election^ as president of 
the American Philosophical Society, the oldest and most 
distinguished institution of the kind in the United States. 
The chair had first been filled by the illustrious Frank- 
lin, the great and good patron of every thing, which 
tended to promote the learning, science or happiness of 
his country ; and by Rittenhouse, the most distinguished 
astronomer of the age. To be selected to succeed such 
men, on the very theatre of their reputation, and on 
principles which could not be influenced by the politi- 
cal feelings of the times, was an honour that no one could, 
or did, better appreciate than Mr. Jefferson. He was 
no inactive member ; during the long period that he pre- 
sided over the society, he promoted its views with the 
utmost zeal, occasionally contributed to its publications, 
and extended to it all the advantages which his public* 
rank and private connexions, enabled him to afford. 

The situation of the country did not, however, per- 
mit Mr. Jefferson long to enjoy the pleasures of a private 
life. General Washington had for some time contemplat- 
ed a retirement from office, and in his farewell address to 
the people of the United States, he had, in the month of 
September 1796, declined being considered any longer 
a candidate for it. The person in whom alone the voice 
of the whole nation could be united, having thus witJi 
drawn, the two great parties respectively brought for 
ward their chiefs. Mr. Jefferson was supported by the 
«ne, Mr. Adams by the other. In February, 1797, thr 
votes for the first and second magistrates of the unioi^ 
were opened and counted in presence of both bouses 5 


and the highest number appearing in favour of Mr, 
Adams^ and the second in favour of Mr. Jefferson, the 
first was declared to be the president and the second the 
vice president of the United States, for four years to 
commence on the fourth day of the ensuing March. 
On that day, Mr. Jefferson also took the chair as presi- 
dent of the senate, and delivered to that body, a short 
address, in which he expressed his firm attachment to 
the laws and constitution of his country, and his anx- 
ious wish to fulfil, with correctness and satisfaction, the 
duties of the ofiice to which he had been called. 

During the four succeeding years, much of Mr. Jef- 
ferson's time was passed tranquilly at Monticello. From 
the nature of our constitution, there is little which can 
call the vice president into the prominent political duties 
of the government, unless he is required to fill the station 
of the chief magistrate. It is not, therefore, a matter 
of any surprise, that during this period, we find but 
little notice of him among the public records of the day^ 

As, however, the time approached for a new election 
of a president, the republican party again selected Mr, 
Jefferson, as their candidate for the office, and with more 
success than on the preceding occasion. Yet an acci- 
dent, arising from inattention to the constitution, went 
near to defeat the acknowledged wishes and intentions 
of the people, and to place in the executive chair an 
individual to whom it was notorious no vote had been 
given for that station. The democratic party had 
elected Mr. Jefferson as president, and Mr. Burr as vice 
president of the United States, by an equal number of 


votes ; but, as tlie constitution required no specification 
of the respective office to which each was elected, they 
came before congress, neither having the majority re- 
quired by law. Under these circumstances, the elec- 
tion devolved on the house of representatives, and the 
opponents of Mr. Jefferson, taking advantage of the 
occurrence, threw their votes into the scale of Mr. 
Burr. In the heat and violence of party, much may be 
excused, which calls down our severest animadversions 
in times of less excitement. Week after week, was the 
nation kept in suspense, while a contest was fiercely 
maintained, by which it was attempted to raise to the 
highest office of the nation, a man who had not received 
a solitary vote from the people, in opposition to one, 
who for thirty years had been a distinguished member of 
their councils, who had held the highest offices of the 
government, who was fitted for the station alike by his 
experience, his services and his virtues, and who, above 
all, was notoriously the choice of a majority of the na- 
tion. At length, after thirty-five ineffectual ballots, one 
of the representatives of the state of Maryland, made 
public the contents of a letter to himself, written by Mr. 
Burr, in which he declined all pretensions to the presi- 
dency; and authorized him to disclaim, in his name, 
any competition with Mr. Jeiferson. On this specific 
declaration, on the part of Mr. Burr, two federal mem- 
bers, who represented the states which had heretofore 
voted blank, withdrew, and permitted the republican 
members from those states to become a majority ; and, 
instead of putting a blank into the box, to vote positively 

VOL. VII. — o 


for Mr. Jefferson. Consequently^ on the thirty-sixtii 
balloting, Mr. Jefferson was elected president. Colonel 
Burr became, of course, vice president. 

On the fourth of March, 1801, Mr. Jefferson took the 
oath of ofiice in the presence of both houses of congress, 
and delivered his inaugural address. He expressed in 
this, his sincere diffidence in his powers, properly to 
fulfil the task which his countrymen had assigned him ; 
seeing, as he did, the honour, the happiness and the 
hopes of his beloved country, committed to the issue and 
auspices of that day ; and fully conscious of the magni- 
tude of the undertaking, he indulged the hope, that as 
the contest of opinion had now been settled, by the rules 
of the constitution, all parties would unite, in common 
efforts for the common good ; that harmony and affection, 
without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary 
things, might be restored to social intercourse ; and that 
though called by different names, as all were in truth 
brethren of the same principle, the invidious distinctions 
of party might cease. He exhorted them, with courage 
and confidence, to pursue the principles of government 
they had adopted ; a government which would restrain 
men from injuring one another, but leave them other- 
wise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and 
improvement, and not take from the mouth of labour the 
bread it had earned. This he said was the sum of good 
government: and this necessary to close the circle of 
our felicities. 

About to enter on the exercise of duties which com- 
prehended every thing dear and valuable to his country 


meiij he deemed it his duty^ to state distinctly what he 
believed to be the essential principles by which his 
administration would be governed.— Equal and exact 
justice to all men^ of whatever state or persuasion, reli- 
gious or political :— peace, commerce, and honest friend- 
ship with all nations, entangling alliances with none :— 
the support of the state governments in all their rights^ 
as the most competent administration for our domestic 
concerns, and the surest bulwarks against anti- republican 
tendencies :— the preservation of the general govern- 
ment in its whole constitutional vigour, as the sheet 
anchor of our peace at home, and safety abroad: — ^ 
jealous care of the right of election by the people, a 
mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by 
the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are 
unprovided .'—absolute acquiescence in the decisions of 
the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which 
is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and imme- 
diate parent of despotism: — a well disciplined militia, our 
best reliance in peace, and for the first moments of war, 
till regulars may relieve them : — the supremacy of the 
civil over the military authority : — economy in the pub- 
lie expense, that labour may be lightly burdened : — the 
honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of 
the public faith :— encouragement of agriculture, and of 
commerce as its handmaid: — the diffusion of information^, 
and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public 
reason: — fi^eedom of religion; freedom of the press: 
and freedom of person, under the protection of the ha- 
beas corpus : — -and trials by juries impartially selected. 


^^ These principles form the bright constellation, Avhici? 
has gone before us^ and guided our steps through an age 
of revolution and reformation. To the attainment of 
them/' he concludes^ ^^have been devoted the wis 
dom of our sages and the blood of our heroes- — they 
should be the creed of our political faith, the text of 
civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the 
services of those we trust ; and should we wander fron> 
them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to 
retrace our steps, and to regain the road which alone 
leads to peace, liberty and safety.'' 

It would not be consistent, either with the character 
or length of this memoir, to enter into the details of the 
public measures of Mr. Jeiferson while he occupied the 
presidential chair. His administration embraces a long 
and interesting period, in the history of oiu' country, dis- 
tinguished by important measures, whose consequence^i 
have been felt in later periods, and which have led to 
results affecting in no inconsiderable degree, the honour 
and prosperity of the nation. These are subjects which 
demand the research and deliberation of an acute histo- 
rian ; the present article aims to be nothing more than a 
cursory though faithful biography. 

In December 1801, Mr. Jefferson sent his first mes- 
sage to both houses of congress. It had been the custom 
thus far, since the formation of the government, for the 
president to deliver in person this communication to 
congress, and for that body to reply at once in a formal 
address. In the change now made by Mr. Jeffei'son, 
he appears to have had in view, at once, the convenience 


«i the legislature, the economy of their time, their relief 
from the embarrassment of immediate answers on subject? 
not yet fully before them, and the benefits thence result- 
ing to the public affairs. In these respects its advantages 
have been so apparent, that it has been invariably adopt- 
ed on every subsequent occasion. 

In addition to these causes, there can be little doubt 
however, that this was one of the modes adopted by Mr. 
Jefferson, to give a more popular feature to the adminis- 
tration. No one had had a better opportunity, of per- 
ceiving the influence of forms, even trifling ones, in the 
affairs of government, or had entered more fully int@ 
the spirit of the age, for abolishing such as were useless. 
Indeed in this respect, a wonderful revolution had taken 
place in the minds of all men, even in the short space 
that had occurred, since the first organization of our 
government. At that time, from the force of ancient 
habits, it was scarcely possible to contemplate the ad- 
ministration of power, without those forms which were 
thought necessary, to obtain for it a useful respect ; and 
the first great chief of our country, had adopted such 
as united, according to the conceptions of his elevated 
mind, the dignity of power with republican simplicity* 
Most of us, however, can recollect with what rapidity, 
the whole train of ceremony and fashion in dress and 
manners was swept away ; so that it was scarcely more 
than in accordance with the general feeling of the times, 
that Mr. Jefferson introduced this and other changes, 
which certainly abolished all forms, beyond those of 
elevated private life, and that personal respect which 


will always be bestowed upon the man^ whom the 
choice of his country has pronounced; the first of its 

In his message, Mr. Jefferson states, that the restora- 
tion of peace in Europe, had restored the friendly feel- 
ings of foreign nations, while it prevented any longer 
their violations of neutral rights. That our intercourse 
with the savage tribes on our own frontiers, was marked 
by a spirit of peace and friendship, advantageous and ho- 
nourable at once to them and us. That with the African 
states, our affairs were in a situation less satisfactory^ 
and such as demanded seriously the consideration, whe- 
ther measures of offence should not be authorized. That 
at home our population was increasing in a very great 
ratio, our revenue so flourishing as to enable us to dis- 
pense w^ith all internal taxation, the expenditures of the 
civil government reduced, a large portion of the public 
debt faithfully paid, and our agriculture, manufactures, 
commerce and navigation, the four pillars of our pros° 
perity, rapidly thriving. He recommends to their par- 
ticular consideration, the disposal of the surplus in the 
military establishment, the general militia system, the 
increase of the navy, the expediency of erecting more 
fortifications of an expensive character, the judiciary 
system that had been lately established, and the exten- 
sion of the laws relative to naturalization. 

During the succeeding four years, the internal policy 
of the country underwent several important changes, all 
calculated to develop the admirable and peculiar nature 
of our institutions; and to support and preserve the 


priuciples on which they are founded. In its relations 
with foreign countries, the aggressions of the Tripolitans 
were gallantly and promptly chastised, and the attempts 
made by the agents of the Spanish government, to violate 
their treaties and deprive our citizens of the rights, 
guaranteed to them, of navigating the Mississippi, were 
immediately noticed and repelled. The privileges in- 
deed, which had been secured to the inhabitants of the 
western country, were of vital importance to its pros- 
perity; yet they had ever been the subject of jealousy 
and invasion. We have already seen, that during Mr. 
Jefferson's administration of the department of state, this 
was an object that engaged much of his attention. That 
attention he now renewed, and after considerable nego- 
tiation it terminated in the purchase of Louisiana, one 
of the most important acquisitions ever made by the peo- 
ple of the United States. '^ Whilst the property and 
sovereignty of the Mississippi and its waters,^' to use 
Mr. J effei'son's own language, ^^ secured an independent 
outlet for the produce of the western states, and an un- 
controlled navigation through their whole course, free 
from collision with other powers, and the dangers to oui^ 
peace from that source, the fertility of the country, its 
climate and extent, promise in due season important aids 
to our treasury, an ample provision for our posterity, and 
a wide spread for the blessings of freedom and equal 
laws.*^ On the twentieth December, 1803, the territory 
was formally surrendered to the United States by the 
commissioner of France, 


It is a charming feature in the life of Mr. Jefferson, 
that amid all the occupations and absorbing interest of 
his political career, he never forgot, or neglected the 
cause of philanthropy and science. Like lord Bacon^ 
his ambition prompted him to aim at the loftiest honoui^ 
which his country could bestow, but yet the attachment 
which he had early formed to pursuits, less splendid if 
not less useful, seems to have lingered around his mind, 
during the busiest moments of public occupation, and to 
have been renewed, with fresh delight, in the leisure of 
private life. The purchase of Louisiana, aiforded an 
opportunity for accomplishing a plan he had long formed, 
for a minute and scientific examination of the immense 
territory of the west, which spreads from the Mississippi 
to the Pacific. This measure he proposed to congress: 
and on its receiving their sanction, he appointed for the 
purpose, captain Lewis and lieutenant Clarke, two in- 
telligent officers in the army of the United States. He 
drew up for them himself, a set of instructions pointing 
out to their attention, the various objects towards which 
their investigations would be most advantageously direct- 
ed ; the geography, the natural history, the climate, the 
resources, and the peculiarities of the region through 
which they were to pass ; tlie numbers and situation of 
the various Indian tribes ; the establishment of commer- 
cial and friendly relations with them ; and the best means 
for accomplishing the objects of the expedition. It was 
attended with all the success that could be desired. The 
party embarked at St. Louis in May, 1804 ; ascended 
the Missouri three thousand miles to the falls; thence 


crossed the rocky mountains, covered with perpetual 
snow, and after descending for four hundred miles by 
various streams, they reached the navigable waters of 
Columbia river ; the course of this they followed for six 
hundred and forty miles until they arrived at the Pacific 
ocean. They reached St. Louis, on their return, in 
September, 1806, after an absence, from all civilization, 
of more than twenty-seven months. The journey from 
St. Louis, was above four thousand miles ; in returning, 
thirty- five hundred ; making, in the whole, seven thou- 
sand ^ve hundred miles. The mass of information col- 
lected in the expedition, was valuable and extensive ; it 
was equally advantageous to the scientific and political 
institutions of the country ; and it led the way for simi- 
lar expeditions, each of which has proved the skill with 
which it w^as arranged, and the benefits that have arisen 
from it. 

So much were the measures adopted by Mr. Jefferson, 
during the four years for which he had been chosen, 
approved by his country, that, as the period approached 
for a new election, his popularity increased more and 
more, and he was elevated to the presidency a second 
time, by a majority which had risen from eight votes to 
one hundred and forty- eight. During the course indeed 
of his administration, the press in its full licentiousness 
had been directed against him, and, as he observed 
himself, the experiment had been fully made, whether 
freedom of discussion unaided by power, was not suffi- 
cient for the propagation and protection of truth. It 
had been fairly proved, that a government conducting 

VOL. VII. — V 

114 JfeFFERSON. 

itself in the true spirit of its constitution, with zeal and 
purity, and doing no act which it would be unwilling 
the world should witness, could not be written down 
by falsehood and defamation ; but that the people, aware 
of the latent source from which these outrages proceed- 
ed, would gather around their public functionaries, and 
when the constitution called them to the decision by 
suffrage, they would pronounce their verdict, honoura- 
ble to those who had served them, and consolatory to 
the friend of man, who believes he may be intrusted 
with his own affairs. 

He entered a second time on the duties of his lofty 
station, deeply feeling the proof of confidence which 
his fellow citizens had given him. He asserted his de- 
termination to act up to those principles, on which he 
believed it his duty to administer the affairs of the com- 
monwealth, and which had been already sanctioned by 
the unequivocal approbation of his country. ^^ I do not 
fear" he said in concluding his inaugural address '^1 do 
not fear that any motives of interest may lead me astray ; 
I am sensible of no passion which could seduce me know- 
ingly from the path of justice ; but the weaknesses of 
human nature and the limits of my own understanding 
will produce errors of judgment sometimes injurious to 
your interests ; I shall need therefore all the indulgence 
1 have heretofore experienced — the want of it will cer- 
tainly not lessen with increasing years. I shall need too 
the favour of that Being in whose hands we are, who led 
our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land, 
and planted them in a country flowing with all the ne- 


cessaries and comforts of life ; who has covered our in- 
fancy with his providence^ and our riper years with his 
wisdom and power.'' 

Mr. JeiFerson had scarcely entered on his office^ before 
his attention was called to an events obviously calculated 
to destroy the domestic tranquillity of the country^ if not 
the constitution and union itself. This w^as no other 
than what has been termed the conspiracy of colonel 
Burr. We have already mentioned the unforeseen ac- 
cidentj which had nearly elevated this gentleman to the 
presidency. Since that time he had aimed at the office 
of governor of the state of New York, without success^ 
and at the recent election, had been succeeded by Mr. 
Clinton, as vice president of the United States. Of an 
ardent and ambitious spirit, these disappointments seem 
to have urged him to some desperate enterprise, not 
consonant to his general duties as a citizen, if not ex- 
pressly contrary to the laws of his country. Assuming 
the unfriendly measures of the Spanish government, on 
the south-western frontier, as the cause or pretext of his 
conduct; and holding out to the young and aspiring, 
the alluring idea of establishing in its provinces a new 
republic ; he succeeded in drawing many of his country- 
men into his schemes. That his real views however ex- 
tended beyond this, has been generally presumed though 
what they precisely were, has never been known. By 
many it was believed that the enterprise, which, it was 
ascertained, was to originate in the western states, had 
for its object the separation of the states, beyond the 
Alleghany mountains, from their political connexion with 


those on the Atlantic border ; and^ by uniting them with 
the territories on the western bank of the Mississippi^ 
the formation of a distinct and independent empire. 
Whatever may have been the ultimate object of his plans 
however^ as soon as Mr. Jefferson received information 
that a number of private individuals were combining 
together^ arming and organizing themselves contrary to 
law, with the avowed object of carrying on some mili- 
tary expedition, against the territories of Spain; he took 
measures without delay, by proclamation as well as by 
special orders, to prevent and suppress the enterprise, 
to seize the vessels, arms and other means provided for 
it, and to arrest and bring to justice its authors and 
abettors. His scheme being thus discovered and defeat- 
ed, colonel Burr fled ; but was eventually apprehended 
on the Tombigbee, and escorted as a prisoner of state^.^ 
under the guard of a military officer, to Richmond in 
Virginia. On his arrival in that city, he was delivered 
over to the civil authority, by virtue of a warrant from 
the honourable John Marshall, chief justice of the Uni- 
ted States, grounded on charges of a high misdemeanor, 
in preparing and setting on foot, within the territories 
of the United States, a military expedition, to be carried 
thence, against the dominions of the king of Spain, then 
at peace with the United States; and also, of treason 
against the United States. At the close of a long ex= 
amination of witnesses, he was bound over to take his 
trial on the first charge, the chief justice not deeming 
the evidence of an overt act of treason, sufficient tQ 
justify a commitment on the latter. On the seventeenth 


of August, 1807 J he was brought to trial. Several days 
were consumed in the examination of witnesses, and in 
the discussion of the law of treason, as it arose out of 
the constitution. The assemblage of the individuals was 
proved ; but the evidence was not legally sufficient to 
establish the presence of colonel Burr, or the use of any 
force against the authority of the United States. The 
consequence was the acquittal of the prisoners. On the 
meeting of congress, a few months after, Mr. Jefferson 
laid before them the proceedings and evidence which 
had been exhibited at the trial. From these, he stated 
to them, they would be enabled to judge whether the 
defect was in the testimony, in the law, or in the admi- 
nistration of the law, and wherever it should be found, the 
legislature alone could apply or originate the remedy. 
The framers of our constitution certainly supposed they 
had guarded, as well their government against destruc- 
tion by treason, as their citizens against oppression, under 
pretence of it, and if these ends were not attained, it was 
of importance to inquire by what means more effectual, 
they might be secured. 

The foreign relations of the country however, at this 
period, involved questions of infinitely greater import- 
ance, than any which arose from its domestic troubles. 
Nearly the whole revenue of the United States then 
depended on its external commerce; the situation of 
the world rendered that commerce as lucrative as it 
was extensive ; and every act which affected its pros- 
perity, was a vital injury to the welfare of the country^ 


It would at this moment be more than useless, to enter 
into the numerous aggressions which had been com- 
mitted on the rightSj character and commerce of the 
United States, both by Great Britain and France, from 
the commencement of the war between them in 1793, 
or to rake from their ashes, the innumerable facts and 
still more innumerable controversies to which they gave 
rise, not only between those nations and the United 
States, but among the citizens of the last, according to 
the light in which they viewed the conduct of the two 
great parties. It is sufficient to recollect, that from the 
commencement of the war, both the great belligerent 
powers seemed to view the United States as a country, 
to which that course of conduct was to be dictated as 
neutral, which was congenial to their own views or in- 
terests, and each assumed the right to punish in the 
neutral, what it chose to consider as favour to its enemy. 
In fact, each presuming on the weakness of the United 
States to defend its property on the seas, had inflicted 
upon them the most severe and unprincipled aggressions ; 
and which nation exceeded the other in violence of 
conduct or in want of principle, although a great party 
question at the time, it is now perhaps unnecessary to 
inquire ; in the early part of the war, when both were 
powerful on the ocean, both had resort to open and 
avowed national acts, which followed up by the spirit 
of plunder in their navies and the insatiable thirst for 
privateering, had at times nearly swept the American 
commerce from the ocean ; and this was accompanied 
by innumerable seizures in part under the most aggra- 


vating circumstances. All these however^ had been par- 
ried by the government of the United States, partly 
from a sense of the deplorable consequences which, in 
its infant establishment, must have attended a war with 
either of the belligerents, and partly from the great ad- 
vantages that attended its neutral situation and vast com- 
merce, even under all the injuries it sustained. The 
period that had elapsed, therefore, from the beginning 
of the war between Great Britain and France, to the 
presidency of Mr. Jefferson, had been consumed in a 
series of remonstrances and negotiations between the 
United States and the belligerents, which in no incon- 
siderable degree raised the character of the United 
States, though they did not settle the great principles 
on which their neutrality and commerce were to be 
regulated and respected. 

The object and scene of conflict, however, had now 
materially changed. France and the nations who took 
part with her, had by this time lost their colonies, and 
been swept from the seas, of which Great Britain re- 
mained the powerful mistress ; while, on the other hand, 
she had been driven from the continent by the ascendency 
of France. In this situation, with the predominance of 
one by land and of the other on the ocean, the points of 
contact remained but few, while the animosity of each 
attempted to wound the other in every assailable point ; 
England by subsidizing the powers of the continent, and 
France by a war of extermination against British com- 


This contest produced^ as is well known, a new scene 
of boundless depredation, under a new series of hostile 
recriminating acts, of which those called the Berlin and 
Milan decrees by France, and the British orders in coun- 
cil were the great type ; of these whatever was the effect 
upon the parties themselves, the destruction of all neutral 
commerce was the obvious consequence. To neutral 
nations therefore and to the United States, as almost the 
only one in existence, this great principle became esta- 
blished, that as both the belligerents had violated every 
principle of justice, the causes of war against both were 
numerous and obvious, and the choice was left to the 
neutral to begin it with both or either according to its 
own interest, leaving that party to complain of partiality 
or injustice, which should first do justice to it. 

In this situation all those nice calculations which might 
otherwise have been made, and which prevailed largely 
at the time, as to the equality of conduct to be maintain- 
ed towards the belligerent powers, became in a great 
degree lost, and it is obvious a nice balance on the sub- 
ject could not be pursued. If the violence of the hostile 
decrees was to be judged by their temper and spirit, 
both were enormously injurious. But a great difference 
existed in the power to execute them ; the acts of France 
however severely carried into effect, within the limits 
it could command, were confined in their operation, 
while the scope for injury by Great Britain was bound- 
less, and of course it was with her during all the 
war, but particularly the latter stage of it, that col- 
lisions became more frequent^ and the measures of the 



United States more prominent^ so much so that this very 
circumstance gave a tinge to the character of the trans- 
actions themselves. 

It is certain, however, that there were some circum- 
stances which, independent of the serious injury com- 
mon to both the belligerents, were peculiar to the situa- 
tion of the United States and Great Britain with each 
other, particularly the right of searching neutral ships 
for enemy's goods, the revival of what was called the 
rule of war of 1756 prohibiting neutrals from trade 
which they had not enjoyed in time of peace, and the 
search for and impressment of English subjects and sea- 
men. The first of these had been conceded by the 
United States, in their first treaty with England, and 
again in Mr. Jay's treaty, while it had not been admitted 
in the treaties with France; the second had been in 
some degree modified in the negotiations with England : 
but the third was a measure so important to both parties^ 
upon principles so directly opposite to each other, as to 
constitute in itself alone a cause of disquietude, the most 
aggravating of all others. Bitterly, indeed, did it come 
home to the feelings of the people of the United States, 
that their vessels should be searched on the seas to de- 
termine the character of their citizens, that determina- 
tion left to ignorant or unprincipled officei^, and them- 
selves taken by force to fight the battles of other nations, 
beyond the protection of their own government and 
laws, deprived of their natural rights and the iaherent 
liberty of their country. 

VOL, VTI. ^^Q 


All these had been the subjects of continual but una- 
vailing negotiation, in common with the general causes 
of complaint against both nations, and had produced some 
hostilities, particularly those with France during Mr. 
Adams's administration. Upon the accession of Mr. 
Jefferson, however, the foreign relations of the United 
States reposed upon the recent peace with France in 
1800, and Mr. Jay's treaty with England, and these 
were soon followed by the general peace of Amiens* 
when our government had only to prosecute its demands 
for the injuries and spoliations its citizens had sustained. 
Of these, a part of what was claimed from France was 
obtained by the purchase of Louisiana, and the rest, 
with the claims on England and other countries, remained 
in common with all other sources of complaint, the sub- 
ject of negotiation. 

Upon the rupture of the peace of Amiens, the ships 
of the United States became again the carriers of the 
world, and its commerce as unbounded as before. In 
this situation, it was in the highest degree the interest 
as it was the desire of the people, to pursue a course of 
rigid neutrality, and Mr. Jefferson declared it their 
policy to cultivate the friendship of the belligerent na- 
tions, by every act of justice and of innocent kindness; 
to receive their armed vessels with hospitality from the 
distresses of the sea, but to administer the means of 
annoyance to none ; to establish in our harbours such a 
police as might maintain law and order ; to restrain our 
citizens from embarking individually in a war in which 
their country took no part; to punish severely those 


persons^ citizen or alien^ who should usurp the cover of 
our flag for vessels not entitled to it^ infecting thereby 
with suspicion those of real Americans^ and involving 
us in controversies for the redress of wrongs not our 
own ; to exact from every nation the observance towards 
our vessels and citizens of those principles and practices 
which all civilized people acknowledge ; to merit the 
character of a just nation^ and maintain that of an inde- 
pendent one, preferring every consequence to insult and 
habitual wrong. 

The justice of these principles was not as it could not 
be denied ; but the practice of them was soon put to a 
severe trial, by the aggressions of the belligerent powers, 
which seemed to increase with their vindictiveness 
against each other, and the prosperous commerce and 
situation of the United States. The attacks and depre- 
dations renewed against their colonial trade as a war in 
disguise, by the impressment of their seamen, by robbe- 
ries on their coasts and harbours, and by the revival of 
all the hostile forms in which they had been harassed 
before, became so numerous and galling during the years 
1804 and 1805, as to induce Mr. Jefferson to resort in 
some instances to force, to repel them. In December 
of the latter year, seconded by numerous remonstrances 
from the people, he called the attention of congress 
pointedly to the subject — ^^Our coasts'' he remarks 
^^have been infested, and our harbours watched, by pri- 
vate armed vessels, some of them without commissions, 
some with illegal commissions, others, with those of legal 
form, but committing piratical acts beyond the authority 


of their commissions. They have captured in the ver} 
entrance of our harbours, as well as on the high seas, 
not only the vessels of our friends, coming to trade with 
us, but our own also. They have carried them off under 
pretence of legal adjudication, but, not daring to ap- 
proach a court of justice, they have plundered and 
sunk them by the way, or in obscure places, where 
no evidence could arise against them, maltreated the 
crews, and abandoned them in boats, in the open sea, or 
on desert shores, without food or covering. 

The same system of hovering on our coasts and har- 
bours, under colour of seeking enemies, has been also 
carried on by public armed ships, to the great annoyance 
and oppression of our commerce. New principles too 
have been interpolated into the law of nations, founded 
neither in justice, nor the usage or acknowledgment of 
nations. According to these a belligerent takes to it- 
self a commerce with its own enemy, which it denies to 
a neutral, on the ground of its aiding that enemy in the 
war. But reason revolts at such an inconsistency ; and 
the neutral having equal right with the belligerent to 
decide the question, the interests of our constituents, 
and the duty of maintaining the authority of reason, the 
only umpire between just nations, impose onus the obli- 
gation of providing an effectual and determined opposi- 
tion to a doctrine, so injurious to the rights of peaceable 

It was now that a line of policy was adopted, which 
though it had been in some degree that of his predeces- 
sors, and particularly of general Washington, may be 


considered, in the manner it was now exercised, as a 
distinguished feature of Mr. Jefferson's administration. 
It was to prepare the country for domestic defence, but 
to do so rather by shutting it up from foreign intercourse, 
than by exposing it to war ; and in the mean time to try 
the full effect of negotiation, and to exercise yet a little 
longer forbearance under our numerous injuries. Ac- 
cordingly the measures adopted by the government, ii> 
the early part of 1806, were those for the defence of 
the ports and coasts, and of the country itself in case of 
need, the act called the non-importation act, and the 
appointment of commissioners to negotiate abroad, par- 
ticularly of Mr. Pinkney who was united with Mr. 
Monroe, the then resident minister in London. 

It does not appear that any of the measures thus 
adopted, gave umbrage abroad, on the contrary Mr. 
Pinkney writing on the spot soon after his arrival, with 
a full knowledge of the temper of the government, and 
its effect upon England, pronounced the non- importation 
act a wise and salutary measure. His negotiations in- 
deed though rendered unavoidably slow, were proceed- 
ing with prospects somewhat more favourable, when 
Bonaparte, stimulated as it should seem by the unlimited 
power of Great Britain on the seas, and the boundless 
depredations she committed in consequence of it, and 
perhaps by a jealously of the negotiations pending in 
England, issued his decree of the twenty- first of No- 
vember from Berlin. This however did not prevent 
the continuance of the negotiation and the completion 
of a treaty in December^ though it was accompanied by 


a declaration^ that it should not preclude a right of 
retaliation ; on the contrary that right was almost imme- 
diately exercised by the British orders in council of 
January J 1807. 

As the treaty with England contained little or no 
remedy for former injuries, and no sufficient stipulation 
against their renewal, added to the new causes which 
the hostile decrees had elicited, it was not confirmed 
by Mr. Jefferson ; but still anxious for the line of policy 
he had adopted, and not to close the door against friendly 
adjustment, the commissioners were directed to resume 
their negotiations, with some further concessions on the 
part of the United States, and equal steps were pursued 
for accommodations with France. 

While reposing however with confidence on this 
new reference to amicable discussion, an act was com- 
mitted which aroused the outraged feelings of the whole 
nation. On the twenty-second of June, 1807, by a 
formal order from a British admiral, the frigate Chesa- 
peake, leaving her port for a distant service, was attack- 
ed by one of those vessels which had been lying in our 
harbours under the indulgences of hospitality, was disa- 
bled from proceeding, and had several of her crew killed, 
and four taken away. On this outrage no commentaries 
are necessary. Its character has been pronounced by 
the indignant voice of our citizens, with an emphasis 
and unanimity never exceeded. A proclamation was 
immediately issued by Mr. Jefferson, requiring all Bri- 
tish vessels bearing the royal commission to depart, and 
forbidding all to enter the waters of the United States, 


Satisfaction and security for the outrage were promptly 
demanded; an armed vessel of the United States was 
sent directly to London with instructions to our ministers 
on the subject J and congress did not hesitate to declare 
it a flagrant violation of our jurisdiction^ of which a pa- 
rallel was scarcely to be found in the history of civilized 
nations, and which if not disavowed, was just cause of 
instant and severe retaliation* 

The British government immediately disavowed the act 
of the officer by whom it had been committed, and volun- 
tarily made an offer of reparation which was afterwardjg 
carried into effect. Scarcely however was this one 
act of injustice and aggression atoned for, when another 
was committed. In November of the same year, 1807, 
orders were issued by the king in council, wherein he 
prohibited all commerce between America and the port« 
of his enemies in Europe, unless the articles had beea 
first landed in England and duties paid for their re-ex- 
portation ; and declared that a certificate from a French 
consul of the origin of articles, should render the vessel 
in which they were, liable to condemnation. The 
ground on which it was attempted to justify these 
measures, was as a retaliation for the course which had 
been adopted by the French government relative to 
neutral commerce; a pretext alike frivolous and un 
founded. It was not denied that France had pursued a 
course quite unjustifiable ; but yet, even supposing what 
has been uniformly denied, that the measures against 
America were first adopted by that nation, it is hard 
to imagine by what process of reasoning those measures 


could justify an attack on the acknowledged rights of a 
nation^ that was no partner in their adoption^ and to whose 
interests they were vitally inimical. 

Consequently appeal to justice and national law was 
made in vain^ and America had left her no alternative 
but abject submission or decided retaliation. Yet it was 
difficult to know by what means this retaliation could be 
effected. Two only suggested themselves, a declaration 
of war, or a suspension of commerce on the part of the 
United States. The unsettled state of the world at 
that period, the peculiar and extraordinary situation in 
which this country was placed, the necessity if hostili- 
ties were resorted to, of making it at the same time 
against the two most powerful nations of the world, the 
peaceful habits, the limited resources, and the uncertain 
issue, were just causes of hesitation in adopting the more 
decided alternative; and although there could be no 
doubt that its adoption would injure if it did not desti'oy 
an extensive and valuable commerce, yet that commerce 
would equally suffer from the dangers of war, or the 
ravages of unrevenged and unnoticed aggression. Under 
these circumstances, on the eighteenth December, 1807^, 
Mr. Jefferson recommended to congress an inhibition of 
the departure of our vessels from the ports of the United 
States, and on the twenty- second of the same month an 
act was passed by congress laying an embargo upon them. 

This measure, the most prominent feature in the ad- 
ministration of Mr. Jefferson, was not adopted as may 
well be supposed without much opposition from those 
whose views of policy were different from his own ; yet 


at this period when much of the violence of party has 
subsided, and subsequent events Have shown the effect 
of such a measure, it seems difficult to imagine what 
other course could have been pursued, situated as the 
country was at that period. Surely a tame submission 
was not to be thought of, and if it had been, national 
honour being forgotten, in no point of view could it have 
saved the suffering commerce of the nation. The ex- 
periment of negotiation had been made year after year 
without success ; private and public rights had been in- 
fringed with impunity; and America must have con- 
sented to become the willing and unresisting victim of 
commercial despotism, to be despised and trampled on 
in future, whenever Europe should choose to pursue her 
sordid schemes of commercial aggrandizement. With 
most nations and under ordinary circumstances, the ap- 
peal to war would have been as prompt as the injury was 
unjustifiable ; but the government and situation of Ame- 
rica required the exertion and failure of every other 
alternative, before that was resorted to. Under these 
circumstances the embargo presented itself as a measure 
of retaliation, if not decisive at least preparatory. It 
could only be injurious to the commercial interests of 
the nation ; and surely these were already in a situation 
which nothing could more injure. It left open equally 
the means of farther negotiation and the power of re- 
sorting to war, while it showed to foreign nations the 
decided spirit which animated our councils, and inflicted 
110 inconsiderable blow on their interests. 



On these grounds it was recommended by Mr. Jeffer- 
son, and certainly promised at least temporary success. 
The interesting letters which have lately been given to 
the world^ in the biography of one of our most distin- 
guished citizens, then ambassador in London, seem to 
place this circumstance beyond question. Very shortly 
after its establishment, in writing from London, he ob- 
serves, ^^It is apparent that we gain ground here. The 
tone is altered. The embargo has done much, although 
its motives are variously understood. Some view it with 
doubt and suspicion. The government appears to put a 
favourable construction upon it ; and all agree that it is 
highly honourable to the sagacity and firmness of our 
councils. Events which you could only conjecture when 
the measure was adopted, have already made out its jus- 
tification beyond the reach of cavil.'' ^^To repeal the 
embargo," he observes in a subsequent letter, ^%ould be 
so fatal to us in all respects, that we should long feel the 
wound it would inflict, unless indeed some other expe- 
dient, as strong at least and as efficacious in all its bear- 
ings, can (as I fear it cannot) be substituted in its place. 
On the other hand,'' he adds, ^^if we persevere we 
must gain our purpose at last. By complying with the 
little policy of the moment, we shall be lost. By a great 
and systematic adherence to principle, we shall find the 
end to our difficulties. The embargo and the loss of oui 
trade are deeply felt here, and will be felt with more 
severity every day. The wheat harvest is like to be 
alarmingly short, and the state of the continent will aug- 
ment the evil. The discontents among the manufac 


turers are only quieted for the moment by temporary 
causes. Cotton is rising, and soon will be scarce. Un- 
favourable events on the continent will subdue the temper 
unfriendly to wisdom and justice which now prevails 
here. But above all, the world will, I trust, be convinced 
that our firmness is not to be shaken. Our measures 
have not been without effect. They have not been de- 
cisive, because we have not been thought capable of 
persevering in self-denial, if that can be called self-denial 
which is no more than prudent abstinence from destruc- 
tion and dishonour.'' 

Mr. Jefferson was so far destined ere his retirement 
to behold the success of his plans, that in January, 1809, 
after the embargo had existed a year, overtures were 
made by Mr. Canning to Mr. Pinkney, which indicated 
a disposition on the part of the British government, to 
recede from the ground they had taken. These over- 
tures were succeeded by negotiations, which at last ter- 
minated in the repeal of some of the most objectionable 
features of the orders in council. On this event Mr. 
Pinkney remarks — " Our triumph is already considered 
as a signal one by every body. The pretexts with 
which ministers would conceal their motives for a relin- 
quishment of ail which they prized in their system, are 
seen through ; and it is universally viewed as a conces- 
sion to America. Our honour is now safe, and by ma- 
nagement we may probably gain every thing we have in 

The period had now arrived, when Mr. Jefferson, 
was to terminate for ever his political career ; he had 


reached the age of sixty-five years ; he had been engaged 
almost without interruption for forty years in the most 
arduous duties of public life ; and had passed through 
the various stations^ to which his country had called 
him, with unsullied honour and distinguished reputation ; 
he now, therefore, determined to leave the scene of 
his glory while its brightness was unobscured by the 
unavoidable infirmities of age ; and to spend the evening 
of his days in the calmness of domestic and philosophical 
retirement. In his message to congress he alluded to 
this determination ; and took leave of them in the follow- 
ing language. 

^^ Availing myself of this, the last occasion which will 
occur of addressing the two houses of the legislature at 
their meeting, I cannot omit the expression of my sin- 
cere gratitude, for the repeated proofs of confidence 
manifested to me by themselves and their predecessors, 
since my call to the administration, and the many indul- 
gences experienced at their hands. The same grateful 
acknowledgments are due to my fellow citizens gene- 
rally, whose support has been my great encouragement 
under all embarrassments. In the transaction of their 
business I cannot have escaped error. It is incident 
to our imperfect nature. But I may say with truth my 
errors have been of the understanding, not of intention, 
and that the advancement of their rights and interests 
has been the constant motive for every measure. On 
these considerations I solicit their indulgence. Look- 
ing forward with anxiety to their future destinies, I 
trust that in their steady character, unshaken by diffi- 


cultiesj in their love of liberty, obedience to law, and 
support of public authorities, I see a sure guarantee of 
the permanence of our republic ; and retiring from the 
charge of their affairs, I carry with me the consolation 
of a firm persuasion, that Heaven has in store for our 
beloved country, long ages to come of prosperity and 

From this period, with the exception of the few ex- 
cursions which business may have required, Mr. Jeffer- 
son has resided entirely at Monticello. Into the retire- 
ment of his domestic life, we have not, unfortunately, the 
means of penetrating. It is reserved for some other 
pen — may we indulge the hope that it will be his own — 
to portray the pursuits, the studies, and the thoughts 
which have engaged his active and intelligent mind, 
during the long period that had passed away, since he 
withdrew from public life. He has indeed appeared 
occasionally before his countrymen, by the publication 
of his private correspondence ; publications which have 
ever proved the same purity of intention, the same 
earnest zeal in the promotion of liberal opinions, the 
same intelligence, forethought and firmness which dis- 
tinguished the actions of his earlier life. He has been 
called forward from time to time, by the repeated anxiety 
of his countrymen to connect him with the rising insti- 
tutions, which have been formed to promote science, 
taste and literature. And above all, he has been sought 
out in his retirement by strangers from every foreign 
nation, who have heard of and admired him ; by the 
natives of every corner of his own country, who have 


looked up to him as their guide^ philosopher and friend. 
His home has accordingly been the abode of hospitality 
and the seat of dignified retirement ; and while he thus 
forgets the busy scenes of his political existence, in the 
more calm and congenial pleasures of learning and 
science, Monticello reminds us of the scene where the 
Roman sage, deserting the forum and the senate, dis- 
coursed beneath his spreading plane tree on the rights 
and duties of man. 

Rura nemusque sacrum dilectaque jugera Musis. 
To his private cares or pleasures, however, these years 
have not been wholly devoted. In the improvement of 
public education in his native state, and the establishment 
of a university he has been employed with extreme zeal, 
for several years past. Indeed soon after his return to 
Monticello, when the formation of a college in his neigh- 
bourhood was proposed, he addressed a letter to the 
trustees, in which he sketched a plan for the establish- 
ment of a general system of education in Virginia. This 
appears to have led the way to an act of the legislature 
in the year 1818, by which commissioners were appointed 
with authority to select a site and form a plan for a uni- 
versity, on a scale of great magnificence. Of these 
commissioners Mr. Jefferson was unanimously chosen 
the chairman, and on the fourth of August, 1818, he 
framed a report embracing the principles on which it 
was proposed the institution should be formed. The 
situation selected for it was at Charlottesville, a town at 
the foot of the mountain on which Mr. Jefferson resides. 
The plan is such as to combine elegance and utility with 


the power of enlarging it to any extent^ which its future 
prosperity may require. The instruction is to extend 
to the various branches of learnings which a citizen will 
require in his intercourse between man and man, in the 
improvement of his morals and faculties and in the know- 
ledge and exercise of his social rights. Such an educa- 
tion Mr. JeiTerson observes, ^^ generates habits of appli- 
cation and the love of virtue; and controls, by the 
force of habit^ any innate obliquities in our moral organ- 
ization. We should be far too from the discouraging 
persuasion, that man is fixed, by the law of his nature, 
at a given point ; that his improvement is a chimsera^ 
and the hope delusive of rendering ourselves wiser^ 
happier, or better than our forefathers were. We need 
look back only half a century, to times which many now 
living remember well, and see the wonderful advances 
in the sciences and arts which have been made within 
that period. Some of these have rendered the elements 
themselves subservient to the purposes of man, have 
harnessed them to the yoke of his labours, and effected 
the great blessings of moderating his own, of accom- 
plishing what was beyond his feeble force, and of ex- 
tending the comforts of life to a much enlarged circle* 
to those who had before known its necessaries only. — 
That these are not the vain dreams of sanguine hope, we 
have before our eyes real and living examples. What^ 
but education, has advanced us beyond the condition of 
our indigenous neighbours? and what chains them to 
their present state of barbarism and wTetchedness, but 
a bigotted veneration for the supposed superlative wis- 


dom of their fathers^ and the preposterous idea that they 
are to look backward for better things and not forward, 
longingj as it should seem, to return to the days of eating 
acorns and roots, rather than indulge in the degeneracies 
of civilization? And how much more encouraging to 
the achievements of science and improvement, is this, 
than the desponding view that the condition of man can- 
not be ameliorated, that what has been must ever be, 
and that to secure ourselves where we are, we must tread, 
with awful reverence, in the footsteps of our fathers. 
This doctrine is the genuine fruit of the alliance between 
church and state, the tenants of which, finding them- 
selves but too well in their present position, oppose all 
advances which might unmask their usurpations, and 
monopolies of honours, wealth and power, and fear every 
change, as endangering the comforts they now hold.'^ 
The report then proceeds to state the various arrange- 
ments and plans which should be adopted, for the con- 
duct of so extensive an institution ; and concludes with 
a statement of its financial situation. The plan thus 
proposed was adopted by the legislature. Mr. Jefferson 
was elected the rector of the new institution, and from 
that period he has devoted himself with unceasing ar- 
dour to carry it into effect. In this he has been emi- 
nently successful, the university has been in operation 
for some years past, and though yet incomplete in many 
of its departments, it is said that it has fully answered^ 
so far as it has gone, the designs and wishes of its illus» 
trious founder. 


Thomas Jefferson is no more. Since the preceding 
pages were wintten, he has closed his earthly pilgrimage. 
He expired at Monticello at ten minutes before one 
o'clock, on the fourth of July, 1826; within the same 
hour at which he affixed his name to the Declaration of 
Independence^ fifty years before. 

Although the virtues and the fame of Mr. Jefferson^ 
shed a bright lustre around the evening of his days, 
there was yet one incident to obscure it which however 
painful, it would scarcely be proper to pass over without 
notice. In every age and in every country, it has been 
too often the lot of those who have devoted with thought- 
less generosity, to the service of their fellow creatures, 
the zeal of youth and the experience of maturer years, 
to find themselves at last in their old age, doomed to 
poverty which they have no longer the ability to repeL 
An honourable poverty, incurred in the performance of 
public duties, or private generosity, unsullied by extra- 
vagance, and unattended by crime, will redound to the 
honour, never to the disgrace of him who has the mis- 
fortune to endure it. With Mr. Jefferson it is difficult 
to imagine how it could have been avoided. For more 
than fifty years he had been actively engaged in public 
duties, generally at a distance from his own estate ; and 
though his patrimony was originally large, it could not 
but be impaired by this unavoidable neglect. In retiring 
from the exalted station he had enjoyed, he did not en- 
ter on a less conspicuous scene ; he had become identi- 
fied as it were with the greatness and glory of his 

VOL. VII. — s 


country ;, he was the object of attraction to crowds of 
atfxious and admiring guests, and unless by coldly closing 
his doors, it was impossible to limit the expenses he was 
thus obliged to incur. 

To relieve him from the embarrassment in which he 
was thus involved, an act of the legislature of Virginia 
was passed in the spring of 1826, by which he was 
authorized to dispose of his estates by lottery, in order 
that a fair price for them might be obtained. Whether 
this tardy measure was becoming to the character of a 
high minded state : whether such was the manner in 
which she should have relieved the wants of a citizen^, 
to whom it is acknowledged she was mainly indebted for 
all that is most valuable in her government, her laws 
and her institutions, and who had equally devoted to her 
his youth, his manhood, and his hoary age — it is not for 
us to determine. 

But few more incidents remain to be told of the event- 
ful life of this great man. The fidl vigour of his mind 
indeed remained unimpaired, at least until a very short 
period before he fell into the grave. The year 1826, 
being the fiftieth since the establishment of our indepen- 
dence, it was determined universally throughout the 
United States, to celebrate it as a jubilee with unusual 
rejoicing ; preparations to this end were made in every 
part of the country ; and all means were taken to impart 
to the celebration, the dignity which was worthy of the 
country and the event. The citizens of Washington, the 
metropolis of the nation, among other things invited Mr. 
JefTerson as one of the surviving signers of the Declara- 


tion of Independence^ to unite with them in their festi- 
vities; this request he was obliged to decline ; but the 
letter in which he signified his regret^ is left to us as a 
monument of his expiring greatness. On the twenty- 
fourth of Juncj when the hand of death was already upon 
him, he expressed in this letter all those characteristic 
sentiments which through life had so strongly marked 
him — the delight with which he looked back to the pe- 
riod^ when his country had made its glorious election 
between submission and the sword — -the joy he felt in 
its consequent prosperity — the hope he indulged, that 
the time would yet come when civil and religious free-- 
dom should bless all the world — the ardent wish he en« 
tertained, that the return of this day should keep fresh 
in us the recollection of our rights, and increase our 
devotion to them, and the affectionate remembrance with 
which he dwelt on the kindness he had experienced 
from his fellow citizens. He thus addresses the mayor 
of Washington, ^^ Respected Sir: The kind invitation 
I received from you, on the part of the citizens of the 
city of Washington, to be present with them at their 
celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of American inde- 
pendence, as one of the surviving signers of an instru- 
ment, pregnant with our own and the fate of the world^ 
is most flatteripg to myself, and heightened by the 
honourable accompaniment proposed for the comfort of 
such a journey. It adds sensibly to the suiferings of 
sickness, to be deprived by it of a personal participation 
in the rejoicings of that day ; but acquiescence under cir- 
cumstances is a duty not placed among those we are per- 


mitted to control. I should^ indeed^ with peculiar de^ 
lights have met and exchanged there congratulations, 
personally, with the small band, the remnant of the host 
of worthies who joined with us, on that day, in the hold 
and doubtful election we were to make for our country, 
between submission and the sword ; and to have enjoyed 
with them the consolatory fact that our fellow citizens, 
after half a century of experience and prosperity, con- 
tinue to approve the choice we made. May it be to 
the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts 
sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of 
arousing men to burst the chains, under which monkish 
ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind 
themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of 
self-government. The form which we have substituted 
restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of 
reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened 
or opening to the rights of man. The general spread 
of the lights of science has already laid open to every 
view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has 
not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favoured 
few, booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, 
by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for 
others ; for ourselves, let the annual return of this day 
forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an 
undiminished devotion to them. 

I will ask permission here, to express the pleasure 
with which I should have met my ancient neighbours of 
the city of Washington and its vicinities, with whom I 
passed so many years of a pleasing social intercourse — 


211 intercourse which so much relieved the anxieties of 
the public cares^ and left impressions so deeply engra- 
ved in my affections, as never to be forgotten. With 
my regret that ill health forbids me the gratification of 
an acceptance, be pleased to receive for yourself, and 
those for whom you write, the assurance of my highest 
respect and friendly attachments.'^ 

Soon after this letter was written, the indisposition of 
Mr. Jefferson assumed a more serious character. He 
had been for some time ill, though it was not until the 
twenty-sixth of June that he was obliged to confine him- 
self to his bed. The stre»ngth of his constitution and 
freedom from bodily pain, for a short time encouraged 
the hope that his illness was merely temporary. He 
himself, however, felt the conviction that his last hour 
was approaching. He had already lived beyond the 
limits ordinarily assigned to human existence, and for 
some months past, the whole tone of his conversation 
showed that he was looking forward to its termination, 
with a calmness and equanimity worthy of his past 
life. "I do not wish to die," he was in the habit of 
saying to the intimate friends around him, "but I do 
not fear to die. Acquiescence is a duty under circum- 
stances not placed among those we are permitted to con- 
trol.'' He declared that could he but leave his family 
unembarrassed, and see the child of his old age, the 
university, fairly flourishing, he was ready to depart— 
nunc dimittis Domine, the beautiful ejaculation of the 
Hebrew prophet, was his favourite quotation. — May God 
and his country grant the fulfilment of his dying wishes. 


On the second of July the complaint with which he was 
afflicted, left him ; hut his physician expressed his fears 
that his strength might not prove sufficient to restore 
him from the debility to which it had reduced him — 
conscious himself that he could not recover, and free 
from all bodily and apparently from all mental pain, 
he calmly gave directions relative to his coffin and his 
iiiterment, which he requested might be at Monticello 
without parade or pomp ; he then called his family around 
liim and conversed separately with each of them ; to his 
beloved daughter, Mrs. Randolph, he presented a small 
morocco case, which he requested her not to open until 
after his death — ^when the sad limitation had expired, it 
was found to contain an elegant and affectionate strain of 
poetry, on the virtues of her from whom he was thus 
torn away. On Monday, the following day, he inquired 
of those around him with much solicitude, what was the 
day of the month; they told him it was the third of 
July ; he then eagerly expressed his desire that he might 
be permitted to live yet a little while, to breathe the air 
of the fiftieth anniversary. The wish was granted — the 
Almighty hand sustained him up to the very moment 
when his wish was complete ; and then bore him to that 
world where the pure in heart meet their God. 

Those who are now alive, will never forget the deep 
sensation which the intelligence of this event produced 
in every part of the United States. The public honours 
every where lavished, were not, in this case, the mere 
mockery of wo ; but they found a correspondent feel- 
mg in the heart of every citizen; It scarcely required 



the indulgence of superstition or enthusiasm to see, in 
the extraordinary coincidence which marked the last 
hours of Mr. Jefferson, the directing hand of heaven ; 
and in this lesson America had again reason to bless that 
Almighty power, which had so often seemed in days of 
adversity, specially to guide her through apparently 
unconquerable perils, and in days of prosperity to 
shower down upon her people, in the yet short period 
of their existence, what other nations have been unable 
to attain to in the long lapse of time. 

In pursuing the ordinary duties of a biographei'; thf 
personal and political character of Mr. Jefferson should 
now claim our notice ; and yet it is with conscious ina- 
bility, that we undertake the task. The memory of his 
public services, his many virtues, and his excellent and 
amiable life are so fresh in our recollections, that to speak 
of him as we feel, may bear the appearance of panegyric 
rather than the dispassionate judgment of biography. 
The record of his actions however is a test to which all 
may appeal : and if in any thing our opinions should be 
deemed erroneous, to that record let the appeal be made 
— as they are the surest so are they the noblest monu- 
ment he has left. 

At the time of his death Mr. Jefferson had reached 
the age of eighty-three years, two months and' twenty- 
one days. In person he was six feet two inches high, 
erect and well formed, though thin ; his eyes were light, 
and full of intelligence ; his hair very abundant and 
originally red, though in his latter years, silvered i^vith 


age. His complexion was fair and his countenance re- 
markably expressive ; his forehead broad^ the nose ra- 
ther larger than the common size, and the whole face 
square and expressive of deep thinking. In his con- 
versation he was cheerful and enthusiastic; and his 
language was remarkable for its vivacity and correctness. 
His manners were extremely simple and unaffected^ 
mingled however with much native but unobtrusive 

In his disposition Mr. Jefferson was full of liberality 
and benevolence; of this the neighbourhood of Mon- 
ticello affords innumerable monuments, and on his own 
estate, such was the condition of his slaves, that in their 
comforts his own interests were too often entirely for- 
gotten. He possessed uncommon fortitude and strength 
of mind, with great firmness and personal courage — in 
forming his opinions he was slow and considerate, but 
when once formed, he relinquished them with great re- 
luctance ; his equanimity and command of temper were 
such, that his oldest friends have remarked that they 
never saw him give way to his passions ; by his domes- 
tics he was regarded with all the warmth of filial affec- 
tion. His attachment to his friends was warm and 
unvarying ; his hospitality was far beyond his means, and 
left him, as we have seen, in his old age the victim of 
unexpected poverty. 

The domestic habits of Mr. Jefferson were quite 
simple. His application was constant and excessive. 
He rose very early and, after his retirement from public 
life, devoted the morning to reading and to his corres- 


pondence which was varied and extensive to a degree 
that, in his latter years, became exceedingly trouble- 
some. He then rode for an hour or two, an exercise to 
which he felt all the characteristic attachment of a Vir- 
ginian. After dinner he returned to his studies with 
fresh ardour, and then devoting his evening to his faniily^ 
retired to bed at a very early hour. 

The studies of Mr. Jefferson were extended to almost 
every branch of literature and science. He was the 
father of some, and the patron of many of the institutions 
of his country for their promotion. He was said to be 
a profound mathematician, and he was in the habit of 
obtaining from France up to the very day of his death, 
the most abstruse treatises on that branch of science. 
His acquaintance with most of the modern languages 
was minutely accurate ; he was a profound Greek scholar, 
having devoted himself during his residence in Europe 
to an extensive and thorough study of that language ; and 
he is said to have cultivated a knowledge of those dia- 
lects of northern Europe, growing out of the Gothic, 
which are so closely connected with our own language, 
laws, customs and history. 

So much has been necessarily said, in recording occurs 
rences of Mr. JeiTerson's life, that a summary of his 
general chamcter is reduced within very narrow limits^ 
and may be comprised in three periods ; the first from; 
his early youth to the close of the revolutionary war 5 
the second from that time until his retirement from pub- 
lic service ; and the third his private life to its close, 

VOL, VII.— «T 


In the first of these, we view him entering into life with 
that union of legal and political knowledge, and that 
mingled character of professional and agricultural pur- 
suit, which long distinguished the gentlemen of a state, 
that has furnished a large proportion of our most emi- 
nent citizens. The troubles of his country soon com- 
mencing, he embarked in them with all the energy of 
youth, and rising with their increase, we find him 
throughout their course a firm and fearless partizan, 
always foremost among those who led the van in the 
march of freedom, maturing his political principles by 
constant application, always decided in his conduct, and 
ready as the times required, to devote himself to the 
more silent duties of legislation, or the more arduous 
occupations of executive trusts. 

The second period of his life abounded in political 
circumstances, upon which the best and wisest of his 
countrymen have entertained very different sentiments; 
indeed it was scarcely possible, that in a universal change 
of almost the whole fabric of society, their opinions 
should not greatly vary. Those of Mr. Jefferson, as is 
well known, always leaned to the side of freedom, and 
whether they are viewed with favour or disapprobation,^ 
he must be taken as the great leader and author of the 
more popular form of our administration, as well as of 
that system which, by shutting out rather than increasing 
our connexion with foreign countries, leads to the self 
dependence of our own. The great result of his mea- 
sures, founded as they undoubtedly were on the excel- 
lent basis which had b^en laid before him, and ge- 


nerally followed up by his successors, has been the firm 
establishment of every great feature of our constitution^ 
as it seems to have been originally designed, united 
vi^ith an administration of it, decidedly popular in its 
character, and of great simplicity, and at the same 
time the reduction of party spirit within limits as nar- 
row as are possible or useful, and the increase to an 
amazing extent of the internal energy and resources of 
the nation. 

The last period of Mr. Jeiferson's life was that of 
rural and philosophic repose. Retiring from public 
scenes as the greatest of men in every age have done, 
his activity though abated was not lost, and he still per- 
formed the part of a good and great citizen, watching 
over his country's actions and attempering them by his 
advice. His early disposition to letters, continued 
through his busiest, and was the resource of his last 
years ; but his letters and philosophy were of the school 
of Franklin, less formed to investigate the depths of an- 
tiquity or dazzle by their display, than to come home to 
the interests of his age and country, and direct mankind 
in the road of practical utility. Of the same character 
was his style, plain, useful and energetic, adopting terms 
sometimes not before in use, where he thought them 
adapted to his purpose, and abounding sufficiently with 
manly and sublime touches where, as in several of his 
public papers, such were called for by his subject. 

Like Franklin, Mr. Jefferson felt the gradual decay 
of age, affecting hi« body rather by insensible degrees^ 


than by any settled infirmity^ and his mind not at all. 
He became hoary, venerable and bent with years, rather 
than broken by them ; and his death was at last so happy 
in all its circumstances, that he seemed to have passed 
from this to another world, with the composure which 
religion and philosophy must equally desire. 




William Hooper, a delegate in congress from the 
state of North Carolina, was born at Boston, in the pro- 
vince of Massachusetts Bay, on the seventeenth of June, 

The family of Hooper, seems to have been originally 
settled in the neighbourhood of Kelso, an old and con- 
siderable town in the south of Scotland; and to have 
been quite independent in circumstances, and highly 
respectable in character and connexions. At the vil- 
lage of Edenham, or Edenmouth, about two miles from 
Kelso, William Hooper, the father of the subject of this 
memoir, was born in the year 1702 ; he was graduated 
at the University of Edinburgh immediately on his com- 
ing of age, and soon after emigrated to this country. 
In Boston, where he fixed his residence, he married the 
daughter of Mr. John Dennie, an eminent merchant, and 
by his marriage became connected with several families 
of high respectability. 

He was afterwards elected pastor of Trinity Church 
in Boston, and enjoyed in a more than ordinary degree^, 
the affection and reverence of a large and respectable 
congregation. He was distinguished for his manners, 
which, it is said, were remarkably elegant and accom- 
plished, as well as for a bold and impressive eloquence ; 

15^ HOOPER. 

and long after his deaths his memory was fondly cherish- 
ed by a large circle of aifectionate friends. 

William Hooper^ his son, was the eldest of five chil- 
dren. He displayed at a very early age, the marks of 
considerable talent, but his constitution was extremely 
delicate from his birth. The first rudiments of know- 
ledge he received entirely from his father, who devoted 
great attention to his early education, and retained him 
under his own immediate control until he was seven 
years old. He was then sent to a free grammar school 
in Boston, at that time under the care of John Lovell, a 
teacher of more than usual celebrity in his day ; and after 
remaining with him several years, was removed at the 
age of fifteen to Harvard University. In this institution 
he remained three years; he devoted himself while there 
with extreme ardour, and in the vacations v/hich he 
passed at home, it is said that under the instructions of 
his father, his application was even more excessive than 
whilst he was within the college walls. His inclinations 
seem to have led him rather to the study of elegant lite= 
rature, an intimate knowledge of the great masters of 
antiquity, and the cultivation of a refined taste in com- 
position and in public speaking, than to the pursuit of 
severer and more abstract science. He commenced 
bachelor of arts in the year 1760, and left college high 
in rank and reputation among his fellow students. 

It was the early intention, as it had been the earnest 
wish of his father, that Mr* Hooper should select the 
church as his profession. His own inclinations, however^ 

HOOPER. 153 

led him to prefer the bar^ and that appears to have been 
a scene more appropriate for his talents and acquire- 
ments. To this change in his plans his father yielded^ 
and as soon as his collegiate course had terminated, he 
became a student of law under James Otis, one of the 
jnost distinguished members of the bar in the province. 

At this period commenced the attempts of the English 
parliament, against the rights and privileges of their fel- 
low subjects in the American colonies. Mr. Otis took 
an early and decided stand, by his writings and by his 
open declarations, against the assumed power of the 
British government. He was excelled by none in zeal 
and equalled by few in abilities. The high esteem and 
respect which Mr. Hooper entertained for his precep- 
tor, naturally produced a coincidence in their political 
views ; and there is little doubt that at this time those 
principles were implanted in his mind, which subse- 
quent events matured, and the exigencies of his country 
afterwards called forth into practical usefulness. 

When at length Mr. Hooper was called to the bar^ 
he found that the profession in his native province was 
so well filled, in respect both to numbers and age, that 
there was scarcely any field for the exercise of youthful 
industry or talent. He determined, therefore, to try his 
fortunes in some other part of the country. In North 
Carolina he had many connexions of considerable wealth 
and influence, and this circumstance induced him to 
select that province as the theatre of his early labours. 

After a year or two however spent in North Carolina^ 
his father became exceedingly anxious that he should 
VOL. vii. — u 

154 HOOPER. 

return to Boston. His healthy naturally delicate, had 
suffered considerably from the severity with which he 
applied himself to the study and practice of his profes- 
sion, as well as from the extreme labour which arose from 
its active prosecution. The fatigue that attends even 
at the present time, an extensive country practice is 
well known ; but it is now difficult for us to appreciate 
the severe duties which devolved on a lawyer of those 
days. The courts were situated at great distances from 
each other ; the roads were bad, and passed through new 
countries, scarcely affording tlie ordinary necessaries, 
much less the comforts which a traveller may fairly re- 
quire ; and the only mode of travelling was on horse- 
back. Mr. Hooper constantly attended the courts in 
the western counties of the state, some of them nearly 
two hundred miles from Wilmington, where he resided. 
Such fatigue might have impaired the strongest consti- 
tution; and it was not surprising that one so delicate 
as his could not long resist its influence. 

Another circumstance may have contributed in some 
degree to the loss of health, from which Mr. Hooper suf- 
fered. The manners of the country were social to a 
degree bordering on conviviality, and little suited to one 
brought up under the more rigid discipline of the north. 
Visitors had already designated Wilmington as the re- 
gion of kindness. Hospitality was practised to excess ; 
and an immoderate attachment to convivial enjoyment, 
was a folly of the opulent which spread through the 
classes of society, until none were exempt. Many in- 
deed of the oldest families of the state, now reduced to 

HOOPER, i^i^ 

comparative poverty, have reason to rue the prodigal 
liberality of their ancestors. 

Nor were these the only reasons which induced his 
father anxiously to urge his return. He regarded his 
favourite son^ on the cultivation of whose talents he had 
bestowed so much devoted attention, and whose early 
life had so far rewarded his most ardent wishes, with all 
the jealous sensibility of parental affection. He forgot 
that in the rapid increase of professional reputation, and 
public esteem, he had already received a reward be- 
yond that to which his years had entitled him ; and with 
all the partial judgment of a father, believed that the 
talents he had improved with so much care were impro- 
perly neglected, so long as the highest offices of public 
confidence were not conferred on him. This was a sub- 
ject of mortification which he did not aifect to conceal. 
The lessons of wisdom which he had learned, or which 
at least he inculcated in the performance of his sacred 
duties, might have taught him that a life rendered use- 
ful by the practice of virtue, and brilliant by the exhi- 
bition of genius, ought to gratify the desires of a laudable 
ambition ; and that in such a life there w^as a daily tri- 
umph over the display of wealth and the parade of office. 
But the feelings of nature, or a knowledge of the world 
were stronger than religious doctrine. Experience had 
shown him that wealth was universally coveted as the 
reward, and office as the stamp of superior excellence ; 
and that even the noblest minds might be desirous not 
only to merit what they obtained, but to obtain what 
they merited. The modesty or good sense of the son, 


however^ ultimately triumphed over the prejudices of 
his parent ; in the course of a life not marked either by 
length of years, stability of health, or very close appli- 
cation, he attained distinction higher than office could 
confer, and left a name which will long be recorded as 
illustrious in the history of his country. 

In the fall of 1767, having determined to fix his resi- 
dence permanently in North Carolina, he married Miss 
Anne Clark, of Wilmington, in that province ; a young 
lady whose family was highly rcspectoble, and whose 
brother, General Thomas Clark, was afterwards a well 
known officer in the army of the United States. His 
choice is said to have been peculiarly fortunate, con- 
sidering the times on which he had fallen ; for to 
great goodness of disposition and much intelligence, his 
wife united a firmness of mind which enabled her to 
bear up without repining against the privations and dis- 
tresses to which she became peculiarly exposed, in con- 
sequence of the conspicuous situation which her husband 
lield during the revolutionary war. 

As Mr. Hooper had now become a citizen and a set- 
tled resident of Wilmington, it may be well supposed 
that he soon held a prominent station among those, who 
were distinguished for their information^ talents and in= 
fluence. The state of society is said to have been at 
that period well suited to his turn of mind, and a flatter- 
ing picture of it has been drawn by one of his relations, 
which, if somewhat highly coloured, may at least have 
the advantage of exciting or gratifying local recollec- 
tions. ^'The commerce of Wilmington,'^ he observes, 

HOOPER. 157 

^» was then increasing, and derived great benefit from a 
bounty on naval stores. Many of the families residing 
in it were proprietors of large estates, and all of them, in 
respectable stations, obtained a living without painful 
exertion. Every where on the eastern and western 
branches of Cape Fear river were men of fortune, for 
the most part either related to each other by blood, or 
connected by marriage, whose settlements extended al- 
most as far as Fayetteville. This general ease and pros- 
perity were highly favourable to an attention to letters^ 
and to the development of certain talents. Emulation 
no doubt tended to keep alive this attention, and to 
awaken a spirit of competition for literary superiority 
throughout the community. Every family had a col- 
lection of the best English authors, besides which there 
was a public library, entitled '^The Cape Fear Library.'' 
Wit and humour, music and poetry were called forth in 
social and convivial intercourse. The talent for con- 
versation was cultivated with great success — emanating 
from letters or from science, or rising out of the busy 
scenes of life, it was always either instructive or amusing. 
The actors in this scene were far above the ordinary 
cast. Among them were Eustace, the correspondent of 
Sterne, uniting wit and genius ; Lloyd, gifted with a fine 
imagination and adorned with classical learning; Pen- 
nington, a scholar of elegant attainments and of polished 
wit ; Maclaine, whose criticisms on Shakspeare would, 
if published, give him rank in the republic of letters ; 
Nash, who afterwards fell at the battle of Germantown ; 
Boyd, who possessed the rare art of telling a story with 

158 HOOPER. 

spirit and grace^ and whose elegiac numbers afforded a 
striking contrast to the gaiety of the scenes in which he 
figured ; Moore^ endued with a versatile intellect, and 
possessed of extensive and varied information — as a wit 
always prompt in reply — as an orator always ' daring the 
mercy of chance': Waddell, urbane and intelligent ; Howe^ 
whose imagination fascinated, whose repartee overpow- 
ered, and whose conversation was enlivened by strains 
of exquisite raillery ; and Swann, whose venerable age 
and matured wisdom fitted him to preside over this asso- 
ciation of information and talents. Mr. Hooper played 
his part among these personages, and shed a classic 
lustre over these select assemblies. '^ 

His professional duties, Mr. Hooper continued to pur- 
sue with unabated and successful zeal. He soon held a 
high rank among the advocates of the province ; and as 
early as 1768, when he was only twenty-six years of age, 
was spoken of as one of the leading members of the bar. 
He was engaged about this time in several public trials 
of considerable importance, which he conducted with 
great honour, as well as with much skill and address ; 
and he established, as a professional man, a reputation 
which attended him to the termination of his life. By 
governor Tryon, as well as his successor, governor Mar- 
tin, the presiding officers of the colony immediately pre- 
ceding the revolution, he was treated with marked at- 
tention, and many efforts were made to conciliate his 
friendly feelings. From Howard, the chief justice, with 
whom his profession more immediately connected him, 
he received many marks of attention and kindness. 



In tlie year 1770^ Mr. Hooper took an active part in 
behalf of the government;^ against the insurgents who 
were known by the name of the Regulators. These in- 
surgents, who had adopted this title lest they should be 
looked upon merely as an ordinary mob, were for the 
most part composed of the lowest classes of the people, 
and inhabited the remote and thinly settled parts of the 
province. Here, without the means of instruction, with- 
out knowledge of the laws, gaining a precarious subsist- 
ence, wild, poor and miserable, they became the ready 
instruments of men who were plausible and cunning 
enough to point out to them their wretchedness, and to 
promise them redress. They told them of large sums 
of money which had been lavished in erecting a palace 
for the governor ; of heavy taxes which they were made 
yearly to pay, without receiving from their expenditure 
the slightest benefit ; of enonnous fees which were ex- 
torted by all the subordinate officers of the government : 
until from murmurs and complaints they led them by 
degrees to riot and rebellion. The first symptoms of s 
turbulent spirit had appeared in the northern counties 
of the province as early as 1766 ; and the discontented 
and factious at length proceeded to form themselves into 
regular associations, in which they bound themselves by 
oath to support the cause in which they were engaged. 
Relying on their united strength, and gaining courage 
from impunity, they proceeded to inflict summary jus- 
tice on the objects of their peculiar vengeance. The 
judges were driven from the bench, the attorneys were 
struck down while in the performance of their public 

160 HOOPER. 

duties, or dragged ignominiously through the streets ; 
and the civil, even the military power were placed com- 
pletely at defiance. Flushed with success, they soon 
forgot the original causes of complaint, and their leaders 
determined to turn to their own advantage the power 
they had obtained. At every meeting their demands 
and their violence increased. They gave full reign to 
every disordered passion ; they drove their defenceless 
countrymen from their homes ; and laid waste their pro- 
perty with fire and sword. In the midst of all this, 
their leaders avowed their true intentions ; they acknow- 
ledged that their object was no longer a redress of griev- 
ances, but that it was to seize the reins of government, 
and acquire wealth by the profitable offices in its gift. 
Under these circumstances, the most patriotic citizens 
deemed it their duty to support the government, for- 
getting for the time the wrongs which they had received 
from it. Among these was Mr. Hooper : he advised 
a resort at once to decisive measui^s, as the only means 
by which the country could be saved from anarchy. His 
advice was taken, the militia of the province were called 
out, and after a severe battle, the rioters, who had as- 
sembled to the number of three thousand, were defeated 
and tranquillity restored. 

In the year 1773, Mr. Hooper, who had been a per- 
manent inhabitant of the province scarcely six years, was 
chosen to represent the town of Wilmington, in which 
he resided, in the general assembly. In 1774, he was 
again sent to the same body, from the county of New 
Hanover, Here it soon bec3[me his duty to oppose one 


of those arbitrary acts of the British government^ of 
which so many are found in the history of every state. 
It is indeed a mistake to suppose^ that the aggressions of 
the mother country were confined solely to those gene- 
ral acts which were directed at once against all her 
colonies on this continent. On the contrary^ a slight 
investigation of their respective annals will show that 
scarcely any one was exempt from a thousand acts of 
petty oppression^ exercised either by the government at 
home^ the proprietary administration^ or the subordinate 
agents. A constant repetition of these had spread a 
general feeling of indignation throughout the country, 
and when those bold acts were attempted which were 
calculated to involve the whole in indiscriminate subjec- 
tion, each was ready to join and support the other, from 
the vivid recollection of individual wrongs. 

In the year 1773, the laws regulating courts of justice 
in the province were about to expire, and it became 
necessary to revive their provisions by a new enactment. 
The British party, taking advantage of the occasion, in- 
troduced a clause in the new bill, the object of which 
was to screen from the attachment to which they had 
hitherto been liable, any property in North Carolina 
which belonged to persons who did not reside within 
the state. This bill received the approbation of the go- 
vernor and senate, but when it was presented to the 
house of representatives, it met with strong and deter- 
mined opposition. In the debate, which was long and 
obstinate, Mr. Hooper took the lead. He urged the in- 
justice of depriving a province whose commerce wis 

VOL. TIT. — X 

164 HOOPER. 

gates^ and declared them to be binding in honour, upon 
every inhabitant of the province, who was not alien 
to his country's good and an apostate to the liberties of 

With these credentials Mr. Hooper took his seat in 
congress on the twelfth of September, 1774, and was 
immediately placed on two important committees, that 
which had been formed to draw up a statement of the 
rights of the colonies in general, the several instances 
in which those rights had been violated and infringed, 
and the means most proper to be pursued for obtaining 
a restoration of them ; and that which was appointed to 
examine and report the several stateuts which affect the 
trade and manufactures of the colonies. From the se- 
tvecj with which it was deemed indispensable to invest 
the proceedings of the revolutionary congress, we are 
deprived of all minute knowledge of their most import- 
ant transactions, and we have but slight means of judging 
the character and influence of individual members. The 
subjects however, embraced in the powers of these two 
committees, could have been trusted to none but the 
ablest men. They were the foundation on which all 
the proceedings of the new government were to rest, 
they were to mark out the course to be pursued, while 
the ground was yet untrodden, and every thing obscured 
by doubt and difficulty. 

It is not improbable that it was on some matter con- 
nected wdth these subjects, that Mr. Hooper first ad- 
dressed the assembly in which he sat. He is said to 
have occupied their attention about half an hour^ and to 


have been listened to with the most profound silence. 
The eulogium was however qualified with the remark^ 
that the house was astonished at the exhibition of so much 
eloquence^ by a delegate from North Carolina. 
On the fifth of April 1775, Mr. Hooper was again 
elected a delegate to serve in the second general con- 
gress, which met at Philadelphia in the month of May of 
that year. Soon after taking his seat, he was selected as 
the chairman of a committee, which was appointed to 
draught an address to the inhabitants of Jamaica. In this 
he asserted in strong language, the deliberate intention 
of the British government for many years past to destroy 
in every part of the empire, the free constitution which 
it had so long enjoyed. That with a dexterity artful 
and wicked, they had varied the modes of attack accord- 
ing to the different characters and circumstances of 
those w^hom they meant to reduce. In the East Indies, 
scarcely veiling their tyranny under the thinnest dis- 
guise ; but wantonly sacrificing the lives of millions to 
gratify their avarice and power. In Britain, where the 
maxims at least of freedom were known, employing the 
secret arts of corruption. In America, too resolute for 
the employment of open force, and as yet too pure for 
corruption, forming plausible systems, making specious 
pretences, and trying by all the arts of sophistry to prove 
their right to enslave. These principles they afterwards 
attempted to enforce by the hand of power. The power 
and the cunning however of our adversaries, he adds, 
were alike unsuccessful. We refused to their parlia- 
ments an obedience which mv judgments disapproved 

16() HOOPER. 

of: we refused to their armies a submission^ which spirits 
unaccustomed to slavery could not brook. He then 
states the successive measures which had been tried in 
vain; the prayers which had been rejected; the remon- 
strances which had been disregarded ; and the only re- 
medy which had been left — the sacrifice of commerce 
for the preservation of liberty. He regrets the hard 
necessity which compelled the extension of this system 
to the West Indies ; while he expresses the belief of 
congress, that no apology is necessary to the patriotic 
assembly of Jamaica, who know so well the value of 
liberty ; who are so sensible of the extreme danger to 
which ours is exposed ; and who must foresee that the 
destruction of ours will be followed by the destruction 
of their own. He concludes in the following bold and 
animating language, which shows how far, at that pe- 
riod, the delegates had determined to carry their re- 

" That our petitions have been treated with disdain, 
is now become the smallest part of our complaint : minis- 
terial insolence is lost in ministerial barbarity. It has, 
by an exertion peculiarly ingenious, procured those very 
measures, which it laid us under the hard necessity of 
pursuing, to be stigmatized in parliament as rebellious : 
it has employed additional fleets and armies for the infa- 
mous purpose of compelling us to abandon them : it has 
plunged us in all the horrors and calamities of civil war: 
it has caused the treasure and blood of Britons (formerly 
shed and expended for far other ends) to be spilt and 
wasted in the execrable design^ of spreading slavery over 

HOOPER. 167 

British America : it will not, however, accomplish its 
aim : in the worst of contingencies, a choice will still be 
left, which it never can prevent us from making." 

On the twelfth June, Mr. Hooper brought in a reso- 
lution recommending the observance of the twentieth 
of July as a day of public humiliation fasting and prayer. 
^^It is at all times," he observed, ^^our indispensable duty 
devoutly to acknowledge the superintending providence 
of the great governor of the world, especially in times 
of impending danger and public calamity, to reverence 
and adore his immutable justice, as well as to implore 
his merciful interposition for our deliverance." 

During the remainder of the year 1775, Mr. Hooper's 
name appears frequently on the journals of congress, as 
a member of various committees, some involving mea- 
sures of the deepest interest, and associated on them 
with Jefferson, Franklin, Adams and other leading mem- 
bers of the house. So meagre however, are the notices 
which these volumes afford, that we look in vain for any 
thing which can illustrate the measures they advised, 
and frequently have no record of the measures them- 

He was associated with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Living- 
ston, in January, 1776, on a committee to consider a 
proper method of paying a just tribute of gratitude to 
the memory of general Montgomery, who had lately 
fallen with so much glory beneath the walls of Quebec. 
In reporting to congress on the subject, they remarked 
that it was not only a tribute of gratitude justly due to 
'^he memory of those who had peculiarly distinguished 

leg HOOPER. 

themselves in the glorious cause of liberty, to perpetuate 
their names by the most durable monuments erected to 
their honour, but that it was also greatly conducive to 
inspire posterity with an emulation of their illustrious 
actions. They therefore recommended the erection of 
a monument to his memory, to express the veneration of 
the United Colonies; and to transmit to future ages as 
examples truly worthy of imitation, his patriotism, con- 
duct, boldness of enterprise, insuperable perseverence 
and contempt of danger and death. Their recommen- 
dation was not disregarded. A monument was erected 
by congress in the city of New York. 

During a considerable part of the spring of 1776, Mr. 
Hooper was obliged to be absent from congress, by the 
public and private business which required his attention 
in North Carolina. He took a prominent part while^ 
there in several important political measures. He dis- 
tinguished himself greatly as a speaker, in the conven- 
tions which were held at Hillsborough and Halifax ; and 
the eloquent address to the inhabitants of the British 
empire which emanated from the former, was the pro- 
duction exclusively of his pen. 

In the summer he returned to his post, and on the 
fourth of July gave his vote with his colleagues for the 
declaration of independence. During the remainder 
of the year, he is found in active service — he was placed 
on the committee for regulating the post office and on 
those of the treasury, secret correspondence, appeals 
from the admiralty courts, and the laws relative to cap- 

HOOPER. 169 

tares ; situations requiring extreme prudence^ industry^ 
and judgment. 

On the twentieth December, 1776, Mr. Hooper was 
a third time elected a delegate to congress ; but so great 
was the derangement of his private affairs, from the situ- 
ation of the country and the neglect to which they were 
exposed from his public occupations, that he found it 
impossible longer to absent himself from Carolina. On 
the fourth of February, 1777, he obtained leave of con- 
gress to return home, and shortly after resigned his seat 

On his return to Carolina, Mr. Hooper exerted him- 
self with new zeal, in the support of the revolutionary 
cause. He w^as a prominent leader in all the great pub- 
lic measures which were demanded by the exigency of 
the times. On the most trying occasions the loftiness 
and elasticity of his spirit were manifest and striking. 
Events which cast a gloom over the minds of many of 
his most patriotic coa'djutors, had no effect in damping 
his ardour or depressing his hopes. The disastrous issue 
of the battle of Germantown, which spread consterna- 
tion among the friends of liberty, only gave fresh ani- 
mation to his zeal. When the report of that event 
reached Wilmington, he was surrounded by a party of 
his friends, who were overwhelmed with dismay at the 
unfortunate intelligence ; *^ We have been disappointed/*^ 
he exclaimed with great animation and starting from his 
seat, "We have been disappointed! — but no matter; 
now that we have become the assailants there can be no 
doubt of the issue.'' 

VOL. VII » — Y 

170 HOOPEU. 

About this time he removed with his family from the 
town of Wilmington^ to a plantation which belonged to 
him about eight miles distant, on Masonsborough sound. 
This place however, he was soon after obliged to leave^ 
on account of the aggressions of the enemy. It will be 
readily supposed that the very prominent part he had 
taken in the revolutionary measures of his own province, 
and afterwards in those of the colonies in general, had 
rendered him notorious, and peculiarly obnoxious to the 
partisans of the British government. Soon after his 
election to congress, and while absent on his public du- 
ties, the captain of a sloop of war, lying in Cape Fear 
river, had descended to the unworthy vengeance of 
firing upon a house belonging to him, which w^as situated 
on the shore of that river, about three miles from Wil- 
mington. On his return from congress, these outrages 
assumed a character still more personal. A major Craig^ 
having under his command a consi^rable force, arrived 
in Cape Fear river, and compelled Mr, Hooper to seek 
his immediate safety, by taking refuge in the interior 
country. His family he removed to Wilmington, pre- 
ferring to cast them on the humanity of an open enemy, 
rather than expose them to the perils of a predatory 
warfare. Uncertain of the issue of the measures which 
he had advocated, but yet pursuing them with unabated 
zeal, he was well aware of the danger to which he would 
be exposed by any reverse of fortune. He therefore 
made an arrangement for seeking a refuge in one of the 
French West India islands, should success finally attend 
the British arms 5 and it is said that a similar plan had 

HOOPER. 171 

been concerted by all the members of congress, with the 
French minister. In November, 1781, Wilmington was 
evacuated by the enemy, and Mr, Hooper returned to 
it, with his family. Shortly afterwards he removed to 

On the twenty-second September, 1786, he was 
appointed by congress, one of the judges of a federal 
court, formed according to the articles of confederation, 
to determine a controversy which had arisen between 
the states of Massachusetts and New York, relative to 
a territory, which was claimed by each state as within 
its boundaries. The points involved in this controversy, 
were of extreme importance, and affected to a large ex- 
tent, the territorial rights of both states. In asserting 
these rights each had already acted with considerable 
warmth 5 and the court had a question of extreme deli- 
cacy, as well as difficulty to settle. This was however 
obviated, by an arrangement between the states. On 
the sixteenth of December, commissioners appointed by 
the respective parties, met at the city of Hartford in 
the state of Connecticut, and an agreement was entered 
into between them, by which their disputes were settled 
without appealing to the doubtful authority, which had 
been recognized as binding by the articles of confede- 

In the year 1787, the health of Mr. Hooper, whose 
constitution was always delicate, had become considerably 
impaired. He had continued, however, to hold a dis- 
tinguished rank in the councils of the state, and to main- 
tain a very high station at the bar. Speaking of him 

I'jci HOOPER. 

about this period^ the late judge Iredell remarked, that 
his latest exertions were in every respect equal to those jof 
his earlier days. He now began, however, gradually to 
relax his public and professional exertions, and in a short 
time withdrew entirely from active life. His retire- 
ment at the time, was the subject of much speculation. 
By many it was attributed to the state of his health ; by 
others it was believed that some disgust, arising from the 
legislative measures of the state, had mingled with his 
more private reasons^, and led to this decisive step. He 
was probably actuated by a variety of motives ; and per- 
sonal feelings had no doubt much influence on his de- 
cision. He was mortified, probably, by finding himself 
in collision with some of his compatriots and best friends. 
This was especially the case in the proceedings which 
were adopted, after the ratification of the treaty of 
peace, with regard to the British loyalists. Those who 
were desirous to shield them from what they deemed 
unreasonable persecution, pursued their measures with- 
out address, and rushed into the opposite extreme. 
With them Mr. Hooper coincided in the strongest sen- 
timents of justice and humanity, but he refused to con- 
cur with them in the measures they adopted to attain 
their ends. He justly conceived that at a period when 
the public mind was so strongly excited, great circum- 
spection should be used ; and this he thought the more 
necessary on his part, because most of his family had 
been attached and were connected with the royal cause. 
Sensible that his situation required him to be above sus- 
picion, he suppressed many of the warmest feelings of 

HOOPER. 173 

his heart : and he had at least the gratification to find, 
that at no period was the sincerity of his zeal or the 
purity of his principles, in the least degree impeached. 
The few years that he lived after his retirement were 
spent in domestic enjoyment, for which he was better 
fitted by his temper, his sensibilities and his healtli, 
than for the fatiguing anxieties of public life. He died 
at Hillsborough, in the month of October, 1790, at the 
early age of forty- eight years, leaving a widow, two sons 
and a daughter, the last of whom alone survives. Of his 
descendants, there are still living three children of his 
eldest son William ; viz. William, professor of logic and 
rhetoric in the University of North Carolina ; Thomas, 
a lawyer ; and James, a merchant , the two last, residents 
of Fayetteville. 

From the preceding sketch, which embraces, it is 
believed, most of the prominent incidents in the life of 
Mr. Hooper, a general idea of his character may be 
formed. It may not, however, be uninteresting to add, 
in the closing pages of this memoir, such a general no- 
tice of his person, manners and attainments, as we have 
been able to procure from those whose opportuni4:ies for 
information have been more extensive. From these 
sources we learn, that in person he was of the middle 
stature, delicate and well formed. His countenance 
was pleasing, and full of intelligence. His manners 
were polite and engaging, though among those with 
whom he was not intimate, rather reserved : among his 
friends they were cordial and remarkably sincere and 

174 HOOPER. 

unaffected. His powers of conversation were very con- 
spicuous ; great attention had been paid to them ori- 
ginally by his father, and he himself continued to cul- 
tivate them with success ; he was always frank, and 
frequently sarcastic and severe. In his habits, he was 
liospitable even to excess ; and in his domestic relations, 
affectionate and indulgent ; his failings — and who is 
without them — were at least not such as affected the 
morality of his private or the integrity of his public 

As a literary man, his reputation was considerable. 
This is evinced by the selection which was always made 
of his pen, in the public proceedings of importance 
that were agitated in his neighbourhood ; especially 
as there were several men of no mean literary reputation 
residing at that time in or near Wilmington. The letters 
of Hampden might have afforded us an example, had 
they not perished with the fugitive productions of the 
day. As a letter writer, much praise has been bestowed 
on his efforts of a more public chai^cter ; but his fami- 
liar correspondence is said to be deficient in simplicity 
and ease. 

As a lawyer, his success at the bar, especially when 
the circumstances of his emigration are recollected, was 
extremely flattering ; and he is said to have merited it 
by the propriety of his professional conduct. In this he 
was always honourable and candid ; he was free from 
envy ; and ever anxious to aid the efforts of rising in- 
dustry or genius. 

As a politician; the best monument to his fame is in 

HOOPER. 17^ 

the facts and incidents of his public career. His pene- 
tration into character was remarkable ; and is proved in 
the selection of his friends — from whom, it is said, he 
experienced in every instance, that warm reciprocal 
attachment which was due to his judgment, his ardour 
and his constancy. By these means, in moments of great 
political difficulty and danger, he united around him a 
force of talent and character, eminently serviceable in 
promoting and supporting his patriotic designs. These 
designs were uniformly stamped with the manliness and 
the energy which marked his character. The champion 
of that illustrious band, which in North Carolina first op- 
posed the encroachments of arbitrary power, all his ac- 
tions were founded on principles as correct as his motives 
were disinterested and pure. When he engaged in re 
Volutionary measures, he was fully aware of the dangers 
to which he exposed his person and estate ; yet in spite 
of untoward events, his enthusiasm never abated, his 
firmness never forsook him. In times the most disas 
trous he never desponded, but maintained the ground he 
had assumed with increased intrepidity. 





James Smith, of York county^ in Pennsylvania, was 
perhaps the most eccentric in character among all those 
illustrious men that had the happiness to affix their names 
to the glorious Declaration of Independence. 

Ireland may claim the honour of being his native 
land ; and he retained to the latest hours of a protracted 
life, that openness of heart and raciness of humour, for 
which Irishmen are often remarkable, united with the 
regular industry and steady virtues that were improved 
if not implanted by his American education. 

The date of his birth has not been ascertained ; it was 
a secret which he carried with him to the gra^e, an in- 
vincible reluctance to reveal his. age, even to his nearest 
relatives or most confidential friends, being one of his 
peculiarities which remained after he had long survived 
the period when vanity or interest could possibly supply 
a motive for such concealment. 

It was believed by some members of his family that 
he was born in the year seventeen hundred and thirteen, 
while others would place that event eight or nine years 
later; — the truth probably lay between these two con- 

At the age of ten or twelve he came to this country 
with his father, a respectable farmer, who brought with 

180 SMITH. 

him a numerous offspring to find settlements in the new 
world. The family adopted a residence on the west 
side of the Susquehannah^ where the father^ after seeing 
his surviving children well provided for, hreathed his 
last in the year 1761^ leaving behind a well deserved 
reputation for benevolence and honesty. 

James Smithy the subject of our present notice, was 
the second son, and was placed for education under the 
immediate care of the celebrated Dr. Allison, provost 
of the college at Philadelphia, by whose instructions he 
so far profited as to acquire a respectable knowledge of 
the Greek and Latin languages, and a taste for classical 
allusion that endured to the termination of his life. 

He also became skilful in surveying, an art of peculiar 
usefulness and dignity at that early period, when enter- 
prise and capital were so generally directed to the pur- 
chase of lands, and when no man without some proficiency 
in the use of the compass and chain, could ascertain his 
own or his neighbour's boundaries. 

With these preparatory accomplishments he applied 
himself to tlie study of the law, either in the ofiice of 
Thomas Cookson, or of his elder brother, who had be- 
come a practising lawyer in the town of Lancaster but 
died in early manhood, when James had scarcely com- 
pleted his pupillage. 

It is believed that he did not attempt to practise his 
profession at Lancaster; but immediately after his bro» 
ther's death removed far into the woods, and established 
himself, in the blended character of a lawyer and sur- 
veyor, in the vicinity of the present site of Shippensburg. 



The propensity to buy wild lands as a matter of specu- 
lation, and the inaccurate surveys frequently made for 
distant purchasers, had already begun to operate as the 
sources of abundant litigation in Pennsylvania, and sup- 
plied Mr. Smith with very active occupation at this 
early period, as they continued to do until he finally 
relinquished the profession, after an industrious and able 
exercise of it during nearly sixty years. 

After a few years passed in this remote situation, he 
took up his abode in the flourishing village of York, 
where he continued to reside all the rest of his life ; and 
he practised his profession there with great credit and 
profit ; and under circumstances peculiarly favourable to 
tranquillity and comfort, for he was, during many years, 
the only lawyer at the place. 

It was in this prosperous condition of his fortunes he 
married Miss Eleanor Armor, of New Castle ; and he 
continued to be the sole practitioner of the law residing 
at York, although Jasper Yeates, afterwards the distin 
guished judge of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania- 
and other young men, attended the courts there, as Mr. 
Smith did those of the neighbouring counties. 

In the year 1769, Mr. Hartley, afterwards a colonel 
in the revolutionary army, made the second lawyer at 
York ; but Mr. Smith retained his position at the head 
of the bar, and continued a career of uninterrupted pro 
fessional assiduity and success, up to the commencement 
©f the war. 

During this period of his life, he was quite as much 
distinguished for his powers of entertainment, his drol 

182 SMITH. 

lery^ his humorous stories, and his love of conviviality. 
as for his talents and success in the practice of the law. 

His memory was remarkably retentive of anecdotes, 
and his perception of the ridiculous quick and unerring. 
With these powers, a well regulated temper and great 
benevolence, it is not to be wondered at that he should 
have been the delight of the social circle, should have 
inclined to the company of younger persons, and should 
frequently have set the court house as well as the tavern 
bar room in a roar of laughter. 

Yet though he loved wine, and drank much of it, he 
was never known to be intoxicated ; and though he was 
often the cause of most obstreperous mirth, he always 
maintained the dignity of his own character. 

It is to be remembered, to his honour, that even in the 
midst of his most extravagant sallies, he never uttered 
nor permitted in his presence, a jest which was aimed 
at religion or its ministers. He was indeed a commu- 
nicant, and regularly attended the church in the morn= 
ing of every Sabbath ; but could with difficulty be per- 
suaded to go in the afternoon, being accustomed to say, 
in his manner, which is described as irresistibly comic^ 
that a second sermon in the same day always put the first 
one entirely out of his head. Few of his witticisms have 
been remembered ; indeed his facetiousness seems to 
have depended entirely on the manner and accompany- 
ing circumstances. A gentleman who passed a part of 
the year 1773, in York, thus describes his peculiar hu- 
mour : " The most trivial incident from his mouth, was 
stamped with his originality 5 and in relating one even- 


SMITH. 183 

iiig how he had been disturbed in his office by a cow^ 
he gave inconceivable zest to his narration, by his man- 
ner of telling how she thrust her nose into the door and 
there roared like a JViimidian lion. With a sufficiency 
of various reading to furnish him with materials for ridi- 
culous allusions and incongruous combinations, he was 
liever so successful as when he could find a learned pe- 
dant to play upon ; and judge Stedman, when mellow, 
was best calculated for his butt : the judge was a Scotch- 
man, a man of reading and erudition, though extremely 
majesterial and dogmatical in his cups. This it was 
which gave point to the humour of Smith, who, as if 
desirous of coming in for his share of the glory, while 
Stedman was in full display of his historical knowledge, 
never failed to set him raving by some monstrous ana- 
chronism ; such, for instance, as, "Don't you remember, 
Mr. Stedman, that terrible bloody battle which Alex- 
ander the Great fought with the Russians near the straits 
of Babelmandel ?'' " What, sir,'' said Stedman, repeat- 
ing with ineffable contempt, "'which Alexander the 
Great fought with the Russians ! where, mon, did you 
get your chronology ?" " I think you will find it re- 
corded, Mr. Stedman, in Thucydides or Herodotus." 
On another occasion, being asked for his authority for 
some enormous assertion, in which hoth space and time 
were fairly annihilated, with unshaken gravity he re- 
plied, " I am pretty sure I have seen an account of it, 
Mr. Stedman, in a High Dutch almanack, printed at 
«^/ec/?o," his drawling way of pronouncing Aleppo. 
While every one at table was holding his sides at the 


expense of the judge^ he on his part had no doubt that 
Smith was the object of the laughter, as he was of his 
own unutterable disdain.'' 

But a time was approaching when distinction was to 
be acquired, and eminence maintained, by the exercise 
of other talents than those which were fitted to enliven 
a convivial party. The clouds of war already lowered 
on the horizon ; and every prominent man was obliged 
to take his part in the momentous struggle. 

When in the spring of the year 1774, intelligence 
was received of the enactment of the bill closing the 
port of Boston, the disputes between the colonies and 
the mother country began to be seen and understood in 
their true light, as irreconcilable without concessions not 
likely to be made on either side, and tending manifestly 
to a desperate and bloody contest. 

The prophetic forebodings of Josiah Quincy, uttered 
on a preceding occasion, had rung through the land like 
the sound of an alarm bell. '^ We must be grossly igno- 
rant," this eloquent patriot had said, " of the import- 
ance and value of the prize for which we contend ; we 
must be equally ignorant of the power of those who have 
combined against us ; we must be blind to that malice, 
inveteracy and insatiable revenge, which actuate our 
enemies, public and private, abroad and in our bosom, 
to hope that we shall end this controversy without the 
sharpest, sharpest conflicts, . . , to flatter ourselves that 
popular resolves, popular harangues, popular acclama- 
tions, and popular vapour will vanquish our foes. Let 
lis consider the issue. Let us look to the end. Let us 

SMITH. 185 

weigh and consider before we advance to those measures 
which must bring on the most trying and terrible strug- 
gle this country ever saw/'' 

These words had been repeated widely through the 
colonies and to all reflecting minds the same thoughts 
were now suggested by this vindictive act of parliament. 
The Virginia legislature appointed the first of June, 
the day when the Boston port bill was to go into ope- 
ration, to be set apart for fasting, prayer and humilia- 
tion, ^^to implore the divine interposition to avert the 
heavy calamity which threatened destruction to their 
civil rights, and the evil of a civil war ; and to give one 
heart and one mind to the people, firmly to oppose every 
invasion of their liberties." 

This example was generally followed and the first day 
of June was devoted, not to a mere heartless observance 
of a prescribed solemnity, but in sincerity and sober ap- 
prehension, to a serious cultivation of religious and 
patriotic resolutions. 

Mr. Smith was now at an age when the liability to 
be carried away by thoughtless ardour and enthusiasm 
was past. Between fifty and sixty years old, he might 
well have pleaded his fulness of days as an excuse for 
avoiding all active participation in the contest. In the 
successful practice of the legal profession, possessed of 
considerable property, and engaged in extensive iron- 
works on the Codorus creek, he had nothing to gain by 
devoting himself to public employments, and every thing 
to lose if the efforts of the resisting, though not yet re- 
bellious, colonists should be defeated. 

VOL. VII. — A a 

186 BMITH. 

But the calls of patriotism prevailed with him, over 
the dictates of prudence or selfishness; he did ^Hook to 
the end^'' he ^^ weighed and considered/^ and having 
taken his part on the side of liberty and his country^ 
he gave himself up to the most active exertions in the 

Two measures of defence and protection had been 
suggested and recommended by various public meetings 
in Boston and elsewhere, and now occupied much atten- 
tion ; these were an agreement to abstain from importing 
any goods from England, a plan evidently very difficult 
of complete execution ; and the assembling of a general 
congress for the purpose of deliberating upon some 
common scheme of action to be recommended to the 

In Pennsylvania there was a meeting of delegates from 
all the counties with a view to collect and express the 
public sentiments on these subjects, and on the condition 
of public affairs generally, in the form of instructions to 
the general assembly. This meeting, called the ^^Com- 
mittee for the Pi^vince of Pennsylvania,'^ was composed 
entirely of men of great distinction in the colony, and 
among them James Smith took his seat as one of three 
delegates from the county of York, and was appointed 
one of the committee to prepare and bring in a draught 
of instructions. 

Tlie instructions reported and adopted comprised an 
elaborate and very able argument upon the constitu- 
tional powers of parliament, ascribed to Mr. Dickenson i 
which was however^ separated from the instructions and 

SMITH. 187 

afterwards published as an ^^ essay'' accompanied with 
learned notes^ displaying remarkable research and eru- 

The resolutions passed at this meeting of delegates 
representing the qualified voters of all the counties in 
Pennsylvania^ as well as the language held by them to 
the general assembly whom they were to counsel and in- 
struct^ exhibit the same remarkable union^ apparent in 
most of the public proceedings at this period^ of honest 
unshaken attachment to the king and to the people of 
England, with the clearest understanding of their con- 
stitutional rights and the most established determination 
to preserve them at every hazard.^ When had king 
such subjects? When was faithful loyalty so discou- 
raged? ^^ Our judgments/' tliey declared, ''and aifec- 
tions attach us with inviolable loyalty to his majesty's 
person, family and government ;" and further they re- 
solved that an unconstitutional independence on the 
parent state was utterly abhorrent to their principles. 
But they declared also in reference to the power claimed 
by parliament, ^^of right to bind the people of these 
colonies in all cases whatsoever," that the wit of man 
could not possibly form a more clear, concise and com- 
prehensive definition and sentence of slavery than those 
expressions contain. 

The instructions to the general assembly recommend 
the appointment of a proper number of persons to attend 
a congress of deputies from the several colonies, and as 

* See the Appendix. 

188 SMITH. 

to the 11 on -importation agreement they object that it 
would be injurious to great numbers of their fellow sub- 
jects at home^ for whom they had been tauglit to enter- 
tain tender and brotherly aiFections^ and that it would be 
disrespectful towards his majesty's government. They 
request^ however, that if congress should determine on 
such a measure, the deputies to be appointed by the as- 
sembly, might be told to cause it to be permanent and 
binding upon all 5 and they desire that persons should be 
appointed and sent ho7ne with a representation of the 
grievances of the colonies. 

As the whole tenor of the " instructions" is pacific and 
conciliatory, there is no mention of armed resistance, ex- 
cept in the hint that if Britain shall continue to perse- 
vere in her pretentions, ^•either the colonists will sink 
from the rank of freemen into the class of slaves, or if 
they have strength and virtue enough to exert them- 
selves in striving to avoid this perdition, they must be 
involved in an opposition dreadful even in contempla- 

It may be inferred that Mr. Smith was either less 
disposed than a majority of the committee to entertain 
^Hender and brotherly aifection'' for his fellow subjects 
in England, and less reluctant to adopt a measure im- 
plying ^^ disrespect to his majesty's government,'' or 
that he had a more distinct anticipation of a resort to the 
logic of the bayonet than the committee were willing to 
avow ^ since he employed himself on his return to York 
in raising and drilling a volunteer company, of which 
he was elected tlie captain. 

SMITH, 189 

This was the first corps of vohmteer soldiers organized 
in Pennsylvania, with a view to oppose the armies of 
great Britain^ and Mr. Smith was entitled to great praise 
for this practical and efficient exercise of patriotism, by 
wliich at a very early period of the contest, indeed se- 
veral months before the first shedding of blood at Lex- 
ington, he set an example of so salutary a character. 

Neither his age nor his previous studies or habits fitted 
him particularly for military life; his object was gained 
when he saw corps after corps organized in emulation of 
his own, until the volunteer force of Pennsylvania be- 
came effective and respectable. When his company had 
increased to a regiment he accepted the honorary title 
of their colonel, leaving to younger men the duty and 
honour of the actual command. 

While Mr. Smith was thus occupied at home, the first 
congress was held at Philadelphia; and the eloquent 
remonstrances which they addressed to the people and 
the king of Great Britain, if ineffectual as to their pro- 
fessed object, were yet most aff'ecting and powerful ap- 
peals to the hearts of the Americans ; and if they did 
not serve to weaken the general attachment to the royal 
government and British nation, at least confirmed the 
general resolution to sacrifice all selfish considerations 
and maintain their rights even at the price of war. 

It was in this improved tone of public feeling that the 
*• convention for the province of Pennsylvania'^ met, in 
January, 1775. 

Of this convention Mr. Smith was a member, and 
joined in the resolutions approving of the conduct of the 

190 SMITH. 

continental congress, and promising to aid in carrying into 
effect the non-importation agreement entered into and 
recommended by that body. He also concurred in the 
spirited declaration that ^^if the British administration 
should determine by force to effect a submission to the 
late arbitrary acts of the British parliament, in such a 
situation^we hold it our indispensable duty to resist such 
force, and at every hazard to defend the rights and liber- 
ties of America.'^ 

It may be remarked too, as an indication of some 
change in the prevailing sentiment, that there is not in 
these resolutions any profession of attachment to the 
king or royal family. 

The design to break off all political connexion with 
Great Britain had not however yet been avowed in any 
public proceeding, and was not by any means generally 
entertained. But it could not but be present to the 
minds of all men as a possible contingency, and much 
more was meant than met the ear in the moderate and 
guarded language of congress and other public bodies, 
when a determination to defend and maintain American 
liberty was distinctly declared. 

While the long cherished sentiments of affection to- 
wards the king and respect for the royal government 
were daily weakened by fresh proofs of a determined 
spirit of tyranny on the part of the British rulers : efforts 
were made on, the other hand to discountenance the 
proceedings of congress, and to prevent the sober minded 
people of Pennsylvania from being carried away by the 
contagious enthusiasm for liberty. 

SMITH. ]9i 

At the very time that the convention at Philadelphia 
were recommending the resistance of force by force^ an- 
other assembly held in the same town and possessing 
perhaps equal influence was engaged in the endeavour 
to counteract their schemes. 

A meeting of the people called Quakers residing in 
Pennsylvania and New Jersey, held by delegates regu- 
larly appointed to represent them, formed this anti- re- 
volutionary congress, which met in the month of January, 
1775 ; and the Testimony or address which they publish- 
ed called upon all the members of that powerful and 
numerous society, in the two colonies, to unite in abhor- 
rence of all such writings and measures as evidenced a 
desire or design to break off the happy connexion of the 
colonies with the mother country, or to interrupt their 
just subordination to the king. 

It is impossible to say what effect this effort and 
others made at the same time, to damp the patriotic 
spirit of the colonies, might have had on the delibera 
tions of the new congress, which assembled in May of 
the same year, if the sword had not in the mean time 
been actually drawn, and the bloody affair at Lexington 
had not occurred just in season to rouse the indignation 
of even the peaceful Pennsylvanians, and loyal inhabitants 
of New- York, and commit the colonies irretrievably to 
the prosecution of hostilities. 

The Quaker Testimony certainly had no effect on Mr, 
Smith ; he was rising at this time in the military line and 
had attained to the dignity of colonel, but was not chosen 
a member of the congress; the appointmeuts for which 

19^ SMITH. 

had been made before the skirmish at Lexington had 
given so decided and warlike a character to the disputes. 

Indeed^ colonel Smith was at this time an ultra m 
w^higgism^ — republicanism had not then begun to be 
avow^ed. He was half a year at least in advance of the 
greater part of his ^^ fellow- subjects" of Pennsylvania^ 
and not at all the sort of man the general assembly w^re 
disposed to entrust with the important and delicate task 
of " establisliing that union and harmony between Great 
Britain and the colonies^ wliich is indispensably neces- 
sary to the welfare and happiness of both." 

Such were the expressed objects of the assembly in 
appointing deputies to represent the colony in con- 
gress;— objects^ the successful pursuit of which seemed 
to require the exertions of the most moderate among the 
whigs^ aided perhaps by the counsels of the most intel- 
ligent among the tories. 

Such a selection, therefore, w^as made w-heu the depu- 
ties to this congress w-ere to be appointed, that it hap- 
pened in the following year to be extremely difficult to 
obtain the vote of this colony in favour of independence : 
and it became necessary for the influential patriots to 
exert their energies with luiceasing eifort, in order to 
bring the force of public opinion to bear upon the ge- 
neral assembly, so as to stimulate that too pacific body, 
as well as some of their representatives in the continen- 
tal congress, intQ a course conformable to the desires of 
the friends of liberty. 

Notwithstanding the spirited measures adopted by the 
congress during the summer^ in the organization of a 

SMITH, 193 

continental army, and the appointment of Washington to 
the command of all the continental forces, " raised or to 
be raised, for [the defence of American liberty ;'' and 
notwithstanding too the excitement produced by the re- 
cent tragedy at Lexington — the battle of Bunker's hill, 
the destruction of Falmouth, the capture of Ticonde- 
roga and Crown Point, and the brilliant career of Mont- 
gomery in Canada, — still a final separation from Great 
Britain was by no means generally looked to as an inevit- 
able or desirable termination of the contest. 

Affairs were manifestly tending to a crisis, which could 
only leave unconditional submission as the alternative of 
independence, yet the word that was in every one^s 
mind seemed too portentous to be openly expressed; 
and in the province of Pennsylvania, the state of the pub- 
lic mind on this subject might have remained longer a 
matter of conjecture, if the opponents of separation had 
not chosen to bring it to a decisive test. 

In November, 1775, the general assembly made a re- 
appointment of their delegates, with the addition of 
three new members; instructing them, however, that 
"'though the oppressive measures of the British parlia- 
ment and administration have compelled us to resist their 
\'iolence by force of arms ; yet we strictly enjoin you, 
that you, in behalf of this colony, dissent from and utterly 
reject any proposition, should such be made, that may 
cause or lead to a separation from our mother country, 
or a change of this form of government.'' 

This decided stand against independence, assumed by 
so respectable an assembly, roused its friends to immedi- 
VOL. VII. — B b 

194 SMITH. 

ate and active exertions ; and among them, colonel Smitft 
was not the least zealous and efficient. The general as» 
sembly was assailed with petition? and remonstrances^, 
calling for a revocation of their instructions, which were 
denounced as contrary to the wishes of the people, and 
calculated to separate Pennsylvania from the other co- 
lonies, which had not trammelled their delegates with 
any such limitation of their discretionary powers. These 
applications were entirely unavailing ; and the assem- 
bly, — encouraged, perhaps, by the conduct of the Ma- 
ryland convention, who declared early in December, 
that they were not and never had been desirous of inde- 
pendence,-— refused positively to rescind the instruc- 

It was plain that if this example were generally adopt- 
ed by the colonies, and the delegates in congress should 
act in obedience to these views, the contest must become 
at once hopeless, and entire submission to the British 
power must speedily follow. 

The advocates of independence in Pennsylvania, had 
now an arduous task to perform, but they persevered 
against every discouragement. Early in the year 1776, 
the Quaker Testimony was renewed against the war, and 
the assembly of South Carolina, declared in an address 
to governor Rutledge, that they still desired an accomo- 
dation with the royal government. 

The attitudes thus assumed by the colonies of South 
Carolina, Maryland and Pennsylvania, were extremely 
disheartening to the friends of liberty ; but colonel Smith 
and the patriots with whom he acted, very soon had the 

SMITH. 195 

satisfaction to learn that North Carolina had expressly 
empowered her delegates to concur in a declaration of 
independence, and that Massachusetts had resolved that 
the inhabitants of that colony would support with their 
lives and fortunes such a measure^ if congress should 
think fit to adopt it. 

Accordingly congress did on the fifteenth of May, 
adopt a resolution which was in spirit, though not in 
terms^ a declaration of independence. Previous to this 
time all the public acts of that body had recognized the 
king as entitled to entire respect and loyalty, but di- 
rected their complaints and menaces solely against the 
ministry and the parliament. But now, for the first 
time, war w^as openly declared against the king, and 
all ideas of reconciliation were publicly disclaimed. 

This important resolution after reciting the acts of 
tyranny committed and meditated by ^^his Britannic ma- 
jesty," declares that it appeared ^^ absolutely irrecon- 
cilable to reason and good conscience, for the people of 
these colonies now to take the oaths and affirmations ne- 
cessaiy for the support of any government under the 
crown of Great Britain; and it is necessary that the 
exercise of every kind of authority under the said 
crown should be totally suppressed, and all power of 
government exerted under the power of the people of 
these colonies j^^ &c. 

The resolution concludes with a recommendation to 
the several colonies to " adopt such governments as shall 
in the opinion of the representatives of the people best 

196 SMITH. 

conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents 
in particular and America in general." 

This decisive measure removed the difficulties which 
had embarrassed the course of the whigs in Pennsylvania. 
The government of the colony being in the hands of 
the General Assembly^ they had been left with no other 
resource than to excite such an universal enthusiasm in 
favour of liberty as might induce the assembly to change 
their vote^ and in the mean time they had the mortifi- 
cation to see the conventions of North Carolina and 
Massachusetts outstripping in the race of patriotism and 
courage^ the very colony within whose limits the con- 
gress was sitting;, and that colony indeed not only 
backw^ard in the cause^ but pledged by her constitued 
authorities against emancipation. 

But a way was now opened for them to proceed un- 
shackled by such pledge^ — an opportunity was given 
for creating a power paramount to the general assembly, 
competent to supersede its acts, and to place Pennsyl- 
vania in the attitude which it behoved her to assume. 

Accordingly, only five days after, a large meeting of 
the citizens of Philadelphia was held in front of the 
very building in which congress was deliberating on 
plans of resistance,' — the resolution of the fifteentli of 
May was read and approved by hearty acclamations, — = 
the instructions of the general assembly to the delegates 
in Congress were also read and as loudly condemned, and 
it was resolved to invite a provincial conference to meet 
with as little delay as was possible, for the purpose of 

SMITH. 197 

making arrangements for establishing a new government 
in Pennsylvania. 

Of this conference of committees^ which assembled at 
Carpentei^s Hall in Philadelphia, on the eighteenth of 
June, colonel Smith was an active and distinguished 

It is observable, that so much had the military spirit 
extended itself by this time, that of the ninety-six mem- 
bers, generally men of professional or agricultural pur- 
suits, more than half bore the title of colonel, major, or 

The meeting was in fact composed entirely of decided 
whigs, and their proceedings were entirely harmonious ; 
but a part of the necessity of their assembling had been 
obviated ; the general assembly had given way to the 
force of public sentiment, and a few days before the 
meeting of the conference, had rescinded their ob- 
noxious instructions. This vote was equivalent to an 
instruction or request that the delegates would vote for 
independence, and seems so to have been considered by 
the conference, who, in consequence, did not take any- 
further step in that particular matter. The determina- 
tion had indeed now become universal to adopt the 
measure when it should be proposed : the resolution of 
congress disclaiming the authonty of the king had in 
effect left little more than a formality to be performed, 
in an actual declaration or manifesto ; and the colony of 
Virginia had put an end to the possibility of much fur- 
ther doubt on the subject, by instructing her delegates 
to propose and advocate such a declaration. 

19S SMITft. 

It was with this knowledge that the question would 
shortly he tried in congress, the general assembly acted 
in the revocation of their former instructions ; and they 
appear to have been deeply impressed with the solemnity 
and importance of the sanction which they were giving 
to the cause. It is evident, indeed, that they reluctantly 
adopted the resolution which placed Pennsylvania on the 
side of the rebels ; and yielded to a necessity which they 
could not control. 

'' When/^ say they in their new directions to their 
delegates in congress, " by our instructions of last No- 
vember, we strictly enjoined you, in behalf of this co- 
lony, to dissent from and utterly reject any proposition^ 
should such be made, that might cause or lead to a sepa- 
ration from Great Britain, or a change of the form of this 
government, our restrictions did not arise from any dif- 
fidence of your ability, prudence or integrity, but from 
an earnest desire to serve the good people of Pennsyl- 
vania with fidelity, in times so full of alarming dangers 
and perplexing difficulties. 

" The situation of public affairs is since so greatly al- 
tered, that we now think ourselves justifiable in remov- 
ing the restrictions laid upon you by those instructions. 

'' The contempt with which the last petition of the 
honourable congress has been treated ; the late act of 
parliament, declaring the just resistance of the colonists 
against violences actually offered, to be rebellion ; ex- 
cluding them from the protection of the crown, and even 
compelling some of them to bear arms against their coun- 
trymen ; the treaties of the king of Great Britain with 

SMITH, 199 

other princes for engaging foreign mercenaries, to aid 
the forces of that kingdom in their hostile enterprises 
against America ; and his answer to the petition of the 
lord mayor, aldermen, and commons of the city of Lon- 
don, manifest such a determined and implacable resolu- 
tion to effect the utter destruction of these colonies, that 
all hopes of a reconciliation, on reasonable terms, are 
extinguished. Nevertheless^ it is our ardent desire that 
a civil war, with all its attending miseries, should be 
ended by a secure and honourable peace. 

^^ We hereby authorize you to concur with the other 
delegates in congress, in forming such farther compacts 
between the United Colonies, concluding such treaties 
with foreign kingdoms and states, and in adopting such 
other measures as shall be judged necessary for promot- 
ing the liberty, safety and interests of America, reserv- 
ing to the people of this colony the sole and exclusive 
right of regulating the internal police of the same. 

^^ The happiness of these colonies has, during the whole 
course of this fatal controversy, been our first wish, their 
reconciliation with Great Britain our next. Ardently 
have we prayed for the accomplishment of both. But 
if we must renounce the one or the other, we humbly 
ti'ust in the mercies of the Supreme Governor of the 
universe, that we shall not stand condemned before his 
throne, if our choice is determined by that overruling 
law of self preservation, which his divine wisdom has 
thought fit to implant in the hearts of his creatures.'' 

The resolution in favour of issuing a declaration of 
independence had been introduced in congress by Mr. 

£00 SMITH. 

Lee of Virginia, on the seventh of June ; it encountered 
serious opposition, to a greater degree than had heen 
anticipated. The objections urged were not applied to 
the principle of the measure itself, but to its expediency 
just at that time; many of the members who were fully 
determined that such a declaration should be issued at a 
proper season, were still of opinion that greater prepa- 
rations for war should first be made, as the immediate 
effect would be to stimulate the British government to 
more strenuous hostility. 

Nor w^as this prudence confined to the members of 
congress ; the Maryland convention had by a very re- 
cent vote, on the fifteenth of May, adhered to their 
resolution of the preceding December, against a separa- 
tion from Great Britain ; and the provincial congress of 
New York had returned a very cold and discouraging 
answer to an address of a committee of mechanics that 
had ventured to suggest the propriety of instructing the 
New York members to vote for independence. 

In this state of things it was thought necessary for the 
conference to add the weight of their influence to the 
scale, and on the afternoon of Sunday, the twenty-third 
day of June, (for Sunday shone no Sabbath day to these 
indefatigable patriots,) a young man distinguished for 
his talents and his zeal in the cause of freedom, and who 
subsequently became one of the most distinguished orna- 
ments of the American nation, proposed the appoint- 
ment of a committee to draught a resolution " declaring 
the sense of the conference with respect to an indepen- 

SMITH. 201 

dence of this province from the crown and parliament 
of Great Britain.'' 

The mover of this resolution was Dr. Benjamin Rush, 
and being seconded by colonel Smith, they were ap- 
pointed, with the chairman, Thomas M'Kean, to compose 
the committee. 

The next morning the committee met and prepared 
a declaration which was reported in the afternoon, read 
a first and second time by special order, unanimously 
approved, signed by all the members and ordered to be 
presented to congress the following day. 

This spirited paper recites that George the third, in 
violation of the British constitution, and of the laws of 
justice and humanity, had by an accumulation of op- 
pression unparalleled in history, excluded the inhabitants 
of this, with the other American colonies, from his pro- 
tection; had paid no regard to ^^any of our numerous 
petitions for a redress of our complicated grievances;* 
but hath lately purchased foreign troops to assist in 
enslaving us ; and hath excited the savages of this country 
to carry on a v^ar against us, as also the negroes to 
embrue their hands in the blood of their masters in a 
manner unpractised by civilized nations ; and hath lately 
insulted our calamities by declaring that he vvill show us 
no mercy till he has reduced us. And whereas the obli- 
gations of allegiance (being reciprocal between a king 
and his subjects) are now dissolved on the side of the 
colonists, by the despotism of the said king, insomuch 
that it now appears that loyalty to him is treason against 
the good people of this country ; and whereas not only 
VOL. VII. — r. e 

£02 SMITH. 

the parliament but^ there is reason to believe, too many 
of the people of Great Britain have concurred in the arbi- 
trary and unjust proceedings against us, and whereas the 
public virtue of this colony (so essential to its liberty 
and happiness) must be endangered by a future political 
union with, or dependence on, a crown and nation so 
lost to justice, patriotism and magnanimity." Therefore, 
the resolution proceeded to assert that " the deputies of 
Pennsylvania assembled in the conference unanimously 
declare their willingness to concur in a vote of the con- 
gress declaring the united colonies free and independent 
states : and that they call upon the nations of Europe, 
and appeal to the great Arbiter and Governor of the em- 
pires of the world to witness that this declaration did 
not originate in ambition, or in an impatience of lawful 
authority, but that they are driven to it in obedience 
to the first principles of nature, by the oppressions and 
cruelties of the aforesaid king and parliament of Great 
Britain, as the only possible measure left to preserve 
and establish our liberties and to transmit them inviolate 
to posterity." 

This paper, although prepared in extreme haste, the 
appointment of the committee being on Sunday after- 
noon, and the report being made the very next day, 
comprises, nevertheless, nearly all the topics which are 
touched with more polished phraseology in the declara- 
tion adopted by congress on the fourth of July ensuing, 
of which the Pemisylvania resolution may be considered 
as the rough draught. 

SMITH. £03 

The very same day that this eloquent and manly reso- 
lution was reported and adopted, another and not less 
important task, of a similar kind, was devolved on colo- 
nel Smith and his young friend Dr. Rush. 

The congress had passed a vote recommending the 
formation of an army of four thousand five hundred men, 
of the Pennsylvania militia for the protection of Phila- 
delphia, hut the general assembly had suddenly and un- 
expectedly broken up, finding their functions likely to 
be very shortly taken out of their hands, without having 
made any provision for carrying the plan into effect. 

It became necessary, therefore, for the conference, as 
the only body of men that could be considered as repre- 
senting the people, to appeal to the patriotic ardour of 
the volunteers, or ^^ associators,'' as they were then call- 
ed, and to induce them to organize the camp without any 
other requisition than this informal call of their country. 

For this duty colonel Smith, Dr. Rush, and colonel 
Bayard were selected, and the day following their ap- 
pointment they reported the ^'address to the associa- 
tors'' which was adopted. 

The paper thus prepared was of course intended 
for publication, and it is remarkable that the committee 
at this time, more than a week before the vote was taken 
in congress, chose to consider the question of indepen- 
dence as decided, and all possibility of reconciliation 
with the royal government as entirely at an end. 

^•We need not remind you,'' such is the language 
addressed to the volunteers, ^^that you are now fur- 
bished with new motive^ to animate and support youi 

C104 SMITH. 

courage. You are not about to contend against the 
power of Great Britain in order to displace one set of 
villains to make room for another. Your arms will not 
be enervated in the day of battle with the reflexion that 
you are to risk your lives or shed your blood for a Bri- 
tish tyrant, or that your posterity will have your work 
to do over again : You are about to contend for perma- 
nent freedom, to be supported by a government which 
will be derived from yourselves, and which will have for 
its object not the emolument of one man, or class of men 
©nly, but the safety, liberty and happiness of every in- 
dividual in the community. We call upon you, there- 
fore, by the respect and obedience which are due to the 
authority of the United Colonies, to concur in this im- 
portant measure. The present campaign will probably 
decide the fate of America. It is now in your power to 
immortalize your names by mingling your achievements 
with the events of the year 1776, a year which we hope 
will be famed in the annals of history to the end of time, 
for establishing on a lasting foundation the liberties of 
one quarter of the globe. Remember the honour of our 
eolony is at stake. Should you desert the common cause 
at the present juncture, the glory you have acquired by 
your former exertions of strength and virtue will be tar- 
nished, and our friends and brethren who are now 
acquiring laurels in the most remote parts of America 
will reproach us, and blush to own themselves natives or 
inhabitants of Pennsylvania. But there are other mo- 
tives before you; your houses, your fields, the legacies 
of your ancestors, or the dear bought fruits of your own 

SMITH. £05 

industi7% and your liberty now urge you to the field. 
These cannot plead with you in vain, or we might point 
out to you further your wives, your children, your aged 
fathers and mothers, who now look up to you for aid, 
and hope for salvation in this day of calamity, only from 
the instrumentality of your swords." 

The number of " associators'^ in Pennsylvania was very 
large — according to the estimate of Mr. Penn, in his 
examination before the house of lords, they amounted to 
a volunteer force of twenty thousand men. 

This calculation is, however, to be taken with such 
allowance as will preclude the idea of that number of 
actually equipped and organized soldiers. The arms 
were deficient in quality and amount, the battalions were 
scattered throughout the colony, — the whole operations 
of agriculture and the mechanic arts, besides professional 
avocations, must have been interrupted if the associators 
had been mustered and marched to battle. 

The spirit that was excited and kept alive by the sys- 
tem of enrolling so large a proportion of the effective 
force of the province in the list of volunteers, contri- 
buted nevertheless, and in a very considerable degree, 
to place Pennsylvania on the side of independence, and 
to keep her firm in the cause after her territory had 
become the theatre of war, and her capital had fallen 
. into the hands of the enemy. 

To the creation of this invaluable spirit, which filled 
the province with citizen-soldiers, colonel Smith had 
been, as we have seen, mainly instrumental, by setting 
the earliest example of the formation of volunteer com- 

^06 SMITH, 

panics ; and he now had the satisfaction to witness the 
beneficial consequences of his efforts. 

After the adjournment of the conference, in the last 
week of June, he returned to York, and had a short in- 
terval of time to devote to his clients and his iron works^ 
both of which had been necessarily neglected while his 
attention was occupied by public affairs. 

It was, however, a period during which no man that 
had taken so active an interest in the great contest, cotild 
be much at ease, or very capable of attention to private 

The declaration of independence was known to have 
been proposed in congress, and to be under discussion 
there until the second day of July, when the vote was 
taken, and the measure adopted. 

This event, although so momentous in its character 
and consequences, was received with remarkable cool- 
ness in the city of Philadelphia ; — it in fact excited no 
surprise. The colonies of North Carolina, Virginia, 
Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachu- 
setts, had already, by public acts, expressed their deter- 
mination on the subject; and the question was known to 
be merely one of now or hereafter — of accelerating or 
delaying — the Rubicon was reached, and with more or 
less hesitancy was certainly to be passed. 

The Philadelphia newspapers of the third of July^ 
merely announced, in a part of their pages by no means 
conspicuous, that " yesterday the continental congress 
declared the United Colonies free and independent 

SMITH. £07 

This simple annunciation^ unaccompanied with com- 
ment, applause or preface, of one of the most memorable 
transactions in the history of man, is to be found in all 
the newspapers printed at the very place of its occur- 
rence, and is a curious characteristic of the cool and 
imperturbable temper that prevailed among the whigs 
throughout the whole of the revolutionary war. 

In York county, the intelligence of this event, and the 
declaration itself which followed in two days after, were 
received just in time to give additional interest, but more 
complete unanimity to their election of members of the 
convention, which was to assemble on the fifteenth, for 
the purpose of preparing a constitution and plan of 
government for Pennsylvania. 

It was now a season for the timorous, and those who 
loved their ease and valued their personal safety, to seek 
excuses for staying at home, and leaving the peril and 
the labour of public life to such as cared more for their 
country and her freedom, and less for their own private 
property and lives. 

The army of general Clinton, which had successively 
menaced New York, Virginia and North Carolina, had 
now made an intelligible demonstration of an intended 
attack on Charleston, while Sir William Howe had 
brought a very large army to Staten Island, 

The war began now to look extremely serious ; that 
^^ sharpest, sharpest conflict," predicted by Josiah Quin- 
cy, was now impending, and no one could tell how soon 
his own fields and threshold might become the scene of 
the carnage of his own relatives and friend?. 

£08 ^MITH. 

The intelligence from England was also extremely 
discouraging ; the ministry had carried their headlong 
zeal so far as to be guilty of the absurd extravagance of 
furnishing general Gage's army at Boston with live cat- 
tle, hay, and even firewood from England, rather than 
risk their being cut oiT by the rebels from the acquisition 
of these bulky but necessary supplies. The ministerial 
majorities in both houses of parliament had not dimin- 
ished, notwithstanding the unconstitutional project of 
hiring foreign troops had been avowed, and the contracts 
with the German princes were actually made. The 
eloquent addresses of congress to the king and the peo- 
ple had met with a cold reception, and every thing be- 
spoke a resolute and severe determination to exert the 
whole power of Britain, in a mighty effort to reduce the 
refractory colonies to subjection. 

Colonel Smith was not deterred by these formidable 
considerations from pursuing the course into which his 
patriotism had impelled him. Nor was he induced by 
the pressing claims of his private affairs, to withdraw his 
services from his country ; although his practice could 
mot but suffer by his continued absence, and his iron 
works had become in his absence a very unprofitable 

He was, however, elected a member of the conven- 
lion, and did not decline serving, but attended at the 
meeting in Philadelphia on the fifteenth day of July. 

This convention was assembled for the expressed pur- 
pose of forming a new constitution for Pennsylvania, 
HOW no longer a colony or a province, but become an 

SMITH. £09 

mdependent state : it is a circumstance, however, curi- 
ously characteristic of the practical and business-like 
habits of the public bodies of that period^ that the first 
resolution adopted by them,— after choosing Dr. Frank- 
lin for their president, — ^was an earnest recommenda- 
tion to the committee of safety that they should take 
immediate measures for procuring all the lead used in 
spouts, clock weights, ornaments of houses, or other 
form, and turning it into bullets without delay. 

The first important committee that they appointed, 
was " to make an essay for a declaration of rights for this 
state ;" — colonel Smith was chosen a member ; and be- 
fore the committee had time to perform the difficult 
duties of their appointment, other and not less important 
responsibilities were devolved on him. On the twen- 
tieth of July, the convention proceeded to ballot for nine 
members of congress, and colonel Smith was one of the 
nine elected ; but did not on that account abandon his 
seat in the convention, nor cease from an active partici- 
pation in its deliberations. On the twenty- third, he was 
appointed a member of the committee charged with the 
delicate task of preparing an ordinance, declaring what 
should be high treason and misprision of treason against 
the state, and what punishments ought to be inflicted for 
these offences ; and also an ordinance declaring the 
punishment for counterfeiting paper bills of credit issued 
by congress, or by the late assembly of Pennsylvania, or 
any other of the states, and how far such bills of credit 
ought to be a legal tender. 

VOL. VII. — D d 


The very next day this committee reported on ali 
these subjects. The proposed ordinance respecting 
treason, which was adopted by the convention, was re- 
markable for the mildness of its penal inflictions. At 
this period of civil war and bloodshed, the committee 
recoiled from the idea of capital punishment, even for 
that crime which in most ages and countries has been 
visited — as it is even now in some of the most civilized 
nations — ^not only with loss of life, but with death at- 
tended with circumstances of torture to the sufferer, or 
insult to his remains, and total, unsparing ruin to his 

It deserves to be recorded in honour of colonel Smith 
and his associates in that committee, that they had the 
wise humanity to propose, and the convention to approve, 
a scheme of penal law on this subject distinguished by its 
mildness and mercy. 

Treason, which was to consist in levying war against 
the state or adhering to its enemies or the enemies of the 
United States, was to be punished by forfeiture of goods 
and estate, and imprisonment for a term not to exceed 
the duration of the war with Great Britain. 

Misprision of treason was to cause only a forfeiture of 
one third part of the oifender's property, and a similar 
imprisonment. But it was also magnanimously and hu- 
manely enacted, that in case of a conviction for treason 
the court should possess a discretionary power to apply 
an^ part, or the whole, of the forfeited property to the 
support of the offender's wife and children. The benign 
wisdom of this provision cannot be too highly praised, 

SMITH. £11 

and cannot fail to excite particular admiration when the 
period of its enactment, in the midst of the exasperation 
of ci\dl war J is considered. 

As to the crime of counterfeiting the bills of credit to 
be issued by congress or any one of the states, the com- 
mittee did not deem any such lenity expedient. Mis- 
guided men might join the enemy through an obstinate 
perseverance in old attachments to the king and nation 
that all the colonists had so recently looked upon as le- 
gitimate objects of loyalty and regard — and yet no abso- 
lute depravity of the moral sense be shown by such con- 
duct. To be a tory, and actively so, indicated a want 
of patriotism, a defect of understanding and correct prin- 
ciple, but did not necessarily imply a total baseness of 
heart ; but a man that would commit a forgery must be 
wholly abandoned to crime, and could not plead igno- 
rance or prejudice in mitigation of his villany. The 
whole community, is, also, deeply interested, at all times, 
in protecting the circulating medium, whether it be me- 
tallic or paper, from extensive forgeries ; the policy of 
the British government is well known to be unbending 
on this subject, and the utmost severity and certainty of 
punishment has always in that country awaited offences 
against the current coin and government securities. 

The necessity of this severity is its justification; but 
another part of the report of this committee may be 
considered as more equivocal in the prudence or pro- 
priety of its suggestions. It was proposed to declare 
the bills of credit issued by congress or the state of 
Fensylvania, a legal tender in all cases whatsoever. 

312 SMITH. 

The modern doctrines of political economy and poli- 
tical justice would condemn this measure without quali- 
fication. The circumstances of the period were, how- 
ever, peculiar, and excuse, if they do not justify, such 
a provision. 

It is not necessary here to enter into an examination 
of the arguments in support or those in reprobation of 
this act of legislation, it is enough to say that colonel 
Smith exerted himself both in the committee and in the 
convention to procure its adoption. 

A resolution that was adopted at about this time may 
be mentioned both as indicative of the simplicity and 
real devotion to business which marked the whole pro- 
ceedings of the convention, and as affording an example 
that at the present day might perhaps be advantageously 
adopted in many dignified deliberative assemblies. This 
was the imposition of a fine of seven shillings and six 
pence for absence from the house half an hour after the 
hour of meeting, or for leaving the house without per- 
mission ; and an additional fine of ten shillings on each 
absent member when a quorum did not attend. 

On the ninth of August we find colonel Smith ap- 
pointed one of a new committee to report an ordinance 
for appointing ^^conservators of the peace," in the va- 
rious counties ; a new name for "justices of the peace'" 
and perhaps more appropriate ; but the attempt thus to 
introduce a novel title for a kind of magistrates whose 
functions were well understood under their ancient de- 
signation, did not succeed, the inclination being very 
general to make no wore, alteration in the fashions of ad- 

SMITH. 213 

ininistering the law than the great political change that 
had just occurred rendered indispensable. 

A few days after this the ^^Declaration of rights'^ 
was submitted by the committee to the convention ; a 
paper remarkable for setting forth the doctrines of re- 
publicanism which had been only hinted in the declara- 
tion of independence. 

^^That the people of this state have the sole^ exclu- 
sive and inherent right of governing and regulating the 
internal police of the same. 

^^That all power being originally inherent in^ and 
consequently derived from the people^ therefore all 
officers of government whether legislative or executive 
are their trustees and servants^ and at all times accounta- 
ble to them. 

^^That government is^ or ought to be^ instituted for 
the common benefit^ protection and security of the peo- 
ple^ nation^ or community^ and not for the particular 
emolument or advantage of any single man^ family^ or 
set of men, who are a part only of that community ; and 
that the community hath an indubitable, unalienable 
and indispensable right to reform, alter or abolish go- 
vernment in such manner as shall be by that community 
judged most conducive to the public weal. 

^^That all elections ought to be free, and that all free- 
men having a sufficient evident common interest with, 
and attachment to the community, have a right to elect 
officers, or be elected into office. '^ 

These are among the truly republican doctrines 
asserted in this declaration; ajid thus early was univer- 

214 SMITH. 

sal suffrage proclaimed as a fundamental principle of 
Pennsylvanian policy. 

The frame of government which accompanied the 
declaration of rights and was adopted with it^ did not 
receive the unqualified approbation of colonel Smith, 
but as an experiment it could do no harm, and the people 
were at all times competent to change it. He therefore 
concurred in the vote which established the constitution 
marked by the peculiarity of a legislative body not di- 
vided into two houses and an executive power to be 
held by a council^ the head of which was merely nomi- 
nal ; a plan the inconveniences of which were found so 
considerable after a trial of several years, as to induce a 
change and the passing to an opposite extreme, invest- 
ing the whole executive power in one magistrate with 
less check or control upon his functions than has been 
tliought expedient in any other state of the union. 

After a laborious session of six weeks the convention 
dissolved itself, having enacted several very important 
ordinances besides preparing the new form of govern- 
ment and giving constant attention to the part which 
Pennsylvania could contribute towards carrying on the 

Colonel Smith was now obliged to take his seat in the 
national council ; a hurried visit to his home was scarcely 
permitted to him by the pressure of his public duties. 

The convention in electing new delegates in place of 
those who had voted against the declaration of independ- 
ance, and re-electing the others, had given instructions 
touching the course of conduct that they expected to 

SMITH. 5^15 

be pursued by their members in future ; these in^mc- 
tions were comprised in a resolution of the convention 
and may be considered as the commission granted to 
colonel Smith and his associated delegates ; and were as 

" This convention confiding in your wisdom and vir- 
tue, has, by the authority of the people, chosen and 
appointed you to represent the free state of Pennsylvania 
in the congress of the United States of America, and 
authorized you, or a majority of such of you as shall at 
any time be present, to vote for, and in the name of 
this state, in all and every question there to be decided ; 
and this convention apprehend it to be a duty which 
they owe to the public, to give you the follow^ing general 
directions for your conduct, confident that you will at 
all times pay the utmost attention to the instructions of 
your constituents. 

^•The immense and irreparable injury which a free 
country may sustain by, and the great inconveniences 
which always arise from a delay of its councils, induce 
us, in the first place, strictly to enjoin and require you 
to give not only a constant, but a punctual attendance 
in congress. 

^^The present necessity of a vigorous exertion of the 
united force of the free states of America, against our 
British enemies, is the most important object of your 
immediate regard, and points out the necessity of cul- 
tivating and strengthening, by every means in your 
power the present happy union of these states, until such 
a just, equal and perpetual confederation can be agreed 

216 SMITHc 

upon- and finally effected^ as will be most likely to 
secure to each the perfect direction of its own internal 
police: In the forming of which confederation, yoti 
are to give your utmost assistance. 

^^We recommend to you to use your utmost power 
and influence in congress, to have a due attention paid 
to the establishing a respectable naval force ; as such a 
force is absolutely necessary to every trading nation ^ 
and is the least expensive or dangerous to the liberties 
of mankind. 

^^ With respect to the forming of treaties with foreign 
powers, it is necessary only to say, that we strictly 
charge and enjoin you, not to agree to, or enter into 
any treaty of commerce or alliance with Great Britain, 
or any other foreign power, but (on the part of America) 
as free and independent states : And, that whenever 
Great Britain shall acknowledge these states free and 
independent, you are hereby authorized, in conjunction 
with the delegates of the other United States, to treat 
with her concerning peace, amity and commerce, on 
just and equal terms." 

In the beginning of October, and with these instruc- 
tions for his public conduct, and a patriotic spirit that 
required no prompting nor encouragement, he com- 
menced his regular and punctual attendance in congress. 

It was a season of anxiety, alarm, and agitation, fol- 
lowed by very general gloom and despondency. 

The two armies had confronted each other at White 
Plains; aiid expectation of a sanguinary battle became 

SMITH. £17 

universal — general Howe had changed his plan of opera- 
tions, and threatened the Jerseys with invasion. 

Fort Washington was lost; and with it two thousand 
of the best soldiers belonging to the American army ; 
the militia were dispersing^ general Washington's force 
was diminishing by daily desertions, and the efforts to 
rouse the Pennsylvania and Maryland militia had not 
been successful. 

Colonel Smith did not, however, lose the accustomed 
elasticity of his spirits : the following good-humoured 
note to his wife, written about the middle of October^ 
1776, if other proof were wanting, would show a play- 
fulness of temper not consistent with gloom or despond- 

" If Mr. Wilson should come through York, give him 
a flogging, he should have been here a week ago. I ex- 
pect, however, to be home before election, my three 
months are nearly up. Genl. left this on Thursday — I 
wrote to you by colonel Kenedy. 

^^ This morning I put on the red jacket under my shirt. 
Yesterday I dined at Mr. Morris's and got wet going 
home, and my shoulder got troublesome, but by running 
a hot smoothing iron over it three times, it got better, — = 
this is a new and cheap cure. My respects to all friends 
and neighbours, my love to the children. 

'• I am your loving husband 


•• Congress Chamber. 
11 0^ clock, '^ 

VOL. VII. — E e 

218 SMITH, 

Mr. Wilson did come^ probably without the punish- 
ment that Mrs. Smith was thus directed to inflict, but 
colonel Smith did not on that account consider him- 
self entitled to leave his post at this crisis. On the 
twenty-third of November, he was appointed, with Mr. 
Wilson, Mr. Chase, Mr. Clymer, and Mr. Stockton, a 
sort of executive committee, who were charged with full 
powers to carry on the w^hole business of the war, that i? 
to say, ^^ to devise and execute measures for eifectually 
reenforcing general Washington, and obstructing the 
progress of general Howe's army.'^ 

This measure was adopted with the best intentions, 
but was perhaps not in itself the best calculated to reach 
the desired object. Much inconvenience and disadvan- 
tage had been found to result fi'om the want of an ejficient 
executive powder, and the necessity of debating every 
military movement in congress before the commander in 
chief could feel himself authorized to adopt it, had al- 
ready occasioned embarrassment to him, and detriment 
to the ser^dce. 

A committee of five, it w^as tliought, could act with 
much greater promptitude and efficiency than the whole 
congress ;— but the remedy w as wholly inadequate to the 
amount of the evil. If the committee remained at Phi- 
ladelphia, the necessity of communicating with an army 
nearly an hundred miles distant, w^ould still be a serious 
clog on the movements of the commander in chief; and 
should they repair to head- quarters, w^hat could they 
do there — ^vested with this indefinite authority — but 

SMITH. ^19 

advise upon matters in which the general himself was 
better versed than they could be ? 

Colonel Smith, however, with part of the committee, 
made a visit to the army and general Washington, but 
returned greatly impressed with the insuperable diffi- 
culty of their task — the importance of the crisis — and 
the abilities and virtues of the commander in chief, with 
whom alone they were convinced such powers could 
advantageously be placed. 

Washington was equally impressed with the expedi- 
ency of an efficient authority being vested in his hands ; 
but it was a delicate subject for him to press upon the 
attention of congress ; and it was not till after they had 
divested themselves of the executive functions and de- 
volved them on this committee, that he could bring 
himself to ask for an addition to his powers — not, under 
the then existing circumstances, at the expense of the 
powers of congress, but of a committee which neither 
desired nor in fact used the authority with v/hich they 
had been clothed. 

Hinting the disadvantage of his being obliged to make 
constant applications to congress for their sanction of 
measures, the immediate adoption of which was essential 
to the public interests, he suggested the idea of confer- 
ring further powers on himself. ^"This might,'' he 
said, " be termed an application for powers too danger- 
ous to be entrusted.'' He could only answer, ^^that 
desperate diseases require desperate remedies. He 
could with truth declare, that he felt no lust for power, 
but wished with as much fervency as any man upon this 

2^0 SMITH. 

wide extended continent, for an opportunity of turning 
the sword into a ploughshare ; but his feelings as an offi- 
cer^ and as a man^ had been such as to force him to say. 
that no person ever had a greater choice of difficulties to 
contend with than himself." After stating several mea- 
sures which he had been compelled to adopt without the 
sanction of congress, he added, 

^^It may be thought that I am going a good deal out 
of the line of my duty, to adopt these measures or ad- 
vise them freely ; a character to lose, an estate to forfeit^ 
the inestimable blessing of liberty at stake, and a life 
devoted, must be my excuse.'' 

Notwithstanding the irresistible eloquence of this 
appeal and the decided opinions of the committee in 
accordance with it, such was the republican jealousy of 
arbitrary power, then prevalent, that congress hesitated 
even in the days of the darkest gloom to confer powers 
beyond the clearly defined lines of their instructions. 

When, however, on the twelfth of December, the 
rapid approach of the British army through Jersey, and 
the defenceless condition of Philadelphia induced them 
to remove their sittings to Baltimore, the same resolution 
was made to contain a clause which gave to general 
Washington dictatorial power ; the congress being willing 
thus to adopt the most important measure that could be 
proposed, in this indirect and half concealed manner, 
although they would not openly avow the whole extent of 
the alteration they were making in the scheme for carry- 
ing on the war, nor confess that they considered their 

SMITH. 221 

affairs in so alarming a situation as to require this ^^des- 
perate remedy.'' 

Colonel Smith did not participate in this reluctance, 
he had unbounded confidence in Washington^ and was 
too much accustomed to respect and approve of military 
organization not to think it quite right that the com- 
mander in chief should be allowed really to command. 

He had now an opportunity of another brief ^dsit to 
his family J one week being allowed between the adjourn- 
ment at Philadelphia and the re-assembling of congress 
at Baltimore. He was now but fifty miles from home, 
and during the continuance of the session at Baltimore 
was able to make several hasty journeys to York ; without 
any neglect of his duties, for when complaints were 
made of the cruel treatment which prisoners received 
from the enemy, and also of the barbarous depredations 
committed by the British army during their march 
through Jersey, he was placed on a committee to whom 
was entrusted the laborious office of hearing all the evi- 
dence on this subject, and collecting from an immense 
number of authenticated instances a just ground of re- 
monstrance and even of retaliation. 

The capture of the Hessians at Trenton, and the de- 
feat of the advance of the enemy at Princeton, had 
greatly cheered the spirits of the people. Hope suc- 
ceeded to the deepest despondency ; and confidence in 
the abilities of the general was redoubled. 

Colonel Smith never despaired; his constitutional 
buoyancy of spirits did not at any time forsake him^ 

6222 SMITH. 

although he well knew the difficulties of the contest^ 
and had much, individually, at stake. 

His sanguine and happy temperament led him to very 
early anticipations of success, and the following letter 
will depict very plainly his readiness to augur well from 
every favourable circumstance and to believe all that he 

It was intended for his friend colonel Donaldson, when 
he began the epistle, but in writing it he changed its 
destination and addressed it to his wife. The ^^Dear 
Sir'^ is, in the original, erased : 

''Baltimore^ 27th January^ 1777. 
Dear Sir, 

I hope before this comes to hand N. York will be 
again in our possession. Fort Washington is certainly 
ours. Colonel Atlee heard general Robinson say so at 
New York, when there was not above nine hundred 
men and most of the Hessians waiting to surrender to us. 
The tories in New York were packing up their baggage 
in the utmost hurry and confusion. About two thousand 
men are sent from Amboy to Staten Island, by the ene- 
my probably to endeavour to save New York ; I hope 
they will arrive'too late. General Sullivan has gone to 
Amboy ; the Jersey militia are very alert in distressing 
the enemy ; the enemy daily diminish by capture, sick- 
ness and desertion. Howe is so frightened, he has re= 
called his troops from Rhode Island, they will be followed 
close by the New Englanders employed in opposing 
them. I expect the two widows will take a matrimonial 

SMITH. 223 

swing to-day or to-morrow. I hope colonel Hartly has 
got in his recruiting airs^ my compliments to him and 
colonel Donaldson, Mrs. Johnson, and all friends. 

Your loving and affectionate husband. 
James Smith. 
P.S. You'll see this letter was intended for colonel 
Donaldson and to be accompanied by one to you but 
time wonH admit of writing, show him this ; I will write 
more at large to=morrow." 

In March of this year, the Pennsylvania assembly had 
to make a new choice of delegates, and colonel Smith, 
having already suffered severely in his private interests, 
by his unremitted attention to public affairs for so long 
a period, declined a re-election. 

He returned to his professional occupations with re- 
aewed energy, and gave his attention also to the iroB 
works which he possessed on the Codorus creek. This 
establishment furnished him with the occasion of many 
a jest, but became so evidently an unprofitable and even 
ruinous concern, that he determined to wind up tlie busi- 
ness and get rid of it with any sacrifice. 

His loss by the iron works was supposed by his best 
friends to amount to about five thousand pounds,— he 
had property remaining, however, that was sufficient for 
his wants ; and he compensated himself by uttering a 
thousand jokes against the two superintendents, under 
whose mismanagement he had suffered so heavily, desig- 
nating one of them as a knave and the other a fool, an^ 

224 SMITH. 

being on all occasions particularly exact in keeping the 
distinctive epithet of each punctually applied to him. 

This was not a season^ however^, for a man like colonel 
Smith to retire entirely from public affairs. He had 
entered too deeply into the interests and anxieties of the 
conflict^ to be an unconcerned or quiet spectator. The 
British had landed at the head of Elk ; the battles of 
Brandywine and Germantown had been fought ; the 
enemy were in possession of Philadelphia ; and cabals, 
dissensions and discontents, had appeared in the army, 
in congress and among the public at large. 

He could not, therefore, in the crisis of that particular 
period, refuse an election to congress in December of 
the year 1777. 

Before this time, the near approach of the British to 
Philadelphia had obliged congress to remove to Lancas- 
ter, and they soon fixed their sittings at York, as a more 
convenient place and at least equally safe. It was, in- 
deed, no excess of prudence which induced them to 
place the Susquehannah between themselves and th^ir 

This location of congress was agreeable to colonel 
Smith in many respects, but it was even more incom- 
patible with his attention to professional pursuits than 
being at Philadelphia. Besides sitting in congress during 
several hours of the morning and afternoon, the evening- 
was naturally, and with his social disposition unavoid- 
ably, given to the delightful duties of hospitality. 

So completely was every private consideration sacri- 
ficed to the desire of contributing to the general good, 

SMITH. 225 

that his office was closed against his clients^ and given 
,up to the occupation of the hoard of war. 

In the beginning of the next summer, however, the 
enemy thought proper to evacuate the capital, and con- 
gress resumed their session at Philadelphia, on the second 
of July. 

Colonel Smith had been appointed one of a very im- 
portant committee, charged with the duty of collecting 
testimony concerning the barbarous treatment of prison- 
ers by the enemy, and the unjustifiable destruction of 
private property committed by the British armies. 

This committee had made a report after he had vacat- 
ed his seat in the year 1777, but to which he had con- 
tributed more than his share of the labour necessary for 
its preparation. This report stated, 

'' That in every place where the enemy has been, there 
are heavy complaints of oppressions, injury and insults 
suffered by the inhabitants from officers, soldiers and 
Americans disaffected to their country's cause. The 
committee found these complaints so greatly diversified, 
that as it was impossible to enumerate them, so it ap- 
peared exceedingly difficult to give a distinct and com- 
prehensive view of them, or such an account as would 
not, if published, appear extremely defective, when read 
by tlpe unhappy sufferers or the country in general. 

" In order, however, in some degree to answer the 
design of their appointment, they determined to divide 
the object of their inquiry into four parts. First, The 
wanton and oppressive devastation of the country and 
destruction of property. Second, The inhuman treat- 
VOL. VII. — F f 

£^6 SMITH. 

ment of those who were so unhappy as to become pri- 
soners. Third^ The savage butchery of many who had 
submitted or were incapable of resistance. Fourth^ 
The lust and brutality of the soldiers in the abusing of 

^^They will therefore now briefly state what they 
found to be the truth upon each of these heads sepa- 
rately, and subjoin to the whole affidavits and other evi- 
dence to support their assertions. 

" 1. The wanton and oppressive devastation of the 
country and destruction of property. 

" The whole tract of the British army is marked with 
desolation and a wanton destruction of property, parti- 
cularly through West Chester county in the state of New 
York ; the towns of Newark, Elizabethtown, Wood- 
bridge, Brunswick, Kingston, Princeton, and Trenton, 
in New Jersey. The fences destroyed, the houses de- 
serted, pulled in pieces or consumed by fire, and the 
general face of waste and devastation spread over a rich 
and once well cultivated and well inhabited country, 
v^ould affect the most unfeeling with melancholy or com- 
passion for the unhappy sufferers, and with indignation 
and resentment against the barbarous ravagers. It de- 
serves notice that though there are many instances of 
rage and vengeance against particular persons, ^t Ae 
destruction was very general and often undistinguished; 
those who submitted and took protections, and some who 
were known to favour them, having frequently suffered 
in the common ruin. Places and things, which, from 
their public nature and general utility, should have been 

SMITH. ^27. 

spared by a civilized people, have been destroyed or 
plundered^ or both. But above all, places of worship^ 
ministers and religious persons of some particular pro- 
testant denominations seem to have been treated with the 
most rancorous hatred, and at the same time with the 
highest contempt. 

'' 2. The inhuman treatment of those w^ho were so 
unhappy as to become prisoners. 

'' The prisoners, instead of that humane treatment 
which those taken by the United States experienced, 
were in general treated with the greatest barbarity. 
Many of them were near four days kept without food 
altogether : when they received a supply, it was both 
insufficient in point of quantity and often of the worst 
kind : they suffered the utmost distress from cold, naked- 
ness and close confinement: freemen and men of sub- 
stance suffered all that a generous mind could suffer from 
the contempt and mockery of British and foreign merce- 
naries : multitudes died in prison ; and when others were 
sent out, several died in the boats while carrying ashore, 
or upon the road attempting to go home. The commit- 
tee in the course of their inquiry learned, that sometimes 
the common soldiers expressed sympathy with the pri- 
soners, and the foreigners more than the English. But 
this >ias seldom or never the case with the officers ; nor 
have they been able to hear of any charitable assistance 
given them by the inhabitants who remained in, or re- 
sorted to the city of New York ; which neglect, if uni- 
versal, they believe was never known to happen in any 
similar case in a christian counti'v. 

£28 SMITH. 

^^3. The savage butchery of those who had submitted 
and were incapable of resistance. 

^^ The committee found it to be the general opinion of 
the people in the neighbourhood of Princeton and Tren- 
ton^ that the enemy the day before the battle of Prince- 
ton had determined to give no quarter. They did not, 
however, obtain any clear proof, that there were any 
general orders for that purpose ; but the treatment of 
several particular persons at and since that time, has 
been of the most shocking kind, and gives too much 
countenance to the supposition. Officers wounded and 
disabled, some of them of the first rank, were barba- 
rously mangled or put to death. A minister of the gos- 
pel in Trenton, who neither was nor had been in arms, 
was massacred in cold blood, though humbly supplicating 
for mercy. 

^^4. The lust and brutality of the soldiers in the 
abusing of women. 

" The committee had authentic information of many 
instances of the most indecent treatment, and actual 
ravishment of married and single women ; but such is 
the nature of that most irreparable injury, that the per- 
sons suffering it, and their relations, though perfectly 
innocent, look upon it as a kind of reproach to have the 
facts related and their names known. They have, how- 
ever, procured some affidavits, which will be published 
in the appendix. The originals are lodged with the 
secretary of congress. 

^^Some complaints were made to the commanding 
officers upon the subject; and one affidavit made before 


a justice of peace; but the committee could not learn 
that any satisfaction was ever given or punishment in- 
flicted, except that one soldier at Penington was kept in 
custody for part of a day. 

" On the whole, the committee are sorry to say that 
the cry of barbarity and cruelty is but too well founded ; 
and as in conversation, those who are cool to the Ameri- 
can cause, have nothing to oppose to the facts but their 
being incredible, and not like what they are pleased to 
style, the generosity and clemency of the English nation ; 
the committee beg leave to observe, that one of the cir- 
cumstances most frequently occurring in the inquiry, 
was the opprobrious and disdainful names given to the 
Americans ; these do not need any proof, as they occur 
so frequently in the newspapers printed under their di- 
rection, and in the intercepted letters of those who are 
officers and call themselves gentlemen. It is easy, there- 
fore to see what must be the conduct of a soldiery greedy 
of prey, towards a people whom they have been taught 
to look upon not as freemen defending their rights on 
principle, but as desperadoes and profligates, who have 
risen up against law and order in general, and wish the 
subversion of society itself. This is the most candid and 
charitable manner in which the committee can account 
for the melancholy truths which they have been obliged 
to report. Indeed the same deluding principle seems 
to govern persons and bodies of the highest rank in 
Britain. For it is worthy of notice, that not pam- 
phleteers only, but king and parliament, constantly call 

£30 SMITH. 

those acts lenity, which on their first publication filled 
tliis whole continent with resentment and horror.'' 

To give greater effect to this manifesto, congress or- 
dered that it should be published with the affidavits on 
which it was founded; and although enough of these 
had been exhibited to the committee to satisfy their 
minds of the truth of all the assertions of the report, 
yet it was considered expedient to strengthen the proof 
as much as possible by additional testimony. 

Much of this duty remained to be performed, and 
colonel Smith absented himself from his seat in congress 
during the month of July and part of August, in order 
to devote his attention more efficiently to this object. 

He repaired to Philadelphia and resumed his seat on 
the eleventh of August ; but he did not any longer feel 
it incumbent on him to yield himself so exclusively to 
public affairs. The British had been chased across Jer- 
sey and defeated at Monmouth ; the French alliance was 
concluded and the French fleet actually on the coast^ 
the articles of confederation after being debated at 
thirty-nine different times, — in those days of prompt 
despatch and short speeches, a prodigiously lengthened 
discussion, — had been ratified, and he had had the satis- 
faction of signing, as the authorized agent of Pennsyl- 
vania. Every thing promised a fortunate termination of 
the war, and strong hopes were entertained that that 
consummation was not far distant. Under these circum- 
stances he began to think of giving place in the public 
councils to younger or less courageous men who might 
very well bring the ship into harbour on a smooth sea. 

SMITH. 231 

although they could not have been so safely trusted with 
the helm in the stormy days that had just hut passed 

The following letter written by him at this period^ to 
his wife, exhibits very plainly the state of his feelings, 
which led him in the succeeding November, to make a 
final relinquishment of his seat in congress. It was 
dated in the ^^ Congress Chamber,'^ September the 
fourth, 1778. s 

^^This morning I sent a bundle of newspapers and a 
half finished letter by Mr. Hahn. Yesterday I dined 
with the president at his own house, he lives elegantly 
and keeps house himself, we had an elegant dinner and 
very good claret and Madeira. No farther accounts 
from Rhode Island that can be depended on, but one 
letter mentions they expect the French fleet from Bos- 
ton again, and if so they will not quit the Island. If 
any thing certain arrives before this letter is sealed, I 
will mention it in a postscript. But for this unlucky 
storm that scattered the fleets of France and England 
we had the best ground to hope that Rhode Island would 
have been recovered, and that would have put an end to 
the war in all human probability, but if Heaven deter- 
mines otherwise, we must submit ; I am tired of the city 
heartily, it is very expensive li%ing and not very agree- 
able ; since I left the Indian Queen, I have paid for my 
room and bed, and breakfast and supper, six pounds per 
week, and four pounds per week more, for my dimier at 
another house without any drink. 

232 SMITH. 

^^ Yesterday^ congress agreed to meet twice a day^ so 
that we break up at one^ and meet at three o'clock. I 
told Mr. Shee my lodging was too dear^ and I did not 
like to lodge at one house and dine at another half a mile 
off. He agreed to board me at twenty dollars per week 
including dinner^ which is fifty shillings less than I had 
paid. I breakfasted with Mr. Wilson and Ross at Mrs. 
Honse's; she said her price was twxnty dollars a week, 
which I will accept of, unless I can lodge at captain 
M'Collough's or Mr. Nichols', for being now able to dine 
at the usual time, I can get board in many places where 
I could not while we dined at four o'clock. 

^^ I am laying my account upon returning about the 
tenth of next month, to be able to attend Carlisle and 
York courts. 

^^ Beef and mutton are half a crown, veal three shil- 
lings, and all kinds of goods as dear as ever. 

" I put fifteen hundred pounds in the loan office, and 
have got about ninety pounds fees, and a promise of a 
hundred pound fee more, these are the first fees I ever 
got in Philadelphia ; my fees here must clear my teeth, 
and my pay in congress go to you my dear, and the 
children. I believe if you would consent to come here 
and live, I could get into pretty good business in the law 
way, but it is a hazard, and two thousand a year would, 
as times go, be not more than enough to live in any 
tolerable style here. York and Carlisle are sure for busi- 
ness though fees are not so high as here. 

" Mrs. Stevenson sent me a forty dollar fee, to turn her 
husband out of her house, and general Thompson assures 

SMITH. 233 

me, she will sign her claim to the widows' house on any 
separate paper, but not where he signed. 

^^Poor Mrs. Shugart with Mr. Armor called on me to 
assist in getting a pass from congress, for leave for her 
to go to New York to try if she can get her husband 
home, I much doubt her success, but got her the pass. 
Our prisoners there whose friends cannot send them hard 
money suffer greatly. I tried to get Tommy Armor a 
good post in the army, but missed it ; had he spoken or 
written to me in time, I believe it might have been had 
for him. 

^^I dined at major Nichols' one day and Kitty seems 
very clever, and is visited by good sort of people. 

^^ You, my dear, have been fatigued to death with the 
plantation affairs; I can only pity but not help you. 
Did you hear from Betsey's ; is Peggy any thing more 
talkative? She sent a good letter, tell her to write me 

^^I went to Mr. Hillegass (where I go often,) with 
Mrs. Nichols to deliver the letters. I have not time to 
finish, but you will have nonsense enough. 

Your loving husband, whilst, 


A postscript dated fifth September, 1778, adds that 
*'^an account has arrived that there was a battle at Rhode 
Island, in which the English were v/orsted." 

After passing the whole of the year seventeen hun- 
dred and seventy-nine and part of the following year in 
an uninterrupted prosecution of his professional pursuits) 

Vol. VII. — G g 

^34 -SMITH. 

lie was prevailed on again to perform a tour of public 
duty^ and accepted a seat in the assembly of Pennsylva- 
nia^ which he held during one session only. 

His usual activity was transferred to this new scene of 
action^ and we find him appointed on almost all the most 
important and responsible committees. 

The war having now drawn towards a close^ he ex- 
cused himself from any further public duties which would 
require his absence from home. The practice of the law 
gave him full occupation and competent remuneration, 
and his excellent spirits and humorous disposition made 
the labours and vexations of this very fatiguing profes- 
sion sit lightly on his mental and corporeal health. Old 
age advanced upon him with a lingering step^ and he was 
able to accept and exercise the local offices of chief-bur- 
gess of the town of York and trustee of the academy, at 
a time of life when most of his co-evals had survived 
their energy. It was not until the year 1800 that he 
withdrew from the bar, after having been a practising 
lawyer for about sixty years. 

The peculiarities of his disposition and habits con- 
tinued to distinguish him to the very last. Social, jocu- 
lar and friendly, he was the life of all conviviality ; and 
the powers of his very retentive memory had in so long 
an exercise, supplied him with a store of rich and divert- 
ing anecdote that was inexhaustible and unequalled. He 
lived to see his friend, and the object of his most entliu- 
siastic admiration — general Washington, twice elected 
by the unanimous suffrage of the nation to that most ele- 
vated of all stations — tlie chief magistracy of a free peo- 

SMITH. 035 

pie. He lived too^ which seemed to him a much more 
surprising event, to find himself opposed in politics to 
his old friend and patriot of ^76, Thomas M'Kean ; and 
he had again the gratification of supporting him at his 
last election to the office of governor of Pennsylvania. 

He retained his veneration for religion and its mi- 
nisters as well as his regular attention to public worship ; 
and would always repress every licentious jest at the 
expense of sacred subjects, as he would with equal promp- 
titude and much more warmth repel and reprobate every 
word or insinuation uttered in his hearing to the disparage- 
ment of general Washington. He was a member of the 
federal party in the political divisions that distracted 
Pennsylvania with even more bitterness than was exhi- 
bited in other states ; but \vith his temperament and 
his recollections it was impossible for him to be a very 
angry or implacable partizan. 

He continued in habits of epistolary correspondence 
with Dr. Franklin, Samuel Adams and many others of 
the patriots of the revolution, during their lives, but 
outlived the greater part of his early associates ; a va- 
luable collection of letters of this kind was unfortunately 
lost in the year eighteen hundred and ^ve^ when his 
office, with all its contents, was destroyed by fire. 

On the eleventh day of July, in the follov\dng year, he 
was gathered to his fathers. 

The monument erected over his grave, in the burial 
ground of the English Presbyterian church, at York, 
records his death as having occurred in the ninety-third 
year of his age 5 but there is reason to believe he was 

236 SMITH. 

not so old by several years. His pertinacious refusal to 
give any information on the subject of his age had never 
been overcome, and it remains a matter of conjecture. 

He had three sons and two daughters, of whom one 
only of each survived him ; and of these the son, Mr. 
James Smith, died at York a few years after his father, 
and the daughter still lives at the same place, the con- 
sort of Mr. James Johnston. 

In his domestic relations he was invariably aifectionate 
and kind ; and it seems to have been his almost singular 
happiness to pass through a period of extreme agitation 
and distress — not as an unconcerned spectator, but a most 
interested and busy agent — with such buoyant cheerful- 
ness and gamesome humour, as effectually guarded his 
heart and health from the corroding effects of those 
anxieties which brought the seriousness of old age before 
its time upon the spirits of most of his co-patriots, and 
4rew down many of them to an early grave. 





Charles Carroll^ surnamed of Carrollton^ the sub- 
ject of the present sketchy and the son of Charles Car- 
roll and Elizabeth Brookj was born the eighth of Sep» 
tember, 1737, 0. S. (twentieth September^ N. S.) at 
Annapolis in the state of Maryland, 

Charles Carroll, the son of Daniel Carroll, of Litta- 
mourna, King's county, Ireland, and of the Inner Tem- 
ple, the grandfather of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, was 
a clerk in the office of lord Powis, under the reign of 
James second, and left England a short time previous to 
the accession of King William, to further his fortunes in. 
America. At the instance and through the influence of 
lord Powis, Mr. Carroll was appointed, in 1691, to sue- 
ceed colonel Henry Darnell as judge and register of the 
land office, and agent and receiver of rents for lord Bal- 
timore in the province of Maryland. He appears to 
have been a man of influence and importance in the ad- 
ministration of the provincial affairs, and in 1718 was 
one of those who were expressly exempted from any 
disqualification on account of religion. 

Charles Carroll, born in 1702, the father of Charles 
Carroll of Carrollton, took an active part in the affairs 
of the provincial government^ and in the religious di$? 


putes of the times stood prominent as one of the leading 
;md most influential members of the Catholic party in 
Maryland. The disqualifications and oppression to 
which the Catholics were subjected, in the early part of 
the eighteenth century^ amounted to a persecution. 
Roman Catholic priests were prohibited from the admi- 
fiistration of public worship : the council granted orders 
to take children from the pernicious contact of Catholic 
parents : Catholic laymen were deprived of the right of 
suffrage ; and the lands of Catholics were assessed double 
when the exigencies of the province required additional 
supplies. Beside the oppression of legislative enact- 
ments, personal animosity was carried to such an extent, 
that the Catholics were considered as beyond the pale of 
fellowship ; not suffered to walk with their fellow sub- 
jects in front of the Stadt House at Annapolis, and finally 
ribliged to wear swords for their personal protection. In 
lliis state of things a large portion of the Catholics of 
?vlaryland determined to emigrate, and Charles Carroll, 
• hen on a visit to his son in France, applied to the 
French minister of state, for a grant of land on the 
- Vrkansa river, at that tim.e part of the French territory 
of Louisiana. The extent of the tract demanded, startled 
the minister as Mr. Carroll pointed to it on the map. He 
considered it too large to be given to a subject; difficul- 
ties were thrown in the way; and Mr. Carroll was 
obliged, at last, to return to Maryland, without having 
accomplished his object. Soon after Mr. CarrolPs re- 
turn, the rigour of the laws against the Catholics was 
relaxed, and they abandoned their intention of emigrat- 



ing to the West. After an active and useful life Charles 
Carroll died in 1782; at the advanced age of eighty 

In 1745; Charles Carroll of Carroll ton^ then eight 
years old, was taken to the college of English Jesuits at 
St, Omers, to be educated. Here he remained for six 
years, and left it to pursue his studies at a college of 
Fr ch Jesuits, at Rheims. After staying one year at 
Rheims, he was sent to the college of Louis Le Grand, 
and during his stay at this place, his father visited 
France, as before mentioned. From Louis Le Grand^ 
Mr. Carroll went at the expiration of two years, to 
Bourges, the capital of the province of Berry, to study 
the civil law, and after remaining there for one year^ 
returned to college at Paris, where he continued until 
1757, in which year he visited London, and taking 
apartments in the temple, commenced the study of the 
law. In 1764, he returned to his native place, during 
the first discussion of those principles, which being 
honestly proclaimed, and fearlessly supported, occassion- 
cd the war of the revolution. 

The violence of religious disputes had by this time 
almost entirely subsided ; and the irritation produced by 
the stamp act, in 1766, turned popular feeling into ano- 
ther and more interesting channel. From this period, po- 
litical discussion became free and unreserved. Suspi- 
cion of the mother country induced investigation; 
investigation developed principles and discovered 
rights ; and talent of a high character stepped forward 
to explain the one, and claim the other. Among tho^e 
VOL. VII. — H h 


whose pens^ at this time, were husily and successfully 
employed, were Chase, Stone, Paca, Dulany, and Car- 
roll. If intemperate abuse at times mingled in the 
controversy, yet the general character of the arguments 
used was calm and dignified ; the disputants professing 
the greatest respect for the mother country, and, to the 
last moment, looking for, and willing to receive, redress 
from the principles of its constitution. 

Upon the repeal of the stamp act, things settled, in 
Maryland, into that calm, which always follows violent 
excitement ; and matters of local interest became the chief 
topics of discussion. In these, the large landed property 
and extended connexions of Mr. Carroll gave him great 
Aveight; and we find him constantly engaged in the 
discharge of the duties of an active and able citizen. 
In June, 1768, he married Miss Mary Darnell, the 
daughter of Henry Darnell, jr., and described in the 
chronicles of the day, as ^•an agreeable young lady, 
endowed with every accomplishment necessary to ren- 
der the connubial state happy.*' 

The calm which followed the repeal of the stamp act, 
continued undisturbed until 1771-2, when the attempt 
to establish the fees of the civil officers of the province 
by proclamation, roused again the indignation of the 
people, and called forth all the talent and energy of the 
political writers. The important part which Mr. Car- 
roll took in this discussion requires some detail in the 
explanation of the cause of dispute. 

In the year 1770, the fees of the civil officers of the 
c'olonial government became the subject of inquiry and 


investigation in the house of delegates ; in the course of 
which, many accounts were produced, demonstrating 
tlie abuse of the old table of fees in the mode of charg- 
ing, and showing the necessity of a new law, commen- 
surate with the increased wants and improved condition 
of the province. Upon full consideration of the w^hole 
matter, the lower house came to a resolution to adopt a 
new regulation of fees. A law for this purpose was 
framed, passed and sent for concurrence to the upper 
house. Here it was violently opposed by those mem- 
bers whose profits of office would have beeu diminished 
by its passage; and, through their influence, it was 
ultimately rejected. Had matters rested here, all 
would have been well. But governor Eden, with the 
advice of his council, issued his proclamation, dated 
November twenty-sixth, 1770, a few days after the 
prorogation of the assembly, ^^ commanding and enjoin- 
ing all officers, &c., under pain of his displeasure, not 
to take any other or greater fees'' than those therein 
mentioned ; in other words, and in the language of the 
day, "settling the fees by proclamation." 

The proclamation was strenuously supported by its 
friends, as a proper and justifiable exercise of preroga- 
tive. The preamble stated, that the object was ^^to 
prevent any oppressions and extortions from being com- 
mitted under colour of office, by any of the officers, &c. 
in exacting unreasonable and excessive fees ;" and en- 
trenching themselves behind this expression, the advo- 
cates of the measure contended, that so far from being a 
subject of complaint or dispute, the proclamation ought 


to be considered as a barrier between the people and the 
usurpations of office. On the other side it was urged; 
that the exaction of fees^ was to all intents and purposes 
a tax ; that the power to tax a free people belonged ex- 
clusively to its representatives ; and, therefore, that the 
proclamation of governor Eden, settling the fees, was an 
arbitrary and unjustifiable exercise of power. 

In support of the measure, there were many advo- 
cates ; and, among the rest, one who, in the form of a 
dialogue between two citizens, justified the proclama- 
tion, and ga,ve the victory to its defender, the second 
citizen. Mr. Carroll then assumed the signature, and 
used the argument of the First Citizen ; the ^^ Editor of 
the Dialogue,'' fell into the back ground ; and Daniel 
Dulany, Esq., provincial secretary, under the signature 
of Antilore, appeared as Mr. Carroll's antagonist. Per- 
haps there never was a newspaper contest, which excited 
more interest throughout the state of Maryland, than 
this. The great question of the revolution, the right to 
tax the people without the consent of its representatives, 
was proposed and argued by the first citizen, in the 
boldest manner, and with the most extended views. 
"'* What was done?" continues Mr. Carroll, speaking of 
the disagreement between the two houses on the subject 
of the fees, " the authority of the chief magistrate inter- 
posed, and took the decision of this important question 
from the other branches of the legislature, to itself. In 
a land of freedom, this arbitrary exertion of prerogative 
will not, must not, be endured.'^ This determined lan- 
guage startled even the adherents of the cause 5 and 


tliose who were in the secret of Mr. CarrolPs authorship, 
looked with astonishment upon one of the largest land- 
holders in the country, avowing sentiments which might 
be so injurious to him personally in their consequences. 
In the end, Mr. Carroll was victorious ; Antilore was 
silenced, and, on the fourteenth of May, the proclama- 
tion was taken by a numerous procession to the gallows, 
suspended there for a time, and then burnt beneath them 
by the common hangman. 

Complimentary letters of thanks were now addressed to 
the First Citizen, from all quarters, and published in the 
newspapers, as the only means of communication with 
an anonymous author. From the many before him, the 
writer of the present sketch has selected the following^ 
as showing the estimation in which the exertions of Mr. 
Carroll were held throughout the province. 

^^ To THE First Citizen, 

^^ Sir, your manly and spirited opposition to the ar- 
bitrary attempt of government, to establish the fees of 
office by proclamation, justly entitles you to the exalted 
character of a distinguished advocate for the rights of 
your country. The proclamation needed only to be 
thoroughly understood, to be generally detested; and 
you have had the happiness to please, to instruct, to con- 
vince your countrymen. It is the public voice, sir, 
that the establishment of fees, by the sole authority of 
prerogative, is an act of usurpation, an act of tyranny, 
tvhich in a land of freedom^ must not^ cannot^ he en- 


'' The tree and independent citizens of Annapolis, 
the metropolis of Maryland^ who have lately honoured 
us with the public character of representatives, impress- 
ed with a just sense of the signal services which you 
have done your country, instructed us, on the day of 
our election, to return you their hearty thanks. Public 
gratitude, sir, for public services, is the patriot's due ; 
and we are proud to observe the generous feelings of our 
fellow citizens towards an advocate for liberty. With 
pleasure we comply with the instructions of our consti- 
tuents, and in their names we thank you for the spirited 
exertion of your abilities. We are, sir, most respect- 
fully, your very humble servants, 

William Paca, 
Matthews Hammond.'^ 

When it became generally known that Mr. Carroll 
was the writer of the pieces signed " First Citizen,'' the 
people of Annapolis, not satisfied with the letter of their 
delegates, came in a body to thank him for his exertions 
in defence of their rights. 

The talent and firmness evinced by Mr. Carroll in 
his contest with Dulany, raised him at once to a high 
station in the confidence of the people ; and we find 
him, during the years 1773-4-5, actively engaged in all 
the measures which were taken in opposition to the 
course of Great Britain's colonial policy. From the 
earliest symptoms of discontent, Mr. Carroll foresaw the 
issue, and made up his mind to abide it. Once, when 
conversing with Samuel Chase; in 1771 or 2; the latter 


remarked^ " Carroll, we have the better of our op- 
ponents, — ^we have completely written them down." 
^^ And do you think/' Mr. Carroll asked, " that writing 
will settle the question between us?" ^^To be sure," 
replied his companion, " what else can we resort to ?" 
" The bayonet," was the answer. '' Our arguments will 
only raise the feelings of the people to that pitch, when 
open war will be looked to as the arbiter of the dis- 
pute." Some years before the commencement of actual 
hostilities, Mr. Graves, the brother of admiral Graves, 
and then a member of parliament, wi^ote to Mr. Carroll 
on the subject of the disturbances in America, laughing 
at the idea of resistance on the part of the colonies, and 
declaring that six thousand English soldiers would march 
from one end of the continent to the other. ^^ So they 
may," said Mr. Carroll in his answer, " but they will 
be masters of the spot only on which they encamp. 
They will find nought but enemies before and around 
them. If we are beaten on the plains, we will retreat 
to our mountains and defy them. Our resources will 
increase with our difficulties. Necessity will force us 
to exertion ; until, tired of combating, in vain, against 
a spirit which victory after victory cannot subdue, your 
armies will evacuate our soil, and your country retire, 
an immense loser, from the contest. — No, sir, — we 
have made up our minds to abide the issue of the ap- 
proaching struggle, and though much blood may be spilt, 
we have no doubt of our ultimate success. These opi- 
nions, openly avowed and supported by Mr. Carroll, om 
all occasions, caused him to be ranked with the Chase, 


Paca, and Stone, of Maryland, and considered as one of 
the popular leaders of the day. 

The influence which his abilities had procured him, 
being used with propriety and firmness, was confirmed 
in Mr. Carroll's possession, and his advice was asked in 
all emergencies of the troubled times which immediately 
preceded the declaration of independence. When the 
brig Peggy Stewart imported into Annapolis a quantity 
of tea, (an article forbidden by the resolution of the 
delegates of Maryland, June twenty- second, 1774,) the 
irritated populace, then collected from the neighbour- 
ing counties at the provincial court, threatened personal 
violence to the master and consignees of the vessel, as 
well as destruction to the cargo. The committee of 
delegates immediately met, and appointed a sub-com- 
mittee to superintend the unloading of the vessel, and 
to see that the prohibited article was not landed. Still 
the excitement of popular feeling continued unabated, 
and the friends of Mr. Anthony Stewart, the owner 
of the vessel, applied to Mr. Carroll, as one most able 
to protect him from violence. Mr. CarrolFs advice 
was concise and determined. ^^It will not do, gen- 
tlemen, to export the tea to Eui'ope or the West In- 
dies. Its importation, contrary to the known regulations 
of the convention, is an offence for which the people 
will not be so easily satisfied ; and whatever may be my 
personal esteem for Mr. Stewart, and my wish to pre- 
vent violence, it will not be in my power to protect him, 
TUiless he consents to pursue a more decisive course of 
(•ondiirt. My advice is, that he set fij'e to the vessel^ 


and burn her, together with the tea that she contains, to 
the water's edge.'' The applicants paused for a mo- 
ment ; but they saw no alternative, and Stewart, ap- 
pearing immediately before the committee, offered to do 
what Mr. Carroll had proposed. In a few hours after- 
wards, the brigantine Peggy Stewart, with her sails set, 
and her colours flying, was enveloped in flames, and the 
immense crowd collected on the shores of the harbour, 
acknowledged the sufficiency of the satisfaction. 

In January, 1775, Mr. Carroll was chosen a member 
of the first committee of observation that was established 
in Annapolis, and in the same year he was elected a 
delegate to represent Anne Arundel county in the pro- 
vincial convention. 

In the early part of the year 1776, the momentous cha- 
racter of the proceedings of the general congress, then 
sitting in the city of Philadelphia, made that city the point 
of the greatest interest in the colonies, and the resort of 
all whose means enabled them to be present at the delibe- 
rations of their representatives. Among others, Mr. Car- 
roll was an anxious and distinguished spectator. The 
talents which he had exerted in Maryland, in behalf of 
the great cause of American liberty, were well known 
and fully appreciated by the general congress, and in 
February, 1776, he was appointed a commissioner, with 
Dr. Franklin and Samuel Chase, to proceed to Canada, 
to induce the inhabitants of that country to join the 
United Provinces in opposition to Great Britain. The 
ample powers with which the commissioners were clothed 
shows the importance of the appointment : and the selec- 

VOL. VII. — I i 


tion of Mr. Carroll, who was not in congress at the time- 
was a mark of distinction both honourable and gratifying. 
The commissioners were instructed to explain to the 
Canadians the nature of the institutions of the United 
Provinces, and the principles of the confederation ; to 
urge the natural connexion which subsisted between 
Canada and the colonies ; the mutual interest of both the 
countries to unite in opposition to tyranny, and the cer- 
tainty of success from a well directed use of their con- 
joined energies ; to guarantee such form of government 
as the Canadians might set up, together with the free 
and undisturbed exercise of religion ; to press the peo- 
ple to have a full representation in convention, to take 
into consideration the propositions of the United Pro- 
vinces ; to establish a free press ; to settle all disputes 
between the Canadians and continental troops ; to sit and 
vote as members of councils of war for erecting or de- 
molishing fortifications, and to draw on the president, 
for that purpose, for any sums of money, not exceeding 
one hundred thousand dollars in the whole ; to encourage 
the trade and commerce of the country ; to give credit 
and circulation to the continental money ; and to suspend 
any military officer, whose conduct, in the opinion of 
the commissioners, was improper or unjust. 

In the resolution of congress, appointing the commis- 
sioners, Mr. Carroll is "requested to prevail on Mr. 
John Carroll to accompany the committee to Canada, to 
assist them in such matters as they shall think useful.'^ 
The standing and influence of Mr. John Carroll, as a 
Catholic clergyman of talents and activity, it wa^ hoped 


would be of essential service in the accomplishment of 
the mission, by removing from the minds of a Catholic 
population all suspicion of interference on religious 

The committee found many difficulties to contend 
with on reaching Canada. The ardour which had pre- 
vailed among the Canadians in favour of the measure, 
when the American troops first entered the country, 
had been damped by the inefficiency of the force em- 
ployed, and almost wholly destroyed by the defeat and 
death of Montgomery. The inhabitants became pro- 
voked, when the want of regular supplies compelled the 
continental troops to support themselves by levying con- 
tributions on those whom they were sent to assist ; and 
the priests, never, as a body, in favour of the cause, 
seized the moment of irritation to incense their parish- 
ioners against the United Colonies. Under these oppos- 
ing circumstances, the commissioners did every thing 
that lay in their power. They issued proclamations ; 
they promised privileges ; and called upon the people 
to bear patiently the temporary evils whicli remittances 
and reenforcements from congress would in a short time 
obviate. For a while, the assurances produced some 
effect : but the continuance of the crises of dissatisfac- 
tion ; the want of specie, clothing and provisions ; the 
disorder and sickness prevailing among the American 
troops, and their total inadequacy to the object for which 
they entered Canada, again occasioned murmurs among 
the inhabitants, and finally alienated their affections from 
the United Colonies, After remainine; in Canada as long 


as there was a prospect of being useful, the commission- 
ers returned to Philadelphia ; and on the twelfth of June, 
1776^ a few days after their arrival, presented the writ- 
ten report of their proceedings to the congress then in 

Mr. Carroll returned from Canada during the discus- 
sion in congi'ess of the " Subject of Independence/' and 
in time to see realized the result which he had antici- 
pated and hastened, years before, in his controversy with 
^^ Antilore.'' But he found the representatives of his 
native state shackled with instructions, " to disavow in 
the most solemn manner, all design in the colonies of 
independence." These instructions were given by the 
convention of Maryland, in December 1775, at which 
time Mr. Carroll strongly opposed them. On his return 
ft'om Canada, he became more than ever convinced of 
their impropriety in the present crisis, and hastened to 
Annapolis, to procure, if possible, their withdrawal. 

On reaching Annapolis, Mr. Carroll resumed his seat 
in the convention, and advocated the withdrawal of the 
instructions of December, 1775, and the substitution of 
others in their stead, empowering the delegates in con- 
gress " to concur with the other united colonies, or a 
majority of them, in declaring the United Colonies free 
and independent states.'' His exertions in this behalf 
were indefatigable. No time was to be lost ; the de- 
bates in congress were coming to a head ; independence 
was already almost resolved upon, and the delay of a 
single hour might prevent Maryland from participating 
in its declaration. These, and other reasons, were urged 

CARROLL. e^53 

by Mr. Carroll and his friends^ to procure despatch in 
the deliberations of the convention, and on the twenty- 
eighth of June, the old instructions were withdrawn ; 
new instructions were given, containing the powers pro- 
posed by Mr. Carroll ; and, on the second of July, 1776, 
the delegates of Maryland found themselves authorized 
to vote for independence. 

The zealous and active part taken by Mr. Carroll in 
procuring the instructions of June twenty- eighth, was 
the cause of his immediate appointment as a delegate 
from Maryland to the general congress ; and on the 
fourth of July, 1776, when a new appointment of dele- 
gates was made by the convention, we find Mr. Carroll's 
name on the list, for the first time. The important bu- 
siness then before the convention, detained Mr. Carroll 
for some days in Annapolis, after his appointment ; and 
on the sixth of July, he had ^le satisfaction of seeing the 
declaration of the convention of Maryland published to 
the world. This being, in part, the consequence of the 
new instructions, well deserves mention in the story of 
Mr. Carroll's life, as a measure in the accomplishment of 
which he bore a distinguished part. After reciting the 
wrongs suffered from the king of Great Britain, the de- 
claration continues, 

" We, the delegates of Maryland, in convention as- 
sembled, do declare, that the king of Great Britain has 
violated his contract with this people, and that they owe 
no allegiance to him. We have therefore thought it just 
and necessary to empower our deputies in congress, to 
join with a majority of the United Provinces in declaring 

254 Cx\RROLL. 

them free and independent states, in framing such fur- 
ther confederation, in making foreign alliances, and in 
adopting such other measures as shall be judged neces- 
sary for the preservation of their liberties. No ambi- 
tious views, no desire of independence, induced the 
people of Maryland to form an union with the other 
provinces. To procure an exemption from parliamen- 
tary taxation, and to continue to the legislatures of these 
colonies the sole and exclusive right of regulating their 
internal polity, was our original and only motive. To 
maintain inviolate our liberties, and to transmit them 
unimpaired to posterity, was our duty and first wish ; 
our next to continue connected with, and dependent on 
Great Britain. For the truth of these assertions we ap- 
peal to that Almighty Being, who is. emphatically styled 
the Searcher of hearts, and from whose omniscience 
nothing is concealed. Relying on his divine protection, 
and trusting to the justice of our cause, we exhort and 
conjure every virtuous citizen, to join cordially in de- 
fence of our common rights, and in maintenance of the 
freedom of this and her sister colonies.'^ 

On the eighteenth of July, the credentials of the new 
appointment of delegates from Maryland to the general 
congress, was received by that body, and Mr. Carroll, 
on the same day, took his seat as a member. 

Although Mr. Carroll did not vote on the question of 
independence, yet he was among the earliest of those 
who affixed their signatures to its declaration. The 
printed journals of congress, indeed, make it appear, 
that the Declaration of Independence was adopted and 

CARROLL. ci^^^ 

signed on the fourth of July^ by the gentlemen whose 
names are subscribed to it under the head of that date. 
But the impression thus given is incorrect; because^ in 
fact, not one signature was affixed to the declaration until 
the second of August. The idea of signing does not 
appear to have occurred immediately ; for not until the 
nineteenth of July, as will appear by reference to the 
secret journals, did the resolution pass, directing the 
Declaration to be engrossed on parchment. This was 
accordingly done ; and on the second of August fol- 
lowing, when the engrossed copy was prepared, and 
not before^ the Declaration was signed by the members, 
who on that day were present in congress. Among 
these was Mr. Carroll. Those members who were ab- 
sent on the second of August, subscribed the Declaration 
as soon after as opportunity offered. 

The above account is sustained, not only by the pri- 
vate and public journals of the congress of 1776, and by 
the letters of Mr. M'Kean,* one of the signers, but also 
from the following letter from Mr. Adams, while secre- 
tary of state. 

"To Charles Carroll of Carrollton. 

'^Department of State^ 
Washington, 24 ^A Jimej 1824. 
" Sir — In pursuance of a joint resolution of the two 
houses of congress, a copy of which is hereto annexed, 

* Publishea in Nile's Register for 18ir. Vol. XIL pp, 279. 


and by direction of the president of the United States^ 
I have the honour of transmitting to you two fac simile 
copies of the original Declaration of Independence, en- 
grossed on parchment, conformably to a secret resolution 
of congress of nineteenth July, 1776, to be signed by 
every member of congress, and accordingly signed on the 
second day of August, of the same year. Of this docu- 
ment, unparalleled in the annals of mankind, the original, 
deposited in this department, exhibits your name as one 
of the subscribers. The rolls herewith transmitted are 
copies as exact as the art of engraving can present, of 
the instrument itself, as well as of the signers to it. 

^^ While performing the duty thus assigned me, per- 
mit me to felicitate you, and the country which is reap- 
ing the reward of your labours, as well that your hand 
was affixed to this record of glory, as that, after the 
lapse of near half a century, you survive to receive this 
tribute of reverence and gratitude, from your children, 
the present fathers of the land. 

^^With every sentiment of veneration, I have the 
honour of subscribing myself your fellow citizen, 

John Quincy AdaMvS. 
^^Doughoregan Manor, 
September 15th, 1826.'^ 

The engrossed copy of the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence was placed on the desk of the secretary of con- 
gress, on the second of August, to receive the signatures 
of the members, and Mr. Hancock, president of con- 
gress, during a conversation with Mr. Carroll; asked him 


if he would sign it. ^^Most willingly/^ was the reply, 
and taking a pen, he at once put his name to the instru- 
ment. " There go a few millions/' said one of those 
who stood by ; and all present at the time agreed, that 
in point of fortune, few risked more than Charles Carroll 
of Carroll ton. 

A resolution having passed on the eighteenth of July, 
^^ that another member be added to the Board of War,'' 
Mr. Carroll was appointed, and continued actively en- 
gaged in its arduous duties while he remained in con- 
gress. During the investigation by the board of the 
disputes arising out of the Canada expedition, and in the 
consideration of the niovements of the army in the north, 
the local knowledge which Mr. Carroll had acquired in 
his late journey, together with his acute observations 
upon the state of the country, and the character and dis- 
position of the people, were of important service. 

All the time that Mr. Carroll could spare from his 
duties in congress, he gave to the convention of Mary- 
land, in which he still retained his seat ; and in the lat- 
ter part of 1776, was one of the committee appointed to 
draught the constitution of the state. In December, 
1776, he was chosen to the senate of Maryland, being 
the first senate under the new constitution ; and in 
February, 1777, he was re-appointed a delegate to con- 
gress by the general assembly. 

Mr. Carroll continued in congress until the year 1778, 
when the treaty with France, removing from his mind 
all doubt as to the ultimate success of the war of the re- 
volution, and his duty as a senator of Maryland requiring 

VOL. vii. — K k 


his attendance in Annapolis^ he resigned his seat^ and for 
the future devoted himself to the local politics of his na- 
tive state. In the year 1781, he was re-elected to the 
senate of Maryland, in which he had already served five 
years ; and in December, 1788, was chosen representa- 
tive of Maryland in the senate of the United States, im- 
mediately after the adoption of the federal constitution. 
Congress then held its sessions in New York, whither 
Mr. Carroll repaired soon after his election, and took an 
active part in the business and discussions of the day, 
always adhering to, and strongly supporting, the federal 

In order that the seats of the members of the senate 
might not all be vacated at the same time, it became 
necessary, according to the constitution, to vary the 
length of the first terms of service, so that the regular 
elections for the future would, while they produced an 
annual alteration, not occasion an entire change in any 
one year. To decide, therefore, who should remain 
senators for two years, who for four, and who for six^ 
lets were cast, and Mr. Carroll fell into the first class, 
whose term of service expired at the end of the second 
annual sessim. 

In 1791, Mr. Carroll vacated his seat in the senate of 
the United States, and in the same year was once more 
chosen to the senate of Maryland. In 1796, he was 
again re-elected ; and in 1797, was one of the commis- 
sioners appointed to settle the boundary line between 
Virginia and Maryland. Mr. Carroll continued an ac- 
tive member of the senate of his native state until 1801, 

€AllItOLL. ^59 

when the democratic party carried their ticket, and he 
was left out. In the year last mentioned, he retired from 
public life, after having been a member of the first com- 
mittees of observation, twice in the -convention of Mary- 
land, twice appointed delegate to congress, once chosen 
representative to the senate of the United States, and 
four times elected a senator of Maryland. 

We have now reached the termination of Mr. Carroll's 
public life, in his sixty-third year, and see him retiring 
among his fellow citizens to the quiet enjoyments of 
his family circle. His life, from 1801, up to the present 
time, affords few materials for a biography. It has glided 
along, in that tranquil happiness which the full enjoy- 
ment of every faculty, the recollection of past honours^ 
the possession of a large fortune, the affection and atten- 
tion of children and grand- children, and the respect of 
his countrymen, could bestow ; and in his ninetieth year, 
Charles Carroll of Carrollton finds his activity undimi- 
nished, his faculties unimpaired, and his feelings and 
affections buoyant and warm. 

In 1825, one of Mr. Carroll's grand-daughters was 
married to the marquis of Wellesley, then viceroy of 
Ireland ; and it is a singular circumstance, that one hun- 
dred and foi'ty years after the first emigration of her an- 
cestors to America, this lady should become vice- queen 
of the country from which they fled, at the summit of 
a system, which a more immediate ancestor had risked 
every thing to destroy ; or, in the energetic and poeti- 
cal language of bishop England, ^* that in the land from 


which his father's father fled in fear, his daughter's 
daughter now reigns as queen.'' 

" Like the books of the Sybil, the living signers of 
the Declaration of Independence increased in value as 
they diminished in number." On the third of July, 1826; 
there only remained — John Adams, Thomas Jefferson^ 
and Charles Carroll of Carrollton. On the fourth of July^ 
1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the day on which they 
pledged their all to their country, when the ten millions 
who were indebted to them for liberty, were celebrating 
the year of jubilee ; when the names of the three signers 
were on every lip, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson 
died, leaving Charles Carroll of Carrollton the last link 
between the past and present generations. 

During thirty years passed in public life, embracing 
the most eventful period of the history of the United 
States, Mr. Carroll, as a politician was quick to decide, 
and prompt to execute. His measures were open and 
energetic, and he was more inclined to exceed than to 
fall short of the end which he proposed. As a speaker 
he was concise and animated ; the advantages of travel 
and society made him graceful ; books, habits of study 
and acute observation made him impressive and instruc- 
tive. As a writer he was remarkably dignified; his 
arrangement was regular; his style was full, without 
being diffuse, and, though highly argumentative, was 
prevented from being dull by the vein of polite learning 
which was visible throughout. 

In person Mr. Carroll is slight, and rather below the 
middle size. His face is strongly marked^ his eye is 



quick and piercing, and his whole countenance expres- 
sive of energy and determination. His manners are 
easy, affable, and graceful; and in all the elegancies 
and observances of polite society, few men are his su- 

Latrobe's "Life Cf Charles Carroll." 

Editor "Answers" : 

Tell me -who published Latrobe's '"Life of Chaiie» 
Carroll of Can-ollton.'" ' -jf. q_ 

Tills work appears in volume 7 of Sari- 
dersou's • "Biography of the Signers to the 
Declaration of Independence," which wa-a 
published hj R. W. Pomerov, of PhiladeJ' 
pMa, in 1827. 

The sketch on Charles Carroll of Carroll* 
ton is not signed, but there is a note on the 
last page signed by J. H. B. Latrobe, which 
he wrote April 24, 18o6 : 

"The foregoing biographical sketch was 
written by me in 1826, from memoranda 
(iautograph) furnished by Mr. Carroll and 
from numerous conversations. When fin- 
ished, I read it to him, and his remark, 
verbatim, was "Well, Mr. Latrobe, you have 
certainly made me out a much greater man 
than I ever fancied myself to be ; and yet, 
really, I hardly think that the facts yoii ' 
have stated are otherwise than strictly 
true.' He was then, I think, in" his nine 
, tieth year, cheerful, vivacious even, an J 
^•arefully attentive to his business matfpij 



William Nelson, father of the gentleman who is 
the subject of this memoir^ was descended from a re- 
spectable English family settled at York, in the province 
of Virginia. He was a merchant of highly reputable 
character, and by his prudence, good management and 
industry, acquired a large fortune. This he invested 
from time to time, after the favourite usage of Virginia, 
in the purchase of large landed estates, and as he ad- 
vanced in years, gradually withdrew himself from com- 
mercial pursuits. His honourable standing in private 
life, soon opened the way to public favours. He was 
appointed a member of the executive council, and at 
length became president of that body. From this cir- 
cumstance, the chief executive and judicial duties of the 
colony for a time devolved upon him, for in the interval 
that elapsed between the administrations of lord Botte- 
tourt and lord Dunmore, he was called on to fill the office 
of governor. In this station he was obliged to preside 
over the general or supreme court of law and equity for 
the province, by which tribunal the civil and criminal 
jurisprudence was regulated. On the bench he was 
regarded as the ablest judge of hh time, and his opinions 

TOL. VII. — L 1 

^66 NELSON. 

on most occasions were received with the highest re- 
spect, as well by the members of the bar as the parties in 
the cause. Indeed in the discharge of all his duties, he 
gave general satisfaction, and when he died, left behind 
him a character which entitled him to the highest vene- 
ration and respect. His honour was never sullied by the 
slightest stain, his generosity, benevolence, hospitality 
and extensive charity were spoken of by all who knew 
him, and had he lived to share in the struggle for his 
country^s liberty, his patriotism would not have been 
less glowing than that w^hich distinguished so many of 
his countrymen. He died a few years before the revolu- 
tion, leaving five sons and a considerable fortune. 

Thomas Nelson, Jr. the subject of this memoir, was 
the eldest son of William Nelson. He was born at 
York, on the twenty-sixth of December, 1738. From 
his father he inherited not only a very large landed 
estate, which descended to him in common with his 
brothers ; but he received also the entire amount of the 
partnership debts, which were estimated at forty thou- 
sand pounds, colonial currency, or about thirty thousand 
pounds sterling. In the summer of 1753, Mr. Thomas 
Nelson, being then in the fourteenth year of his age, 
was sent to England for his education. After spending 
some time at an excellent private school kept by a Mr. 
Newcomb, near Hackney, a village in the neighbour- 
hood of London, he was removed to Cambridge. There 
lie was entered of Trinity College, and had the good 
fortune to secure, as his private tutor, one of the best 
men, and most distinguished ornaments of the age, Dr. 


Beilby Porteus, afterwards bishop of London. Virginia. 
indeed, owes much to this excellent man. Mr. Nelson 
was not the only one of her children who were at this 
period the objects of his care. He had a companion in 
the late Mr. Francis Corbin, of the Reeds, (son of the 
honourable Richard Corbin, of Laneville, who had been 
an early benefactor to the family of Dr. Porteus,) a gen- 
tleman long distinguished by his superior talents and 
attainments as a scholar, the excellence of his political 
principles, and the singular elegance and suavity of his 
manners. Thus pleasantly and fortunately situated Mr. 
Nelson remained until the close of the year 1761, when 
he returned to Virginia, his mind deeply imbued with a 
taste for literary knowledge which formed the delight of 
his subsequent years, and his principles both in politics 
and morals, firm, liberal and pious. 

In August, 1762, he married Miss Lucy Grymes, a 
daughter of Philip Grymes, Esquire, of Brandon, in the 
neighbouring county of Middlesex, and with her settled 
at York, in an excellent and commodious house, which 
had probably been built for him by his father, nearly 
opposite to his own in the same town. Here, in the 
possession of an independent fortune which he had re- 
ceived from his father at his marriage, he lived in a 
style of much elegance and hospitality. By his long 
residence in England, he had acquired in a considerable 
degree, an attachment to tlie manners of its country gen- 
tlemen, and a fondness for their pursuits. These he 
somewhat adopted himself. He rode out daily to his 
plantation, a few miles from York, a servant generally 


attending him with his fowling piece, and he often amus- 
ed himself in shooting. He kept a pack of hounds at a 
small farm near the town, and in the winter exercised 
himself in company with his friends and neighbours, 
once or twice a week in a fox chase. His house was a 
scene of the most genteel and liberal hospitality: no 
gentleman ever stopped an hour in York without receiv- 
ing an invitation to it, unless a previous acquaintance 
with him, and his hospitable character and manners ren- 
dered such an invitation unnecessary, according to the 
general mode at that time of visiting among gentlemen 
in Virginia. There were at this period about a dozen 
very genteel and opulent families, who resided in York, 
and maintained among each other an intercourse not to 
be surpassed in unaffected politeness, hospitality and 
friendship ; and whenever a friend or acquaintance of 
either visited York, it was with dijQiiculty he could leave 
it, until he had received the attentions and enjoyed the 
hospitality of the whole circle. Such was the harmony 
that prevailed in this little society, that no instance of its 
interruption on any occasion can be recollected. Thus 
situated, it will be believed Mr. Nelson passed his time 
in the full enjoyment of domestic happiness ; but the 
troubles of his country soon called him from these gentler 
and perhaps more congenial pleasures, to oppose at first 
the petty tyranny of a provincial governor, and to array 
himself at last among the boldest champions of the nation 
in council and in war. His earlier years were adorned 
by all the charities of life, but his maturer age was de- 
voted entirely to the severer duties of an upright citi- 

NELSON. 269 

zen — cari sunt parentes^ cari liberi, propinqui, famili- 
ares ; sed omnis omnium caritatum patria una complec- 

At what period Mr. Nelson entered into public life^ 
we have no means exactly to ascertain. In 1774, how- 
ever, we find him in the house of burgesses, a delegate 
from his native town of York. It is not recollected that 
he took any prominent part in the debates of this assem- 
bly, over which the illustrious Peyton Randolph, after- 
wards president of congress, presided. There were 
many gentlemen older than himself in years, and politi- 
cal experience, by whom the discussions of the day were 
conducted ; and he preferred the acquisition of know^- 
ledge from study and attentive observation, to the more 
glittering but unsubstantial reputation of a leader in de- 
bate. This house of delegates, it may be recollected, 
passed some strong resolutions against the Boston port 
bill, in consequence of which they were immediately 
dissolved by lord Dunmore. Eighty-nine of them, how- 
ever, among whom was Mr. Nelson, assembled the next 
day at a tavern, and entered into the celebrated associ- 
ation, declaring the unwarranted invasion of their rights, 
their determination to persevere in avoiding all commer- 
cial intercourse with Great Britain, and recommending 
the appointment of deputies from the several colonies to 
meet in general congress. 

On the dissolution of this assembly, he was again 
elected to the house of burgesses from the same county, 
and also a member of the first general convention, whiclr 
met at Williamsburg on the first of August, 1774. Iri 

270 NELSON. 

the patriotic and important measures of this assembly, 
the character of Mr. Nelson assures us he acted his 
part, honourably and manfully. The unanimity how- 
ever, which prevailed on this and generally on subse- 
quent occasions in the several conventions of Virginia, 
renders all notice of the conduct of individual members 
equally superfluous and impracticable. All appeared 
to act in perfect concert and harmony, so that the voice 
of the individual was lost in that of the whole body. 

In the month of March of the next year, 1775, we 
find Mr. Nelson, seated a second time in the general 
convention of the province ; and taking a prominent part 
in a measure, the boldness of which startled some of the 
firmest friends of liberty. This measure was no less 
than the organization of a military force in the province ; 
a step which, passing the line that yet seemed to bind 
the colonies to the mother country, placed them in the 
prominent position of a nation determined to gain or 
to hazard all. After the convention had passed several 
resolutions whose spirit was rather that of conciliation 
than resistance, Mr. Henry, one of the members, moved 
the following manly resolutions. 

" Resolved, That a well regulated militia, composed 
of gentlemen and yeomen, is the natural strength and 
only security of a free government ; that such a militia 
in this colony would forever render it unnecessary for 
the mother country to keep among us, for the purpose 
of our defence, any standing army of mercenary soldiers, 
I always subversive of the quiet, and dangerous to the 

NELSON. 271 

liberties of the people, and would obviate the pretext 
of taxing us for their support. 

" That the establishment of such a militia is^ at this 
time, peculiarly necessary, by the state of our laws, for 
the protection and defence of the country, some of 
which are already expired, and others will shortly be 
so ; and that the known remissness of government in 
calling us together in legislative capacity, renders it 
too insecure, in this time of danger and distress, to rely 
that opportunity will be given of renewing them, in 
general assembly, or making any provision to secure 
our inestimable rights and liberties, from those further 
violations with which they are threatened. 

" Resolved, therefore. That this colony be imme- 
diately put into a state of defence, and that — 

be a committee to prepare a plan for embodying, arm- 
ing and disciplining such a number of men, as may be 
sufficient for that purpose.'^ 

These resolutions produced a long and interesting- 
debate. Many of the best men in the house deprecated 
the measure as premature and dangerous ; they relied 
strongly on favourable reports which had lately been 
received from London; they believed that the British 
ministry and parliament would at length listen to the 
voice of reason and justice ; and that they were now 
more disposed to an accommodation, than they had ap- 
peared to be on any other occasion or under any other 
circumstances. On tlie other hand, the friends of the 
measure cautioned them against the delusive hopes 
-which they indulged, and urged at least a preparation 

272 ^^ELSON. 

for dangers which so imminently threatened them. 
Among these Mr. Nelson was conspicuous. He de- 
clared his determination to support it, if adopted, hy his 
utmost exertions in that district where he held a com- 
mand in the militia, should any occasion occur to render 
it necessary. As his residence was in a part of the coun- 
try, the most exposed of any to attack, this declaration 
was censured as imprudent by many of his friends ; but 
such was the generous ardour of his feelings, that no 
private interest could induce him to suppress them, at 
a time when he believed their influence would be 
beneficial to the general cause. The resolutions were 
adopted, and from that moment no doubt could be en- 
tertained of the course Virginia would pursue, if the 
British government continued to persist in their oppres- 
sive measures. 

An incident soon occurred which proved that the 
organization of a military force had become entirely ne- 
cessary, and that a plan had been recommended by the 
ministry, and secretly adopted by the governors, of re- 
moving arms and military stores beyond the reach of tlie 
people. The exportation of powder from Great Britain 
had been already prohibited ; general Gage had seized 
the ammunition collected at Concord, in Massachusetts ; 
and lord Dunmore determined not to forego his part in 
the same good work. On the twentieth of April, 1775, 
he accordingly seized and bore away all the powder in 
the magazine at Williamsburg. The particulars of this 
well known exploit it is unnecessary to detail. It pro- 
duced an immediate and violent excitement throughout 

NELSON. £73 

the province ; the militia assembled in all parts^ and 
marched towards Williamsburg, determined to regain 
the property which had been fraudulently seized, or to 
make equivalent reprisals. Alarmed by this prompt and 
manly resistance, the governor promised that the whole 
affair should be satisfactorily accomm.odated ; and Mr. 
Nelson assumed personally the disagreeable office of 
meeting the militia, and exerting his influence to pre- 
vent any injury to the person of lord Dunmore. During 
his absence on this mission, an act of unmanly violence 
was threatened, which aroused the indignation of the 
whole colony. Before daybreak on the morning of the 
fourth of May, captain Montague, the commander of the 
Fowey, a British man-of-war lying off the town of York, 
landed a party of men with the following letter, ad- 
dressed to Mr. Nelson's uncle, who was president of 
council : ''I have this morning received certain inform- 
ation, that his excellency lord Dunmore, governor of 
Virginia, is threatened with an attack, at daybreak this 
morning, at his palace at Williamsburg, and have thought 
proper to send a detachment from his majesty's ship 
under my command, to support his excellency : I there- 
fore strongly pray you to make use of every endeavour 
to prevent the party from being molested and attacked, 
as in that case I shall he under a necessity to fire upon 
this town.'' 

This infamous proceeding excited, as may well be 
imagined, the greatest indignation against captain Mon- 
tague. Whatever grounds there might have been for 
his information respecting the attack said to be contem- 

VOL. TII, — M m 

£74 NELSON. 

plated upon the governor's palace^ nothing could be 
more cruel and unjust than to avenge it on the defence- 
less town of York and its inhabitants. The committee 
assembled at Williamsburg expressed their detestation 
of his conduct in the strongest terms. " The commit- 
tee,'' say they, in a set of resolutions which they imme- 
diately published, " together with captain Montague's 
letter taking into consideration the time of its being sent, 
which was too late to permit the president to use his 
influence, had the inhabitants been disposed to molest 
and attack the detachment ; and further considering 
that colonel Nelson, who, had this threat been carried 
into execution, must have been a principal sufferer, was 
at that very moment exerting his utmost endeavours in 
behalf of government, and the safety of his excellency's 
person, unanimously come to the following resolutions : 

That captain Montague in threatening to fire upon a 
defenceless town, in case of an attack upon the detach- 
ment, in which said town might not be concerned, has 
testified a spirit of cruelty unprecedented in the annals 
of civilized times ; that, in his late notice to the pre- 
sident, he has added insult to cruelty ; and that, con- 
sidering the circumstances already mentioned, of one of 
the most considerable inhabitants of said town, he has 
discovered the most hellish principles that can actuate 
a human mind. 

That it be recommended to the inhabitants of this 
town, and to the country in general, that they do not 
entertain or show any other mark of civility to captain 

NELSON. £75 

Montague, besides what common decency and absolute 
necessity require. '^ 

The affair of the powder was compromised the same 
day, by the payment of three hundred and twenty 
pounds, its estimated value, which was transmitted to 
the continental congress, and expended in the purchase 
of an equal quantity for the use of the colony. A short 
time afterwards, lord Dunmore removed himself and his 
family from the palace in Williamsburg on board the 
Fowey ; and although most earnestly solicited to return 
by the house of burgesses and the council, then in ses- 
sion, he persisted in remaining in the vessel. 

The third convention of Virginia delegates assembled 
at Richmond, on the seventeenth of July following. 
The proceedings of this convention were marked by 
a character of great decision and vigour. One of their 
first measures was an ordinance for raising and embody- 
ing a sufficient force for the defence and protection of 
the colony. By this ordinance it was provided, that 
two regiments of regulars, to consist of one thousand and 
twenty privates, rank and file, should be forthwith rais- 
ed and taken into the pay of the colony ; and a compe- 
tent regular force was also provided for the protection 
of the western frontier. The whole colony was divided 
into sixteen military districts ; with a provision, that a 
regiment of six hundred and eighty men, rank and file, 
should be raised on the eastern shore district, and a bat- 
talion of five hundred in each of the others ; to be forth- 
with armed, trained, furnished with all military accou- 
trements, and ready to march at a minute's warning. 

£76 NELSON. 

Immediately after passing this ordinance, the convention 
proceeded to appoint the various officers to command 
the new body of troops which they thus determined to 
organize. They elected Patrick Henry colonel of the 
first regiment, and Thomas Nelson, jr. colonel of the 
second ; a third regiment was afterwards agreed to be 
raised, of which William Woodford was appointed 

On the eleventh of August 1775, the convention pro- 
ceeded to the appointment of delegates to represent the 
colony in the continental congress, for one year. General 
Washington had been called upon to take command of 
the armies of the United Colonies, and had accordingly 
repaired to Boston ; Patrick Henry, as we have seen, 
had been placed at the head of the troops lately raised 
for the defence of Virginia ; and the venerable Edmund 
Pendleton, weighed down by increasing years and de- 
clining health, had entreated permission to resign the 
arduous station he had hitherto held. These circum- 
stances of course left a vacancy for the choice of three 
new delegates, as one of whom colonel Nelson w^as elected. 
In consequence of this appointment, he of course imme- 
diately resigned his station at the head of the second 
regiment of the Virginia forces and repaired to Phila- 
delphia with his companions. He took his seat in con- 
gress on the thirteenth of September, 1775. 

During the remainder of this year he continued at 
Philadelphia, acting frequently on various committees^ 
but distinguished rather for his sound judgment and 
liberal sentiments, than from any conspicuous part in 

NELSON. £77 

debate. He became soon convinced however, that 
measures had proceeded too far on both sides, for either 
to yield, and that the time was rapidly approaching 
when a final stand ought to be made. In a letter which 
he wrote to his countryman, Mr. Page, afterwards go- 
vernor of Virginia, on the twenty- second of January, 
1776, he thus expressed himself, '* I wish I knew the 
sentiments of our people upon the grand points of con- 
federation and foreign alliance, or in other words, of 
independence ; for we cannot expect to form a connex- 
ion with any foreign power, as long as we have a wo- 
manish hankering after Great Britain ; and to be sure 
there is not in nature a greater absurdity, than to sup- 
pose we can have any affection for a people who are 
carrying on the most savage war against us." The first 
notice that the printed journals of congress take of this 
momentous subject, is on the seventh of June, 1776, in 
these words— ^^ certain resoultions respecting independ- 
ency being moved and seconded ; Resolved, that the 
consideration of them be referred till to-morrow morn- 
ing, and that the members be enjoined to attend punc- 
tually at ten o'clock, in order to take the same into 
consideration." It seems however more than probable, 
that although the subject was thus cautiously introduced 
among the measures of the house, it had been a matter 
of long and deep deliberation in the secret committee 
of congress. That it had been under the consideration 
at least of the individual members, seems evident from 
a subsequent letter of colonel Nelson's to the same inti- 
mate friend; dated on the thirteenth of February i in 

£78 NELSON. 

this he says^ ^^ Independence^ confederation and fo- 
reign alliance are as formidable to some of the congress^ 
I fear a majority, as an apparition to a weak, enervated 
woman. Would you think that we have some among 
us, who still expect honourable proposals from the ad- 
ministration. By heavens'' he continues, his ardent 
feelings strongly excited by the subject, ^^by heavens, 
I am an infidel in politics, for I do not believe, were you 
to bid a thousand pounds per scruple for honour at the 
court of Britian, that you would get as many as would 
amount to an ounce. If terms should be proposed they 
will savour so much of despotism, that America cannot 
accept them. We are now'' he exclaims with increas- 
ing vehemence ^^ carrying on a war and no war. They 
seize our property wherever they find it, either by 
land or sea ; and we hesitate to retaliate, because we 
have a few friends in England who have ships. Away 
with such squeamishness, say I. What think you of 
the right reverend fathers in God, the bishops. One 
of them refused to ordain a young gentleman, who went 
from this country, because he was a rebellious American; 
so that unless we submit to parliamentary oppression, 
we shall not have the gospel of Christ preached among 
us, but let every man worship God under his own ^^ 
tree." As the season advanced, and the experience of 
every day showed the increasing necessity of the mea- 
sure, he had the satisfaction to see his views gradually 
gaining ground, and at length the long wished for sepa» 
ration eifected, by the declaration of independence. In 
the mean time he zealously devoted himself to the busi- 

NELSON. 279 

ness of the house, and displayed great activity on the 
various committees of which he was a member. Of 
these the principal were that for superintending the 
treasury department, an office of excessive labour, and 
for framing articles of confederation between the states 
one of equal difficulty and delicacy. 

Nor were his constituents at home unmindful of his 
services. During his absence in congress, the conven- 
tion met as usual and proceeded to the election of dele- 
gates to the next congress ; when Mr. Nelson was re- 
turned as one of these for the succeeding year. It would 
be uninteresting to trace his name as it is found on the 
journals of congress, as a member of various committees 
through the remainder of this year, and the spring and 
summer of 1777. It will be enough to say, that his du- 
ties were frequently arduous, delicate and important in 
their nature and results, and that in their performance 
he was usually successful. This career of public useful- 
ness was cut short by an unfortunate accident. On the 
second of May, while seated in the hall of congress, he 
was suddenly seized with an indisposition so violent as 
to oblige him immediately to leave the room. It appears 
to have been an attack of the head, and in one of his 
letters he mentions, that his memory was so much im- 
paired at the time, that he could with difficulty recollect 
any thing. His reluctance to withdraw at that moment 
from a post where his services were so useful, was ex- 
treme, and he for some time persisted in remaining, with 
the vain hope that he would gradually recover. This, 
however, was not the case 5 he was obliged to obtain 

280 NELSON. 

leave of absence, and at the next meeting of the conven- 
tion he resigned his seat, in which he was succeeded by 
Mr. Mason. 

Mr. Nelson had not been long at home when his ser- 
vices were again demanded by the public. On the 
sixteenth of August, intelligence was received that a 
British fleet had entered the capes. The several corps 
of militia throughout the commonwealth were ordered 
to march to Williamsburg, York, Portsmouth, and other 
points likely to attract the attention of the foe. This 
call was obeyed with cheerful and honourable alacrity. 
The militia rapidly assembled at their respective places 
of rendezvous ; and Thomas Nelson, then county lieu- 
tenant of York, was by the governor and council, imme- 
diately appointed brigadier general and commander in 
chief of the forces in the commonwealth. Combining 
the advantages of education with those of fortune ; mili- 
tary skill and gallantry, with legislative talents and pa- 
triotic virtues ; affable, modest and generous ; Nelson was 
universally esteemed and beloved. His appointment, 
the emoluments of which he nobly declined, whilst he 
eagerly assumed its arduous duties, inspired the people 
and the army with fresh confidence and animating hopes. 
The approach of a fleet, in itself tremendous, was 
viewed by resolute and free citizens, with a calm and 
serene eye. Virginia, however, was not destined yet to 
be the theatre of action. Sir William Howe continued 
his course directly up the Chesapeake Bay, and the 
state was relieved, at least for a time, from the ravages of 
the enemy. 


111 the month of October following^ an act was intro- 
duced and subsequently passed in the Virginia legisla- 
turcj for the sequestration of British property. By this 
law, any citizen who was indebted to a subject of Great 
Britain, was authorized to pay the money into the loan 
office, taking a certificate from the same which should 
discharge him from the debt. The moneys thus brought 
in were, it is true, declared to remain in the treasury as 
the property of the creditors ; and if the wives and chil- 
dren of any of them were left in the state, suitable al- 
lowances were to be made to them, by the governor and 
council, for their support. If used on account of the 
commonwealth, the sums so taken were to be repaid, 
unless the subsequent conduct of Great Britain should 
justify their detention as an act of retaliation. However 
plausible the principles of this measure may at first seem 
to be, as a proceeding against an alien enemy, it must 
be confessed there are so many objections to it, that we 
are not surprised at the opposition it met with from many 
of the most distinguished politicians of the day. Mr. 
Nelson was at this time a member of the legislature, and 
opposed it in the most decided manner. The estates 
which were thus suddenly confiscated, he urged, had 
been acquired, and these debts which were in fact dis- 
charged, had been incurred under the sanction of laws 
and relations known to both parties in the contract, and 
then held sacred. The conduct of the British govern- 
ment had offered no excuse, for as yet they had made 
no confiscation under similar inducements. Even the 
acts of that government, such as they had been, were 

TOL. VIT.-— N n 

^82 NELSON. 

not the acts of individuals^ and these alone were made to 
suffer by such a measure. But not only did he oppose 
it^ he asserted^ on the ground of injustice to these inno- 
cent persons^ who might even have reprobated the very 
policy for which they were made to suffer ; but he ob- 
jected to it as a matter of ingratitude to creditors, who 
might; in many instances, be regarded as benefactors to 
persons whose capital was small, but on whose honour 
and integrity they relied. " For these reasons, sir,'' 
he exclaimed with honest vehemence after a long and 
powerful address, " for these reasons I hope the bill will 
be rejected ; but whatever be its fate, by God, I will 
pay my debts, like an honest man.'^ The momentary 
breach of order was overlooked and pardoned by the as- 
sembly, every member of which, whatever might have 
been his sentiments on the measure itself, viewed with 
respect the noble feelings which had caused it. 

At this period of the revolution, the resources of the 
country had become almost completely exhausted, pub- 
lic credit was declining every day, and congress found 
it more and more difficult to raise and equip troops to 
supply the places of those whose time had expired or 
who were unfit for service. They determined at last to 
make a direct and personal appeal to the youthful ardour 
and generosity of their countrymen. On the second of 
March, 1778, they adopted the following resolutions: 

^^ Whereas, it is essential to the operations of the 
army during the next campaign, that the most vigorous 
measures should forthwith be adopted for the forming a 
body of horse^ upon such principles as are most likely 


to advance the public interest and the honour of the 
officers and men who compose the same ; and whereas^ 
in times of public danger^ when the lives^ liberties^ and 
property of a free people are threatened by a foreign 
and barbarous enemy^ it is the duty of those who enjoy 
in a peculiar degree the gifts of fortune, and of a culti- 
vated understanding, to stand forth in a disinterested 
manner in defence of their country, and by a laudable 
example to rouse and animate their countrymen to deeds 
worthy of their brave ancestors^ and of the sacred cause 
of freedom: 

Resolved^ That it be earnestly recommended to the 
young gentlemen of property and spirit, in the states of 
New Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode Island, 
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, De- 
laware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, forth- 
with to constitute, within their respective states, a troop 
or troops of light cavalry, to serve at their own expense, 
except in the article of provisions for themselves and 
forage for their horses, until the thirty- first day of De- 
cember next: 

That, in order to excite a proper spirit of emulation 
in these troops, and to give them an opportunity of ap- 
propriating that fame, which their respective merits may 
entitle them to, during the campaign, each troop shall 
bear the name of the state in which it is raised : 

Resolved, That it be recommended to the govern- 
ments of the respective states to countenance and encou- 
rage this design; and that the board of war transmit to 

£84 NELSON. 

them forthwith^ copies of the foregoing resolutions^ 
together with a descriptive list of the accoutrements 
necessary for man and horse.'' 

As soon as these resolutions were received in Virginia^ 
Mr. Nelson^ who had now heen raised to the rank of a 
general officer, published a most animating and spirited 
address to the young gentlemen of fortune in that state. 
He urged them to follow the request of congress, and 
proposed a meeting at Fredericksburg on the twenty- 
fifth May, for carrying the measure into full effect. 
'^ I address myself/' he said, " to the true sons of liberty. 
Of such, and such only, this corps must be composed. 
There are many gentlemen in this state, whose fortunes 
will enable them to equip themselves. They should 
step forth and set the example. I wish not, however, 
to confine volunteers to this class. We have among 
us noble spirited young men, whose patriotic zeal 
would prompt them to join us, did not their inability in 
point of fortune prevent them. Pity that they should 
be deprived of the opportunity of distinguishing them-- 
selves ! To enable such, therefore, to enter into this ser- 
vice, I propose that such should be furnished with a 
horse and accoutrements by subscription in their re- 
spective counties ; and surely those who remain at home, 
enjoying all the blessiifgs of domestic life, will not hesi- 
tate to contribute liberally for such a purpose.'^ In 
pursuance of this gallant enterprise, about seventy young 
men assembled, and after uniting themselves together in 
a voluntary company, they elected general Nelson their 
commanding officer. They proceeded immediately to 


equip themselves for active service, but this in the state 
of the times and resources of the country, was an aifair 
of considerable difficulty. At length, however, they 
were sufficiently organized and commenced their march 
to Baltimore, where they arrived early in the month of 
July. Here the little band was received and reviewed 
by colonel Pulaski, who was there at that time himself 
with the hope of raising a similar corps ; he expressed 
his high admiration of their gallantry and excellent con- 
dition, and exerted himself in every mode, to obtain for 
them whatever was wanting to complete their equipment. 
At length every thing being prepared, they were ready 
to commence their march and join the main army under 
general Washington ; their gallant and generous com- 
mander well knew, however, that many had embarked 
with him from the purest principles of patriotism, when 
their slender means ill warranted such an expedition. 
He called them together, therefore, on the eve of their 
departure ; he explained to them his views ; he encou- 
raged them by his own animated confidence; and he 
held out to them the fair hope of remuneration at some 
more prosperous day. ^^If however,'^ he concluded, 
*^any one here is in want of money, let him repair to 
my quarters. I will myself supply him.^' Many ac- 
cepted his offer as their wants became pressing and their 
means decreased. He was in fact the banker for the 
whole company ; his generosity was displayed through- 
out the whole expedition ; and as is unfortunately too 
often the result of such conduct^ he finally suffered the 
loss of very considerable sums. From Baltimore he 

286 NELSON. 

marched to Philadelphia, whither on the retreat of Sir 
William Howe, congress had again returned ; and held 
himself in readiness to proceed to the army. This, 
however, was now deemed inexpedient ; for we find on 
the journals of the eighth of August the following notice : 

^^ Whereas, in pursuance of the recommendation of 
congress of March the second, a volunteer corps of ca- 
valry from the state of Virginia, under the command of 
the honourable general Nelson, are now in this city, on 
their way to the army, under the command of general 
Washington: and, whereas, the removal of the enemy 
from this state renders the employment of this corps at 
present unnecessary : 

Resolved, That it be recommended to the said corps 
to return, and that the thanks of congress be given to 
the honourable general Nelson and the officers and gen- 
tlemen under his command, for their brave, generous 
and patriotic efforts in the cause of their country.^^ 
As soon as this resolution was passed general Nelson as- 
sembled the corps together, made a further advance of 
money from his individual funds to those who were in 
want, and then disbanded them. 

This active exercise seems to have restored the 
health of Mr. Nelson, and he was again induced to 
listen to the wishes of his countrymen by becoming a 
delegate to congress. On the eighteenth of February, 
1779, he took his seat in that assembly ; and we soon 
after find him an active member of several important 
committees. He was especially engaged on that for 
forming a plan of defence for the southern states: m 

NELSON. £87 

object which had become of immense importance, since 
the British had determined to make it the future theatre 
of war. His constitution, however, was still unequal to 
the severe labour and confinement which these duties 
required. Early in April he experienced a return of 
the same illness with which he had been previously 
afflicted ; and after a vain struggle to resist it and con- 
tinue his political labours, he was compelled by increas- 
ing indisposition and the entreaties of his physicians and 
friends to return home. 

He was not long permitted however, to enjoy the re- 
pose of domestic life. The services of the senate were 
given up, but he was soon called on for those of the 
field. In the month of May, Virginia became the vic- 
tim of that system of rapine and plunder to which the 
British resorted, in violation of all rules of civilized and 
christian w^arfare. Having publicly avowed their reso- 
lution of pursuing those measures "which should make 
the colonies of as little avail as possible to their new 
connexions" they selected Virginia as one of the first 
scenes of operation. They sailed for Portsmouth, a small 
place on the western shore of Elizabeth river, and on 
their arrival took possession of that defenceless town. 
The remains of Norfolk, on the opposite side of the 
river, fell of course into their hands. The Americans 
burned some of their own vessels ; but others were made 
prizes by the invaders. The British guards marched 
eighteen miles in the night, and, arriving at Suffolk by 
morning, proceeded to the destruction of vessels, naval 
stores and a large magazine of provisions; which had 

^88 NELSON. 

been deposited in that place. A similar destruction 
was carried on at Kemp's landing, Shepherd's-gosport, 
Tanner's creek, and other places in the vicinity. The 
frigates and armed vessels were employed on the same 
business, along the margin of the rivers. Three thou- 
sand hogsheads of tobacco were taken at Portsmouth, 
Every house in Suffolk was burnt, except the church, 
and one dwelling house. The houses of several private 
gentlemen in the country shared the same fate. Above 
one hundred and thirty vessels were either destroyed 
or taken. All that were upon the stocks were burned, 
and every thing relative to the building or fitting of 
ships was either carried off or destroyed. After demo- 
lishing Fort Nelson, and setting fire to the store-houses, 
and other public buildings in the dock- yard at Gosport, 
the British embarked from Virginia, and returned with 
their prizes and booty safe to New York. The whole 
of this incursion was effected in less than three weeks; 
and it was over before a force could be collected to repel 
it. Immediately, however, on receiving intelligence 
of the landing of the enemy, general Nelson applied 
himself personally to the collection and organization of 
the militia and such troops as he could obtain. With 
these he had posted himself near York Town, as a point 
of the utmost importance, and which it was believed they 
intended to attack ; although their subsequent measures 
showed a change in their plans of operation. On this 
occasion. General Nelson gave one of those proofs of 
benevolence, which characterized his conduct through 
life. Having a plantatioxi near York^ he sent all his 

NELSON. ^89 

fiegroes and labourers, and even some of his domestic 
servants to work during their absence for the poor men 
of the neighbourhood, who had been called off from the 
support of their families to join the militia that had been 
suddenly assembled. This fact is mentioned on the per- 
sonal knowledge and information of an old friend of 
general Nelson, who observes in communicating it, that 
he has reason to believe that the same generous and be- 
nevolent conduct was observed by him on some other 
occasions, both before and after it. 

Early in June, 1780, the general assembly came to the 
resolution of borrowing two millions of dollars, to be 
placed in the continental treasury by the fifteenth of that 
month. The object of this supply was, to enable con- 
gress to make provision for the French fleet and arma- 
ment, of whose immediate arrival the strongest assurances 
had been given. As soon as this measure was adopted, 
a copy of the resolution was sent to general Nelson, who 
commenced, without delay, the most active personal 
exertions to procure the assistance and contributions of 
his friends, and others with w^hom he was acquainted. 
Having effected all that was possible in his own neigh- 
bourhood, he made an excursion through the southern 
counties of the state, with the same patriotic motive. It 
was, however, a task of great difficulty. The resources 
of the country had been already drained. Its credit 
was gone. And those who possessed money, were afraid 
to trust it, on no better security than that of a government 
already too deeply involved, and with so little apparent 
means of extricating itself from its difliculties. The 

VOL. VII. — o 

£90 NELSON, 

consequences were such as might have been expected. 
Notwithstanding his uncommon influence^ his applica- 
tions in almost every instance proved unsuccessful. To 
his urgent importunities the constant reply was — ^^ We 
will not lend the governor a shilling — ^but we will lend 
you, Thomas Nelson, all we can possibly raise." Thus 
situated, general Nelson determined, without hesitation, 
to add his own personal security to that of the govern- 
ment ; and by so doing succeeded in raising, before his 
return to York, a considerable portion of the requisite 
loan. To those places where he was unable to go him- 
self, he sent an agent with authority to use his name and 
pledge his fortune. It is to the consequences of this 
expedition that he alludes in a letter to his friend, Mr. 
Page, on the eighth of July of this year. " I came 
away," he says, " from Richmond in so great a hurry 
on the late alarm, that I did not bring the certificates 
for any of the money down. The treasurer had been so 
much engaged for several days that he had not made 
them out, but gave me a general receipt, specifying the 
gentlemen's names, and the sums they had lent. This 
general receipt Mr. Reynolds has, to get certificates for 
the individuals, and colonel Lewis shall have his through 
you, as soon as it comes to hand." There is reason to 
apprehend, that owing to some accidental circumstance 
or other, Mr. Reynolds may have been prevented from 
receiving all the certificates, as no member of general 
Nelson's family has ever been able to discover those for 
his own proportion of the loan. It also appears that in 
some instances^ finding he could not obtain money even 

NELSON. 291 

©n his own security^ when the repayment was to be made 
in current money, he went so far as to give his bond for 
the amount to be repaid in tobacco at the price which it 
then brought. The price of this article afterwards rose 
to a great height, not only in paper currency, but in 
specie : he was obliged to redeem his obligations at a 
very great sacrifice, for which he never received any 
recompense from the public. 

These are not the only losses he sustained from his 
patriotic readiness to aid the public credit, and afford 
assistance to those who had been employed in the service 
of the country without remuneration. There is a well 
authenticated tradition, that during the revolutionary 
war, two regiments stationed at York and Williamsburg, 
received orders to march southward. The government, 
however, was without funds and the soldiers refused to 
proceed until their arrears were discharged. General 
Nelson was informed of the circumstance. He advanced 
the money which was demanded without hesitation 5 and 
the troops immediately commenced their march. 

The following spring is the most gloomy period in the 
annals of Virginia. On the sea coast she was exposed 
to the ravages of Arnold and Philips, and from the south 
she was overrun by the army of Cornwallis. Amid 
these scenes it will not be imagined that general Nelson 
was inactive. He was the favourite soldier of Virginia, 
and we hear of him in all directions, animating the 
troops by his energy and example, or planning expedi- 
tions to oppose the enemy. This, however, is not the 
place for dwelling in detail on events which are rather 

2g%. NELSON. 

matter of general history, and cannot be introduced 
with proper minuteness into a sketch like this. Passing 
over, therefore, the public events of the early part of 
the year 1781, we find general Nelson, in the month of 
June, summoned from his duties in the field to fill the 
supreme office of the commonwealth. At that period 
the constitutional term of Mr. Jefferson's service in 
the office of governor expired, and general Nelson was 
elected his successor. He was immediately called on 
to act with the utmost promptness. The enemy were 
overrunning the country in every direction, and he 
therefore determined at once to take the field with all 
the militia he could muster. The marquis de Lafayette 
had been sent to Virginia with a body of continental 
troops, to check the ravages of the British until some 
more definitive arrangements for the campaign could be 
made. Under the marquis, governor Nelson imme- 
diately placed himself and his troops. He yielded with- 
out hesitation, the rank which his office gave him in his 
own state, and thus united the whole forces in perfect 
harmony and discipline. 

While on the one hand, however, in pursuit of the 
general good he yielded that to which his office fairly 
entitled him, the same great end sometimes obliged him to 
gtep beyond the boundaries which, in the administration 
of his public duties, the constitution drew around him. 
By that instrument it was declared, ^' that the governor 
should, with the advice of a council of state, exercise 
the powers of the government according to the laws of 
the commonwealth 5 and should not;, under any pretence^ 

NELSON. ^9^ 

exercise any power of prorogation by virtue of any law^ 
statute or custom of England." The legislature, aware 
of tlie difficulties of the times, the necessity of extraor- 
dinary measures, and the uncertainty and even danger 
which attended their meetings, when they were driven 
by Tarleton from Charlottesville to Staunton, passed a 
law by which " the governor, with the advice of the 
council, was empowered to procure, by impress or 
otherwise, under such regulations as they should desire, 
provisions of every kind, all sorts of clothing, accoutre- 
ments and furniture proper for the use of the army, ne- 
groes as pioneers, horses both for draught and cavalry, 
wagons, boats and other vessels with their crews, and all 
other things which might be necessary for supplying the 
militia or other troops employed in the public service.'^ 
Bound by these strict provisions of the law, the governor 
was placed in a situation of much difficulty. Two mem- 
bers of the council had just fallen into the hands of 
Tarleton, the celebrated British officer who, with his 
chosen body of light horse, ravaged the country in every 
direction, and made everything his prey; they were 
liberated, it is true, but only on giving their parole, that 
they would not resume their public duties. Two others 
had resigned, probably from the inconvenience or dan- 
ger of remaining at the seat of government. The coun- 
cil was thus reduced to four members, the least number 
which, according to the constitution, was competent to 
transact business. In the dreadful state of the country, 
overrun in every direction by hostile armies, with little 
means of knowing the position of each other^ with no 



time to deliberate^ and perhaps unacquainted with the 
nature and exigency of particular measures, it was vain 
to hope that these gentlemen could regularly perform 
the duties of a council of state. Yet it was with the 
advice of that council alone, that the governor could 
constitutionally act. 

In this dilemma, Mr. Nelson was driven by neces- 
sity to perform many measures on his own authority and 
at his own responsibiUty — a course of conduct infinitely 
painful to a man of his sound political principles, and 
strict views of public rights. On the one hand, he saw 
and felt that he was departing from the line of his duty, 
as defined and limited by the laws of the commonwealth : 
on the other, he knew that its salvation, and indeed that 
of all the Union, was at stake. Salus populi lex suprema. 
He decided to risk censure, perhaps punishment, for his 
conduct, and pursue the disinterested course which pro- 
mised the greatest general benefit to the whole commu- 
nity. This determination once formed, he promptly 
executed it. As soon as the allied army reached Vir- 
ginia, every measure which his office, his public or per- 
sonal influence, and his private wealth enabled him to 
adopt, was promptly done ; and it was certainly owing, in 
no small degree, to his exertions, that the frail materials 
of the army were kept together until they secured the 
liberties of the country, by the glorious and final blow 
given to the enemy at Yorktown. 

Need we say, that during that memorable siege, ge- 
neral Nelson was at the head of his militia, and partici- 
pated with them in all the dangers and glories of the 

NFXSON. 295 

enterprise ? Before the walls of his native town, and in 
almost the last public action of his life, he displayed the 
same gallantry, the same disinterested patriotic zeal^ 
which was so conspicuous in his earlier days, and in all 
the scenes of various adventure in which his fortune cast 
him. Tradition has preserved some anecdotes of those 
interesting times ; but unfortunately we are fast losing, 
in the cold generalities of history, those neglected inci- 
dents which throw over it a livelier interest, and impart 
to it a stronger reality. One little event has been pre- 
served, and deserves to be related. It is said of governor 
Nelson, that, during the siege, observing his own house 
uninjured by the artillery of the American batteries he 
inquired into the cause. A respect for his property, was 
assigned. Nelson, whose devotion to the common cause 
was ardent and unbounded, requested that the artillerists 
would not spare his house more than any other, espe- 
cially as he knew it to be occupied by the principal 
offiicers of the British army. Two pieces were accord- 
ingly pointed against it. The first shot went through 
the house, and killed two of a large company of officers^ 
then indulging in the pleasures of the table. Other balls 
soon dislodged the hostile tenants. 

It will scarcely be thought out of place here to intro- 
duce an interesting occurrence, which has been pre- 
served by a French officer who was present at the siege. 
It does not, indeed, relate to governor Nelson himself, 
hut it relates to his favourite uncle, and may well claim 
preservation in the history of the nephew. Mr. Nelson 
kad been for thirty years under the provincial govern- 


£96 NELSON. 

ment, secretary of the executive council, when the dis- 
turbances in the colonies broke out — too far advanced 
in age to desire a revolution, too prudent to check this 
great event, if necessary, and too faithful to his country- 
men to separate his interest from theirs, he chose the 
crisis of this alteration, to retire from public affairs. 
Thus did he opportunely quit the theatre, when new 
pieces demanded fresh actors, and took his seat among 
the spectators, content to offer up his wishes for the suc- 
cess of the drama, and to applaud those who acted well 
their part. But in the last campaign, chance introduced 
him on the scene, and made him unfortunately famous. 
He lived at York, where he had built a very handsome 
house, from which neither European taste nor luxury 
was excluded ; a chimney-piece and some bass reliefs of 
very fine marble, exquisitely sculptured, were particu- 
larly admired, when fate conducted lord Cornwallis to 
this town to be disarmed, as well as his till then victori- 
ous troops. Secretary Nelson did not think it neces- 
sary to fly from the English, to whom his conduct could 
not have made him disagreeable, nor have furnished any 
just motive of suspicion. He was well received by the 
general, who established his head- quarters in his house, 
which was built on an eminence, near the most important 
fortifications, and in the most agreeable situation of the 
town. It was the first object which struck the sight as 
you approached the town, but instead of travellers, it 
soon drew the attention of our bombardiers and can- 
noniers, and was almost entirely destroyed. Mr. Nel- 
son lived in it at the time our batteries tried their first 

NELSON. o<)7 

sliot^ and killed one of his negroes at a little distance 
from him, so that lord Cornwallis was soon obliged to 
seek another asylum. But what asylum could be found 
for an old man, deprived of the use of his legs by the 
gout? and, above all, what asylum could defend him 
against the cruel anguish a father must feel at being 
besieged by his own children ; for he had two in the 
American army. So that every shot, whether fired from 
the town, or from the trenches, might prove equally fatal 
to him. This state of cruel anxiety was not to be en- 
dured ; and a request was sent to the besieged com- 
mander, to permit Mr. Nelson to leave tlie town. After 
tlie flag of truce was sent to demand his father, one of 
the young men was observed to keep his eyes ^xed upon 
the gate by which it was to return, and seemed to ex- 
pect his own sentence in the answer. Lord Cornwallis 
had too much humanity to refuse a request so just, and 
the old gentleman was restored to his children and his 

When the adventures of the siege w^ere terminated by 
the glorious reduction of the British army, the services 
of general Nelson were not forgotten. He had the gra- 
tification, too, to receive that meed of praise which he 
had so fairly won, from him who never bestowed ic when 
undeserved, and whose praise or censure will stamp 
forever the character of those on whom it has fallen. 
General Washington thus speaks of him in his general 
orders of the twentieth of October, 1781 . ^^ The gene- 
ral would be guilty of the highest ingratitude, a crime 
4>f which he hopes he shall never be accused, if he forgot 

VOL, VII. — =p p 

098 NELSON. 

to return his sincere acknowledgments to his excellency 
governor Nelson, for the succours which he received 
from him and the militia under his command, to whose 
activity, emulation and bravery, the highest praises arc 
due. The magnitude of the acquisition will be ample 
compensation for the difficulties and dangers which they 
met with so much firmness and patriotism.*' 

The constitution of governor Nelson, however, deli- 
cate as we have seen it to be, was not proof against the 
fatigues his arduous duties had obliged him to endure. 
He remained in office a month after the surrender of 
lord Cornwallis ; but on the twentieth of November^ 
1781, we find a letter addressed by him to the speaker 
of the house of delegates, by which he retires from it. 
^^ The very low state of health," he says, " to which I 
am reduced, and from which I have little expectation of 
soon recovering, makes it my duty to resign the govern- 
ment, that the state may not suffer for want of an exe- 
cutive.'' His resignation was accepted, and a successor 

After an arduous political life, and considerably ad- 
vanced in years, Mr. Nelson again returned to private 
life, but he did not return to that unmolested enjoyment 
of it, which was the just reward of his services. There 
are always those who hang around the skirts of the good 
and manly, to annoy them with petty molestations and 
to gratify themselves by carping at and misinterpreting 
their conduct, through either a pitiful envy or a grasp- 
ins: selfishness. We have already adverted to the steps 
w^iich necessity reluctantly compelled governor Nelson 

NELSON. £99 

to takc^ on the virtual extinction of the council of state. 
His resignation was scarcely accepted, when a petition 
and remonstrance was presented to the house of dele- 
gates, from sundry inhabitants of the county of Prince 
William. In this they stated among other things, that 
they laboured under divers grievances which had pro- 
ceeded from the several acts of the legislature, vesting 
extraordinary powers in the executive, authorizing im- 
presses, laying an embargo, and making the paper money 
a legal tender ; that under these acts, the greatest viola- 
tion and abuse of the law^s had taken place ; but that the 
late governor had still further assumed the power to 
dispense w^ith the law^s themselves, and disregarding 
their necessary and patriotic restraints, had issued his 
warrants without the advice of the executive council, 
and authorized impresses in the most unrestrained and 
arbitrary manner. 

The effect of an accusation so unfounded, on such a 
man as Mr. Nelson, is not to be described. Although 
he appeared to be fast sinking into that grave which 
would bury his errors, and disappoint the mean ven- 
geance of his enemies, he no sooner heard of the charge 
than he desired promptly to repel it. " I only ask,'^ he 
immediately wrote to the speaker of the house of dele- 
gates ^^I only request that I may be indulged with half 
an hour, that I may lay before the house a candid state- 
ment of facts, and my reasons for adopting the measures 
which have given so much offence.'' His wish was of 
course immediately granted ; his letter was referred to 
a committee on the state of the commonwealth, by whom 

300 NELSON. 

the charges were investigated^ and they made a repoi-t 
absolving him from blame^ which was twice read and 
agreed to without a dissenting voice. To the candid 
inquirer into the truths of history, this evidence will be 
all sufficient;, yet it is to be regretted that the report 
itself is no longer in existence. In times of tumult and 
revolution^ the regular record of events is often lost, 
and we are obliged to rely on such facts as prove the 
general result. In the journal of the day the report 
was never entered ; in the place which it should occupy, 
a large blank is left with the words ^^as followeth," im- 
mediately preceding it, and the original document can- 
not now be found. One act of justice alone remained: 
it w^as to relieve Mr. Nelson from the unpleasant circum- 
stances to which his patriotic conduct might subject him. 
This was done by an act of the legislature which we 
shall insert at length, as a tribute due to the memory of 
this excellent gentleman. It was passed on the thirty- 
first of December, 1781, and is as follows: 

^•An act to indemnify Thomas Nelson, Junior, 
Esquire, late governor of this commonwealth, and to 
legalize certain acts of his administration. Whereas, 
upon examination it appears that previous to and during 
the siege of York, Thomas Nelson, Esquire, late gover- 
nor of this commonwealth, was compelled by the peculiar 
circumstances of the state and army, to perform many 
acts of government without the advice of the council 
of state, for the purpose of procuring subsistence and 
other necessaries for the allied army under the command 
of his excellency general Washington; be it enacted 

NELSON. 301 

that all such acts of government^ evidently productive 
of general good^ and warranted by necessity, be judged 
and held of the same validity, and the like proceedings 
be had on them as if they had been executed by and 
with the advice of the council, and with all the formali- 
ties prescribed by law. And be it further enacted that 
the said Thomas Nelson, jr., Esquire, be and he hereby 
is in the fullest manner indemnified and exonerated from 
all penalties and dangers which might have accrued to 
him from the same.'^ 

After passing thus honourably through the ordeal of 
public opinion, Mr. Nelson determined to retire from 
political life, and fixed himself chiefly at a pretty little 
estate called Offly, in Hanover county. Here, sur- 
rounded by his numerous family, he brought back, in 
some degree, the gentler pleasures of his earlier youth, 
and assembled around him not only his own countrymen, 
but many a foreigner, who left his hospitable mansion 
delighted with his distinguished and benevolent host. 
One of these has left us an account of his visit, and 
illustrating as it does not only the mode of Mr. Nelson's 
life at this period, but the manners and customs of the 
country, it hardly seems necessary to apologize for its 
insertion. " On the left side of the South Anna river,'* 
says the marquis de Chastellux, " the ground rises, and 
you mount a pretty high hill, the country is barren, and 
we travelled almost always in the woods, till one o'clock, 
when we arrived at Ofily, and alighted at general Nel- 
son's, formerly governor of Virginia. I had got ac- 
quainted with him during the expedition to York, at 

302 NELSON. 

which critical moment he was governor, and conducted 
himself with the courage of a brave soldier, and the 
zeal of a good citizen. General Nelson himself was not 
at home when I arrived, but in his absence his mother 
and wife received us with all the politeness, ease and 
cordiality natural to his family. But as in America the 
ladies are never thought sujffiicient to do the honours of 
the house, five or six Nelsons were assembled to receive 
us ; amongst others, the secretary Nelson, uncle to the 
general, with his two sons, and two of the general's 
brothers. These young men were all married, and se- 
veral of them were accompanied by their wives and 
children, all called Nelson, and distinguished only by 
their christian names, so that during the two days which 
I passed in this truly patriarchal house, it was impossi- 
ble for me to find out their degrees of relationship. 
When I say that we passed two days in this house, it 
may be understood in the most literal sense, for the 
weather was so bad, there was no possibility of stirring 
out. The house being neither convenient nor spacious, 
the company assembled either in the parlour or saloon, 
especially the men, from the hour of breakfast, to that of 
bed-time, but the conversation was always agreeable and 
well supported. If you were desirous of diversifying 
the scene, there were some good French and English 
authors at hand. An excellent breakfast at nine in the 
morning, a sumptuous dinner at two o'clock, tea and 
punch in the afternoon, and an elegant little supper, di- 
vided the day most happily, for those whose stomachs 
were never unprepared. It is worth observing, tliat 

NELSON. 303 

on this occasion^ where fifteen or twenty people, (four 
of whom were strangers to the family or country,) were 
assembled together, and by bad weather forced to stay 
within doors, not a syllable was mentioned about play. 
How many parties of trictrac, whist, and lotto would 
with us have been the consequence of such obstinate 
bad weather? Perhaps, too, some more rational amuse- 
ments might have varied the scene agreeably; but in 
America, music, drawing, public reading, and the work 
of the ladies, are resources as yet unknown, though it 
is to be hoped they will not long neglect to cultivate 
them. The young ladies, who appeared from time to 
time, never interrupted the conversation. These pretty 
nymphs, more timid and wild than those of Diana, 
though they did not conduct the chase, inspired the 
taste for it in the youth: they knew, however, how to 
defend themselves from fox-hunters, without destroying, 
by their arrows, those who had the presumption to look 
at them.'^ 

From the period of Mr. Nelson's retirement, his 
health continued to decline. He never afterwards en- 
gaged in any public transactions, but lived alternately 
at his seat in Hanover county, and his house at York, 
where he had formerly resided, until his death. This 
event happened at the former place on the fourth of 
January, 1789, just after he had completed his fiftieth 
year. He descended into the grave honoured and be- 
loved ; and alas ! of his once vast estates, that honour 
and love was almost all that he left behind him. He 
had spent a princely fortune in his country's service ; 

304 NELSON. 

his horses had been taken from the plough^ and sent to 
drag the munitions of war ; his granaries had been 
thrown open to a starving soldiery, and his ample purse 
had been drained to its last dollar, when the credit of 
Virginia could not bring a sixpence into her treasury. 
Yet it was the widow of this man who, beyond eighty 
years of age, blind, infirm and poor, had yet to learn 
whether republics can be grateful. 

After the simple narrative which we have here given 
of the principal events of Mr. Nelson's life, no laboured 
eulogy of his character and virtues wdll be demanded, 
yet we cannot forbear concluding our sketch by a 
just delineation of his public and private virtues — a 
spontaneous offering of friendship and genius, from the 
pen of colonel Innis. 

^^The illustrious general Thomas Nelson is no more ! 
He paid the last great debt to nature, on Sunday, the 
fourth of the present month, at his estate in Hanover. 
He who undertakes barely to recite the exalted virtues 
which adorned the life of this great and good man, will 
unavoidably pronounce a panegyric on human nature. 
As a man, a citizen, a legislator and a patriot, he ex- 
hibited a conduct untarnished and undebased by sordid 
or selfish interests, and strongly marked with the genu- 
ine characteristics of true religion, sound benevo- 
lence and liberal policy. Entertaining the most ardent 
love for civil and religious liberty, he was among the 
first of that glorious band of patriots whose exertions 
dashed and defeated the machinations of British tyranny 
and gave to United America^ freedom and independent 

NELSON. 305 

empire. At a most important crisis during the late 
struggle for American liberty^ when this state appeared 
to be designated as the theatre of action for the contend- 
ing armies^ he was selected by the unanimous suffrage 
of the legislature to command the virtuous yeomanry 
of his country; in this honourable employment he re- 
mained until the end of the war; as a soldier he was 
indefatigably active and coolly intrepid ; resolute and 
undejected in misfortunes^ he towered above distress 
and struggled with the manifold difficulties to which his 
situation exposed him, w^ith constancy and courage. In 
the memorable year 1781, when the whole force of the 
southern British army was directed to the immediate 
subjugation of this state, he was called to the helm of 
government; this v/as a juncture which indeed ^^ tried 
men's souls/"' He did not avail himself of this opportunity 
to retire in the rear of danger, but on the contrary took 
the field at the head of his countrymen; and at the 
hazard of his life, his fame and individual fortune, by 
his decision and magnanimity he saved not only his 
country but all America from disgrace, if not from total 
ruin. Of this truly patriotic and heroic conduct, the 
renowned commander in chief with all the gallant offi- 
cers of the combined armies employed at the siege of 
York will bear ample testimony ; this part of his con- 
duct even contemporary jealousy, envy and malignity 
were forced to approve, and this, more impartial posterity 
if it can believe, will almost adore. If, after contemplat- 
ing the splendid and heroic parts of his character, we 
shall inquire for the milder virtues of humanity and seek 

VOL. VII. — Q q 

306 NELSON. 

for the man, we shall find the refined, beneficent and so- 
cial qualities of private life, through all its forms and 
combinations, so happily modified and united in him, 
that in the words of the darling poet of nature, it may 
be said 

" His life was gentle ; and the elements 

So mixed in him, that nature might stand up 

And say to all the world — this was a man.'^ 


c5J®^aiPM MMWHS 

l^rawrL by J.B. Loiag'p.CTe from a PaintirLg- iii possession 
of JoscpK Heaves DcKTS 1'' s(|.^". _ EiTg\'^ by F.KcariLv. 


Concerning Joseph Hewes. the circumstances 
kuown are much less abundant and particular than we 
desire. Nearly half a century has passed since he died; 
he left no children^ and no very near relatives now sur- 
vive, from whom the details of his life could be ascer- 

His parents were members of the society of friends, 
and at the time of their marriage resided in the colony 
of Connecticut, in one of the settlements the farthest 
removed from the coast of the Atlantic. 

In this situation they were obliged to bear the double 
persecution arising from the often excited hostility of 
the Indians, who roved through the forests in their 
vicinity, and the prejudice still remaining among the 
puritans of New England, against all that wore the 
quaker habiliments or professed the quaker doctrines. 

For persons of tliis persuasion, and indeed for all that 
were ambitious of a quiet and secure life, a residence in 
either Connecticut or Massachusetts, was at that period 
far from desirable. 

The government of Massachusetts .had, in order to 
*• promote enterprise and encourage volunteers," raised 
the premium on Indian scalps and prisoners to one hun- 

310 HE WES. 

dred pounds for each ; and in the temper of mind which 
is sufficiently indicated by such an enactment, a bitter 
and murderous warfare was waged against the natives of 
the forest, attended with circumstances often discredit- 
able to the humanity of the white men, and with instances 
of reprisals and retaliation on the part of the Indians in- 
volving the most shocking barbarities. 

The province of Connecticut had refused to unite in 
any measures of war that were not defensive ; but the 
Indians were not always careful to observe the boundary 
line between the two colonies, or to discriminate between 
people so closely resembling each otlier in manners and 

The inoifensive and industrious farmers of Connecticut 
were therefore exposed to suffer the vengeance intended 
to be dealt upon the scalping parties of Massachusetts, 
and many of them moved off from the lands they had 
prepared for cultivation, to seek a more secure asylum 
in a southern colony. 

Am^ng these emigrants were Aaron and Providence 
Hewes, who made their escape from the scene of savage 
warfare not without difficulty and imminent personal 
risk ; so near, indeed, were they to the scene of danger, 
that in crossing the Housatanic river, they were almost 
overtaken by the Indians, and were within the actual 
range of their bullets, one of which wounded Providence 
in the neck. 

They took up their abode near Kingston, in New 
Jersey, where they found a peaceful and secure dwel- 

HE WES. 311 

ling-place, and where they remained to the end of their 

Their son Joseph was horn in the year 1730^ and after 
enjoying the advantages of education common at that 
period, in the immediate neighbourhood of Princeton 
college, he went to Philadelphia to acquire a knowledge 
of commercial business. 

He entered, as soon as his term of apprenticeship in a 
compting-house was closed, into the bustle and activity 
of trade ; and availing himself of the fortunate situation 
of the colonies in respect to commerce, and the great 
opportunities then afforded by the British flag, particu= 
larly when used to protect American ships, he was soon 
one of the large number cf thriving colonial merchants, 
whose very prosperity became a lure to Great Britain, 
and induced her to look to this country for a revenue, 

Mr. Hewes did not remove to North Carolina until he 
was thirty years of age, previous to which time he had 
been residing at New York and Philadelphia alternately, 
with occasional and frequent visits to his friends in New 

Having made choice of Edenton for his future home, 
he soon became distinguished in the community of that 
city for his successful career as a merchant, his liberal 
hospitalities, great probity and honour, and his agreeable 
social qualities. 

Although nearly a stranger in the state, he was very 
shortly invited to take a seat in the colonial legislature 
of North Carolina; — an office to which he was repeatedly 

312 HEWES. 

chosen, and which he always filled with advantage to 
the people of that colony, and with credit to himself. 

When the British ministry had proceeded so far as to 
close the port of Boston, — thus by a most decided and 
severe act evincing their fixed determination to proceed 
in their plan of taxing the colonies, — and the committees 
of correspondence instituted first at Boston and after- 
wards elsewhere, had proposed a meeting of deputies to 
a general congress to he held at Philadelphia, Mr. 
Hewes was one of three citizens selected by North Ca- 
rolina to represent her in such assembly. 

On the fourth of September, in the year 1774, this 
first congress began their session ; and on the fourteentli 
of the same month, Mr. Hewes arrived and took his 

The members were generally elected by the authority 
of the colonial legislatures ; but iti some instances, a dif- 
ferent system had been pursued. In New Jersey and 
Maryland, the elections were made by committees 
chosen in the several counties for that particular pur- 
pose ; and in New York, where the royal party was very 
strong, the people themselves assembled in those places 
where the spirit of opposition to the claims of parliament 
prevailed, and elected deputies who were received into 
congress, it being known that no legislative act autho- 
rizing the election of members to represent that colony 
in such a meeting, could have been obtained. 

The powers, too, with which the representatives of 
the several colonies were invested, were not only vari- 
ously expressed, but were of various extent. Most 

HE WES, 313 

generally they were authorized to consult and advise on 
the means most proper to secure the liberties of the colo- 
nies, and to restore the harmony formerly subsisting be- 
tween them and the mother country. In some instances, 
the powers given appear to contemplate only such mea- 
sures as would operate on the commercial connexion 
between the two countries ; in others, the discretion 
was unlimited. 

The credentials of Mr. Hewes spoke a bolder lan- 
guage than was found in those of most of the delegates ; 
while the greater part of the colonies professed, in ap- 
pointing the members, an earnest desire of reconcilia- 
tion, and named the return of harmony as the principal 
object of their assembling, — North Carolina resolved, 
by a general meeting of deputies of the inhabitants of the 
province, that the people approved of the proposal of a 
general congress to be held at Philadelphia, to deliberate 
on the state of British America, and ^^ to take such mea- 
sures as they may deem prudent to effect the purpose of 
describing with certainty the rights of Americans, re- 
pairing the breach made in those rights, and for guard- 
ing them for the future from any such violations done 
under the sanction of public authority." 

The delegates were accordingly invested by this 
meeting of deputies, with such powers as might ^' make 
any acts done by them, or consent given in behalf of this 
province, obligatory in honour upon every inhabitant 
thereof who is not an alien to his country^s good, and an 
apostate to the liberties of America. '^ 

VOL. VII. — R r 

314 HEWES. 

But, however diversified may have been the instruc- 
tions and powers given to the colonial delegates chosen 
for this congress; certainly a separation from Great 
Britain was no part of the object then in view. Recon- 
ciliation and the restoration of harmony under the regal 
government was the aim and the desire of all, although 
the means of obtaining such a result were variously esti- 
mated as involving more or less of forcible resistance. 

Immediately after the assembling of congress two 
important committees had been appointed to whom in 
fact nearly all the business of the congress was entrusted. 
The one was to ^^ state the rights of the colonies in ge- 
neral, the several instances in which those rights are 
violated or infringed, and the means most proper to be 
pursued for obtaining a restoration of them.'^ The 
other was to ^^ examine and report the several statutes 
which affect the trade and manufacture of the colonies.'' 
To the first of these committees Mr. Hewes was added 
very soon after he took his seat, and contributed his 
assistance to the preparation of their report. 

The committee made their report with little delay, 
and on the fourteenth day of October, it was adopted, as 
follows : 

" Whereas, since the close of the last war, the British 
parliament, claiming a power, of right, to bind the peo- 
ple of America by statutes in all cases whatsoever, hath 
in some acts expressly imposed taxes on them, and in 
others, under various pretences, but in fact for the pur- 
pose of raising a revenue, hath imposed rates and duties 
payable in these colonies^ established a board of commis- 

HE WES. 315 

sioners; with unconstitutional powers, and extended the 
jurisdiction of courts of admiralty, not only for collect- 
ing the said duties, but for the trial of causes merely 
arising within the body of a county. 

'^ And whereas, in consequence of other statutes, 
judges, who before held only estates at will in their 
offices, have been made dependent on the crown alone 
for their salaries, and standing armies kept in times of 
peace: And whereas it has lately been resolved in par- 
liament, that by force of a statute, made in the thirty- 
fifth year of the reign of king Henry the Eighth, colonists 
may be transported to England, and tried there upon 
accusations for treasons and misprisions, or concealments 
of treasons committed in the colonies, and by a late 
statute, such trials have been directed in cases therein 
mentioned : 

" And whereas, in the last session of parliament, three 
statutes were made : one entitled, ' An act to discontinue 
in such manner and for such time as are therein men- 
tioned, the landing and discharging, lading, or shipping 
of goods, wares, and merchandise, at the town, and 
within the harbour of Boston, in the province of Massa- 
chusetts Bay in North America;' another entitled, 
^ An act for the better regulating the government of the 
province of Massachusetts bay in New England;' and 
another entitled, " An act for the impartial administra- 
tion of justice, in the cases of persons questioned for any 
act done by them in the execution of the law, or for the 
suppression of riots and tumults, in the province of the 
Massachusetts Bay in New England : And another 

316 HEWES. 

statute was then made, ' for making more effectual provi- 
sion for the government of the province of Quebec, &c.' 
All which statutes are impolitic, unjust, and cruel, as 
well as unconstitutional, and most dangerous, and de- 
structive of American rights : 

And whereas, assemblies have been frequently dis- 
solved, contrary to the rights of the people, when they 
attempted to deliberate on grievances ; and their dutiful, 
humble, loyal, and reasonable petitions to the crown for 
redress, have been repeatedly treated with contempt, 
by his majesty's ministers of state : 

The good people of the several colonies of New 
Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Pro- 
vidence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jer- 
sey, Pennsylvania, Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex on 
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and 
South Carolina, justly alarmed at these arbitrary pro- 
ceedings of parliament and administration, have severally 
elected, constituted, and appointed deputies to meet and 
sit in general congress, in the city of Philadelphia, in 
order to obtain such establishment, as that their religion, 
laws, and liberties, may not be subverted : Whereupon 
the deputies so appointed being now assembled, in a full 
and free representation of these colonies, taking into 
their most serious consideration, the best means of at- 
taining the ends aforesaid, do in the first place, as Eng- 
lishmen their ancestors in like cases have usually done, 
for asserting and vindicating their rights and liberties, 

HE WES. 317 

That the inhabitants of the English colonies in North 
America, by the immutable laws of nature, the princi- 
ples of the English constitution, and the several charters 
or compacts, have the following Rights. 

1. That they are entitled to life, liberty and property ; 
and they have never ceded to any sovereign power 
whatever, a right to dispose of either without their con- 

2. That our ancestors who first settled these colonies, 
were at the time of their emigration from the mother 
country, entitled to all the rights, liberties and immu- 
nities of free and natural born subjects, within the realm 
of England. 

3. That by such emigration they by no means forfeited, 
surrendered or lost any of those rights, but that they 
were, and their descendants now are, entitled to the ex- 
ercise and enjoyment of all such of them, as their local 
and other circumstances enable them to exercise and 

4. That the foundation of English liberty and of all 
freergovernment, is, a right in the people to participate 
in their legislative council ; and as the English colonists 
are not represented, and from their local and other cir- 
cumstances cannot properly be represented in the Bri- 
tish parliament, they are entitled to a free and exclusive 
power of legislation in their several provincial legisla- 
tures, where their right of representation can alone be 
preserved, in all cases of taxation and internal polity, 
subject only to the negative of their sovereign, in such 
manner a| has been heretofore used and accustomed ; 

318 HEWES. 

But from the necessity of the case, and a regard to the 
mutual interests of both countries, we cheerfully consent 
to the operation of such acts of the British parliament, 
as are bona fide, restrained to the regulation of our ex- 
ternal commerce, for the purpose of securing the com- 
mercial advantages of the whole empire to the mother 
country, and the commercial benefits of its respective 
members ; excluding every idea of taxation internal or 
external, for raising a revenue on the subjects in Ame- 
rica without their consent. 

5. That the respective colonies are entitled to the com- 
mon law of England, and more especially to the great 
and inestimable privilege of being tried by their peers 
of the vicinage, according to the course of that law. 

6. That they are entitled to the benefit of such of the 
English statutes, as existed at the time of their coloniza- 
tion ; and which they have, by experience, respectively 
found to be applicable to their several local and other 

7. That these, his majesty's colonies, are likewise enti- 
tled to all the immunities and privileges granted and con- 
firmed to them by royal charters, or secured by their 
several codes of pro\dncial laws. 

8. That they have a right peaceably to assemble, con- 
sider of their grievances, and petition the king; and that 
all prosecutions, prohibitory proclamations, and commit- 
ments for the same, are illegal. 

9_. That the keeping a standing army in these colonies, 
in times of peace, without the consent of the legislature 
of that colony in which such army is kept, is against 

HE WES. 319 

10. It is indispensably necessary to good government^ 
and rendered essential by the English constitution, that 
the constituent branches of the legislature be indepen- 
dent of each other; that, therefore, the exercise of 
legislative power in several colonies, by a council ap- 
pointed, during pleasure, by the crown, is unconstitu- 
tional, dangerous, and destructive to the freedom of 
American legislation. 

All and each of which the aforesaid deputies in behalf 
of themselves, and their constituents, do claim, demand, 
and insist on, as their indubitable rights and liberties ; 
which cannot be legally taken from them, altered or 
abridged by any power whatever, without their own 
consent, by their representatives in their several pro- 
vincial legislatures. 

In the course of our inquiry, we find many infringe- 
ments and violations of the foregoing rights, which, from 
an ardent desire that harmony and mutual intercourse 
of affection and interest may be restored, w^e pass over 
for the present, and prcoeed to state such acts and mea- 
sures as have been adopted since the last war, which 
demonstrate a system formed to enslave America. 

That the follo^\'ing acts of parliament are infringements 
and violations of the rights of the colonists ; and that the 
repeal of them is essentially necessary, in order to re- 
store harmony between Great Britain and the American 
colonies, viz. 

The several acts of 4 Geo. III. ch. 15. and ch. 34. 
—5 Geo. III. ch. 25.-6 Geo. III. ch. 52.-7 Geo. III. 
ch. 41. and ch. 46. — 8 Geo. Ill, ch. 22. which impose 

320 HEWES. 

duties for the purpose of raising a revenue in America, 
extend the power of the admiralty courts beyond their 
ancient limits^ deprive the American subject of trial by 
jury, authorize the judges certificate to indemnify the 
prosecutor from damages, that he might otherwise be 
liable to, requiring oppressive security from a claimant 
of ships and goods seized, before he shall be allowed to 
defend his property, and are subversive of American 

Also 12 Geo. III. ch. 24. intituled, "An act for the 
better securing his majesty's dock-yards, magazines, 
ships, ammunition, and stores,'^ which declares a new 
offence in America, and deprives the American subject 
of a constitutional trial by jury of the vicinage, by au- 
thorizing the trial of any person charged with the com- 
mitting any oifence described in the said act out of the 
realm, to be indicted and tried for the same in any shire 
or county within the realm. 

Also the three acts passed in the last session of par- 
liament, for stopping the port and blocking np the Har- 
bour of Boston, for altering the charter and government 
of Massachusetts-Bay, and that which is intituled, ^^An 
act for the better administration of justice, &c.'^ 

Also the act passed in the same session for establish- 
ing the Roman Catholic religion in the province of Que- 
bec, abolishing the equitable system of English laws, 
and erecting a tyranny there, to the great danger, (from 
so total a dissimilarity of religion, law and government) 
of the neighbouring British colonies, by the assistance 

HEWES. 321 

of whose blood and treasure the said country was con- 
quered from France. 

Also the act passed in the same session^ for the better 
providing suitable quarters for officers and soldiers in 
his majesty's service in North America. 

Also^ that the keeping a standing army in several of 
these colonies, in time of peace, without the consent of 
the legislature of that colony in which such army is 
kept, is against law. 

To these grevious acts and measures, Americans can- 
not submit, but in hopes their fellow subjects in Great 
Britain will, on a revision of them, restore us to that 
state in which both countries found happiness and pros- 
perity, we have for the present only resolved to pursue 
the following peaceable measures ; 1 . To enter into a 
non-importation, non- consumption and non- exportation 
agreement or association ; 2. To prepare an address to 
the people of Great Britain, and a memorial to the in- 
habitants of British America; and 3. To prepare a 
loyal address to his majesty, agreeable to resolutions 
already entered into.'' 

The non-importation agreement thus recommended 
and determined to be adopted, was a very remarkable 
event in the annals of the revolution. It could only 
have been thought of by men having the most perfect 
confidence in the integrity and patriotism of the people^ 
without whose universal and strict resolution to maintain 
it, such a measure would be palpably unavailing. A 
system of privation not enforced by any law, nor guarded 
with any penal sanctions, but resting entirely on the 

VOL. vii. — s s 

355i HEWES. 

deep and general sense of wrongs inflicted, and of the 
necessity of a united effort to obtain redress, — it evinced 
a steady resolution, a sober patriotism, and a generous 
sacrifice of selfish views to the common good, unequalled 
in the history of the world. 

If any class of people more than the rest were entitled 
to particular praise for the patriotic ardour which in- 
duced them to join in this combination, it was unques- 
tionably the mercantile part of the community, who 
{Sacrificed not only many of the comforts and enjoyments 
of life, but gave up also the very means of their sub- 
sistence, in relinquishing the importing trade to which 
they had been accustomed to devote their capital and 

Mf. Hewes was a merchant, and a successful one. 
He had been for more than twenty years engaged in the 
sale of merchandise imported chiefly from England and 
the British dependencies ; but he did not hesitate on 
this occasion to assist in the preparation of the plan, to 
vote for it, and to afiix his own name to the compact. 

The association recited, in the first place, the injuries 
inflicted on the colonies by the various acts of the British 
government, against which the report of the committee 
had been directed, and then declares, that to obtain Te- 
dress for these grievances a non-importation, non-con- 
sumption, and non- exportation agreement, faithfully, ad- 
hered to, would prove the most speedy, effectual and 
peaceable measure, and ^^ therefore,^^ it proceeds, ^^we 
do, for ourselves, and the inhabitants of the several co- 
lonies whom we represent, firmly agree and associate 

HEWES. 323 

under the sacred ties of virtue^ honour and love of our 
country, as follows: 

Fir^st. That from and after the first day of Decemher 
next, we will not import into British America^ from 
Great Britain or Ireland^ any goods, wares or merchan- 
dise w^hatsoever, or from any other place, any such 
goods, wares or merchandise, as shall have been ex- 
ported from Great Britain or Ireland ; nor will we, after 
tliat day, import any East India tea from any part of the 
world ; nor any molasses, syrups, paneles, coffee, or 
pimento, from the British plantations or from Dominica; 
nor wines from Madeira, or the Western Islands ; nor 
foreign indigo. 

Second. We will neither import, nor purchase any 
slave imported after the first day of December next ; 
after which time, we will wholly discontinue the slave 
trade, and will neither be concerned in it ourselves, nor 
will we hire our vessels, nor sell our commodities or 
manufactures to those who are concerned in it. 

Third. As a non- consumption agreement, strictly 
adhered to, will be an effectual security for the observa- 
tion of the non- importation, w'e as above, solemnly agree 
and associate, that from this day, we will not purchase 
or use any tea imported on account of the East India 
company, or any on which a duty hath been or shall be 
paid ; and from and after the first day of March next, 
we will not purchase or use any East India tea whatever | 
nor will we, nor shall any person for or under us, pur- 
chase or use any of those goods, wares, or merchandise, \\t 
have agreed not to import, which we shall know, or have 

354 HE WES. 

cause to suspect^ were imported after the first day of 
December, except such as come under the rules and 
directions of the tenth article hereafter mentioned. 

Fourth, The earnest desire we have not to injure 
our fellow- subjects in Great Britain, Ireland, or the 
West Indies, induces us to suspend a non- exportation, 
until the tenth day of September, 1775 ; at which time, 
if the said acts and parts of acts of the British parliament 
herein after mentioned, are not repealed, we will not, 
directly or indirectly, export any merchandise or com- 
modity whatsoever to Great Britain, Ireland, or the West 
Indies, except rice to Europe, 

Fifth, Such as are merchants, and use the British 
and Irish trade, will give orders, as soon as possible, to 
their factors, agents and correspondents, in Great Bri- 
tain and Ireland, not to ship any goods to them, on any 
pretence whatsoever, as they cannot be received in 
America ; and if any merchant, residing in Great Bri- 
tain or Ireland, shall directly or indirectly ship any 
goods, wares or merchandise, for America, in order to 
break the said non-importation agreement, or in any 
manner contravene the same, on such unworthy conduct 
being well attested, it ought to be made public ; and, on 
the same being so done, we will not from thenceforth 
have any commercial connexion with such merchant. 

Sixth. That such as are owners of vessels will give 
positive orders to their captains, or masters, not to re- 
ceive on board their vessels any goods prohibited by the 
said non-importation agreement, on pain of immediate 
dismission from their service. 

HEAVES. 325 

Seventh, We will use our utmost endeavours to im- 
prove the breed of sheep and increase their number to 
the greatest extent ; and to that endj we will kill them 
as seldom as may be, especially those of the most profit- 
able kind ; nor will we export any to the West Indies or 
elsewhere; and those of us, who are or may become 
overstocked with, or can conveniently spare any sheep, 
will dispose of them to our neighbours, especially to the 
poorer sort, on moderate terms. 

Eighth, We will in our several stations encourage 
frugality, economy, and industry, and promote agricul- 
ture, arts, and the manufactures of this country, espe- 
cially that of wool ; and will discountenance and dis- 
courage every species of extravagance and dissipation, 
especially all horse rasing, and all kinds of gaming, cock 
fighting, exhibitions of shows, plays, and other expensive 
diversions and entertainments ; and on the death of any 
relation or friend, none of us, or any of our families will 
go into any further mourning dress than a black crape 
or ribbon on the arm or hat for gentlemen, and a black 
ribbon and necklace for ladies, and we will discontinue 
the giving of gloves and scarfes at funerals. 

JVinth, Such as are venders of goods and merchan- 
dise will not take advantage of the scarcity of goods that 
may be occasioned by this association, but wdll sell the 
same at the rates we have been respectively accustomed 
to do, for twelve months last past. — And if any vender 
of goods or merchandise shall sell any such goods on 
higher terms, or shall in any manner, or by any device 
whatsoever, violate or depart from this agreement, no 

326 HEWES. 

person ought, nor will any of us deal with any such per- 
son, or his, or her factor or agent, at any time thereafter^ 
for any commodity whatever. 

Tenth. In case any merchant, trader, or other per- 
sons shall import any goods or merchandise after the 
first day of December, and before the first day of Febru- 
ary next, the same ought forthwith, at the election of 
the owner, to be either re- shipped or delivered up to 
the committee of the county, or town wherein they shall 
be imported, to be stored at the risk of the importer, 
until the non-importation agreement shall cease, or be 
sold under the direction of the committee aforesaid ; and 
in the last mentioned case, the owner or owners of such 
goods shall be reimbursed (out of the sales) the first cost 
and charges, the profit, if any, to be applied towards 
relieving and employing such poor inhabitants of the 
town of Boston, as are immediate sufferers by the Boston 
port-bill ; and a particular account of all goods so re- 
turned stored, or sold, to be inserted in the public pa- 
pers ; and if any goods or merchandise shall be imported 
after the said first day of February, the same ought forth- 
with to be sent back again, without breaking any of the 
packages thereof. 

Eleventh. That a committee be chosen in every 
county, city, and town, by those who are qualified to 
vote for representatives in the legislature, whose business 
it shall be attentively to observe the conduct of all per- 
sons touching this association ; and when it shall be made 
to appear to the satisfaction of a majority of any such 
committee^ that any person within the limits of their 

HEWES. 327 

appointment has violated this association, that such ma- 
jority do forthwith cause the truth of the case to he pub- 
lished in the Gazette ; to the end, that all such foes to 
the rights of British America may he publicly known, 
and universally contemned as the enemies of American 
liberty ; and thenceforth we respectively will break off 
all dealings with him or her. 

Tivelfth, That the committee of correspondence in 
the respective colonies do frequently inspect the entries 
of the custom houses, and inform each other from time 
to time of the true state thereof, and of every other ma- 
terial circumstance that may occur relative to this asso- 

Thirteenth, That all manufactures of this country 
be sold at reasonable prices, so that no undue advantage 
be taken of a future scarcity of goods. 

Fourteenth, And we do further agree and resolve, 
that we will have no trade, commerce, dealings or inter- 
course whatsoever, with any colony or province, in 
North America, which shall not accede to, or which 
shall hereafter violate this association, but will hold them 
as unworthy of the rights of freemen, and as inimical to 
the liberties of their country. 

And we do solemnly bind ourselves and our constitu- 
ents, under the ties aforesaid, to adhere to this association 
until such parts of the several acts of parliament passed 
since the close of the last war, as impose or continue 
duties on tea, wine, molasses, syrups, paneles, coffee, 
sugar, pimento, indigo, foreign paper, glass, and paint- 
ers' colours, imported into America, and extend the 

3^8 HEWES. 

powers of the admiralty courts beyond their ancient 
limits, deprive the American subject of trial by jury, 
authorize the judge's certificate to indemnify the prose- 
cutor from damages, that he might otherwise be liable 
to from a trial by his peers, require oppressive security 
from a claimant of ships or goods seized, before he shall 
be allowed to defend his property, are repealed. — And 
until that part of the act of the 12 G. 3. ch. 24. entitled 
^^An act for the better securing his majesty's dock- 
yards, magazines, ships, ammunition, and stores," by 
which any persons charged with committing any of the 
offences therein described, in America, may be tried in 
any shire or county within the realm, is repealed. — And 
until the four acts passed the last session of parliament, 
viz. that for stopping the port and blocking up the har- 
bour of Boston. — ^That for altering the charter and go- 
vernment of the Massachusetts Bay. — And that which 
is entitled, ^^An act for the better administration of 
justice, &c.'' — And that " For extending the limits of 
Quebec, &c." are repealed. And we recommend it to 
the provincial conventions, and to the committees in the 
respective colonies, to establish such farther regulations 
as they may think proper, for carrying into execution 
this association.'' 

Congress, after adopting an address to the people of 
Great Britain, — an address to the king, and one to the 
people of Canada, all distinguished by uncommon ele- 
gance and force of diction, and having resolved that it 
was expedient to meet again in May of the succeeding 

HEWES. 329 

jeBTj adjourned on the twenty-sixth of October, and 
Mr. Hewes returned to his home in North Carolina. 

In the ensuing spring, a convention of that colony was 
held at Newbern, when Mr. Hewes w^s elected a mem- 
ber of the continental congress about to assemble, and 
the general assembly approved of this choice, and at the 
^ame time resolved to adhere strictly to the non-import- 
ation agreement, and to use what influence they pos- 
sessed to induce the same observance in every individual 
of the province. 

Mr. Hewes attended accordingly at Philadelphia 
when the new congress assembled in May, and con- 
tinued with them until their adjournment, the last day 
of July, 

The battle of Lexington had occurred a few weeks 
before the meeting of congress, and the first business 
that came before them was the examination of the depo- 
sitions of witnesses, which at that period, or at least on 
that occasion, supplied the place of military reports, of 
the killed, wounded and missing, as well as of the move- 
ments of the hostile forces. 

The first resolution of the congress was, however, 
notwithstanding the excitement naturally caused by the 
actual commencement of war, to present another loyal 
and dutiful address to the king ; at the same time, now 
first glancing at the possibility of a separation, in a re- 
commendation to the provincial congress of New York 
to prepare vigorously for defence, ^^ as it is very uncer- 
tain whether the earnest endeavours of the congress to 
accommodate the unhappy differences between Great 

VOL. VII. — T t 

330 HEWES. 

Britain and the colonies by conciliatory measures^ will 
be successful.'^ 

The battle of Bunker's Hill, and the appointment of 
a commander in chief of the army with a long list of 
major generals and brigadiers, in the succeeding month, 
placed the true nature of the contest more distinctly in 
the view of the people of America, and of the world. 
The society of friends, of which Mr. Hewes' parents 
had been members, as well as himself in his youth, were 
now straining every nerve in an eifort to prevent the 
revolutionary and republican, and warlike doctrines of 
the times from gaining a reception among the quakers. 
The society was numerous, wealthy and respectable, 
and their opposition was powerful and active. In the 
beginning of the year 1775, they had held a general 
convention of the '' people called quakers" residing in 
Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and had put forth a 
^^ testimony," denouncing the congress and all its pro- 
ceedings. This, however, did not have any eifect on 
Mr. Hewes, or if a:ny, not the eifect intended. He 
broke entirely from communion with the quakers, and 
became not only a promoter of war, but a man of gayety 
and worldly habits — even to the extent of being a fre- 
quent visiter of the ladies, and partaking, even with glee 
and animation, of the pleasures of the dance, in which he 
is said at all times of his life, after escaping from the re- 
straints of his quaker education, to have taken much 

In the recess of congress, between July and Septem- 
ber, he did not return to North Carolina, but made a 

HEWES. 331 

visit to his friends in New Jersey^ and was at hand when 
the next session was begun. 

He was placed on the committee of claims^ and that 
charged with the fitting out of the armed vessels ordered 
to be built or equipped for congress — the germ of the 
United States' navy ; and thus he became in effect^ and 
in the nature of his duties and responsibilities^ the first 
secretary of the navy. 

In the commencement of the next year, Mr. Hewes, 
having attained great respect in congress by his excellent 
qualities and habits of close attention to business, was 
chosen a member of the secret committee, a post of 
extreme difficulty, and great responsibility, and re- 
quiring the closest application. 

It is within the recollection of some of the surviving 
patriots of this period, that Mr. Hewes was remarkable 
for a devotedness to the business of this committee, as 
complete as ever the most industrious merchant was 
known to give to his compting- house. 

After this time he was generally appointed on the 
most important committees, such as that to concert with 
general Washington a plan of operations for the ensuing 
campaign, the one entrusted with the difficult task of 
digesting a plan of confederation, another charged with 
the superintendence of the treasury, one raised for the 
purpose of inquiring into the causes of the miscarriages 
in Canada, and several others of less moment. 

Mr. Hewes was, during this period, a most active 
man of business ; the disbursements of the naval com- 
mittee were under his especial charge, and eight armed 


vessels were fitted out with the funds placed at his dis- 
posal. He was attentive also to the condition of North 
Carolina^ then direfully distracted with civil war^ and 
menaced also by the common enemy; gunpowder and 
other munitions of war were sent by him at his own ex- 
penscj but reimbursed afterwards by congress^ to supply 
the exigencies of the republican troops in that part of 
the country. 

He had the satisfaction of being present during all 
the debate on the question of declaring independence^ 
and of voting in favour of the instant adoption of that 
imperishable manifesto which has made the fourth of 
July a jubilee for this nation. In voting on this side he 
acted in accordance with a resolution passed by the 
North Carolina convention^ on the twenty- second of 
April preceding^ empowering the delegates from that 
colony to ^^ concur with those of the other colonies in 
declaring independency.'^ 

North Carolina had thus the merit of being the fii^t 
one of the colonies which openly declared in favour of 
throwing oif all connexion with Great Britain^ a spirited 
and manly determination which entitles the leading men 
of that state to distinguished praise. Mr, Hewes by 
his indefatigable exertions in the equipment of the naval 
armament;, as well as by the fearless constancy with 
which he had advocated independence^ had acquired to 
a very great degree the esteem and respect of the peo- 
ple whom he represented. In the beginning of the 
year seventeen hundred and seventy- seven, therefore^ 
he was again chosen a delegate^ with such powers as to 

HEWES. 333 

make whatever he and his colleagues might do in con= 
gress obligatory on every inhabitant of the state. 

Mr. Hewes^ however, did not accept this appoint- 
ment. He left to his colleagues the tour of duty in 
congi-ess, and devoted himself to his private affairs and 
to the benefit of his state at home during the greater 
part of that year and the whole of the next, nor did he 
resume his seat until the month of July, 1779. He was 
at this time in very ill health, his constitution had been 
totally broken down, and he was able to give little more 
assistance to the public councils of the nation. 

His end was rapidly approaching ; the last vote given 
by him in congress was on the twenty-ninth of October, 
after w^hich he was wholly confined to his chamber until 
the tenth of November, when he expired, in the fiftieth 
year of his age. 

On the day of his death, congress being informed of 
the event, and of the intention of his friends to inter 
his remains on the following day, resolved that they 
would attend the funeral with a crape round the left arm, 
and continue in mourning for the space of one month, 
that a committee should be appointed to superintend the 
ceremony, the Rev. Mr. White, their chaplain, should 
officiate on the occasion, and that invitations should be 
sent to the general assembly and the president and 
supreme executive council of Pennsylvania, the minister 
plenipotentiary of France and other persons of dis- 

The funeral ceremonies were accordingly conducted 
with all the pomp and display which the simple manner^ 

334 HEWES. 

and sobriety of temper then prevalent in Philadelphia 
would admit. A large concourse of people including 
all the distinguished personages civil and military, wit- 
nessed the interment of his remains in the burial ground 
of Christ Church, and the outward show of respect to 
his memory was not in this instance forced or insincere, 

Mr. Hewes possessed a prepossessing figure and coun- 
tenance, with great amenity of manners and an unblem- 
ished reputation for probity and honour. He left a 
considerable fortune but no children to inherit it. 

His death may be called untimely when we reflect on 
the brighter prospects that soon after opened on the 
country to whose happiness he devoted himself with so 
much zeal, prospects in which he would have found a 
cause of infinite gratitude and joy ; but in other respects 
his end was more seasonable than that of some of his com- 
patriots who lived to endure old age, infirmity and want ; 
he was taken in the meridian of his usefulness, but not 
before he had performed enough of service to this nation 
to entitle him to her enduring and grateful recollection. 



Fro7n the Committees of the province of Pennsylvania 
to their Representatives in the Genei^al Assembly, 

[referred to in the life of JAMES SMITH.] 


The dissensions between Great Britain and her colonies on 
this continent, commencing about ten years ago, since continu- 
ally increasing, and at length grown to such an excess as to in- 
volve the latter in deep distress and danger, have excited the 
good people of this province to take into their serious considera- 
tion the present situation of public affairs. 

The inhabitants of the several counties qualified to vote at 
elections, being assembled on due notice, have appointed us their 
deputies; and in consequence thereof, we being in provincial 
committee met, esteem it our indispensable duty, in pursuance 
of the trust reposed in us, to give you such instructions, as, at 
this important period, appear to us to be proper. 

We, speaking in their names and our own, acknowledge our- 
selves liege subjects of his majesty king George the third, to 
whom " we will be faithful and bear true allegiance.'* 

Our judgments and affections attach us, with inviolable loyalty, 
to his majesty's person, family and government. 

We acknowledge the prerogatives of the sovereign, among 
which are included the great powers of making peace and war, 
treaties, leagues and alliances binding us — of appointing all 
ofl&cers, except in cases where other provision is made, by grants 
from the crown, or laws approved by the crown — of confirming 
or annulling every act of our assembly within the allowed time — 


and of hearing and determining finally, in council, appeals from 
our courts of justice. " The prerogatives are limited," as a 
learned judge observes, **by bounds so certain and notorious, that 
it is impossible to exceed them, without the consent of the people 
on the one hand, or without, on the other, a violation of that ori- 
ginal contract, which, in all states impliedly, and in ours most 
expressly, subsists between the prince and subject. — For these 
prerogatives are vested in the crown for the support of society, 
and do not intrench any farther on our natural liberties, than is 
expedient for the maintenance of our civil." 

But it is our misfortune, that we are compelled loudly to call 
your attention to the consideration of another power, totally dif- 
ferent in kind limited, as it is alleged, by "no bounds," and 

** wearing a most dreadful aspect," with regard to America. We 
mean the power claimed by parliament, of right, to bind the peo- 
ple of these colonies by statutes, " in all cases whatsoever"— 
a power, as we are not, and, from local circumstances, cannot be 
represented there, utterly subversive of our natural and civil 
liberties — past events and reason convincing us, that there never 
existed, and never can exist, a state thus subordinate to another, 
and yet retaining the slightest portion of freedom or happiness. 

The import of the words above quoted needs no descant ; for 
the wit of man, as we apprehend, cannot possibly form a more 
clear, concise, and comprehensive definition and sentence of 
slavery, than these expressions contain. 

This power claimed by Great Britain, and the late attempts 
to exercise it over these colonies, present to our view two events, 
one of which must inevitably take place, if she shall continue to 
insist on her pretensions. Either the colonists will sink from the 
rank of freemen into the class of slaves, overwhelmed with all 
the miseries and vices, proved by the history of mankind to be 
inseparably annexed to that deplorable cocdition : Or, if they 
have sense and virtue enough to exert themselves in striving to 
avoid this perdition, they must be involved in an opposition 
dreadful even in contemplation. 

Honour, justice, and humanity call upon us to hold, and to 
transmit to our posterity, that liberty, which we received from 
our ancestors. It is not our duty to leave wealth to our chil- 
dren : but it is our duty to leave liberty to them. No infamy, 
iniquity or cruelty, can exceed our own, if we, born and edu- 


cated in a country of freedom, entitled to its blessings, and 
knowing their value, pusillanimously deserting the post assigned 
us by divine Providence, surrender succeeding generations to a 
condition of wretchedness, from which no human efforts, in all 
probability, will be sufficient to extricate them ; the experience 
of all states mournfully demonstrating to us, that when arbitrary 
power has been established over them, even the wisest and brav- 
est nations, that ever flourished, have, in a few years, degene- 
rated into abject and wretched vassals. 

So alarming are the measures already taken for laying the 
foundation of a despotic authority of Great Britain over us, and 
with such artful and incessant vigilance is the plan prosecuted, 
that unless the present generation can interrupt the work, while 
it is going forward, can it be imagined, that our children, debili- 
tated by our imprudence and supineness, will be able to over- 
throw it, when completed ? Populous and powerful as these colo- 
nies may grow, they will still find arbitrary domination not only 
strengthening with their strength, but exceeding, in the swiftness 
of its progression, as it ever has done, all the artless advantages, 
that can accrue to the governed. These advance with a regu- 
larity, which the divine author of our existence has impressed 
on the laudable pursuits of his creatures : but despotism, un- 
checked and unbounded by any laws — never satisfied with what 
has been done, while any thing remains to be done, for the accom- 
plishment of its purposes — confiding, and capable of confiding, 
only in the annihilation of all opposition, — holds its course with 
such unabating and destructive rapidity, that the world has be- 
come its prey, and at this day, Great Britain and her dominions 
excepted, there is scarce a spot on the globe inhabited by civil- 
ized nations, where the vestiges of freedom are to be observed. 

To us therefore it appears, at this alarming period, our duty to 
God, to our country, to ourselves, and to our posterity, to exert 
our utmost ability, in promoting and establishing harmony be- 
tween Great Britain and these colonies, on a constitutional 


For attaining this great and desirable end, we request you to 
appoint a proper number of persons to attend a congress of depu- 
ties from the several colonies, appointed, or to be appointed, by 
the representatives of the people of the colonies respectively in 
assembly, or convention, or by delegates chosen by the counties 

TOL, VII, — u u 


gencKally in the respective colonies, and met in provincial com- 
mittecj at such time and place as shall be generally agreed on : 
and that the deputies from this province may be induced and 
encouraged to concur in such measures, as may be devised for 
the common welfare, we think it proper, particularly to inform 
you, how far, we apprehend, they will be supported in their con- 
duct by their constituents. 

The assumed parliamentary power of internal legislation, and 
the power of regulating trade, as of late exercised, and designed 
to be exercised, we are thoroughly convinced, will prove unfail- 
ing and plentiful sources of dissensions to our mother country 
and these colonies, unless some expedients can be adopted to 
render her secure of receiving from us every emolument, that 
can in justice and reason be expected, and us secure in our lives, 
properties, and an equitable share of commerce. 

Mournfully revolving in our minds the calamities, that, arising 
from these dissensions, will most probably fall on us and our 
children, we will now lay before you the particular points we 
request of you to procure, if possible, to be finally decided ; and 
the measures that appear to us most likely to produce such a 
desirable period of our distresses and dangers. We therefore 
desire of you — 

First. That the deputies you appoint, may be instructed by 
you strenuously to exert themselves at the ensuing congress, to 
obtain a renunciation, on the part of Great Britain, of all powers 
under the statute of the 35 of Henry the eighth, chapter the 
2d— of all powers of internal legislation — of imposing taxes or 
duties internal or external — and of regulating trade, except with 
respect to any new articles of commerce, which the colonies may 
hereafter raise, as silk, wine, &c. reserving a right to carry these 
from one colony to another — a repeal of all statutes for quarter- 
ing troops in the colonies, or subjecting them to any expense on 
account of such troops — of all statutes imposing duties to be paid 
in the colonies, that were passed at the accession of his present 
majesty, or before this time ; which ever period shall be judged 
most advisable — of the statutes giving the courts of admiralty in 
the colonies greater power than the courts of admiralty have in 
England — of the statutes of the 5th of George the second, chap- 
ter the 22d, and of the 23d of George the second, chapter the 
29th — of the statute for shutting up the port of Boston — and of 


every other statute particularly affecting the proyince of Massa- 
chusetts-Bay, passed in the last session of parliament. 

In case of obtaining these terms, it is our opinion, that it will 
be reasonable for the colonies to engage their obedience to the 
acts of parliament, commonly called the acts of navigation, and 
to every other act of parliament declared to have force, at this 
time, in these colonies, other than those above mentioned, and to 
confirm such statutes by acts of the several assemblies. It is also 
our opinion, that taking example from our mother country, in 
abolishing the " courts of wards and liveries, tenures in capite, 
and by knight's service, and purveyance," it will be reasonable 
for the colonies, in case of obtaining the terms before mentioned, 
to settle a certain annual revenue on his majesty, his heirs and 
successors, subject to the control of parliament, and to satisfy all 
damages done to the East India company. 

This our idea of settling a revenue, arises from a sense of duty 
to our sovereign, and of esteem for our mother country. We 
know and have felt the benefits of a subordinate connexion with 
her. We neither are so stupid as to be ignorant of them ; nor 
so unjust as to deny them. We have also experienced the plea- 
sures of gratitude and love, as well as advantages from that con- 
nexion. The impressions are not yet erased. We consider her 
circumstances with tender concern. We have not been want- 
ing, when constitutionally called upon, to assist her to the utmost 
of our abilities ; insomuch that she has judged it reasonable to 
make us recompences for our overstrained exertions; and we 
now think we ought to contribute more than we do, to the allevi- 
ation of her burthens. 

Whatever may be said of these proposals on either side of the 
Atlantic, this is not a time either for timidity or rashness. We 
perfectly know, that the great cause now agitated, is to be con- 
ducted to a happy conclusion, only by that well tempered com- 
position of counsels, which firmness, prudence, loyalty to our 
sovereign, respect to our parent state, and affection to our native 
country, united must form. 

By such a compact, Great Britain will secure every benefit, 
that the parliamentary wisdom of ages has thought proper to 
attach to her. From her alone we shall continue to receive 
manufactures. To her alone we shall continue to carry the vast 
multitude of enumerated articles of commerce, the exporktion 


of which her policy has thought fit to coiiline to her&elf. With 
such parts of the world only, as she has appointed us to deal, we 
shall continue to deal ; and such commodities only, as she has 
permitted us to bring from them, we shall continue to bring. 
The executive and controlling powers of the crown will retain 
their present full force and operation. We shall contentedly 
labour for her as affectionate friends in time of tranquillity ; and 
cheerfully spend for her, as dutiful children, our treasure and 
our blood, in time of war. She will receive a certain income 
from us, without the trouble or expense of collecting it — without 
being constantly disturbed by complaints of grievances, which 
she cannot justify, and will not redress. In case of war, or in 
any emergency of distress to her, we shall also be ready and wil- 
ling to contribute all aids within our power : and we solemnly 
declare, that on such occasions, if we or our posterity shall re- 
fuse, neglect or decline thus to contribute, it will be a mean 
and manifest violation of a pli*^'n duty, and a weak and wicked 
desertion of the true interests ^ this province, which ever have 
been and must be bound up in the prosperity of our mother 
country. Our union, founded on mutual compacts and mutual 
benefits, will be indissoluble, at least more firm, than an union 
perpetually disturbed by disputed rights and retorted injuries. 

Secondly. If all the term, ^bove mentioned cannot be obtain- 
ed, it is our opinion, that the measures adopted by the congress 
for our relief should never be relinquished or intermitted until 
those relating to the troops, — internal legislation, — imposition of 
taxes or duties hereafter, — the 35th of Henry the eighth, chapter 
the 2d — the extension of admiralty courts, — the port of Boston 
and the province of Massachusetts Bay are obtained. Every 
modification or qualification of these points, in our judgment, 
should be inadmissible. To obtain them, we think it may be 
prudent to settle some revenue as above mentioned, and to satisfy 
the East-India company. 

Thirdly. If neither of these plans should be agreed to in 
congress, but some othe^- of a similar nature should be framed, 
though on the terms of i revenue, and satisfaction to the East 
India company, and th( h it shall be agreed by the congress to 
admit no modification c .qualification in the terms they shall in- 
sist on, we desire your deputies may be instructed to concur with 


the other deputies in it ; and we will accede to, and carrj it into 
execution as far as we can. 

Fourthly. As to the regulation of trade — we are of opinion, 
that by making some few amendments, the commerce of the colo- 
nies might be settled on a firm establishment, advantageous to 
Great Britain and them, requiring and subject to no future alter- 
ations, without mutual consent. We desire to have this point 
considered by the congress ; and such measures taken, as they 
may judge proper. 

In order to obtain redress of our common grievances, we ob- 
serve a general inclination among the colonies of entering into 
agreements of non -importation and non-exportation. We are 
fully convinced, that such agreements would withhold very large 
supplies from Great Britain, and no words can describe our con- 
tempt and abhorrence of those qolonists, if any such there are, 
who, from a sordid and ill-judged attachment to their own im- 
mediate profit, would pursue tba >, to the injury of their country, 
in this great struggle for all tf blessings of liberty. It would 
appear to us a most wasteful frugality, that would lose every 
important possession by too strict an attention to small things, 
and lose also even these at the last. For our part, we wdll cheer- 
fully make any sacrifice, when necessary, to preserve the free- 
dom of our country. But other r nsiderations have weight witli 
us. We wish every mark of respect to be paid to his majesty's 
administration. We have been taught from our youth to enter- 
tain tender and brotherly alFections for our fellow subjects at 
home. The interruption of our commerce must distress great 
numbers of them. This we earnestly desire to avoid. We 
therefore request, that the deputies you shall appoint may be 
instructed to exert themselves, at the congress, to induce tlie 
members of it, to consent to make a full and precise state of 
grievances and a decent yet firm claim of redress, and to wait 
the event, before any other step is taken. It is our opinion, that 
persons should be appointed and sent home to present this state 
and claim, at the court of Great Britain. 

If the congress shall choose to form : ;reements of non-import- 
ation and non-exportation immediately we desire the deputies 
from this province will endeavour to hi Ve them so formed as to 
be binding upon all, and that they may be permanent, should tlie 
public interest require it. They cannot be efficacious, uiilebs 


they can be permanent ; and it appears to us that there will be 
I a danger of their being infringed, if they are not formed witk 
great caution and deliberation. We have determined in the 
present situation of public aflfairs to consent to a stoppage of our 
commerce with Great Britain only ; but in case any proceedings- 
of the parliament, of which notice shall be received on this con- 
tinent, before or at the congress, shall render it necessary, in the 
opinion of the congress, to take further steps, the inhabitants of 
this province will adopt such steps, and do all in their power to 
carry them into execution. 

This extensive power we commit to the congress, for the sake 
of preserving that unanimity of counsel and conduct, that alone 
can work out the salvation of these colonies, with a strong hope 
and trust, that they will not draw this province into any measure 
judged by us, who must be better acquainted with its state than 
strangers, highly inexpedient. Of this kind, we know any other 
stoppage of trade, but of that with Great Britain, will be. Even 
this «tep we should be extremely afflicted to see taken by the 
congress, before the other mode above pointed is tried. But 
should it be taken, we apprehend, that a plan of restrictions may 
be so framed, agreeable to the respective circumstances of the 
several colonies, as to render Great Britain sensible of the im- 
prudence of her counsels, and yet leave them a necessary com- 
merce. And here it may not be improper to take notice, that if 
redress of our grievances cannot be wholly obtained, the extent 
or continuance of our restrictions may, in some sort, be propor- 
tioned to the rights we are contending for, and the degree of re- 
lief afforded us. This mode will render our opposition as per- 
petual as our oppression, and will be a continual claim and 
assertion of our rights. We cannot express the anxiety, with 
which we wish the consideration of these points be recommend- 
ed to you. We are persuaded, that if these colonies fail of una- 
nimity or prudence in forming their resolutions, or of fidelity in 
observing them, the opposition by non-importation and non-ex- 
portation agreements will be ineffectual ; and then we shall have 
only the alternative of a more dangerous contention, or of a tame 

Upon the whole, we shall repose the highest confidence in the 
wisdom and integrity of the ensuing congress : and though we 
bave, for the satisfaction of the good people of this province, 


who have chosen us for this express purpose, offered to you such 
instructions, as have appeared expedient to us, yet it is not our 
meaning, that by these or by any you may think proper to give 
them, the deputies appointed by you should be restrained from 
agreeing to any measures, that shall be approved by the congress. 
We should be glad the deputies chosen by you, could by their 
influence, procure our opinions hereby communicated to you to 
be as nearly adhered to, as may be possible : but to avoid diffi- 
culties, we desire that they may be instructed by yoji, to agree 
to any measures that shall be approved by the congress, the in- 
habitants of this province having resolved to adopt and carry 
them into execution. — Lastly — We desire the deputies from this 
province, may endeavour to procure an adjournment of the con- 
gress, to such a day as they shall judge proper, and the appoint* 
ment of a standing committee. 


VJ' ■^ 


.i^ . - 1^" '^:'>' '^ ^ tf. .^V' " £ 



ci*^ v-.^^s^^r,^^ .^V" 

cP\^l'^% 'V 

=-,, "' .^-^o^ 


^^■^ -%_ 

V\s\'^^:^., ^> 

.X^ -^Cf- 






^^, '"/ ..s"^ ^,0' 

^^ ^^ 

_ .^K?^ I* ^ 



^ .^ .-..s.,?,/.%„ .^ 

c^ ^^^\C ^^J 






>%. 'NW^ ^%\^^ 


^z. <^'' cT ^'^^^$^\11^ '^ -. -. -^ y[ ^ -^ -? ^ Deacidified using the Bookkeeper proces; 

,0 o^ : 


* « 1 \ \V 

/V ^. ItFv^ 

Neutralizing agent: Magnesium Oxide 
Treatment Date: April 2010 



111 Thomson Park Drive 
Cranberry Township. PA 1 6066 




s, S •■^ "' / 


' . -. ^- ' « « 

^- _^^yy>7^ 

^ v-^' 

// > 

^ <0 


K-^ .\ 

.^' . ^ 

'^. - .^ .0^ 

3 ^ 
^ " 

.^^ .^ -^^^%.^, 





1 \ ^ \\ 

■^. 'V 




C^ <<. o .,, A, .M =- _^^V 'i^_^_ 

.^X ^> ^^t/^ '" 




^ ^^^<i^^,^ 

^/ ,-, 



aX^"^K "-V 


.^' %■ 


\0 o. 






^> - ^-: 

||jj|ferf -- _C,^ <5.. 

■^c^ ".^ 

. s S "^ ^^^'^ 

,N X 

. '^. '^/ 


.0 o 

'"^s .<^-^ 

' ^^'-'^.H^-M^ C ^S^' 

%^ v^' 

K^ % c^"^ ^l-^v 

c 0'