B M bl3 h3'=l
The Rev. Jonas Clark, Pastor at
Lexington, Leader in
''Steadfast for God and Country
An Address by
Governor of the New York Society
The New York Scciety
Order of the Founders and Patriots cf America
Hotel Manhattan, New York
October 19th, 1911
• , . • • • > •
• • « * * *
» « •.'
Officers of the New York Society Order of the
Founders and Patriots of America
55 William Street, New York.
EDGAR ABEL TURRELL,
76 William Street, New York.
REV. LYMAN M. GREEMAN,
68 Clinton Ave., New Brighton, S. L, N. Y.
WILLIAM EDWARD FITCH, M. D.
355 W. 145th Street, New York.
416 Broadway, New York.
135 Broadway, New York.
JOHN C. COLEMAN,
100 Broadway, New York.
110 W. 57th Street, New York.
REAR ADMIRAL EBENEZER S. PRIME, U. S. N.,
Huntington, Long Island.
MAJ. GEN. FREDERICK D. GRANT, U. S. A.
HOWARD KING COOLIDGE.
THOMAS REDFIELD PROCTOR.
REV. EDWARD PAYSON JOHNSON, D. D.
COL. GEORGE E. DEWEY.
COL. RALPH EARL PRIME.
GEORGE CLINTON BATCHELLOR, L. L. D.
LOUIS ANNIN AMES.
MtaUait for #ot anti Country"
REV. JONAS CLARK, Pastor of the Church at Lex-
ington during the Revolution, Leader of Revolution-
HE flames of the Revolutionary War burst out quickly.
There was rejoicing throughout the colonies when the
French and Indian war was closed triumphantly and
the French had lost all claims to territory east of the Mississippi.
It was a proud boast of the colonists to be a part of the power
which by the Treaty of Paris in 1763 had come to the front as
the greatest nation of the world. They felt that they were as.
truly English as if they had been born in the home-land and
they claimed that they possessed by birth right all the privileges
which appertained to a loyal subject of the King.
The colonists always disclaimed any intention to turn the
colonies over to the French or the Spanish or the Dutch. They
joined eagerly with British soldiers in the wars to resist the en-
croachments of France. The French emissaries from Canada to
New England met with no encouragement in their efforts to
foment trouble with England.
The colonists aided in the capture of Louisburgh and Que-
bec. After a century of struggle with France they rejoiced
when all that country west of the Alleghanies and east of the
Mississippi River came under the rule of England. Then by
the peace of 1763, at the close of the French and Indian War,
England owned from the arctic circle to the gulf of Mexico and
France was left with no remnant of the vast empire which for
over one hundred years she had struggled and fought to retain.
The French had claimed the entire continent and at last were
left without a foothold thereon.
Hildreth says, in commenting on this war: "The present
contest for territorial and commercial supremacy, had extended
even to the East Indies, thus as it were encircling the globe.
The twenty years' struggle in Hindoostan between French and
English, Egist Incfigic .Companies, had ended in the complete
triiwnph'ot thft piigli^h."
It was not only the two nations which were engaged in this
world-wide warfare for the possession of the East India trade
and for the ownership of this continent. It was two opposing
civilizations, two antagonistic religions, two races. The contest
was not only military, it was ethnic. Democracy confronted
Feudalism; Protestantism, Romanism; Ministers, Priests; the
Word of God, the Edicts of the Pope. Rev. Thomas Foxcroft
who died in 1769, said: *'We could hope for no lasting peace
until Canada was conquered." N. Appleton of Cambridge at
the same time hailed the peace as the dawn of a new era.
The skies were clear and invigorating, but the very joy-
ousness of the times was a weather breeder. Soon a dark cloud
of disagreement and discord overshadowed the land for when the
conflict with the French and Indians ended, a struggle with the
Mother Country began. In eleven short years, from 1764 to
1775, the words Mother Country were replaced by our tyrant
oppressors who are seeking to enslave us. The feeling of af-
fection for the homeland was changed to bitter indignation and
The causes of this revulsion of feeling lie on the surface.
George the Third came to the throne in 1760. Lord Bute as
Prime Minister and Granville at first as Chancellor of the Ex-
chequer and afterwards as Prime Minister, with the tories be-
hind them, succeeded to the rule of Pitt, the representative of
the people, and the whigs, both of whom were offensive to the
king. Success had intoxicated the ruling powers. Peace was
proclaimed February 11th, 1763, and on October 7th, 1763, only
eight months afterwards, a royal proclamation was issued,
beginning the new movement for the oppression of the colonies,
the opening phrase of which said: "Whereas we have taken
into our royal consideration the extensive and valuable ac-
quisitions to our country by the Treaty of Paris," etc. In the
next year all disguises were thrown aside and a resolution was
adopted by Parliament containing in its preamble these epoch-
making words: "Whereas it is expedient that new provisions
and regulations should be established for improving the revenue
of the kingdom and for extending and securing the navigation
and commerce between Great Britain and your Majesty's
dominions in America, which by the peace have been so happily
enlarged, and whereas it is just and necessary that a revenue be
raised in our Majesty's said dominions in America, for defraying
the expenses of defending the same," etc. After this plain
announcement of the poHcy of parHament, there followed in quick
succession the Acts designed to carry this purpose into effect.
In a few months was passed the Sugar Act of April 5th, 1764,
then the Stamp Act of March 22nd, 1765, then the Quartering
Act of the same year, then the Revenue Act of June 29th, 1767.
To complete the list of obnoxious parliamentary acts, there was
the Massachusetts Government Act of May 20th, 1774, which
repealed those parts of the Charter granted by William and Mary
which empowered the colony to elect its Governor and other
officers, which officers after the 1st of August, 1774, were to be
appointed by his Majesty to hold office during his pleasure.
Also the power was given to the Governor to appoint and remove
all judges and it was provided that no meeting of electors should
be called without the leave of the Governor.
For 160 years the colonies from Massachusetts to Virginia,
by virtue of their original charters, had been free to call meetings
of electors to consider matters of common interest, and had en-
joyed many privileges which were taken away by these acts of
Parliament passed in quick succession in a few short years. It
was a rude awakening to the colonists to find all semblance of
self-government taken from them and heavy taxes imposed for
the benefit of the home government. James Otis who was des-
cribed by Samuel Adams as "a flame of fire" declaimed against
the injustice of these proceedings and in describing the situation
said: "We cannot see the equity of our being obliged to pay
off a score that had been so much enhanced by bribes and pen-
sions to keep those to their duty who ought to have been bound
by honor and conscience."
These parliamentary acts were born of cupidity. The
theory on which they were supported was that Parliament had
power to pass such laws as it pleased for the government of the
colonies. The motive was, to the victors belong the spoils.
All restraints on the Tory party had been removed by the favor-
able ending of the war. The prize of the continent of America
was in the hands of England and there was no longer any danger
of its loss or capture by another power. The ownership was
undisputed, their control was absolute, parliament was supreme.
The home government in the hands of the tories, refused to
listen to the wise counsels of the Earl of Chatham, Edmund
Burke, Adam Smith, Col. Barre, Lord Camden, General Conway
and others, which, if they had been followed, would have saved
the colonies to England.
When in Parliament. Townshend, one of the ministers,
spoke of the colonists as "children planted by our care, nourished
by our indulgence, and protected by our arms," Barre indig-
nantly replied: "They planted by your care? No. Your
oppressions planted them in America. They nourished by your
indulgence? They grew up by your neglect of them. They
protected by your arms? Those sons of liberty have nobly
taken up arms in your defence."
The opportunity to extort a revenue from the colonies was
irresistible to men like Granville, and they captured the public
sentiment of England by their specious arguments. When
Granville introduced the Stamp Act in Parliament, he rashly but
truthfully said: "It was an experiment towards further aid."
To carry out the plans of Parliament General Gage was
appointed Governor of Massachusetts, with headquarters at
Boston and British troops were concentrated there to enforce
his commands. When the soldiers of the King shot to kill at
Lexington, April 19th, 1775, a responsive thrill of indignation
and anger brought the colonies from Maine to Virginia to a
realization that a contest was inevitable.
The sight of their brothers blood was sufficient cause for
resistance. The appreciation that their rights were being in-
vaded was a call to defend those rights. The sordid policy of
the King and Parliament which sought to extort a revenue from
colonists who were struggling for a bare existence in a land where
Nature was first to be subdued before it could be made productive,
exasperated the men who were already under the harrow.
Taxation without representation was an insufferable affront to
the manhood of the colonists. Oppression reaches at last the
point where the explosive powers must have a vent. Violence
at last revealed the stony heart of a power whose only thought
was to strike down opposition and to conquer by main strength,
without listening to appeals for justice or arguments on the
merits of the controversy.
A side light is thrown on the situation by a letter quoted by
Parkman, written by Pontchartrain to Vandreuil, in which the for-
mer says: "Mons. de Costabelle has informed me that the chief
object of the armament last year by the English, was to establish
their sovereignty at Boston and New York, the people of these
provinces having always maintained a sort of republic governed
by their council, and being unwilling to receive absolute governors
from the Kings of England."
These causes awakened the oratory of Patrick Henry, but
something more than feeling, somethng more than indignation
was needed to form the basis of a struggle which was to go on for
years and be protracted with wearisome painfulness against
superior forces and in the face of recurring defeats. That some-
thing more was to be imparted by the thinkers of the Revolution,
by men whose conviction of the end to be attained by the struggle
was founded not on effervescent feelings of anger or exasperation,
but on the eternal and fundamental principles of the rights and
duties of man.
To the ministers of the colonies must be accorded the first
place among the leaders who guided and inspired the revolution-
ary thought of those times, and placed it on the enduring basis
of truth, righteousness and justice. They upheld Washington's
hands, they preached on battlefields and accompanied the troops
on their long marches. There was David Jones, of Chester,
Pennsylvania, for whose arrest Gen. Howe offered a reward,
He was chaplain from Ticonderoga to Yorktown, was Chaplain
again with Gen. Anthony Wayne in his campaign against the
indians, and in the war of 1812, though he was then 76 years old,
served as Chaplain till peace was declared. What shall I say of
Dr. John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration of Independence,
the Muhlenburgs, father and three sons. Dr. Naphtali Daggett,
President of Yale College, who went after the British on his
old black mare with his fowling piece in his hands, or Archibald
Scott, William Graham and John Brown, three Presbyterian
clergymen, who when a raid by Tarleton was expected in the
valley of the Shenandoah, Virginia, called the striplings and old
men together, for all the other men were already at the front,
and after prayers, marshalled them to defend their homes.
Hearing of this exhibition of valor and patriotism, Washington
used these memorable words: "If I should be beaten by the
British, I will retreat with my broken army to the Blue Ridge,
and call the boys of West Augusta around me and there I will
plant the flag of my country."
It is an alluring task to recount the names of these patriots.
But we must refrain, for we wish to restrict ourselves to honor
here this evening, one who is pre-eminent among these leaders
and thinkers, the Rev. Jonas Clark pastor of the church at
Lexington, Massachusetts, for fifty years. His place was not
on the battlefield, but he nerved the arms of the fighters, he in-
formed the minds of legislators and he unfolded the principles
of equity and righteousness on which the contest for independence
was based. Jonas Clark, the revolutionary pastor and thinker,
was a man whose mental powers should place him in line with
Locke, Rousseau and Jefferson, and whose influence on the
destinies of the republic was felt by John Hancock Samuel
Adams, and the Legislature and people of Massachusetts as well
as by the men of Lexington who were the heroes of the 19th of
The printed record of Rev. Jonas Clark's thought begins
with his draft of instructions in regard to the Stamp Act, ad-
dressed to William Reed, the representative of Lexington in
the Council of the Colony of Massachusetts. These instructions
were adopted at a town meeting the 21st of October, 1765. His
thought reaches a higher level in his sermon before the Ancient
and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston, at their annual
election, June 6th, 1768. It develops in the various state papers
on the town records of Lexington, grows more intense as the
combat deepens, and reaches its climax in his Election Sermon,
delivered May 31st, 1781, before John Hancock, Governor of
Massachusetts, Thomas Cushing, Lieutenant-Governor, and the
Legislature at their first meeting under the new State Con-
The general form of Mr. Clark's papers is in the shape of
instructions to the delegates of Lexington to the Council of
Massachusetts. This gave a practical purpose to his writings.
It required the discussion of principles followed by a suggestion
as to the course of action required of patriots by the necessities
of the crises. They were called forth by the exigencies of the
times and by the succession of oppressive acts of parliament.
They are therefore of historical as well as political interest and
had a practical application at the time they were written.
The first of the series of Mr. Clark's papers as has been
said, had the Stamp Act for its subject. It was written only
seven months after its passage and is a calm presentation of the
rights of the colonies. He rests his argument on British law
from the Great Charter of June 15th, 1215 down to the charter
rights as they existed before the parliamentary attempt to take
them away. Mr. Clark's paper was entered on the minutes of
the town of Lexington, as a permanent record, so, to use his
words, "that the world may see and future generations know
that the present (generation) both know and value the rights
they enjoyed and did not tamely resign them for chains and
slavery." He urged **as far as consistent with allegiance and
duty to our rightful soverign, such measures should be promoted
as would preserve the invaluable rights and liberties we at present
There are other pre-revolutionary documents with which
Mr. Clark's argument may be compared. There is James
Otis' pamphlet "The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted
and Proved," a popular presentation of the case which strength-
ened the desire for liberty and independence greatly among a
class which would not have been able to comprehend the learn-
ing and logic of Mr. Clark. Oxenbridge Thatcher's pamphlet,
"The Sentiments of a British American," was also exceedingly
useful in promoting the popular support of the cause of the
colonies, but it is light weight as we read and compare it with Mr.
Clark's after the lapse of years. "The Declaration and Resolu-
tion of the First Continental Congress, October 14th, 1774," was
a rehearsal of historical events without an argument based on
principles. "The late Regulation respecting the British Col-
onies," by John Dickenson, December 7th, 1765, was a good
specimen of the writings of this voluminous writer, who is classed
high among pre-revolutionary thinkers. It contains sentences
which must have been powerful at the time, as when he said:
"The reflections of the colonies on these melancholy subjects
are not a little embittered by a firm persuasion that they never
would have been treated as they are if Canada still continued in
the hands of the French. Thus their hearts, glowing with every
sentiment of duty and affection towards their Mother Country,
and expecting, not unreasonably perhaps, some mark of tender-
ness in return, are pierced by a fatal discovery that the vigorous
assistance that they faithfully afforded her in extending her
domain, has only proved the glorious but destructive cause of
the calamities they now deplore and resent."
Benjamin Franklin's writings are in a class by themselves.
His literary style is a model and it is easy to mark in his Memoirs
where the pen falls from his hand and is taken up by another.
His shrewdness in writing for a British audience was incomparable
and most effective. In 1760 he wrote, "It is said that the de-
velopment of the strength of the colonies may make them more
dangerous and bring them to declare their independence. But
such fears are chimerical. So many causes are against this union
that I do not hesitate to declare it is not only improbable but
impossible — without the most provoking tyranny and op-
pression." The few words after the dash, show the keenness
of his vision, and we can imagine a slight twinkle in his eye as
he penned these words, for the oppressive acts had not as yet
entered into the minds of Parliament.
In this comparison of the writings of Jonas Clark with
those of others which have come down to us, it may be seen
that he took a deeper look into the heart of the questions before
the colonies than did others. As a minister instructs his flock,
so he was thinking of the men of Lexington, and of their world
record and was preparing them for scenes which were soon to
Rev. Jonas Clark's loyalty to the Crown was consistent
with his sentiments when he wrote his protest against the Stamp
Act. These two feelings of loyalty and criticism found expres-
sion again in his sermon before the Ancient and Honorable
Artillery Company, delivered June 6th, 1768, being the 131st
anniversary of their election of officers. Those anniversary
sermons have been continued down to the present day, but it
is doubtful if Phillips Brooks or any of the other illustrious ser-
monisers who have addressed that body, ever stated more clearly
or in better terms the Christian Doctrine which justifies the
preparation for war than did Mr. Clark. His argument was
intended to show the necessity for preparation for the armed
defence of the liberties and rights of a nation. His loyal attitude
towards England was that which generally prevailed throughout
the colonies at that time, and was shown when, after a glowing
description of a virtuous and happy people he said : "Such were
the character and state of God's people in the kindgom of Judah,
and such was Judah's king, (Jehoshaphat) such in later times
has Britain been, such is Britain still, and such is Britain's king,
(George the Third) and such God grant they may ever continue
to be, — a terror to their enemies, an asylum to the injured and
distressed, a sure protection for liberty, a lasting defence to the
natural and common rights of mankind. To these purposes and
for these important ends the Honorable Artillery Company was
formed soon after the settlement of the country. After a long
series of hardships, toils, dangers and distresses of cruel wars with
the common enemy who were our rivals in America, and the
barbarous, merciless savages whose thirst for blood and revenge
has always been insatiable, through the smiles of heaven we see
this happy land in a state of peace and rest."
Again on the 21st of March, 1768, in another of Mr. Clark's
papers which was adopted by the people of Lexington, the same
union of conflicting sentiments is to be noticed. This paper
protested against the acts which invaded their liberties, and
at the same time publicly and solemnly acknowledged "their
firm and unshaken allegiance to their only rightful sovereign.
King George the Third, the lawful successor of William and
Mary to the throne." Therefore it was resolved in the words
of Mr. Clark that "the freeholders and other inhabitants of
Lexington, will at the utmost peril of their lives and fortunes,
take all legal and constitutional methods to defend and maintain
the person, family, crown and dignity of our said Sovereign
Lord, King George the Third, and all and singular the rights,
privileges and immunities granted in said (our) royal charter,
as well as those which are declared to be belonging to us as
British subjects by birthright, as all others therein specially
mentioned." These deliberations were followed by a day of
prayer and fasting. This was evidently an attempt to serve
two masters, with a decided leaning towards fighting for their
charter rights, It was evident that the time was soon coming
when a choice of masters would have to be made.
There are few papers of greater importance among Mr.
Clark's writings, in the formation of public opinion, than that
called "Declarations and Resolves," which were adopted by
the people of Lexington on the 21st of September, 1768.
His argument is based on the acts of Parliament in past
centuries, which gave indefeasible rights to subjects and he
claimed full rights to colonists as if born in England. He proved
that the recent acts of Parliament in levying money for the use
of the crown and in maintaining a standing army in time of
peace, were illegal. There is little said of loyalty in this paper.
It is to be noticed that Samuel Adams dated his first thought of
independence to the year 1768.
In a paper dated December 31st, 1772, he again describes
the rights of colonists and declares they were greatly injured by
measures of government lately adopted.
At a town meeting held January 5th, 1773, a document
framed by Mr. Clark containing instructions to Mr. Jonas Stone,
representative of the Town of Lexington, was submitted and
adopted, which closes with these words, "that thus, whether
successful or not, succeeding generations might know that we
understood our rights and liberties and were neither afraid or
ashamed to assert and maintain them, and that we ourselves
may have at least the consolation in our chains, that it was not
through our neglect that this people were enslaved." The sub-
missive spirit of this document shows how hard the colonists
tried to preserve their loyal attachment to Great Britain. It
could not long endure under the exasperating acts of Parliament.
In December, 1773, Mr. Glark prepared an elaborate paper
which opposed the tax on tea as a matter of gross partiality to
the East India Company, "to support task masters, pensioners
and others in idleness and luxury," and as a direct violation of
our Charter rights and liberties. Therein the people of Lexing-
ton pledged themselves not to receive, buy, sell or use any of the
teas sent out by the East India Company.
On the 26th of September, 1774, a vote was passed and
entered on the town records, "to favor nothing done in con-
formity with the late acts of Parliament." The break here with
the Mother Country was definite and emphatic, just seven months
before the day at Lexington.
These papers so full of learning and patriotism, were an
education to the men of Lexington. The citizens of no other
town were so well instructed in their rights and duties for God
and Country. They were like trained gladiators and when the
hour of trial came, they knew their duty and did it. It was Jonas
Clark who had trained and instructed them.
Pastor Clark had good material to work on. The men of
Lexington were of English stock. All but one of the nineteen
on the list of killed and wounded at Lexington had emigrant
ancestors who arrived in this country on or before 1697 and the
emigrant ancestors of all but three came over within the Founder
period as fixed by our Order of Founders and Partiots.
It must be remembered that the influx of English during
the Founder period was chiefly of men who came into this wilder-
ness to worship God after the dictates of their own conscience.
In the time between 1630, when King Charles the First dissolved
his Third Parliament and 1640, when under compulsion he as-
sembled the Long Parliament, some three hundred ships arrived
here with over 21,000 men, women and children. "Dissolution"
says Blackstone, "is the civil death of Parliament," and the
dissolution of the Third Parliament by the King was taken by
the Protestant party as the death of their hopes and the triumph
of the absolute personal government of Charles the First and the
Romanists whom he favored. He had made it known that he
would never call another Parliament until he felt certain it
would do his pleasure.
The apparent hopelessness of the contest with the King and
Romanism, was the cause of the Protestant emigration to New
England. The contest in England, however, went on under the
leadership of John Pym, the first parliamentary leader in Eng-
land, John Hampden, Oliver Cromwell and others. As the con-
test progressed in that interval of ten years, the autocratic,
personal government of King Charles broke hopelessly down
under the opposition of the Puritans and the strain of his neces-
sities. He was compelled to reconvene a parliament, which
was called the Long or Free Parliament. This confession of
weakness on the part of King Charles, revived the hopes of the
Puritans, who regarded the calling of the Long Parliament as
the triumph of liberty and law over absolutism. When the
Solemn Remonstrance was adopted by Parliament, Oliver
Cromwell said: "Had it been rejected, I would have sold to-
morrow all I possess and have left England forever."
Reanimated by repeated parliamentary victories, the
Protestant emigration to New England ceased and a return flow
commenced. The reason for the emigration to this country
no longer existed. "The change" said Governor John Win-
throp, "made all men stay in England, in expectation of a new
Alluding to the sterling character of these Founders. Rev.
William Stoughton, afterwards Lieutenant-Governor of Mas-
sachusetts Province, said in his Election Sermon, preached in
1668: "God sifted a whole nation that he might send choice
grain over into this wilderness." These emigrants left the
Mother Country with their principles for liberty and religion
fixed in their minds. Their descendants were not brought into
contact with the cavilier revival and the corruptions of the court
of Charles the Second, or the continued attempts at aggression
and usurpation of power by the throne and parliament. The
two periods of English history which stood out clearly in their
minds, were the wresting of the Great Charter from King John
in 1215 and the accession of William and Mary. The one
established the rights of the people and the other confirmed
Protestantism as the religion of England.
The descendants of these Founders were the men the
British soldiers met when they set out from Boston on the night
of the 18th of April, 1775, to destroy the military stores accumu-
lated at Concord. The young pastor at Concord, Rev. William
Emerson, the grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson was like
many other New England pastors, firm for liberty and an in-
spiration for courage.
Lexington was a subordinate point on the route of the
British troops. There was no call to make a stand at Lex-
ington. Thereon the green, the British soldiers met the devoted
band of Lexington men. At Thermopylae a few Greeks stood their
ground against the advancing hosts of the Persians, and a reverent
world has paid homage to their fortitude ever since. There was
no reference to Thermopylae in the writings of Mr. Clark, but
the spirit he invoked was the same as ruled the hearts of those
heroic Greeks. These "embattled farmers" were trained by Mr.
Clark "to maintain and defend their rights, privileges and
immunities at the utmost peril of their lives and fortunes."
The part filled by Mr. Clark in the day of fasting and prayer
which followed the adoption of the resolutions which contain
these words, is not recorded. But it may well be questioned
whether without the keen intellect, the thorough mastery of
the principles of liberty, the faithful instruction, the high moral
character, the personal influence and the ardent temperament of
Jonas Clark, there would have been a glorious 19th day of April,
1775, at Lexington.
This closes the series of papers written by Mr. Clark before
the 19th of April, 1775. Their tone is progressively positive
and is indicative of the waning of the spirit of loyalty to the Crown
and the growth of the spirit of liberty and independence, a change
which characterized the popular sentiment of the colonies.
Charles Hudson, the faithful, accurate and eloquent his-
torian of Lexington, truly says: "So fully and clearly are the
grievances under which our fathers labored and the causes which
gave rise to the American Revolution set forth (in Mr. Clark's
writings) that if all other records were destroyed and all recol-
lections blotted from the memory, the faithful historian could
from the instructions given to the representatives of Lexington
and other papers found on our records emanating from the pen
of Mr. Clark, trace the developments of oppression from year
to year, and state the true causes of that struggle."
It fell to Mr. Clark, as the pastor of the Church of Lexing-
ton to preach a sermon on the first anniversary of the battle of
Lexington, the 19th of April, 1776. In that sermon he uses these
pathetic words: "At the close of the last war, we arrived at
that happy period to which our ancestors looked with earnest
anticipations as the utmost of their wishes, as the answer of
their prayers and the reward of all their toils and sufferings.
The savages were subdued, those restless neighbors, the French,
were subjected, and the wide extended continent seemed to
be given us for a possession and we were ready to say, 'there
was none to make us afraid.* But how uncertain the most
blooming prospects — How vain — how disappointing the most
rational as well as raised expectations in this imperfect state.
Scarcely emerged from the dangers and fatigues of a long and
distressing war, we are unexpectedly involved in perplexities
and anxieties of a different kind, which by degrees have increased,
till they have become more serious, dangerous and depressing
than any ever yet felt by God's people in this once happy land"
"New acts are passed to enslave us. The lust of domination
appears no longer in disguise, but with open face the starving
Port Bill comes forth. Gage arrives with his forces by sea and
land to carry it into execution with vigor and severity. And
to complete the scene, and to make thorough work of oppression
and tyranny, immediately follow THE BILLS that subvert
the Constitution, vacate our charter, abridge us of the right of
trial by juries of the vicinity, in diverse specified capital cases,
and expose us to be seized, contrary to the law of the land, and
carried to England to be tried for our lives. Also the bill for
establishing the popish religion in Canada, contrary to the faith
of the crown and the statutes of the Kingdom."
This sermon was preached under the powerful impressions
which the opening of the war entailed. It was a cry of the human
soul, trusting in the over-ruling providence of a merciful and
loving God, and seeking to nerve his hearers and wider circle
of readers, to bear up bravely under their burdens. It is still
appropriate and comforting reading to anyone in anguish under
almost overwhelming calamities.
It is a dangerous thing to prophesy, but in this sermon Mr.
Clark uttered a prophecy which has been fulfilled. His prophecy
is in these words, uttered on the 19th day of April, 1776: "But
it is not by us alone that this day is to be noticed. From this
ever memorable day will an important era begin both for America
and Britain. And from the 19th day of April, 1775, we may
venture to predict, will be dated in future history the liberty or
slavery of the American world, according as a Sovereign God shall
see fit to smile or frown upon the interesting cause in which we
are engaged." The sentiment of these words contains a fore-
gleam of Lincoln's address at Gettysburg and is not unworthy
to be compared with that master-piece of eloquence.
Mr. Clark rendered another service to American history by
adding to his sermon the most complete and detailed account of
the occurrences on the 19th of April, 1775, which was written
by an eye witness.
On October 21st, 1776, a few months after the Declaration
of Independence, Mr. Clark submitted to the people of Lexing-
ton, a report on the proposal to form a new Constitution for the
State of Massachusetts, as the old colonial charter was then at
an end. This report is an able examination of the question and
ends with a recommendation for a longer and further discussion
by the people of the State, "as all government originates from the
people." This reveals the definite determination of the people
of Massachusetts never to return again to the old order of things.
In 1778, a tentative Constitution was framed and submitted
to the people of the State, which drew from Mr. Clark a learned
paper on civil government, which after a calm and full considera-
tion, ended with a recommendation that the matter be waived for
the present to give the people more time and opportunity to
In 1779 the people of Lexington, with great wisdom and
propriety, chose Mr. Clark to be their delegate to a convention
to complete the work on the Constitution. Mr. Clark, though
modest and retiring, was forced to the front as the most suitable
man to occupy that office and render that service. When the
Constitution in completed form was finaly submitted to the
people of the State, an amendment was proposed from Lexing-
ton, written by Mr. Clark, to add the word Protestant to the
words Christian religion, as the religion of the State.
After the Constitution was adopted and the State Govern-
ment organized, Mr. Clark was invited to preach the Election
Sermon, which according to its title page was preached before
John Hancock, Governor; Thomas Gushing, Lieutenant-Gover-
nor; the Honorable the Council and the Honorable the Senate
and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Mas-
sachusetts, May 31st, 1781, being the first day of General
Election after the Commencement of the present Constitution
and the Inauguration of the New Government. Mr. Clark's
writings reached their culmination in this sermon.
Those were dark days for the colonists. That assemblage
little thought that the surrender of Lord Cornwallis was so near
and that in a few months the war would be ended in triumph.
In that sermon all the fire, invective, eloquence, learning, patriot-
ism and religious emotion of a heart that had borne the burden
from the day at Lexington, six long weary years, and was ready
to burst, received its intensest expression. His dignity and
seriousness of presence, which he never laid aside, and his em-
phatic delivery in manner and voice, found their fullest exercise
in the burning words of this sermon. He laid the foundation
of his argument in the principles of the rights of man, he il-
lustrated his position by graphic references to ancient history,
sacred and profane, and closed with an impassioned appeal to
continue the struggle.
"O my fathers and brethren, all, all is yet at stake All
may yet be lost, if we rise not as one man to the noble cause.
How inglorious must it be to fail at the last. Where then the
pleasing scenes of liberty and independence, where the glorious
foundations of safety and freedom which our civil constitution
has laid? They vanish — they are gone — they are lost forever.
Is this possible? Can it be? Forbid it righteous Heaven,
forbid it O my country."
Soon after the delivery of this sermon Washington began
his last campaign, that against Lord Cornwallis His move-
ments eluded the British at New York and by the timely aid
of the French fleet, he mustered an overpowering force at York-
town, against which Lord Cornwallis struggled in vain, and to
which he finally capitulated on the 19th day of October, 1781,
just one hundred and thirty years ago today. Then the prayer
of the parson at Lexington was answered.
In 1783, after the close of the war, Mr. Clark wrote the
instructions to Benjamin Brown, representative of Lexington,
in the General Court. This paper contained a full, careful and
fair statement of principles at issue in that critical period, and
recommends the forfeiture of the estates of tories who had fled
from the country in its time of greatest need. It recommends
action to restore and establish the credit of state notes and
securities and the raising a fund to pay punctually the interest
thereon. It recommends economy in public expenditures and
the encouragement of the University at Cambridge and public
schools and seminaries.
This ends the record of Mr. Clark's writings on subjects
connected with the war. "Few towns' , says Charles Hudson,
"are able to furnish from their records, papers as numerous,
elaborate and able as Lexington, and if she has whereof to boast,
nothing, save the heroic part she acted on the 19th day of April,
1775, can stand in preference to the able state papers which
emanated from her village clergyman, Rev. Jonas Clark."
Mr. Clark continued to preach, being still in the prime of
life, as he was born December 1 1th, 1730. That his sermons were
esteemed is evidenced by their publication down to 1798. His
thoughts in the last years of his life were occupied with his parish
work and his sermons, the number of which was over two
thousand. At the same time he eked out his scanty salary by
the care of his farm, which by industry and prudence he left to
his family at his death free of encumbrance. Mr. Clark died
November 15th, 1805, in the seventy-fifth year of his age and
the fifty-first of his continuous ministry at Lexington.
It is interesting to endeavor to trace the sources of the in-
formation and theories which inspired our pre-revolutionary
writers. Roman and English history were familiar to them.
The Bible and especially the Old Testament was a repository
from which they derived divine support and practical precedents.
Texts unfamiliar to us, were used by them with great effect and
frequency. We meet often the quotation from Jeremiah, 30th
chapter and 21st verse, "Their nobles shall be of themselves and
their governor shall proceed from the midst of them." Their
model of government was the Jewish theocracy, which involved
a government by judges elected by the people. A system by
which judges not only administer laws but pass on the con-
stitutionality of laws, which we have inherited from the Jews,
is an enthronement of the national conscience in its right
place as the highest power of the government.
Their knowledge of law was increased by the appearance
of Blackstone's Commentaries in 1764, at the time when it
could be of the greatest assistance in the discussions which were
then going on. The book was said to have sold as largely in
America as in England.
The influence on pre-revolutionary thought of Locke's
Elssay on Government, cannot be overestimated. At a Con-
ference of Delegates from the colonies held in Philadelphia,
October 13th, 1774, James Manning, President of what is now
Brown University, invoked the great authority of Locke in ad-
vocating freedom and equaUty. Hallam in his Literature in
Europe during the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, after giving
a full analysis of Locke's Treatise on Government, adds that
the treatise became the creed of a numerous party at home,
** while silently spreading the fibres of its roots over Europe and
America, it prepared the way for the theories of political society
hardly bolder in announcement, but expressed with more
passionate ardor, from which the great revolutions of this and
the last age have sprung."
Some words and phrases used by Locke are found in Mr.
Clark's sermon of 1781. For example; Original compact.
State of nature, Free, equal and independent. Parallel passages
from Mr. Clark's sermon and Locke's Essay regarding the
original compact of society, express the same thought though not
in the same language.
Locke's words regarding the spirit of resistance to con-
stituted authority describes well the attitude of the colonists.
Discussing resistance, Locke answers the monarchists who say
the people must not attack the Prince. They must not for any
provocation exceed the bounds of due reverence and respect.
For an inferior t$ punish a superior is against nature. ''How
to resist force", Locke says, "without striking again, or how to
strike with reverence, will need some skill to make intelligible.
He that opposes assault only with a shield to receive blows, or
in any more respectful posture, without a sword in his hand to
abate the confidence and force of his assailant, will quickly be
at an end of his resistance and will find such a defence to serve
only to draw on himself a worse usage. This is a ridiculous way
of resisting. He therefore who may resist, must be allowed to
strike And let anyone joyn (sic) a knock on the head or a cut
in the face with as much reverence and respect as he sees fit.
He that can reconcile blows and reverence, may for aught I
know, deserve for his pains a civil, respectful cudgeling whenever
he can meet with it." The colonists profited by these caustic
remarks. They attempted for years to maintain loyalty while
suffering from the acts of Parliament, but at last they found that
if they resisted at all, they must strike.
It is to be remarked that no trace of Rousseau is to be found
in the writings of Mr. Clark, and perhaps not in the writings
of any of the pre-revolutionary thinkers. Clark and Rousseau
both drew their inspiration from Locke's Essay on Government,
and what general similarity there may appear between them is
due to their common source. It is impossible to conceive of Clark
or Rousseau, independent of Locke, their great predecessor
It is profitable for us in this day and generation to attempt
to reproduce in our mind's eye the scenes and events which led up
to the formation of our republic, as we have done in this dis-
cussion. Are we not impressed with one thought, that these
Founders and Patriots had but one purpose, and it should actuate
us as completely as it did them in the revolutionary days, that
perversions of government, whether by kings and parliaments
or machines and bosses, or demagogues and false social leaders,
must be withstood and overcome "at the utmost peril of our
lives and fortunes."
New York, September 21st, 1911.
PUBLICATIONS OF THE NEW YORK SOCIETY OF THE ORDER OF
THE FOUNDERS AND PATRIOTS OF AMERICA.
1. "The Settlement of New York," by George Rogers Howell, March
2. "The Battle of Lexington," by Hon. John Winslow, May 13, 1897.
3. "George Clinton," by Col. R. E. Prime, December 15, 1902.
4. "Washington, Lincoln and Grant," by Gen. James Grant Wilson,
April 6, 1903.
5. "Early New York," by Hon. Robert B. Roosevelt, January 15, 1904.
6. "Thomas Hooker, The First American Democrat," by Walter Seth
Logan, February 19, 1904.
7. "Early Long Island," by Hon. Wm. Winton Goodrich, March 16, 1904.
8. "Banquet Addresses," May 13, 1904.
9. "The Philippines and The Filipinos," by Maj. Gen. Frederick D.
Grant, December 10, 1904.
10. "Some Social Theories of the Revolution," by Theodore Gilman,
January 31, 1905.
11. "Banquet Addresses." May 13, 1905.
12. "The Story of the Pequot War," by Thos. Egleston, LL. D., Ph. D.,
December 15, 1905.
13. "Distinctive Traits of a Dutchman," by Col. John W. Vrooman,
February 23, 1906.
14. "An Incident of the Alabama Claims Arbitration," by Col. Ralph
E. Prime, March 23, 1906.
15. "Banquet Addresses and Memoir of Hon Robert B. Roosevelt,"
May 14, 1906.
16. "Constitution, By-Laws and Regulations of the Order, and List
of Members of the General Court, with By-Laws, and List
of Members of the New York Society," November 1, 1906.
17. "Some Municipal Problems that Vexed the Founders," by Rev.
Wm. Reed Eastman, December 14, 1906.
18. "A Vanished Race of Aboriginal Founders," by Brig. Gen. Henry
Stuart TurriU, U. S. A., February 14, 1907.
19. "List of Officers and Members of the New York Society," Novem-
ber 15, 1907.
20. '*The Hudson Valley in the Revolution," by Francis Whiting Halsey,
December 13, 1907.
21. "American Territory in Turkey; or Admiral Farragut's Visit to
Constantinople and the Extra- territoriality of Robert Col-
lege," by Ralph E. Prime, LL.D., D. C. L., February 14, 1908.
22. "Banquet Addresses," May 13, 1908.
23. "Some Things the Colony of North Carolina Did and Did First
in the Founding of English-Speaking America," by Wil-
liam Edward Fitch, M. D., December 11, 1908.
24. "Colonial Legends and Folk Lore," by Hon. John C. Coleman,
January 20, 1910.
25. "The Origin, Rise and Downfall of the State of Franklin, Under
Her First and Only Governor — John Sevier," by William Ed-
ward Fitch, M. D., March 11, 1910.
26. "Proceedings on the Dedication of the Tablet Erected to the New
York Society of the Order of the Founders and Patriots
of America, on the Site of Fort Amsterdam at the United
States Custom House, New York City," September 29, 1909.
27. "Banquet Addresses," May 13, 1910.
28. "Commodore Isaac Hull and the Frigate Constitution," by Gen.
James Grant Wilson, D. C. L., October2g, 1910.
29. "Some Aspects of the Constitution," by Joseph Culbcrtson Clayton,
December 14, 1910.
30. "Early Colonial Efforts for the Improvement of the Indians," by
Rev. Edward Pavson Johnson, D. D„ February 14, 1911.
31. "Rev. Jonas Clark,' Pastor of the Church at Lexington during the
Revolution, Leader of Revolutionary Thought," by Theo-
dore Gilman, October 19, 1911.
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY
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MAR 9 1948
THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY