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B M bl3 h3'=l 

No. :il 

The Rev. Jonas Clark, Pastor at 

Lexington, Leader in 



''Steadfast for God and Country 

An Address by 


Governor of the New York Society 

delivered before 

The New York Scciety 

of the 

Order of the Founders and Patriots cf America 

at the 

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. 

Deputy Governor 


76 William Street, New York. 



68 Clinton Ave., New Brighton, S. L, N. Y. 


355 W. 145th Street, New York. 



416 Broadway, New York. 

State Attorney 


135 Broadway, New York. 

100 Broadway, New York. 



110 W. 57th Street, New York. 



Huntington, Long Island. 













MtaUait for #ot anti Country" 

REV. JONAS CLARK, Pastor of the Church at Lex- 
ington during the Revolution, Leader of Revolution- 
ary Thought. 



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 
April, 1775. 

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 
be enacted. 

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 
express themselves. 

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. 



1. "The Settlement of New York," by George Rogers Howell, March 

18, 1897. 

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. 


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