.5 M - 1 -
ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
3 1833 01105 4654
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NO. 11. Jju*^^
SIDN EY S. RIDER.
IDNEY S. RIDER,
ANGELL, HAMMKTT <fe CO., PRINTERS.
U ; :
THREE RHODE BLAND AUTHORS
JOSEPH K. ANGELL
FRANCES H. (WHIPPLE) McDOUGALL
CATHARINE R. WILLIAMS
SIDNEY S. RIDER.
TO WHICH IS ADDED
THE NINE LAWYERS' OPINION ON THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE
OF RHODE ISLAND TO FORM A CONSTITUTION.
SIDNEY 8. RIDER
SIDNEY S. RIDER
The three memoirs which form the present Tract are intended mainly
to exhibit the literary labors of the people about whom they are "written.
That of Mr. Angell was prepared for the reprint of volume one of the
Rhode Island Supreme Court Reports, and appears in that volume.
Those of Mrs. McDougall and Mrs. Williams were first printed in the
columns of the Providence Journal. For the present use they have been
revised and corrected by the addition of such matters as were brought to
the author's notice in consequence of their previous publication. For all
the personal details found in the article upon Mis. Williams, the author is
indebted to a manuscript autobiography prepared tor him by that lady
herself. Her letter sent with the manuscript is as follows :
I have given you at least a skeleton of history, and if there is anything
like vanity or egotism, you will please correct. A few anecdotesare also
interspersed which I thought interesting. A criticism of the works
cannot be expected,— that must be left to the publisher.
Yours, &c. C. R. W.
May 20th, 1859.
The publisher referred to was Mr. S. Austin Allibone, who was then
preparing his Dictionary of Authors, and for whom the present author
was obtaining some such information. Not a single personal detail
VI PREFATORY NOTE.
appears in the article on Mrs. Williams which she did not herself write,
and yet for the publication of the article in the Journal the author only
escaped personal violence by reason of his being unknown. Much more
of a similar nature might have been included, and it was omitted only
for the reason that just enough to well illustrate the peculiarities of
Mrs. Williams was all that was thought to be required.
JOSEPH K ANGELL
Joseph Kinnicutt Angell was the only son of
Nathan and Amey [Kinnicutt] Angell. He was
born in Providence, Rhode Island, April 30, 1794.
He was descended from Thomas Angell, one of the
five companions of Roger Williams, while resting
for a moment on the easterly banks of the Seekonk
before crossing the river to lay the foundation of a
State and of the beautiful city of Providence. Others
soon joined these first comers, and the little band
so increased became the thirteen original proprietors.
Young Angell early betrayed a fondness for study,
and his parents determined to provide him with the
opportunities of obtaining a good education. By
whom he was prepared for college is not now known.
He entered Brown University as a student in his
fifteenth year. Among his classmates were Job Dur-
fee, afterwards Chief Justice, and Romeo Elton,
afterwards Professor, two friends filled with the spirit
of Rhode Island History, and both of whom left
enduring literary monuments to perpetuate it.
4 HISTORICAL TRACT.
After his graduation from Brown University in
1813, Mr. Angell was sent to the Law School at
Litchfield, Conn. ; justly considered the best school
of its kind then in the country. It was conducted
at the time by Tapping Reeve, assisted by James
Gould, both gentlemen of distinguished ability as
lecturers, and both authors of treatises which for
many years and even to this time are cited as books
of authority. At this school Mr. Angell formed
acquaintances with young men which ripened into
life-long friendships, and which were of the greatest
use to him in after years. Among these friends was
John Brown Francis, subsequently Governor and
United States Senator for Rhode Island. After leav-
ing: the law school at Litchfield, Mr. Angell entered as
a student the law office of Thomas Burgess in Provi-
dence, who subsequently and for many years held the
office of Probate Judge for that city. He was never
an advocate, but he was a prudent and discreet coun-
sellor, and was the confidential law advisor of many
merchants. How long Mr;. Angell read law in the
office of Mr. Burgess is not now known. Of the
three years which had elapsed since his graduation
MEMOIR OF JOSEPH K. ANGELL.
at Brown University, and previous to his admission
to the Bar, it is probably. that one year was passed
at Litchfield and the remaining two years with Mr.
Burgess. What influence on the formation of his
character this connection with Mr. Burgess exerted it
is difficult now to determine ; but it is certain that
peculiarities of thought and action were common to
both. At the March term of the Supreme Court,
1816, Mr. Angell, in company with Charles F. Til-
linghast and Charles H. Bruce, was proposed for ad-
mission to the Rhode Island Bar by Nathaniel Searle,
a man described by Judge Story as one " whose ar-
guments w T ere characterized by exact learning and
clear reasoning, and whose elocution was rapid, clear
and affluent almost beyond example." This Bar was
just then entering upon a glorious period of its his-
tory. May not a slight digression be excusable that
mention maybe made of some of the -distinguished
contemporaries of ' Mr. Angell. The great change
which has since taken place in the structure, power,
and method of procedure in our courts was but just
beginning. For many of these wise changes the
State is indebted to James Burrill, Jr., who was
b HISTORICAL TRACT.
elected to fill the seat of Chief Justice in 1816". He-
held the office but a single year, when he was sent
to the Senate of the United States from Rhode Island.
He was succeeded by Tristam Bulges. Before the
elevation of Mr. Burrill to the bench, he had held
the position of Attorney General for upwards of six-
teen years. Both of these gentlemen were distin-
guished advocates. Succeeding them, and no less-
distinguished, came John Whipple, Samuel Y. At-
well and Nathaniel Searle, all men of very great
power. Samuel W. Bridgham, the first mayor of
Providence, and Walter R. Danforth, who held the
same office at a later period, were members of the
William R. Staples T Richard W. Greene, and Sam-
uel Ames, who all became Chief Justices of the
Supreme Court, or Supreme Judicial Court, as it was
once called ; Charles F. Tillinghast, William E. Rich-
mond, and Thomas Burgess, who were Counsellors
at Law in the highest meaning of the term ; John
Pitman, who was for many years Judge of the United
States District Court for this State ; Henry Bowen T
who for thirty years was the Secretary of State of
MEMOIR OF JOSEPH K. ANGELA
Rhode Island, and Albert C. Greene, who for eigK
teen years was the Attorney General, and afterwards-
a United States Senator ; Benjamin Hazard, who was-
sixty-two successive times elected a member of the
General Assembly from Newport \ Jub Durfee, whose
father was a Judge, who himself became Chief Jus-
tice, and whose son now occupies the seat of his
father ; Thomas F. Carpenter, whose name should
have a place in our list of advocates \ Elisha R.
Potter, whose name was the synonym of power in
the southern counties for a third of a century ; and
many others, whose names will at once occur to
those familiar with the history of the Rhode Island
Bar in those its palmiest days. Names upon names
rise before us, but this is neither the time nor the
place to call the roll of its members.
Williams and his companions planted the colony,
aud laid the foundations of a State. May it not with
justice be said that these are the men who nourished
it in its youth, who formulated its laws, and by
whose earnest and honest efforts strength was im-
parted to its every part.
Mr. Angell now entered upon the practice of his
8 HISTORICAL TRACT.
profession. He was by nature far better fitted for a
counsellor than for an advocate, and his name would
not have been found in a list of Rhode Island advo-
cates. He was a sound theoretical lawyer, and an
admirable advisor. His practice before the courts
must have been of short duration. An event soon
occurred which turned the whole current of his life.
Iu 1819, he received a letter from Mr. Chalmers,
counsellor at law, living in London, England, inform-
ing him that there was then before the courts of
chancery of England, an immense estate looking for
an heir to inherit it, and expressing the belief that
he was the legal heir. Counsel was taken of the
friends of Mr. Angell in Providence, and it was de-
cided to send him to England to look after his
interest in this vast estate, which lay in some of the
most fertile counties in the kingdom. Early in Feb-
ruary, he left Providence and journeyed by stage to
New York. He reached the latter city, as he details
in a letter to his mother, at eight o'clock in the
morning of Wednesday, the 9th of February, having
passed two sleepless nights upon the road, and being
necessarily much fatigued. He immediately entered
MEMOIR OF JOSEPH K. ANGELL. \)
upon the search for a ship bound for England, and
soon found one, — the ship Amity, which was to sail
the following morning. In this vessel Mr. Angell
took passage for Liverpool, which city he reached
after a pleasant voyage of twenty-six days. Here
however he tarried not, but made the best of his
way to London. From letters written to his mother
and to his sister may be gathered the impressions
upon his mind of the scenery through which he
passed. He speaks with mortification of the fact
that Shakspeare's house at Stratford was then in use
as a butcher's shop. At Oxford he spends much of
his time in the libraries, the like of which he had
never seen before. Of these, and of the chapels,
halls and paintings, he writes to his mother an ad-
mirable account. He finally reached London, where
he resided at Richards's Coffee House, in Fleet street,
near Temple Bar, a central position for the business
upon which he went, and near by the men whom he
delighted to meet. He entered at once and vigor-
ously upon the work which he had undertaken, and
his letters, while keeping his friends fully informed
of his progress in that business, are also filled with
10 HISTORICAL TRACT.
descriptions of the things which he saw and the
events which occurred and which interested him.
Before entering upon a description of his adven-
ture, it may be well to make mention of some things
about which he writes, they seem so well to illus-
trate his character. He early and often visited
Drury Lane, where lie frequently saw Edmund Kean,
and he writes to his mother minute accounts of his
impressions of the acting of Mr. Kean. He dwells
with delight upon Mr. Kean's presentations of Lear,
Othello, and Richard the Third, — personations upon
which the most enlightened judgment of men has
set the seal of approval. Benjamin West died in
London, and Angell wrote with gratitude of the
honors bestowed upon his distinguished countryman.
Much of his time was given to the courts. Of two
celebrated trials he gave interesting accounts. That
of Thistle wood, the leader of the Cato street con-
spiracy, and that of Queen Caroline, the consort of.
George the Fourth. The former was tried, con-
victed, and executed ; the latter returned to London
from her lono* residence in Italy. Mr. Angell saw
the mob smashing- the windows of such as would not
>ie::o:f. or ::sz?h k. avgell. 11
:"::rr.':r.:.:z :heir hr'ases as the Queer. 7 asset;, and
3.::e:~ar:i- s : many iavs :.: her trial. Of all ;hese
rhinrs lie has left excellent accounts. Literature ~:s
his impressions :: such books :.- were published.
0: mr-.nv :: :hese l::ks :ime has :'h:::.:h everj
trace, but ■:: ane, thr "Pirate,' 1 by the luthoi ;:
Waverly, Mi Ansel: has left an irinicn which m. v
ielinearicn :: hr.man zharactei and in his lesciip-
:i:rs :: r.:.:.-ral s:enerv. !nt :he ineiients are : _ :
peered ;ha: he nerleerea :he main business vrrich
there ~er-. :f William Angell, the fhrs: turcha^er
Jchn Angel!. Esc., and their male heirs foreYer, all
his lands and estates bc:h r.-al and personal, iu Sur-
12 HISTORICAL TRACT.
rey, Kent and Sussex, nevertheless subject and liable
to such conditions as should be thereafter mentioned,
and should not be otherwise disposed of and given :
and if there should be no male heirs or descendants
of the same William or the first Angell of Northamp-
tonshire, in order as they should be found or made
apparent, and if there should be none of those in
being, or that should be apparent and plainly and
legally make themselves out to be Angells and so
related and descended, he then gave all his estates
whatsoever, both real and personal, to William
Browne, Esquire, grandson to Mrs. Frances, the wife
of Benedict Browne, Esquire, who was an Angell,
and his male heirs forever/' 1
The claim of Mr. Angell was. that notwithstand-
ing there were many Angells living in England, none
were male heirs of the body of William Angell, the
first purchaser of Crowhurst. ngr were there any
such heirs in existence ; that he was the male heir
by collateral descent, tracing his descent from the
only brother of William Angell, the aforesaid Thomas
1. Simons and Stuart's Reports, Dunlap's Ed., New York, 1843, Vol.
MEMOIR OF JOSEPH K. ANGELL. 13
Angell, who first came with Roger Williams to plant
the town of Providence. In the prosecution of his
search, Mr. Angell exhibited great patience and per-
severance. He personally examined the register of
every parish church in London in his pursuit of evi-
dence, and having obtained a vast amount, which
could not then well be transmitted by reason of the
slow progress of the mails, he determined to return
with it to Providence, lay it before his friends, take
advice, and start afresh. He reached Xew York on
the 22d of October, 1820, and repaired at once to
Providence. Having laid the case fully before his
friends, it was determined that he should return to
England and press the claim. With this end in view,
he sailed from Boston in the ship Parthian, on the
5th of July, 1821, and reached Liverpool on the 1st
of August. He entered immediately with renewed
vigor upon the business which called him again to
England. In the course of it, it became necessary
to visit many of the towns and counties in the in-
terior. In this way he saw much of the rural life
of the people, which filled him with pleasure and
his letters with charming descriptions. Having with
14 HISTORICAL TRACT.
much labor prepared his case in the spring of 1822,
he filed a bill in the Court of Chancery. This bill
prayed for a commission to examine witnesses abroad
and to perpetuate their testimony. The Vice Chan-
cellor refused to grant the commission, because there
was no action pending, and nothing had been exhib-
ited to show that an action could not be brought. 1
Thus ended the pursuit of this property by Mr.
Angell, who did not indeed wait for the decision,
but returned to Rhode Island before it had been ren-
dered, fully persuaded with the belief that " the
longer he was absent from home the more he became
sensible of the strength of those ties which bound
him to his native soil, and which are so natural and
interwoven with the heart, that it is impossible to
utterly destroy them without destroying the heart
Mr. Ann-ell returned to Rhode Island without hav-
ing reached that success for which he had hoped in
the business upon which he went abroad, but an idea
had occurred to him while there which resulted in a
1. Simons and Stuart's Reports, Dunlap's Ed., Xew York, 1813, Vol.
1, p. 84.
MEMOIR OF JOSEPH K. ANGELL. 15
splendid success. He resolved to devote himself to
the profession of a law writer, a branch of the pro-
fession far more consonant to his tastes than that of
an advocate or a counsellor, and which he had seen
carried to such an extent in England. At the period
of his return, the business interests in Rhode Island
were in process of transformation from -a commercial
to a manufacturing industry ; mills for the manufac-
ture of cotton into cloth were being erected upon
every stream where water power could be found.
Naturally, therefore, was the attention of Mr. Angell
called to the subject of the law relating to water
courses, and he chose that subject for the title of his
first work. It appeared in 1824, since which time
many editions have appeared, and more than twelve
thousand copies have been sold. The work has been
very much enlarged at each successive revision, and.
is still a leading authority upon the subject. While
engaged upon this work, the attention of Mr. Angell
was called natuially to the title which he selected
for his second work, " The Right of Property in Tide
Waters and in the Soil and Shores thereof,*' which
work appeared in 182G. A second and much en-
16 HISTORICAL TRACT.
larged edition was published in 1847. Both works
met with a favorable reception from the bench and
from the bar. Chancellor Kent said of them, that
" they were works which no intelligent lawyer could
well practice without."
Early in 1837, Mr. Angell published his third
work. It was entitled, "An Inquiry into the Rule
of Law which creates a Right to an Incorporeal
Hereditament by an Adverse Enjoyment of twenty
} r ears, with remarks on the application of the rule
to Light, and in certain cases to a Water Privilege."
This essay was not at first intended for publication,
but the interest in the subject induced the author to
publish it. Its object was to investigate the original
establishment of the rule and to trace its progress,
to explain the qualifications to which it is subject,
and develop the principle and policy on which it is
founded. It is a small octavo volume of one hun-
dred and seventeen pages.
Following this came in the same year, " An Essay
on the Right of a State to Tax a Body Corporate
considered in relation to the Bank Tax in Rhode
Island." This was a pamphlet of forty-four pages*
MEMOIR OF JOSEPH K. ANGELL. 1.
and was called out by the exigency of the times.
The General Assembly of Rhode Island had assumed
the power to tax banks incorporated by charters
granted by this same honorable body, but the char-
ters of which contained no reservation of power to
tax. Neither of the^e essays were ever repiinted.
With the beginning of the year 1829, Mr. Angell
began the publication at Providence of the United
States Law Intelligencer and Review. The periodi-
cal, for it was issued monthly, was to be a synopsis
or abridged record of the changes and progress of
the Law. The first volume only was published in
Providence. The work was disposed of to Philadel-
phia parties, and the office of publication removed
to that city. Mr. Angell continued its editor two
years. It had but a short life after he left it, three
volumes only having been issued . It was a great
advance upon any similar journal issued before it in
this country, and it pointed the way for other similar
During this same year. 1829, Mr. Angell published
A Treatise on the Limitations of Actions at Law
and Suits in Equity, a volume of upwards of five
18 HISTORICAL TRACT.
hundred pages. In 1846 appeared the second edition
of the same work, much enlarged, and with many
of the errors in the former edition corrected. In
the first edition was reprinted, The Reading of that
famous Lawyer, Sir Robert Brook, Kt., upon the
Statute of Limitations, from -the London edition of
1617. This reprint was omitted in the second edi-
tion. This work Mr. Angell dedicated to his life-
long friend, John Brown Francis, late Governor of
Rhode Island. It was at once favorably received
by the profession generally, and by no one more so
than by Chancellor Kent. The copy before us is
filled with his manuscript memoranda. Soon after
the publication of the first edition, the author sent
a copy as a present to Brougham, then Lord Chan-
cellor of England. In acknowledging its receipt,
Lord Brougham used the following language : " Lord
^.O o OCT
Brougham begs Mr. A. would kindly communicate
to Mr. Angell, his very grateful sense of the favor
done him by the valuable present of Mr. A.'s work.
Lord B. has already consulted it, and found it to be
by much the best treatise on this very important
subject." Unfortunately, this letter is now lost, and
MEMOIR OF JOSEPH K. ANGELL. 19
this short extract is all that remains of a manuscript
which Mr. Angell cherished as among the choicest of
his earthly treasures. It may be doubted whether
any event in the literary life of Mr. Angell ever gave
him so much pleasure as this letter, which he exhib-
ited with delight to his friends. Of this treatise six
editions, comprising in the aggregate more than eight
thousand copies have been issued.
In 1832, Mr. Angell, in connection with Samuel
Ames, issued a " Treatise on the Law of Private
Corporations Aggregate." This work needs no other
commendation than an enumeration of its editions,
numbering ten, and a statement of the numbers which
have been sold, exceeding twelve thousand copies.
His next work in order of time was the " Practical
Summary of the Law of Assignments in Trust for
the Benefit of Creditors." This work appeared in
1835. It was a duodecimo volume of upwards of
two hundred and twenty pages. Notwithstanding
the high commendation bestowed upon it, but one
edition was ever published, and the book is now r
scarce and much sought for.
From this time until 1849, Mr. Angell undertook
20 HISTORICAL TRACT.
the publication of no new work, but revised and
edited the successive new 'editions of his former
works. In this year he published his treatise on the
" Law of Carriers of Goods and Passengers by Land
and Water. " It was a stout octavo of upwards of
eight hundred pages. A second edition followed in
1851, a third in 1857, and others have succeeded.
More than seven thousand copies have been sold, and
the book is still the leading authority. It was dedi-
cated to his life-long friend, John Carter Brown.
The various editions of Mr. Angell's books vary in
several ways which have not been mentioned in this
memoir. For instance, in the case of the third edi-
tion of this work, which contains the United States
laws relating to steamboats, and sundry forms of
pleadings. These were omitted in subsequent edi-
tions and other material substituted. In the first
edition were incorporated in the appendix certain
leading cases which found no place in subsequent
editions. This has been the case, although not per-
haps to the extent, with the other works of Mr.
It was provided in the act organizing the courts
MEMOIR OF JOSEPH K. A>"GELL. 21
of Rhode Island, after the adoption of the constitu-
tion in 1842, that a Reporter of the Decisions of the
Supreme Court should be appointed. The law was
subsequently modified, directing the Supreme Court
to appoint the Reporter, who was to be a person not
a member of the court, and further directing the
election to be made at the March term, 1845. The
Reporter was to publish his Reports annually. He
was to be paid one hundred dollars by the State
for his services, and was at liberty to make or lose
as much money as might happen, he assuming all
risk of publication, the State agreeing to purchase
one hundred and twenty-five copies for distribution.
A worse arrangement for the Reporter could not well
be devised, the purchase by the State practically
destroying all chances of sale to other parties. The
Reports were first issued in pamphlet form. The
first of tKSse pamphlets appeared in July. 1S47. It
contained seventy-one pages, and consisted entirely
of opinions given long before the date of its pub-
lication. The second number soon followed. This
also was prepared by Mr. Angell, and was the last
prepared by him. He resigned the office of Reporter
22 HISTORICAL TRACT.
at the September term of the court, 1849. Thomas
Durfee was elected to succeed him ; and by Mr.
Durfee was prepared the third and concluding and
by much the larger part of the first volume.
In 1854, was published a " Treatise on the Law
of Fire and Life Insurance." The following year a
second edition was called for, since which time no
further issue have been required, other authors hav-
ing occupied the field. In 1857, appeared a " Trea-
tise on the Law of Highways." This work was begun
by Mr. Angell, and was in process of publication at
the time of his death. It was the last of his literary
labors. The first, second, and a portion of the fourth
chapters were the work of Mr. Angell ; the remain-
der was the work of Thomas Durfee. The following
year a second edition was required, and the work
still continues to be a leading authority upon the
Here ends the list of books which contain the
writings of Mr. Angell. Many of them are still the
most valuable treatises upon the subjects of which
they treat, and are constantly kept upon the market,
which has already absorbed in the aggregate more
MEMOIR OF JOSEPH K. ANGELL. 23
than fifty thousand copies. On a list, received while
printing these sheets, of law Looks for sale by a
prominent firm of law booksellers in London, the
first five titles offered were the leading books of
Mr. Angell was one of the signers of the famous
44 Nine Lawyers' Opinion. " It was upon the right of
the people to form a constitution. It was published
in 1842, a time of unprecedented political excitement
in Rhode Island. It claimed that the power to pre-
scribe a form of government rested with the people ;
that the legislature was the creature of the people,
and was not superior to its creator; that before the
Revolution the sovereign power was in the King of
England ; that -by the Revolution the sovereign power
was divested from the King and passed to the peo-
ple, the whole people, of the colony, and which
became the -State ; that the charter contained within
itself no power of amendment or of change, and that
since the Revolution no way had existed for amend-
ing the form of government ; that" the legislature
being the creature of the people, possessed no power
to enforce the people to change their form of gov-
24 HISTORICAL TRACT.
eminent, — their utmost power was to request them
to change it ; that the Freeholders' Constitution
rested on the request of the General Assembly, while
the Peoples' Constitution rested on the request of the
people themselves, and therefore rested on the firmest
possible basis. Such in a general way is the tenor
of this famous document. It was published only in
the Daily Express, a newspaper published in Provi-
dence, on the 16th of March, 1842. 1
As a writer, the style of Mr. Angell is simple
and direct, with little or no effort at ornament or
illustration ; to quickly reach the point of a decision
and clearly state it was his aim as a writer ; he pre-
sents the law as he finds it, with no tint or shade of
coloring imparted by his own opinions. Doubtless it
is these excellencies which lend permanence to his
Rosina, the sister of Mr. Angell, died in 1831, leav-
ing him no near relative. He was never married.
He died suddenly, in Boston, May 1, 1857, whither
he had gone on business.
He died as he had lived, without an enenyy ; dis-
1. The Opinion appears in full at the close of this Tract.
MEMOIR OF JOSEPH K. AXGELL. -0
anguished through life by the simplicity of his charac-
ter, by his kindly feeling towards all around him. by
his attachment to his friend-. I y his freedom from
prejudice, and by the total absence ;: all malevolence
of spirit. His amiable qualities had won for him
many valuable friends, who throughout his life re-
mained strongly attached to him. and after his death
provide.] his t . ly with :. resting place, and adorned
the walls of Rhode Island Hall with his portrait.
FRANCES H MCDOUGALL
The subject of the following memoir wrote and
published books under three different names. This
fact, well known at the present time, might become
a source of inquiry to many in the future, who may
be interested in such things. To lighten their labor
is the present endeavor.
Miss Fhances H. Whipple was the daughter of
Mr. George Whipple, of Smitlifield, R. I., where she
was born in 1805, in the month of September. She
received such advantages for education as the district
schools of the time afforded, and later attended a
private school in Providence, kept by Dr. Peter W.
Ferris. Dr. Ferris probably came to Providence in*"
1828 or 1829. He first established himself as a phy-
sician on High street. Two years later, in 1832, he
was the teacher of the Fifth District School on Pond
street. He continued to be employed as a teacher
until, perhaps, 1845 or 1846, when he abandoned the
profession of teaching and took that of a dentist,
30 HISTORICAL TRACT.
which he retained until either his death or removal
from this city, about 1854. It must have been very
soon after Dr. Ferris came that Miss Whipple went
to his private school. She was 23 years of age in
1828, and the following year, 1829, she began the
publication of the " Original," a periodical of which
an account will appear later in this memoir. She was
at this time a vigorous and fluent writer. She became
interested in the temperance reform, which originated
about this time (1S30), and gave her pen and much
time in assisting the movement. At a later peiiod
she became very much interested in the anti-slavery
movement, and identified herself with it in every
In the political troubles in Rhode Island in ]842,
she took the side of those she considered to be
oppressed, and became a very violent partisan of Mr.
Dorr. Unfortunately for her personal comfort, she
was ever on the unpopular side of every question in
On the first day of July, 1812, Miss Whipple was
married, at Lowell, Mass., to Mr. Charles C. Greene,
an artist, residing at that time at Springfield, Mass.
MEMOIR OF FRANCES H. MCDOUGALL. ol
This marriage did not prove a happy one. In Sep-
tember, 1847, Mrs. Greene obtained a divorce from
her husband, and from this time she dwelt with her
friends, until about 18G0, when she went to live in
California, where she soon after (about 1861) mar-
ried Mr. William C. McDougall, and where she died,
June 10, 1878.
Having thus presented a sketch of the life of Mrs.
Greene, we now venture upon an account of her
literary work. Her first publication in order of time
was the " Original," which was first issued in Provi-
dence in May, 1829. It is a 12mo. of upwards of a
hundred pages. It was numbered Vol 1, No. 1. It
contained fifteen articles ; ten of which were written
by Miss Whipple. It was her intention to issue the
periodical three times a year, at an annual subscrip-
tion, price of fifty cents, but probably from non-
support, no other number was issued until January,
1830. ' This number was again numbered Vol. 1, No.
1. The size was increased to an octavo, and it con-
tained forty pages. These w^ere the only numbers
published. Sketches of local interest are contained
in these pamphlets ; among them are accounts of
32 HISTORICAL TRACT.
" Quinsniket," "Scott's Pond T " and the u Early-
Starting of Central Falls."
In 1810, the Juvenile Emancipation Society, of
Pawtucket, published a small volume, entitled "The
Envoy, from Free Hearts to the Free." It was a
collection by various writers, many of whom lived in
Rhode Island, among them Sarah A. Chace of Provi-
dence, E. B. Chace of Pawtucket, Sophia L. Little
of Newport, William Chace of Providence, Anna W.
Weston of Providence, and many others, who date
their articles from various towns in Rhode Island,,
but give no names. The work was edited by Miss-
W r hipple, who likewise contributed several articles,
the first being the " Charge : "
Hither our Envoy! Take thine errand now r
Go forth with Love's own myrtle on thy brow;
Plead for the bought and sold, the scourged, the dumb..
Flatter not "wealth; nor unto power succumb.
The little book was printed at Pawtucket, by R.
Miss Whipple was a contributor to the u Liberty
Chimes," a neat 12mo. volume, printed at Pawtucket
in 1815, by Mr. Potter, for the Ladies Anti-Slavery
Society of Providence.
MEMOIR OF FRANCES H. MCDOUGALL. 33
On the 19th of March, 1842, was published at
Fall River the first number of "The Wampanoag
and Operatives Journal.'' It was published in the
royal quarto form, semi-monthly, and bore for its
legend : " Idleness and Luxury Pamper the Animal,
Labor Makes the Man." Frances H. Whipple was
announced as the editor ; no publisher's name was
given. The second number bears the name of Miss
Whipple as the publisher, and also the editor. In
her prospectus she presents the chart which she pro-
posed to use in the guidance of the little periodical :
"Like the Wampanoag of old, (King Philip,) our
royal namesake, we hope to maintain a perfectly
erect, fearless and determined course. Whatever we
see of good we shall dare sustain, without stopping
to inquire whether it bears the image and superscrip-
tion of Ccesar — whatever we see of wrong we shall
cry out against ; whether it be in low places or in
high places ; whether it be pilfering hen roosts, or
plundering cradles ; whether it be robbing a man of
his purse or of himself ; whether it be chaining the
limbs or crushing the soul ; whether it be making a
woman a toy, or a chattel ; whether it be flattering
or flogging her, whether it be raising and dragging
34 HISTORICAL TRACT.
her away in chains to the south-western market, or
ruinously training her under the forced culture of
our fashionable boarding-schools and drawing 1 rooms
for the home market." The special object Miss
Whipple had in view was to educate, assist and en-
courage female operatives in Fall River and such
manufacturing districts. Many Providence people
contributed to the paper, among them Sarah Helen
Whitman, Anne C. Lynch, William M. Rodman,
and others whose initials we can only guess. Miss
Whipple was, however, the main writer. The paper
was essentially literary and of a high tone ; nothing
appeared in it which a severe judgment would to-
day condemn, but the duration of its existence was
short. Dissensions arose between Mr. Bowen, the
real publisher, and Miss Whipple, and with the issue
of the thirteenth number, Mrs. Greene (for she was
then married) withdrew, and the " Wampanoag."
expired with its fifteenth number, on the 8th of
October, 1832. Doubtless the chief difficulty was
a lack of support. The political troubles of Rhode
Island prevented Miss Whipple from obtaining the
support within that State upon which she con-
MEMOIR OF FRANCES H. MC DOUG ALL. 35
fidently relied. The paper was neatly printed by
Thomas Almy, to whose son, Mr. Thomas Almy, of
the Fall River News, to whom the author is indebted
for the file to which he has access. Messrs. Burnett
& King, the well-remembered booksellers, acted as
agents for Miss Whipple in Providence.
Her next publication was a work of charity, the
" Memoirs of Elleanor Eldridge," 16mo., Providence,
1838. Another edition was published in 1840, and
still another in 1812. This little volume of a hun-
dred and twenty-eight pages was published for the
purpose of enabling the subject of it to repurchase
some property of which she had been perhaps legally,
but at all events unfairly, deprived. The tale, in
short, is this : Elleanor was a hard-working, pru-
dent, saving, colored woman. Her grandfather had
been kidnapped at the mouth of the Congo (now the
Livingstone) river, on board a ship upon which he
had been enticed for the purposes of trade. He was
brought to Rhode Island, where he was sold as a
slave. He afterwards married an Indian woman, a
pure Narragansett. From this marriage descended
Elleanor. By dint of hard work and prudence she
36 HISTORICAL TRACT.
was enabled to purchase a lot of land on Spring street,
in Providence, upon which she built a house, which
she at several times enlarged until it became, to her,
a valuable property, and was nearly paid for. It had
cost about two thousand dollars; on it there was a
loan of two hundred and forty dollars. On this loan
she paid an annual interest of ten per cent. Having
an opportunity to purchase another estate adjoining
her own, which materially improved her means of
access to her house, she bought it for two thousand
dollars, upon which she paid five hundred dollars
cash and gave a mortgage of fifteen hundred dollars
on her entire estate. Being taken sick, she rented
her property and went away to recover her strength.
While gone, the gentleman from whom she borrowed
the two hundred and forty dollars died, leaving
his estate to his brother. This brother attached
Elleanor's property, sold it by the sheriff, and he
himself bought it for exactly the amount of the
mortgage. Elleanor returned to find herself de-
prived in a moment of an estate which had cost
about four thousand dollars. She was not a woman
who would submit quietly to such proceedings, and
MEMOIR OF FRANCES H. MCDOUGALL. 37
forthwith set herself to work to obtain justice.
General Greene, Attorney General, assisted her,
as did many of the best citizens of Providence, to
whom she was well known. To assist in raising
money, this little book was written, and several edi-
tions sold. A companion volume, entitled Elleanor's
Second Book, was published in 1847. These efforts
were successful. Elleanor recovered her property
after paying pretty heavily for it, and lived to a good
old age, a respected and respectable colored woman,
tall and erect in her 80th year as the young oak in
the native forests of Rhode Island, through which
her grandmother had wandered among the last of a
race now unknown. Mr. Griswold, in his notice of
Mrs. Greene, in his Female Poets of America, states
that 30,000 copies of this (first) memoir was sold, and
Allibone has copied from Griswold. Doubtless there
were a considerable number, but not nearly as many
as 30,000. It is questionable whether there were
more than three editions of the first one, and there
was certainly but one edition of the second one.
An edition of a Rhode Island book numbering 10,000
or 15,000 would be an extraordinary thing, altogether
38 HISTORICAL TRACT.
unknown. Both these little books were printed by
Mr. B. T. Albro, of course on hand presses, for at
that time such a thing as a power book printing press
was unknown in Providence. Both volumes are em-
bellished with a wood cut portrait of the subject,
with her white-wash brush in hand prepared for her
Following these came the Mechanic. It was a
12mo. volume of upwards of two hundred pages,
and bears the imprint of Burnett & King. Charles
Burnett, the senior of this firm, was one of the best
booksellers which Providence ever possessed ; well
educated, refined in manner, imbued with a love of
literature and of the fine arts — had he lived longer
he would have left an impress upon the city of Provi-
dence which would have lasted many generations^
there was a magnetism about him which drew all
kindred spirits toward him — but he died, worn out
with incessant toil, while yet almost in his youth, in
the year 1848.
But to return to our little book. It is the story of
laboring men and women, written to plant within
them good thoughts and elevating desires s*nd aspira-
MEMOIR OF FRANCES H. MCDOUGALL. 39
tions ; " urging man, however high, or however low
in a worldly point of view, to regard his fellow-men
as equals and brethren, all walking in different paths
it may be — all pursuing different avocations; yet
each bearing on his brow the visible signet of Jehovah
which confirms the nobility of a God-like nature —
each invested with a mission to his race, for the faith-
ful discharge of which he is accountable to all future
generations. When this spirit comes to be diffused,
the rich man will cease to be arrogant and the poor
man forget to be serviie, for will not each feel him-
self equally a man." A single edition of this volume
was all that the public demanded, but the little book
has nearly disappeared. Continuing our record, in
order of time came Might and Right, by a Rhode
Islander, (Miss Whipple). It was published by
Abraham H. Stillwell, in Providence, in 1844. A
12mo. volume of three hundred and twenty-four
pages, dedicated " To Thomas Wilson Dorr, the true
and tried patriot, the Fearless Defender of Human
Rights, this work is respectfully inscribed." A por-
trait of Mr. Dorr illustrates the book. A second
edition, containing an appendix of twenty-two pages
40 HISTORICAL TRACT.
on the Life and Character of Thomas Wilson Dorr,
was issued the same year. It is, as its dedication in-
dicates, intensely devoted to a defence of the princi-
ples of Mr. Dorr in the political struggles of 1842.
During these latter years it has been more or less
sought for by collectors of books relating to this very
interesting period of Rhode Island history, and its
present price would astonish its author.
In 1854 Mrs. Greene published a Primary class
book of Botany designed for common schools and
families. This was a thin quarto volume of upward
of a hundred pages of text and several hundred illus-
Mrs. Greene, having been for several years engaged
in teaching botany, early perceived the uses of pic-
torial illustrations in the teaching of that science.
This little treatise was " an attempt to disarm the
study of a portion of its terrors," and to render it
attractive and interesting. She also, in connection
with Joseph W. Congdon, of East Greenwich, pre-
pared the Analytical Class Book of Botany, also
a quarto in form.
Next in order came Sbahmah in Pursuit of Free-
MEMOIR OF FRANCES II. MCDOUGALL. 41
dom ; or, The Branded Maud. Translated from the
original Showiah and edited by an American citizen,
12mo., pp. 509. New York, 1853. Shahmah was a
young Egyptian or Ethiopian prince whom the author
takes through this country on a tour of observation,
moralizing on things political, religious and social.
In the course of her narative, the author pays a high
compliment to Catharine R. Williams, another Provi-
dence writer, for her instrumentality in abolishing
flogging in the United States navy.
Shahmah was of a black or olive complexion, and
in the course of his travels through the Southern
States became involved in almost inextricable trou-
bles, but, in the end, all came out well. In point of
size it is the largest of the publications with which
its author was connected.
Besides these books Mrs. Greene was a contributor
to many of the magazines and serial publications of
her day. She at times conducted the publication of
such journals. The Wampanoag, previously no-
ticed, a journal devoted to the elevation of the labor-
ing classes, was one of them. The Nineteenth
Century was another, to which she was a large con-
42 HISTORICAL TRACT.
tributor, as also to the Uuivercceluni and Spiritual
Philosopher, a paper devoted to the exposition of
the principles of nature as applied to individual and
social life. In 1848, she became editress of the
" Young People's Journal," issued monthly in New
Many of the compositions of Mrs. Greene were
in verse. Never having been gathered together in a
volume, they remain scattered in the various publi-
cations in which they originally appeared.
One of the best known of Miss Whipple's poems
was The Dwarf's Story, characterized by Mr.
Griswold as a " gloomy, but passionate and powerful
composition." The poem contains two hundred and
sixty-four lines, in blank verse, and appears in the
Rhode Island Book, published in Providence in 1841.
The following extract is illustrative of its style :
Nay, listen to me Lilian ! I'm not mad.
Linger and listen. I would tell a tale —
Oh, God! Sustain me! — but, t'will wriug thy heart,
I would not grieve thee — thee my only friend !
But yet I cannot — how can I forego
Thy precious sympathy? Give here thy hand;
MEMOIR OF FRANCES H. MCDOUGALL. 48
I'll hold it thus in mine. There turn away,
And look not on me; for I cannot bear
That thou should'st feel disgust — that thou should'st loathe,
Though the sharp hiss of universal scorn ,,
Has been my only greeting from the world.
" Within this shapeless clod
A spirit dwelleth, fervid, pure and high
As thy own spotless one. It loveth thee
And cannot do thee wrong."
Her longest and best poem, according to Mr. Gris-
wold, is Nanuntenoo, a legend of the Narragansetts,
in six cantos, three of which, according to the same
authority, were published in Philadelphia in 1840.
This poem he pronounces "to be a work of decided
and various merit, giving descriptive powers scarcely
inferior to Bryant. The rythm is harmonious, and
the style generally elegant and poetically ornate*.
In the delineation of Indian character and adventure
can be seen the fruits of intelligent study, and a nice
apprehension of the influence of external nature in
psychological development. It is a production that
will gratify attention by the richness of its fancy, the
justness of its reflection, and its dramatic interest."
44 HISTORICAL TRACT.
Nanuntenoo, known by the English as Canonchet,
commanded the Indians at Pierce's Fight, above
Pawtncket, the last great Indian battle in Rhode
Island. 1 It was a terrible defeat to the English.
The following is a specimen of this poem :
" Pawtucket almost slumbered, for his waves
Were lulled by their own chanting; breathing low,
With a just-audible murmur, as the soul
Is stirred in visions with a thought of love.
He whispered back the whisper tenderly.
Of the fair willows bending over him,
With a light hush upon their stirring leaves,
Blest watchers o'er his day-dreams. Kot.a sign
Of man or his abode met ear or eye,
But one great wilderness of living wood.
O'er hill, and cliff, and valley, swelled and waved
An ocean of deep verdure. By the rock
Which bound and strengthened all their massive roots
Stood the great oak and giant sycamore;
Along the water courses and the glades
Rose the fair maple and the hickory;
And on the loftier heights the towering pine —
Strong guardians of the forest — standing there
On the old ramparts, sentinels of Time
To watch the flight of ages."
1. This Fight took place Sunday, March 26, 1676.
MEMOIR OF FRANCES H. MCDOUGALL. 45
Touching her minor poems, which are numerous,
Mr. Griswold says :
•• They are marked by characteristics which prove
them fruits of a genuine inspiration. Her Songs of
the Winds and sketches of Indian life are frequently
marked by a masculine energy of expression, and a
minute observation of nature. Though occasionally
diffuse and sometimes illustrated by images not ap-
proved, perhaps, by the most fastidious taste, they
have meaning in them, and the reader is not often
permitted to forget the presence oi the power and
delicacy of the poetical faculty."
The last literary labor with- which Mrs. McDougall
was connected bears the following title : ,; Beyond
the Veil ; posthumous work of Paschal Beverly
Randolph, aided by Emanuel Swedenborg and others,
through the minds of Frances H. McDougall and (
Luna Hutchinson. 12mo. New York. 1878. " " One
dav as Mrs. McDougall sat writing at her home
in San Mateo, California, she heard a spirit voice say,
- An old friend." On its being repeated, she recog-
nized it to be from Randolph. He said, •• I wish
you to leave your work and write for me." She
46 HISTORICAL TRACT.
finally consented, but supposed it was only to write
a small pamphlet until she at length was told that it
was to be a book, and that another woman had been
chosen to assist in writing it, and that she must make
a long journey to her home and write it there. This
she did with much patience, expense and labor, being
in the seventieth year of her age." The foregoing
extract presents the calling, and the following note
the method .of the performance: "This account of
experiences in the spirit world was given me by
General Baker, of Ball's Blaff, the soldier, poet, and
statesman, who is here almost an object of idolatry
It was written with almost inconceivable rapidity,
giving birth to unfamiliar trains of thought.* For
three months or more after its production, I lived on
terms of daily intercourse with this noble spirit ; and
during all that time never for one day did he fail to
come to me in the morning. After the article was
finished the spirit said, " we will revise it." A day
was appointed for this purpose and we sat with closed
doors. I then read slowly and thoughtfully, and at
the close of each succeeding section or paragraph,
the portion last read was commented on and was
MEMOIR OF FRANCES H. MCDOUGALL. 47
either approved, or criticised and alterations pro-
posed. The presence and power of the spirit during
the time occupied in this revision was as real to me
as any presence could be."
Since these pages were in process of printing,
infoimation has been given of a poem entitled the
Love Life of Dr. Kane. This, never having passed
under the observation of the author, he is unable
to describe it. A volume bearing exactly the same
title and upon the same subject was published by
Cailcton, of New York, in 1 S 6 . It contains the
correspondence and a history of the acquaintance,
engagement, and secret marriage between Elista Kent
Kane and Margaret Fox, the spiritualist.
Thus is presented a sketch of the life and writings
of a Rhode Island woman — a woman of whom, not-
withstanding all her failings, it must be conceded
that she possessed many virtues.
" •■ Her bounty was as boundless as the sea,
Her love as deep."
Perhaps the best index to the workings of her
mind is presented in this consecutive account of her
CATHERINE R WILLIAMS
NOTES CONCERNING THEM.
Catherine R. Williams, daughter of Captain
Alfred Arnold, was born in Providence about the
year 1790. She was descended from the Arnolds, of
Newport, being the grand-daughter of Oliver Arnold,
who died in 1770, holding the office of Attor-
ney General of Rhode Island, and who, although
dying at the early age of thirty-four years, had
already acquired the reputation of a profound lawyer
and a ripe scholar. General Varnum, Colonel John
Brown and the Hon. "William Charming were among
his most distinguished students. Miss Arnold's
mother died while she was yet a child. Her father
being a sea-captain, sent the child to the family of
two maiden aunts to be educated — ladies of the old
school — strict and dignified in their deportment, as
most of those ancient ladies were. Under the care
of these ladies the child pursued her studies. Her
mind became early imbued with religious sentiments,
which lasted her through life. In after days she
spoke of these times, and often observed that she
she was brought up as a nun.
frjt. 52 HISTORICAL TRACT.
At the age of twenty-three, the death of one of
the maiden aunts and the marriage of the other, east
Miss Arnold, with a small patrimony, into the world
to make her way as best she could. Some of the
productions of her pen had already found their way
into the papers of the day — in fact, she had already
dreamed of the publication of a book. While on a
visit to some friends in the country, Miss Arnold be-
came acquainted with Mr. Williams, to whom she was
presently married. Mr. Williams was a descendant
of Roger Williams, in the sixth generation. He en-
tertained the idea of emigrating to the west, which
idea also possessed Miss Arnold. They proceeded to
New York, where they were married by Bishop
Onderdonk. About this ceremony Mrs. Williams
relates the singular fact that the Bishop had just
returned from a funeral service as the wedding party,
came in. He had still on his mourning scarf, which
he was about removing, when Miss Arnold inter-
posed, saying there was no necessity for bis disrobing,
and the ceremony proceeded, the Bishop appearing
in the habiliments of mourning. The marriage proved
a most unfortunate one, but no argument of the super-
CATHERINE R. WILLIAMS. 53
stitious could convince Mrs. Williams that the singu-
lar circumstances of the wedding foreshadowed the
Mr. and Mrs. Williams now proceeded to the west
to live. It was Mrs. Williams's desire to settle in
Michigan, but Mr. Williams concluded to remain in
the western part of New York, where they lived
about two years, when Mrs. Williams, with her infant
daughter in her arms, left her husband, whom she
never again saw, for the home of her childhood.
Thrown now indeed upon her own resources, she
opened a school, but her health soon gave out, and
she gave up her school, and, advised by her friends,
concluded to publish a volume of Poems, by sub-
scription. It was a small volume, published under
the name of Original Poems. It was printed by
Mr. Hugh H. Brown, and appeared in 1828* Its
success Mrs. Williams characterized as beyond her
utmost expectations. Many of the poems were writ-
ten between her fourteenth and seventeenth years.
They exhibit a mournful spirit, the author seeming
to choose melancholy subjects, thus betraying the
spirit of her early training.
54 HISTORICAL TRACT.
The pecuniary success of this little venture in-
duced Mrs. Williams to try her second production, a
story in prose, Religion at Home. It was published
in 1829, and at least three editions were issued and
disposed of, which would be a rare occurrence for
even these days in Providence.
In 1830 she published her Tales, National and
Revolutionary. Among these tales there is a well
remembered one, Scott's Pond Thirty Years Ago.
The Life of Captain Oliver Read, also in this volume,
has now passed into the domain of scarce American
History. A second series of these Tales was issued
in 1835. It might gratify their author could she
have known that these two little volumes were sold
in New York in 1870 for fifteen dollars.
Aristocracy, or the Holbey Family, was her fourth
publication. It was a novel, a satire on the fashion-
able follies of the day. It appeared in 1832. The
History of Fall River, which she published in 1833
is confined almost entirely to a discussion of the mur-
der of Miss Sarah M. Cornell and the trials of the
Rev. Ephraim K. Avery therefor, and of whose guilt
Mrs. Williams was fully persuaded.
CATHERINE R. WILLIAMS. 55
The Biography of Revolutionary Heroes was her
seventh work. It contained the Lives of General
William Barton and Captain Stephen Olney. It
came out in 1S39, and, like the National and Revo-
lutionary Tales, it was classed among the list of scarce
books of American History, but since the death of
its author, copies have been very plentiful.
In 1840 Mrs. Williams made a journey through the
British provinces, and while making the visit ob-
tained many of the facts which form the basis of
her Neutral French, or the Exiles of Nova Scotia.
This Mrs. Williams always considered to be her best
work. Longfellow selected the same theme for
Evangeline. Copies exist on the title pages of which
are the words, second edition. The book was copy-
righted in 1841, and no other date appears. There
is no change in either edition, and whether there
was really two editions it is difficult to determine.
While at the Grand Falls of the St. John, Mrs.
Williams was the guest of Sir John Caldwell, who
afterwards called upon her at her home in Provi-
dence. At Frederickton she was entertained by Sir
John Hervey at the Government House. In a letter
56 HISTORICAL TRACT.
to the Boston Traveller she complimented Sir John
in the following handsome manner. Mrs. Williams
said she had never forgiven General Scott for forbid-
ding: the soldier shooting* that tall officer at the battle
of Lundy's Lane, as was reported, until she saw
Governor Harvey, who was really so handsome that it
would have been a pity to destroy such a beautiful
specimen of God's handiwork. Sir John was rising
sixty, very tall and erect, and presented a very fine
face and figure. He was exceedingly pleased with
Mrs. Williams's last literary effort consisted of a
series of domestic tales published in two parts, under
the title of Annals of the Aristocracy of Rhode Island,
the first part appearing in 1843, the second in 1845.
It was thought by many at the time that some living
characters were described in these tales, but the au- **
thor gave the assurance that all the heroes and hero-
ines had long passed from among the living.
Here ends the list of Mrs. Williams's literary
labors, comprised in the issue and re-issue of twelve
publications, the pecuniary success or failure in every
case she assumed, and thereby acquired not only a
CALHEBINE R. WILLIAMS. 57
living, but a surplus fund, the income of which sup-
ported her. She was a woman of great energy of
character. She held an honest, earnest, and some-
times vigorous pen, but her style often lacked ele-
gance. There was yet a truthful sentiment about her
books which the people of that day liked. She was
a warm politician, Democratic to devotion, and in
the Rhode Island troubles of 1342, espoused the cause
of the suffrage party with all her might. She was
a lively conversationalist,, and sometimes quick at
repartee, as the following anecdotes will prove :
While publishing her lives of Barton and Olney,
she chanced to be seated at a hotel table with an Eng-
lishman who was travelling thiough the States. He
became acquainted with her labor, and rudely ac-
costed her thus : " How can you publish a biography
without knowing the genealogy of your hero ? Why,
they tell me that even your aristocracy here don't
always know who their grandfather was!"' '-Even
then," replied Mrs. Williams, " they have the advan-
tage of yours, for they often don't know who their
On another occasion, after the publication of
58 HISTORICAL TRACT.
the Neutral French, in which book many Roman
Catholics took an interest, Mrs. Williams was in
Washington and was invited to visit the Roman
Catholic College at Georgetown. The President of
the college gave her a very polite reception, collecting
every descendant of the French Neutrals in the in-
stitution and placing them before Mrs. Williams,
asked her if she could discover any resemblance be-
tween them and the few scattered remnants she had
seen in the Provinces. The President spoke of the
deep feeling and the spirit of candor displayed in the
book while the sufferings of the Neutrals at the
hands of the British were under contemplation, and
remarked to Mrs. Williams that she must be almost
a Roman Catholic herself, whereat Mrs. Williams
replied, that would be impossible since there are two
things to which she had the most decided antipathy,
viz: Kingcraft and Priestcraft. While on her travels
in Canada, she stopped one day at a hotel in one of
the frontier towns. The landlord expressed great
disappointment that she did not arrive the day before,
so as to have seen the Governor General review the
troops, drawn by six white horses and a beautiful
CATHERINE K. WILLIAMS. 59
equipage. Six, did you say, sir ? asked Mrs. Wil-
liams. Yes, six beautiful white horses. Well, truly,
I should have admired, said Mrs. "Williams, to see the
Governor of a single province with six horses, while
the President of the whole United States rides with
In her personal appearance, Mrs. Williams was
short and stout, her face presented a good, healthy
color, her eyes were small and piercing; in addressing
persons she spoke perhaps quickly and with sharp-
ness or decisively ; in her attire she was somewhat
careless ; in her visits to various celebrated resorts,
she was indebted' to the kind care of the ladies with
whom she boarded, to see that she went into the street
in proper condition. She met with many jokes from
her negligence in this respect. Once calling upon a
friend at Gadsby's hotel in Washington, she forgot
to change her dress, and appeared at the hotel in. her /
morning calico ; the porter showed her into the cellar
kitchen, and it was not until the fifth servant was
called that one was found bold enough to escort her
from the cellar kitchen to the ladies parlor. In a few
days she had her revenge. The Piince de Joinville
and suite appeared at Gadsby's for quarters and were
refused, on the supposition that they were a party of
About 1849, Mrs. Williams removed to Brooklyn,
New York, to soothe the declining years of an aged
aunt, one who had brought her up. Here she lived
three years, when her aunt died, leaving her about
$10,000. She now returned to Rhode Island, and
soon after built a snug cottage in Johnston, near by
an estate which had once belonged to her ancestors.
Here, in the society of her only daughter, she passed
happily many years of her life. Subsequently, be-
coming tired of the quiet of the country, she returned
to her old home in Providence, at the corner of Olney
and North Main streets, where she passed the re-
maining years of her life. She left a finished manu-
script story, entitled Bertha, a Tale of St. Domingo.
This manuscript she offered to one of our publishers
during the recent excitement about the "annexion,"
as Mr. Sumner has it, of San Domingo, 1 with the
1. This sketch was written in October, 1872, soon after the excite-
ment in the United States regardirg the annexation of San Domingo.
Annexion was a term used by Charles Sumner in a speech in the United
States Senate concerning the matter.
CATHERINE R. WILLIAMS. 61
remark that if his politics would permit it would pay
to publish, urging that the book had nothing to do
with that project, having been written many years
before. The work has never been published.
Mrs. Williams had the honor of being elected an
honorary member of some of the Historical Societies
in other States, an honor not conferred, as she re-
marked, upon females in Rhode Island.
Mrs. Williams died in Providence, October 11,
] 872. In her death has passed away another of those
who in their childhood stood by the knee of Wash,
The Right of the People of Rhode Island
to form a Constitution.
The Nine Lawyers' Opinion.
The following opinion was written by Thomas W.
Dorr. Mr. Dorr employed George F. Man, an at-
torney-at-law, to look up the authorities. He then
wrote the opinion and the nine lawyers signed it.
The sequence of events which led to it are practi-
cally thus : Those persons interested in an extension
of the suffrage in Rhode Island formed an association
in 1840 in Providence, which was followed by similar
associations throughout the State. A mass meeting
was held by them in Providence in April, 1841 ;
another followed at Newport in May, which was ad-
journed to meet at Providence, July 5th. A State
Committee of eleven was appointed by the meeting
which was held at Newport. 1 This committee issued
an address on the 24th of July, 1841, calling upon the
people to choose delegates to a convention to be held
1. The following gentlemen composed the committee : Charles Col-
lins, Dutee J. Pearcc, Samuel H. Wales, Welcome B. Sayles, Benjamin
Arnold, Jr., Benjamin M. Bosworth, Samuel S. Allen, Emanuel Rice,
Silas Weaver, William S. Peckham, Sylvester Himes.
the following October for the purpose of framing a
constitution. Delegates were chosen, the convention
met, the constitution was framed, and submitted to
the people of the State to be by them accepted or
The people voted upon it on the 27th of December
and on the five following clays. Every person who
voted upon it was required to be an American citizen,
twenty-one years of age, and to have his permanent
residence or home in Rhode Island ; to write his full
name with the fact that he voted for or against the
constitution on the back of his ballot. The conven-
tion re-assembled on the 12th of January, 1842,
counted the votes, declared the constitution adopted,
and it was proclaimed the law of the land. It was
claimed that there were in the State 22,674 free,
white male citizens of the age of twenty-one years and
upwards. Of these, 9,590 were qualified freemen.
It was also claimed that 13,955 voted in favor of
adopting the constitution, and forty-six against adopt-
ing it. Of those voting, 10,193 voted in person, and
3,762 voted by proxy ; 1,925 were qualified freemen
under the then existing laws, and 9,026 were not
THE NINE LAWYERS' OPINION. 67
qualified. 1 Thus a majority of freemen qualified to
vote under the existing laws voted to adopt the con-
At this point, doubts of the validity of the entire
proceedings were raised by those opposed to an en-
largement of the suffrage, and to the correction of
the evils which existed under the old system. These
doubts the leaders of the suffrage party thought proper
to endeavor to allay. Hence arose the document
which follows, and which became at once known as
the Nine Lawyers' Opinion. It appeared, as stated,
in the memoir of Angell, only in a single newspaper,
and is of course one of the scarcest documents
connected with this interesting period. John P.
Knowles, at present United States District Judge
for Rhode Island, is the only one of its signers now-
living, unless, possibly, Aaron White may be still
alive. It is as here presented an exact reprint, both
as to the subject matter and style of composition.
1. These figures arc taken from Burke's Report. They do not balance
in some cases. From the private papers of Mr. Dorr the author gathers
the following result : Freemen voting in favor of adopting, 4,960; non-
Freemen, 8,984. Total, 13,944.
08 HISTORICAL TRACT.
RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO FORM A CONSTITUTION.
STATEMENT OF REASONS.
Many citizens in different parts of the State having
requested that the reasons, which sustain the recent
proceedings of the People, in framing and adopting
a Constitution of Government, should be put forth to
the public, — the undersigned cheerfully comply with
this request ; and ask the attention of their fellow
citizens to the following Statement of Keasons,
which has been made as brief as the great importance
and extent of the subject treated of would permit.
By the Sovereign Power of a State we understand
that supreme and ultimate power, which presciibes
the form of Government for the People of the State.
By the Republican theory of this country this power
resides in the Peo])h themselves. This power is of
course superior to the Leyidative power, which is
derived from, and created by the Supreme power,
THE NINE LAWYERS' OPINION. 69
and exercises its functions according \.o the funda-
mental rules prescribed by the People, through the
expression of their will called a Constitution of
At the American Revolution, the sovereign power
of this State passed from the king and Parliament of
England to the People of the State ; not to a portion
of them, but to the whole People, who succeeded as
tenants in common to this power.
Before the Revolution, the power to alter the form
of government established by the Charter was in the
king of England, who granted it. The government
of the State was a government of the majority to the
time of the Revolution, and for years subsequent. It
has long ceased to be such. And if the majority of
the People have in any way lost the power of altering
and reforming the government of this State, the
Revolution has not made them free ; but has only
opened a change of masters.
The sovereign power of this State having been for-
ever divested from the king, to whom could it have
passed, if not to the whole People ?
It did not vest in the Colonies or States, nor in the
70 HISTORICAL TRACT.
General Government, which is the creature of the
States, or of the People of the States.
The General Assembly of this State exercises very
general and undefined powers ; but no one contends
that the absolute sovereignty of this State is vested
in them. It must therefore have passed to a 'part of
the people of this State or to the whole.
The whole People of the Colony were the subjects
of, and owed a common allegiance to the king of
England. The non-freeholders were not the subjects
of the freemen, and the freemen the subjects of the
king ; but all stood in an equal relation to the head
of the State. Those who were equal before the sov-
ereign, were equal to each other after he ceased to be
such ; and when his power passed away, they received
it by succession, in equal undivided portions.
Sovereignty is an attribute of the persons, and not
of the soil of a State. But if the sovereign power of
this State, did not pass to the whole People, but only
to the qualified freeholders, then it resides in the soil
and freehold; and, if a few freeholders should be-
come possessed of all the land, they would become
the rightful sovereigns : nay, more, if a State should
THE NINE LAWYERS' OPINION. 71
by any cause become depopulated, the sovereignty,
being in the land, would be as complete and perfect
as ever, which is a manifest absurdity.
If the non-freeholders of that day made any surren-
der, or disclaimer, to the freemen, of their own right-
ful shares in the succession, the evidence of it can be
produced ; and our opponents are bound to produce
it. No such surrender was ever made.
If it had been made, we should then have to ask —
what right has one generation to bind another in
this manner; and what rights of sovereignty can one
generation baiter or give away, which their succes-
sors have not the right to reassume ?
The Sovereign power and the Legislative power,
being, in the American system of government, dis-
tinct, and the latter being derived from the former by
consent expressed, or implied, there is nothing in the
long exercise of the latter power by the freemen in-
consistent with the exercise of the former power by
the whole People, when they shall judge the proper
time to have arrived.
Sovereign power from its nature can and ought to
be but rarely exercised. A Constitution if it be
72 HISTORICAL TRACT.
wisely framed, secure all just rights, and contain an
equitable provision for its own amendment,' is made
to last; and will become the permanent rule of gen-
erations and a^es to to come, in a free country.
It cannot therefore be inferred from the unfre-
quent exercise, or the non-exercise of the sovereign
power that it has ceased to exist. The king of Eng-
land made no amendment of our Charter government
from 1663 to 1776, a period of one hundred and thir-
teen years; but he did not lose the power to amend.
The People of Rhode Island have made no amendment
in the form of government, from 1776 to 1841, a period
of 65 years ; neither have they lost the power to amend.
14 Time does not run against the king ; " nor does it
run against the sovereignty and rights of the People.
The agent may act in place of his principal ; the
Legislature may act under the consent of the sover-
eign ; but, in both cases, the source of power remains,.
— the right of revocation remains. What was con-
ferred by assent may be taken away by dissent. If the
present government be valid, because the People as-
sent to it, it may become invalid by their dissent, defi-
nitely expressed. The one power involves the other.
THE NINE LAWYEFwS' OPINION. 73
The time of exercising this sovereign power is to be
determined by the People ; who are also the judges of
the necessity, Neither the People nor the Legislature
took any steps (beyond an inquiry) for the forma-
tion of a Constitution in 1776 ; the government of
the State being in the hands of the majority, and by
semi-annual elections, — and the State being deeply
involved in the war of the Revolution, and subjected
to invasion. The necessity for a total reformation
has been increasing during the last forty years ; and,
in the judgment of the people, has now become abso-
The mode of proceeding by the People is also
immaterial. They are the judges of this also; and,
deeming the right time to have arrived, they have, by
Delegates, elected in the proportion of one to every
fifteen hundred inhabitants, formed a Constitution.
Great stress is laid on the fact, that the Conven-
tion which framed the People's Constitution was not
called by an act of the General Assembly. Such an
act was not, in our judgment, necessary to give validi-
ty to the proceedings of that Convention, or to the
votes of the People for that Constitution.
74 HISTORICAL TRACT.
The greater power inherent in the People, by vir-
tue of their sovereignty, to form a Constitution, in-
volves the less power, viz : that of proceeding in the
way and manner, which the People deem proper to
Further, there is no mode whatsoever established
in this State by any Constitution, Charter, law, or
usage, according to which the People are to proceed
in framing and adopting a Constitution. The king
of England having power to make a supplemental
grant to the Charter, that instrument of course con-
tained no provision for its own amendment. And no
way of amending our Government has been estab-
lished since the Revolution. One of the complaints
made in fact is, that we have no such Constitutional
mode of amendment in this State.
Still further, the General Assembly never have
passed, nor can pass a law for the People to assemble
and make a Constitution. A law has no force as law,
unless its execution, if it be not complied with, can
be compelled, or a non-obedience to its mandate sub-
ject the offender to penalty or damages. Now, there
can be no penalty to a law for the call of a Conven-
THE NINE LAWYERS' OPINION. 75
tion. The people cannot be compelled to elect dele-
gates, nor punished for not electing them. Nor can
the delegates be punished for not making a Constitu-
tion. They tried to do this in 1834, and failed ; but
they were not treated as criminals for their failure.
All that the Assembly can do is to request their
constituents, or the People, to make a Constitution.
If they do not see fit to comply with the request, it
goes for nothing. The request of the Assembly has
no more binding effect as laiv, than any other request
— than, for instance, the usual resolutions for Thanks-
giving, with which the people comply, but yet are ncc
punishable, if they do not.
The only difference, therefore, between the Free-
holders' Convention and the People's Convention is,
that the former sat by request of the General As-
sembly, which was not a law ; and the latter sat
without a request from the Assembly, but by a re-
quest from the People. This is all that can possibly
e meant, when it is said by any one, that the Peo-
ple's Convention sat " Without law." In this
respect, both Conventions were alike.
Again, if there be so much efficacy in the call or re-
quest of the General Assembly, and no Convention
of the Freeholders, or of the People, can be valid
without it, then the General Assembly have a right
to make a Constitution themselves ; because they
have the right to do that themselves, which others
cannot do without their permission or authority. If
the Legislature can command others to do an act, it
is clear that they have the power to do the same
act themselves. And thus the Legislative servants
of the people, are greater than the people themselves.
This doctrine of a necessary permission, authority
or request, from the General Assembly to the People,
before they can rightfully proceed to form a Consti-
tution, is an English doctrine, borrowed from the
Parliament of England, in which body the sovereignty
is lodged by the theory of the English Constitution.
It is a doctrine which has no application in this coun-
try, where the sovereignty resides in the people.
The proceedings of the People, therefore, in calling
their Convention, and in making and voting their
Constitution, in our opinion have been rightful, and
not against law, and are only without law in the sense
before explained, viz : that they were tvithout a re-
THE NINE LAWYERS OPINION.
quest of the General Assembly ; which request, if
made, would have given no additional validity to
The opponents of the People's Constitution, are in
this difficulty. They say, that the People have no
right of themselves to make a Constitution ; that the
General Assembly have no right to make a Consti-
tution ; and that the Freeholders and Freemen have
no right to make a Constitution, unless called and
authorized thereto by the General Assembly, which
has no power ! So that there is really no power in
this State to make a Constitution! The People have
rightfully determined, that the power is in them, and
have exercised it.
That the Government, when set up, under the
People's Constitution, will be recognized as such by
the General Government, we believe, is beyond
doubt or question ; as that Government, in all its de-
partments, will look no farther than the fact, that
the Government here is established.
We can present only a portion of the authorities
by which the positions that we have taken are sup-
ported. We ask all our fellow-citizens to read them,
and to judge for themselves. It is proper to say of
the writers quoted, that Jefferson and Madison alone
were members of the democratic party in general
The authorities go much farther than the case
presented in R. Island, where we have no Charter,
Constitution, Law or usage, which prescribes any
mode of amending the Government ; and they assert,
in the clearest and most express language, that,
where there is a Constitution, the people are not
bound to proceed in the manner prescribed in it for
its own amendment, though this may be most conven-
ient or expedient ; but that they may rightfully pro-
ceed in the mode-and manner which they deem most
I^^It will be remembered that the Constitution of
the United States was not made by virtue of any call or
power from the then existing Congress or General Gov-
ernment, but by the voluntary unauthorized act of the
The Declaration of American Indepen-
dence ; which the Representatives of the freemen,
THE NI1SE LAWYERS OPINION.
in General Assembly convened, formally ratified and
adopted, at their July session, in 1776. They there-
by adopted the principles it contains as the princi-
ples of our political system.
This Declaration says that " all men are created
equal." It asserts that liberty (including political
liberty) is one of their " inalienable rights." Also,
that governments derive " their just powers from the
consent of the governed" — all the governed. And
again, that " it is the right of the people [that is the
governed] to alter or abolish " their government,
whenever they deem it expedient, and " to institute
new government, laying its foundation on such prin-
ciples and organizing its powers in such form, as to
them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and
The Declaration of 1790— The Convention of
freemen which assembled, in this State in that year,
to act upon the federal Constitution, adopted the
same with a protest, which includes a Declaration of
rights. This Declaration says, (section 1,) " That
there are certain natural rights of which men, when
they form a social compact, cannot deprive them or
divest their posterity ; among which are the enjoy-
ment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring,
possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and
obtaining happiness and safety." 2d, " That all
power is naturally vested in, and consequently derived
from the People :" and consequently — 8d, " That the
power of government may be reassumed by the Peo-
ple, whensoever it shall become necessary to their
happiness," of which they are the judges. Our
fathers of 1700 say, that by the People they mean
their posterity, their successors, who are the men of
the present day.
Washington says, in his Farewell Address, " The
basis of our political systems is the right of the People
to make and alter their Constitutions of government ;
but the Constitution which at any time exists, till
changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole
People is sacredly obligatory upon all." By the Peo-
ple we understand that this great man intended the
governed; and by the act of the whole People, the act
of the majority, and not of any portion or class, how-
ever favored by law. The " established government "
is valid and receives obedience, until it is rightfully
THE NINE LAWYERS OPINION.
superseded by an " explicit and authentic act" of the
Jefferson says — "It is not only the rigid but the
duty of those now on the stage of action to change the
laws and institutions of government, to keep pace
with the progress of knowledge, the light of science,
and the amelioration of the condition of society.
Nothing is to be considered unchangeable but the
inherent and inalienable rights of man."
Madison, in advocating the adoption of the Con-
stitution of the United States, says:
" The first question that offers itself is, whether the gene-
ral form and aspect of the government be strictly republican?
It is evident that no other form would be reconcileable with
the genius of the people of America, with the fundamental
principles of the revolution, or with that honorable deter-
mination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all
our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-
government. If the plan of the Convention, therefore, be
found to depart from the republican character, its advocates
must abandon it as no longer defensible."
" It is essential to such a government," (that is republican,)
" that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from
an inconsiderable proportion or a favored class of it; otherwise
a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions
82 HISTORICAL TRACT.
by a delegation of their power* might aspire to the rank of
republicans and claim for their government the honorable
title of republic/'
Speaking of the states to which the title of republican has
been improperly applied, he says : — " The same title has
been bestowed on Venice, where absolute power over the
great body of the people is exercised in the most absolute
manner by a small body of hereditary nobles." We cite this
last passage to show that in the preceding passage Madison
means by " the great body of the society," not the great body
of the rulers or those invested with the government, but the
great body of the whole society, ruled as well as rulers. —
Federalist, No. 30, p. 203—4.
" The opinion of the Federalist has always been considered
as of a great authority. It is a complete commentary upon
our constitution; and is appealed to by all parties, in the
questions to which that instrument has given birth. Its in-
trinsic merit entitles it to this high rank; and the part two of
its authors performed in framing the constitution, put it very
much in their power to explain the views with which it was
framed."— G Wheaton's Reports, 413 to 423, cited 3 vol.
Story's Commentaries, p. 612, note.
Hamilton, says, Federalist No. 22, p. 119 :
;i The fabric of American Empire ought to rest on the
solid basis of the consent of the pcoiile. The streams of na-
tional power ought to flow immediately from that pure original
fountain of all legitimate authority."
THE NINE LAWYERS' OPINION. 83
Jay, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the
United States, says :
" At the Revolution, the sovereignty devolved on the Peo-
ple; and they are truly the sovereigns of the country; but
they are sovereign without subjects, (unless the African
slaves among us may be so called,) and have none to govern
but themselves: the citizens of America are equal as fellow-
citizens, and as joint tenants in the sovereignty." — 2 Dallas's
Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
of the United States, says :
" It has been said that the people had already surrendered
all their powers to the State sovereignties, and had nothing
more to give. But surely the question whether they may
resume and modify the powers granted to government does
not remain to be settled in this country." — 1 Wheaton's Re-
Justice Wilson furnishes our next authority.
He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence ;
was a member of the Convention which formed the
Constitution of the United States, and of the Penn-
sylvania State Convention which adopted it ; a Judge
of the Supreme Court of the United States ; a Pro-
84 HISTORICAL TRACT.
fessor of Law, and Revivor of the Laws of Pennsyl-
vania. He says,
" Of the right of a majority of the whole people to change
their government at will, there is no doubt. 1 ' — 1 Wilson, 418.
—1 Tucker's Black. Comra. 165, cited 321 p. Vol.. 1. Story
The same Judge. — : ' Permit me to mention one great
principle, the vital principle I may well call it which diffuses
animation and vigor through all the others. The principle
I mean is this, that the supreme or sovereign power of the
society resides in the citizens at large; and that, therefore,
they always retain the right of abolishing, altering or amend-
ing their Constitution, at vjJtatever time, and in whatever
manner, they shall deem expedient.' 1 — Lectures on Law, vol.
1, p. 17.
" Perhaps some politician, who has not considered with
sufficient accuracy our political systems, would answer that,
in our government, the supreme power was vested in the
Constitution. This opinion approaches a step nearer to the
truth " (than the supposition that it resides in the Legisla-
tures) " but does not reach it. The truth is that in our gov-
ernment, the supreme, absolute and uncontrollable power
remains in the People. As our Constitutions are superior to
our Legislatures, so the People are superior to our Constitu-
tions. Indeed, the superiority in this last instance, is much
greater, for the People possess, over our Constitutions, con-
trol in act, as well as right."— Works 3d vol. p. 292.
THE NINE LAWYERS' OPINION. 85
" The consequence is, that the People may change the
Constitution, whenever and however they please. This is a
right of which no positive institution can deprive them."
" These important truths, sir, are far from being merely
speculative; we, at this moment, speak and deliberate under
their immediate and benign influence. To the operation of
these truths, we are to ascribe the scene, hitherto unparal-
leled, which America now exhibits to the world: a gentle, a
peaceful, a voluntary and a deliberate transition from one
Constitution of government to another, (from the Confedera-
tion to the Constitution of the United States.) In other
parts of the world, the idea of revolution in government is,
by a mournful and indissoluble association, connected with
the idea of wars, and all the calamities attendant on war."
(This is the case in Ehode Island, which has forgotten the
principles of American government.)
" But happy experience teaches us to view such revolu-
tions in a very different light — to consider them as progres-
sive steps in improving the knowledge of government, and
increasing the happiness of society and mankind." p 293.
" Oft have I viewed with silent pleasure and admiration
the force and prevalence through the United States of this
principle, that the supreme power resides in the people, and
that they never part with it. It may be called the panacea
in politics. If the error be in the legislature it may be cor-
rected by the Constitution; if in the Constitution, it may be
corrected by the people. There is a remedy, therefore, for
8b HISTORICAL TRACT.
every distemper in government, if the people are not want-
ing to themselves, r^r" For a people wanting to themselves
there is no remedy." — Works, vol. 3, p. 293.
" A revolution principle certainly is, and certainly should
be taught as a principle of the Constitution of the United
States, and of every State in the Union. This revolution
principle — that the sovereign power resides in the People,
they may change their Constitution and government when-
ever they please — is not a principle of discord, rancor or war:'
it is a principle of melioration, contentment and peace. 7 ' —
Wils. Diet. vol. 1. p. 21.
" The dread and redoubtable sovereign, when traced to his
ultimate and genuine source, has been found, as he ought to
have been found, in the free and independent man." " This
truth, so simple and natural, and yet so neglected or de-
spised, may be appreciated as the first and fundamental
principle in the science of government." — Lect. on Law,
vol. 1. p. 25.
The same Judge. " A proper regard to the original
and inherent and continued power of the Society to change its
constitution, will prevent mistakes and mischief of a very
different kind. It will prevent giddy inconstancy; it will
prevent unthinking rashness; it will prevent unmanly lan-
guors'—Wilson, Vol. 1, p. 420.
Justice Patterson, of the Supreme Court of the United
States, says, " The Constitution is the work of the People
themselves, in their original, sovereign and unlimited capaci-
ty." " A Constitution is the form of government delineated
by the mighty hand of the people," is "paramount to the will
of the Legislature," and is liable only " to be revoked or al-
tered by those who made it."— Dallas Rep. p. 304.
Justice Iredell, of the Supreme Court of the
United States, in speaking of the difference between
the principles of European governments and those of
our own, 3 Vol. Elliot's Debates, says,
"Our government is founded on much nobler principle.-.
The people are known with certainty to have originated it
themselves. Those in power are their servants and agents.
And the People, without their consent, may remodel the gov-
ernment, whenever they think proper, not merely because it
is oppressively exercised, but because they think another form
is more conducive to their welfare."" — Cited, Story Comm.
_ Vol. 1, p. 326.
The Supreme Couet of the United States say,
by Marshall, Ch. Justice, —
" That the People have an original right to establish for
their future government, such principles, as, in their opinion,
shall most conduce to their own happiness, is the basis on
which the whole American fabric has been erected. The
exercise of this original right is a very great exertion: nor
can it, nor ought it to be frequently repeated." — 1 C ranch.
157, cited 431. Story Com. Vol. 3.
88 HISTORICAL TRACT.
Mr. Rawle, a distinguished Commentator on the
Constitution of the United States, has the following
• passage :
" It is not necessary that a Constitution should be in
writing; but the superior advantages of one reduced to
writing over those which rest on traditionary information,
or which are to be collected from the acts and proceedings of
the government itself, are great and manifest. A dependence
on the latter is indeed destructive of one main object of a
constitution, which is to check and restrain governors. If
the people can only refer to the acts and proceedings of the
government to ascertain their own rights, it is obvious that,
as every such act may introduce a new principle, there can
be no stability in the government. The order of things is
inverted; what ought to be the inferior is placed above that
which should be the superior, and the legislature is enabled
to alter the constitution at its pleasure." — Eawle on the Con-
stitution, p. 16.
The same writer goes on to say,
" Vattell justly observes, that the perfection of a State and
its aptitude to fulfill the ends proposed by Society, depend
upon its Constitution. The first duty to itself is, to form the
best Constitution possible, and one most suited to its circum-
stances, and thus it lays the foundation of its safety, perma-
nence and happiness. But the best Constitution which can
be framed with the most anxious deliberation that can be
THE NINE LAWYERS 1 OPINION. 89
bestowed upon it, may, in practice, be found imperfect and
inadequate to the true interests of society. Alterations and
amendments then become desirable. The people retains, the
people cannot perhaps divest itself of, the power to make such
alterations. A moral power equal to and of the same nature
with that which made, alone can destroy. . The laws of one
Legislature may be repealed by another Legislature, and the
power to repeal them cannot be withheld by the power that
enacted them. So the people may, on the same principle, at
any time alter or abolish the Constitution they have formed.
This has been frequently and peacably done by several of
these States since 1776. If a particular mode of effecting
such alterations has been agreed upon, it is most convenient
to adhere to it, but it is not exclusively binding." — Rawle on
the Constitution, p. 17.
Justice Story, of the Supreme Court of the
United States, says, in his Commentaries on the Con-
;; The Declaration puts the doctrine on the true ground —
that governments derive their powers from the consent of the
governed. And the people," plainly intending the majorit}-
of the people, " have aright to alter it," &c. — Page 300,
The same Judge also says,
; " The understanding is general, if not universal, that hav-
ing been adopted by a majority of the people, the Constitu-
90 HISTORICAL TRACT.
tion of the State binds the whole community, propria vigore:"
(by its own innate power,) " and is unalterable, unless by the
consent of a majority of the people, or at least by the qualified
voters of the Stale, in the manner prescribed by the Con-
stitution, or otherwise provided by the majority. Xo right
exists, or is supposed to exist, on the part of 'any town or
county, or any organized body within the State, short of the
whole people of the State, to alter, suspend, resist, or disown
the operations of that Constitution, or to withdraw them-
selves from its jurisdiction. Much le^s is the compact sup-
posed liable to interruption, or suspension, or dissolution at
the will of any private citizen upon his own notion of its
obligations, or of any infringement of them by the consti-
tuted authorities. The only redress for any such infringe-
ments, and the only guaranties of individual rights and
property, are understood to consist in the peaceable appeal to
the proper tribunals constituted by the government for such
purposes; if these should \ fail, by the ultimate appeal to the
good sense and justice of the majority. And this, according
to Mr. Locke, is the true sense of the original compact, by
which every individual has surrendered to the majority of
the Society the right permanently to control and direct the
operations of the government therein.' ' — Story, Comm. Vol.
I, p. 305— G.
The same, Vol, I, p. 803, says,
" It is certain, that a right of the minority to withdraw
THE NINE LAWYERS' OPINION. 91
from a government and to overthrow its powers, has no just
foundation in any just reasoning."
By which it appears that the minority of this State
will be bound by the act of the majority of the peo-
ple in establishing the government under their Con-
Judge Pitman, of the United States Court for
this District, in a recent Address to the Members of
the General Assembly, says, respecting the Constitu-
tion of the People. £3f° " We must settle this ques-
tion for ourselves; it belongs not to Congress, nor to
the Supreme Court of the United States. It is a
question of State Government, which neither Con-
gress, nor the Supreme Court of the United States
has any constitutional authority to settle for us."
" If you suffer your government to be put down,
and the government of the Suffrage men to become
the government of the State, Congress and the Su-
preme Court of the United States will not inquire
into the question of right. The only question- will be
the question of fact. Is it a government in fact f Nei-
ther Congress nor the Supreme Court lias any autho-
rity to inquire farther? "
92 HISTORICAL TRACT.
We respectfully submit to you, fellow citizens, that
that the People's Constitution " is a republican
form of government," as required by the Constitution
of the United States, and that the people of this
State, in forming and voting for the same, proceeded
without any defect of law, and without violation of
SAMUEL Y. ATWELL.
JOSEPH K. ANGELL,
THOMAS F. CARPENTER.
THOMAS W. DORR,
LEVI C. EATON,
JOHN P. KNOWLES,
DUTEE J. PEARCE,
AARON WHITE, Jr.
Providence, R. I. March 14, 1842.
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Historical Sketches of the Churches ok Warwick, Rhode Island.
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7 393 1