(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Rhode Island historical tracts"

m 

ml 



if!? 3 



$88? 



.5 M - 1 - 

LI 
1 
>569 

REYNOLDS HISTORICAL 
GENEALOGY COLLECTION 



ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY 



3 1833 01105 4654 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/rhodeislandhiston11s1ride 



5"' 



.277 • 



■■■■ 



RHODE ISLAND 



Historical Tracts 



NO. 11. Jju*^^ 




PROVIDENCE 

SIDN EY S. RIDER. 

1880. 



\s 






^ 






1829569 



Copyright by 
IDNEY S. RIDER, 
1880. 



ANGELL, HAMMKTT <fe CO., PRINTERS. 



U ; : 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS 

OP 

THREE RHODE BLAND AUTHORS 

JOSEPH K. ANGELL 

FRANCES H. (WHIPPLE) McDOUGALL 

CATHARINE R. WILLIAMS 



BY 

SIDNEY S. RIDER. 



TO WHICH IS ADDED 



THE NINE LAWYERS' OPINION ON THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE 
OF RHODE ISLAND TO FORM A CONSTITUTION. 



PROVIDENCE 

SIDNEY 8. RIDER 

1880. 



Copyright by 
SIDNEY S. RIDER 

1880. 



PREFATORY- NOTE 



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 : 

Dear Sir: 

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. 



MEMOIR OF 



JOSEPH K ANGELL 



LAW WHITER. 



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 
same Bar. 

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. 
l,p.84. 



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 
itself." 

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 
enterprises. 

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. 
Angell. 

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 
subject. _ 

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. 

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 
works. 

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. 



A/ 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIR 



FRANCES H MCDOUGALL 



BORN 



WHIPPLE. 



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 
possible way. 

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 
Rhode Island. 

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. 
W. Potter. 

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- 



;g7sgo 



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 

4 



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 
daily labor. 

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- 
trations. 

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 
York. 

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 



i 



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 
various writings. 



/ 

t/ 

THE PUBLICATIONS 



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- 



v- 



CATHERINE R. WILLIAMS. 53 

stitious could convince Mrs. Williams that the singu- 
lar circumstances of the wedding foreshadowed the 
result. 

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 
the paragraph. 

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 
fathers were." 

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 
but two. 

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 



60 



HISTORICAL TRACT. 



and suite appeared at Gadsby's for quarters and were 
refused, on the supposition that they were a party of 
Polish emigrants. 

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, 
ington. 



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. 



th 66 



HISTORICAL TRACT. 



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 
rejected. 

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- 
stitution. 

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 
Government. 

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- 
lute. 

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 
adopt. 

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- 



H 



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- 



76 



HISTORICAL TEACT. 



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. 



77 



quest of the General Assembly ; which request, if 
made, would have given no additional validity to 
said proceedings. 

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, 



78 



HISTORICAL TRACT. 



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 
politics. 

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 
proper. 

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 
several States. 

AUTHORITIES. 

The Declaration of American Indepen- 
dence ; which the Representatives of the freemen, 



THE NI1SE LAWYERS OPINION. 



79 



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 
happiness" 

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 



80 



HISTORICAL TRACT. 



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 



s 



THE NINE LAWYERS OPINION. 



81 



superseded by an " explicit and authentic act" of the 
People. 

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 
Reports, 419. 

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- 
ports, 405. 

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 
Comm. 

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 
8 



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- 



87 



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- 
stitution, 

;; 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, 
vol. 1. 

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- 
stitution. 

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 
any law. 

SAMUEL Y. ATWELL. 
JOSEPH K. ANGELL, 
THOMAS F. CARPENTER. 
DAVID DANIELS, 
THOMAS W. DORR, 
LEVI C. EATON, 
JOHN P. KNOWLES, 
DUTEE J. PEARCE, 
AARON WHITE, Jr. 

Providence, R. I. March 14, 1842. 



RHODE ISLAND 

II I S T () R I C A L T R A C T S 

Editions Strictly Limited to j.jO Copies. 



NUMBERS ALREADY ISSUED. 

No. l. Tiik Capture of General Richard Prescott ry Lieut.-Col. 

WILLIAM BARTON. An Address by Prof. J. L. Diman, to which is added 
the Ballads relating to the affair; Portrait; Map of Rhode Island at the 
Period; Fac-simile of the Order to Barton. Sm. quarto, pp. C5. Price, 
$1.00. 

No. l». The Northmen in Rhode Island in the Tenth Century. 

By Alexander Farnum. Sm. quarto, pp. 41. Price, 40 cents. 

No. ;.\. History of the Wanton Family in Rhode Island. By John 
R. Bartlett. Sm. quarto, pp. 152. Price, $1.00. 

No. 4. William Coddington in Rhode Island Colonial Affairs. 
An Historical Inquiry. By Dr. Henry E. Turner. Sm. quarto, pp. 00. 
Price, 00 cents. 

No. 5. Memoir Concerning the French Settlements and French 
Settlers in the Colony of Rhode Island. By Elisha R. Potter, 
pp. 138. Price, $1,125. 

No. 0. The Centennial Celebration of the Battle of Rhode 
Island, AUGUST 29, 1878. Comprising the Oration by Hon. Samuel G. 
Arnold. The German account by Max Von" Eelking, compiled from the 
journals of the German Officers, translated by J. Watts De Peyster. Con- 



/< %§ HISTORICAL TRACTS, 



versatiou held with General Lafayette concerning the operations of the 

French Fleet. Letter of Major-General Figot, the Briti>h commander, to 
Sir Henry Clinton. Report of .Major-General Sullivan to Congress. The 
conduct of the Black Regiment in the action, being extracts from three 
of the orderly books of the Army, never before printed; and a map of the 
operations, pp. 118. Price, 91.00. 

No. 7. The Journal of a Brigade Chaplain in the Campaign ok 

1779, AGAINST THE SIX NATIONS, UNDER THE COMMAND OF MAJOU- 

General John Sullivan. By Rev. William Rogers, D. L>., with 

introductions and notes by Sidney S. Hitler, pp. 136. Price, $1.25. 

No. 8. Some Account of the Bills of Credit or Paper .Money of 
Rhode Island from the First Issue in 1710, to the Final issue, 
17SG. By Elisha R. Potter and Sidney S. Rider, with twenty illustrations 
of the money. Sm. quarto, pp. xii. — 220. Price $"J.jO. 

No. 9. A True Representation of tut. Flan Formed at Albany in 
1754 for Uniting all the British Northern Colonies in order 
to their Common Safety and Defence. By Stephen Hopkins. With 
introductions and notes by Sidney s. Rider. Sm. quarto, pp. xxxi — Go. 
Price, SO cents. 

No. io. an Historical Inquiry concerning the Attempt to raise 
a Regiment of Slaves by Rhode Island, during the War of 
the REVOLUTION. By Sidney S. Rider, with several tables prepared by 
Lieut. -Col. Jeremiah Olney, commandant, relating to the Regiment under 
his command. Sm. quarto, pp. xxiv— 90. K'nmnjiiii. Price, $1.00. 



VALUABLE L O C A L 

HISTORICAL PUBLICATIONS RELATING TO RHODE 
ISLAND AND THE TOWNS THEREIN, 

fcrlisiied and for sale by 

SIDNEY S. RIDER, 

Providence. Rhode Island. 



History of Warwick, Rhode Island, from its Settlement in 1042 

to 1875. By Oliver 1*. Fuller. Svo, pp. :*S0. Portrait and engravings. 
Cloth. $2.00. 

Proceedings at the Dedication of a Monument to Sergeant 
Abraham Staples, with an historical address relating to the Family 
name. By Carlton A. Staples. Svo, pp. 55. Price, 25 cents. 

Historical Sketch ok the Town of Charlestown, Rhode Island, 
from 1U:>0 TO l>7tj. By William F. Tucker. Svo, pp. 88. Price, $1.00. 

Historical Sketch of the Town of Hofkinton, Rhode Island, 
from 1757 to 1870. By S. S. Griswold. 12mo, pp. %. Price, 75 cents. 

Historical Sketch of the Town of Richmond, RhodeTsland, from 
1747 TO 1870. By dames R. Irish. F-hno, pp. 00. Price, 75 cents. 

Historical Sketch of the Town of Soituate, Rhode Island. By 
C. C. Beaman. Svo, pp. 08. Price, $1.00. 

Names of the Owners or Occupants of Buildings in the Town 
of Providence, Rhode I>lan t d, from 1749 to 1771. Svo, pp. i>5. 
Price, $l.uo. 

(Jue hundred copies only. 



90 HISTORICAL PUBLICATIONS. 

Historical Sketch ok tub Town of Lincoln, Rhode Island. By 
Welcome A. Greene. Svo, pp. gfi. Trice, 50 cents. 

Alphabetical Index of the Births, Marriages and Deaths Re- 
corded in Providence, from 1G0G to 1S50 inclusive. By Edwin M. 
Snow, M. D. Svo, pp. :>'.»'.>. Price, $10.00. 

Seventy-five copies only printed. 
An invaluable genealogical work, for the publication of which the Rhode 
Island Historical Society gave both the compiler and publisher n vote of 
thanks. 

Alphabetical Index or the Births, Marriages and Deaths Re- 
corded in Providence. Vol. 2. Containing the Marriages from 1S51 
to 1S70 inclusive. By Edwin M. Snow, M. D. Svo, pp. CAT. Trice, $10.00- 

One hundred copies only printed. 
It is intended to follow this with a volume containing the Births, and another 
volume containing the Deaths. These four invaluable volumes will contain all 
the genealogical information to be found in the Records of the city of Provi- 
dence from the earliest times to 1S71. 

Historical Sketches of the Churches ok Warwick, Rhode Island. 
By Oliver P. Fuller. To which is added a Record of Persons Joined in 
Marriage in that Town by Elder John Gorton, from 17.il to 1702. svo, 
pp. 100. Providence, 18S0. Price, 35 cents. 



















- 









7 393 1 



*Hi 



JflBiv.ii-;^: