« ÎnapoiContinuați »
PRONOUNCED AT BRIDGEWATER, MASSACHUSETTS,
August 20, 1826.
Closely allied to love of country, is gratitude to its benefactors. How can we survey the blessings which throng around us, which endear to us our native land, without grateful emotions towards those men, by whose exertions they were acquired. When our fathers are withdrawn from the scene of their earthly labors, does not the heart dictate, that those, who are enjoying the fruits of their services, should pay a tribute of respect to their memory? Yes, fellow citizens, we have come together to indulge in a few reflections, on reviewing the eventful lives and valuable services of JOHN ADAMS and THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Were we to permit the departure of these venerable men to pass unnoticed, we should seem ungrateful to Heaven for the favors which it has granted us, through their instrumentality. No circumstance ought more forcibly to draw our attention to the great work, in which Providence was the guide and the shield of our fathers, than the removal of those men who were his agents in effecting it. When we call up in review the incidents of their lives and the result of their labors, we bring into remembrance the most signal dispensations of Heaven.
Though the fathers of our Independence have gone from mortal view, and a respectful notice of this event is due to the illustrious deceased, can we call it a mournful dispensation ? Is there not rather cause of devout exultation, that two distinguished survivors of the revolutionary struggle have'
been spared so long ; two who have successively held the highest office in our republic ? I would call this a sacred rather than a mournful season. The event which has brought us together, ought to arrest the busy thoughts of man, and fill the soul with admiration of the wondrous and beneficent works of God. Is it not rather a day when it becomes every man, who values the blessings of civil and religious freedom, to commune with his own heart, and form some faint conception of what Heaven has done for the land of his birth ?
These aged pilgrims asked not for lengthened life. After laboring long in the cause of man, after bearing the burthen and heat of the day, they had received every reward the world could give. Having themselves held the highest posts of honor, they had lived to see their children also elevated by the spontaneous voice of their fellow-citizens. They had lived to behold their children's children commencing their career in the happiest land, on which the beams of Heaven ever fell ; a land powerful and happy by their exertions.More than this, they had lived to behold a complete fulfilment of their sanguine hopes, in the expanded greatness and consolidated strength of a pure Republic. What more could be asked for these venerable patriarchs, who had far outlived nearly all the associates of their active days, than that their freed spirits might be released from the bondage of the flesh, on that august hour when millions were remembering, with grateful hearts, their revolutionary services ; when a great nation were celebrating the day dear to freedom, the day which will ever be the festival of liberty ?
The present occasion forbids us to speak at length of the public course of these great men.
For this would require no less than a history of our country. I will therefore touch briefly on what the circumstances, under which we are assembled, seem to require.
This section of our country has the honor of having been the birth-place of John Adams. He was born on the 19th of October, 0. S. 1735, in that part of Braintree, which has
since been incorporated by the name of Quincy. He was the fourth in descent from Henry Adams, who settled in that neighborhood, near two centuries ago. It appears that he,
. like many of our forefathers, left his native land, to follow unmolested the dictates of a purer faith, and enjoy the privileges of a purer government. The following is from the inscription on his tomb stone in the Quincy burial ground.“ In memory of Henry Adams who took his flight from the Dragon Persecution, in Devonshire, Eng. and alighted with eight sons near Mt. Wollaston." He was also descended, in another line, from John Alden, one of the pilgrim 'founders of the Plymouth Colony, in 1620. He received his education at Cambridge. His professional calling was that of the law. So eminent was his standing at the bar, that, at an early age, he was appointed chief-justice of the State, which office he declined. He was distinguished for his talents decision, firmness, and deep sense of official duty, by the part he took, in conjunction with Josiah Quincy, jr. in defence of the British soldiers who perpetratred the “ Boston Massacre" in 1770. But his profession was soon sacrificed to the political interests of his country.
He was one of the earliest friends of liberty ; was one of the first, if not the very first of those that acted in the revolution, who foresaw the independence and power of what now forms the United States. In the Congress of 1776, he was known as the ablest advocate of independence. When the decisive step was determined on, the following was moved by Richard H. Lee of Virginia, and seconded by Mr. Adams, 5. Resolved that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states ; and that all political connexion between them and G. Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved.” This was on the 7th of June. While the resolution was under debate, Mr. Adams enforced its necessity by an eloquent and resistless argument which bore down all opposition. Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Adams, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Sherman, and Mr. R. R. Livingston, were
appointed a committee to prepare a Declaration of Independence, in conformity with the resolution. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams were deputed by the committee, and the instrument, as is well known, was drafted by Mr. Jefferson.
The Declaration, after the omission of about a fifth, and some other slight amendments, was unanimously adopted on the 4th of July, 1776. Mr. Adams put a just estimate on the importance of this favorite measure. On the 5th, he writes to a friend, “ Yesterday was decided the greatest question which was ever decided among men.
A resolution was passed unanimously, that these United States are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.' The day is passed. The 4th of July '76, will be a memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliv. erance by solemn acts of devotion to Almighty God.”— Venerable Apostle of Liberty! and didst thou live to behold what then filled thy mighty soul with enthusiastic hope!Well mightest thou exclaim on its fiftieth anniversary, with thy expiring breath,“ this is a great, a good day!" Yea it was indeed a great, a good day; and with it will be forever associated the name of JOHN ADAMS.
He did not remit his exertions on the adoption of this measure, but continued active in the work he had fearlessly begun. While his countrymen at home were struggling in the embattled field, his services were no less important abroad. He was sent a commissioner to France in '78, and returned in ’79. He recommended to Congress every step that might tend to strengthen the alliance with that country; but such was his jealousy of every thing hostile to the princi. ples of liberty, that he advised them, invariably“ to guard against their principles in government, and the manners that were so opposite to the constitution of America, and the character of a young people, who might hereafter be called to form establishments for a great nation." In '82 Mr. Adams